Meteor for Palm OS

Reviewed by: Lianne Reitter, October 2004, send e-mail
Published by: Mobile Stream, go to the web site
Requires: Palm OS5, PocketPC 2002, 2003 or Windows Mobile 2003 SE
MSRP: $39.99

I know what you're thinking—not another breakout game! My first breakout game came on my Atari Falcon about 12 years ago and it was nothing new even then. You know the drill, the object of the game is to clear the screen of bricks using a sliding paddle and bouncing ball. Using the paddle, deflect the ball into the bricks, thereby destroying them, and keep this up until all the bricks are gone. While the object of Meteor is the same, this version of breakout is different in both style, design and game play.

Instead of the usual paddle you're are playing with a space ship. The usual spherical bouncing ball is replaced with an irregularly shaped meteor that doesn't bounce quite as predictably. There are enemy robots that guard the bricks making them all the more difficult to hit, and if that wasn't enough, some of these robots are armed and try to destroy your meteor by dropping missiles and bombs on it. All is not lost though as certain bricks will give you the ability to shoot back with bullets and missiles of your own. Other bricks will change your meteor into a fire ball or a plasma ball. Your space ship’s deflector can change sizes, and the speed of your meter can be increased or decreased depending on what special brick you destroy. Now all this may even sound a little familiar as there have been other similarly equipped breakout games. Where Meteor really distinguishes itself from the pack is in the game play. Rich graphics and sound effects bring the game to life, especially in the high resolution versions (the game looked terrific on the Zire 71 with its superbly bright, clean screen, and even better on the Sony TH55 with its higher resolution). There are 3 different difficulty levels and 9 different start screens that you can access at any time. Each start screen has 10 episodes so not only do you not have to start each game at the same screen but there are 90 levels in total to play. That’s a lot of hours with no repetition. Enhance the game playing fun with a starting meteor count of 10 instead of the usual 3. Unlike other breakout games where you find yourself playing the same screen time after time after losing the third ball, with 10 meteors to play you'll encounter endless numbers of new screens.

Stepping even farther away from the traditional Breakout mold is the fact that you don't use the PDA buttons to move your space ship from side to side. Instead, you slide it across the screen using the stylus—very slick. Another really nice addition is the ability to pause the game in progress. Unfortunately you can't turn your PDA off with the game paused and return to it later. In fact you can't turn your PDA off at all until you quit the game entirely. Too bad for your battery if you forget, and just close the PDA’s cover. My only other gripe is that there's no way to save a game. I would love it if I could just go from level to level with no repetition. With any luck, we can look for that feature in upcoming versions.

We tested Meteor on both the Palm Zire 71 and the Sony Clie TH55 (Hi Res) and besides a small problem getting the sound to work on the Palm install (I was a little optimistic, expecting both the game and the sound files to work from the memory stick), the game ran beautifully on both PDAs. Meteor is far more than the usual breakout game and offers hours, days, and for the less coordinated, weeks of game play. Recommended.

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