Marc Saltzman's Top 250 Games for PalmOS

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, send e-mail
Published by: Macmillan Software (Pearson Technology Group), go to the web site
Requires: (PDA) PalmOS 3.1 or later, Palm III or higher, all Handspring Visors and Edge, Sony Clie, TRGPro/HandEra; (Desktop) Windows 95/98/Me/NT4, 2000/XP, MacOS 8.6, 9 or OSX and QuickTime 4.0 or later; note: limited high-res support
MSRP: $19.95

Finding reviews of PDA games of any kind is difficult. The absence of reviews makes it equally hard to know what to download or purchase. Trial and error is OK for a while, but you really don't want to spend all your allotted game playing time simply trying to find something decent to play. Enter Marc Saltzman's Top 250 Games for PalmOS. Marc is a syndicated game columnist and technology correspondent for CNN, and has assembled some of the best PalmOS-based PDA games available. The hybrid (Win/Mac) CD-ROM is accessible through an all-in-one, easy to navigate, categorized interface. The game collection consists of selections that work on grayscale and color PDAs. With excellent balance between freeware, shareware and commercial demo titles, this collection also features a very broad range of game types - from RPGs to card games, from puzzles to racing sims, 1st person shooters and sports.

Choosing and installing individual games from the CD is as simple as browsing the menu which appears after you place the CD in the drive (as long as Autorun/Autoplay is turned on in Windows). Nothing actually installs on your PC or Mac - the menu program runs entirely from the CD-ROM drive. A menu appears on the desktop, asking the user to click on the desired section: action/arcade, strategy, puzzle, role-playing games (RPGs), simulation, adventure and sports. Each section displays a list of games and selecting any of them displays a game graphic along with a brief description. Click the graphic to install the game. The Palm Desktop Add Program dialog appears and the selected game is set up to install at the next HotSync.

Cons: I'd like to see some of the shareware and commercial software authors provide fully licensed versions on these types of CDs - OEM versions in other words. I'd pay twice as much for the CD in that case. The individual authors might only earn a royalty for each CD sold, but the potential volume of sales might be worth it.

Pros: Twenty bucks for this CD? No problem. Everything on the CD is playable - I couldn't really find any outright turkeys, although titles such as "Dr. Insano's Eyes" and "Graffiti Face" in the Miscellaneous category are slightly odd. On the other hand, RPG/Adventure titles such as Ancient Red and Solskia (a development demo) are downright gorgeous - both of them use the newest graphic engines. You can certainly download all of this stuff yourself, but you'd have to sort through enormous amounts of junk in order to come up with Marc Saltzman's collection - which is the time and effort saving point of purchasing this CD in the first place. The CD works as advertised and I couldn't find any inoperable programs. The Macmillan Web site refers to the CD as Marc Saltzman's Top 200 Games for PalmOS, while the accompanying product screenshot clearly shows Marc Saltzman's Top 250 Games for PalmOS. But if you count the individual games in the KidzPak, Palm Puzzles and a couple of other selections separately, the actual count is well over 250. If your PalmOS-based PDA is a constant companion, you'll likely get many months of use out of Marc Saltzman's Top 250 Games for PalmOS. Recommended.

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