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JadeDragon's reviews and playing tips: Pocket PC games

X-Ranger, by Jimmy Software $24.99
Reviewed June 2002

LucasArts are not the only people who like trilogies. X-Ranger 1.0 is the first installment of the 3D action trilogy game series from Jimmy Software, and it is the first FPS (first person shooter) game for the Pocket PC that has full textured animation. In this episode, the player is the gladiator who stands at the center of a battle arena. The goal of the game is to survive the waves of attacks from the enemies coming from all directions on the ground and in the air.

Even though the graphics look a bit downgraded from the early Beta version we played, X-Ranger still has one of the best looking graphics and animations in a high frame rates in this game. The game was created using real time 3D rendering, so that you can see the monster running or flying or shooting at you in 3D. The only thing that's blurrier than the Beta version seems to be the background images (none moving parts). The rest of the graphics, including menu screens, moving graphics, realistic weapon shooting and large explosions are still very cool!

The story behind the game is pretty simple. You are a warrior somewhere in a far away galaxy and your only mission is to play the Game of Death in a battle arena. You can only survive by destroying the alien enemies who are coming at you from all directions. You choose 1 of the 3 characters to start the game; each character also represents a difficulty level. When I played as Huns Crazy Bull (hard level), I felt that I was in the Aliens movie where I must shoot the deadly aliens who showed up on my motion sensor before they could shoot me down.

The important part of the game is to build up your weapon collection by buying them after you've completed a mission and are awarded with handsome amount of money. The graphics of these weapons are superb. From Handgun to Disk Cutter, from Burning Blaster to Rocket Launcher, you will love to go weapon shopping! The weapons not only look great, they also make the game fun. If you use the weapons with guidance systems, your missiles will find their marks as long as you shoot within a certain radius of the target. There are also Nuke weapon, which destroys all alien in sight; and Repair, which recovers your health in the battle.

The movements of the alien monsters are very creative and great looking as well. The flying aliens look like flaming ghosts, the small but fast moving ground aliens look like either scorpions or roller bombs, the heavy ground aliens look like living tanks. As you advance in the game, the aliens will increase their attack speed as well as tactics. Like in level 4 and 5 you will see the small ground aliens and flying aliens moving much faster to get your attention while the heavy aliens slowly moving towards you from the opposite direction. It'll take many hits to kill the heavy aliens, and they do big damage when they shoot you. From level 6 and 7, the aliens will show up right in front of you instead from the distance. There are total of 20 levels in the game. The difficulty level has been increased in general from the Beta version. But you can still get through level 1-5 without too much trouble. The monsters are harder to kill in this version, so make sure you have bought every weapon including the Nuke and Repair before you play level 6.

Other than the great graphics, the sound in this game is just sweet. The sound effects are realistic like the alien screaming, the weapon explosion, voice dub, etc. The music tracks fit the fast moving game play. The controls in this game are very smooth. Weapon shooting is both responsive and accurate. Some people don't like the over steering when you turn your aim. I thought it was not bad at all as long as you know how to control it. This time around I played it on my Casio E-200 and it worked nicely. The file size has been cut down from 12MB to a little over 10MB: not too big of deal as long as you have plenty space. It takes a little bit of time to load, and gives you a progress bar with a percentage to let you know the game is actually loading and your Pocket PC hasn't hung.

All in all, X-Ranger will be a sweet treat for the Jimmy game lovers and attract newcomers. If you are hungry for some action, X-Ranger might just satisfy your cravings with its thumb numbing none stop shooting recipe.

Playing Hints and Tips

Purchase and test all the weapons in level 1 through 5. You will need all of them to gain levels after level 6 and 7. Understand what the more powerful weapons can do and stock up the ammo. When a new level starts in the later stage of the game, shoot early and shoot hard!

X-Ranger screen shot

X-Ranger screen shot


Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics Great graphics and 3D movements.
Sound Large number of great sound effects and good background music selection.
Fun Meter I had great fun playing the game since there isn't any game like it on Pocket PC that's this good. It might be a little too hard for some casual gamers to get through all 20 levels.
Addictivity It's highly addictive and extremely intense. Make sure you had some espresso before taking the post!

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