Tetris is one of the most popular video/computer games ever produced, and for good reason. You can pick up the basics of the game in about five seconds, but it remains addictively challenging for a long time. I recently tried Tetris Classic Game Pak for Pocket PC by Handmark. It s a great rendition of this timeless computer game.
Handmark sells Tetris as a standalone product ($19.99 for the Pocket PC) or in the Game Pak version ($29.99 for PPC), including Backgammon, Checkers, Pocket Chess, Solitaire, and a game called Colors. For some reason, the PPC versions are more expensive than the Palm products ($14.99 for just Tetris, and $19.99 for the Game Pak), even though the Palm Game Pak includes one extra game ( Poker Dice ). All the other games in the pack are nicely executed, with clean graphics and a range of play options. Colors requires you to match 3 or more colored balls in horizontal or vertical rows, in order to clear out the rows. It reminds me of Bust-A-Move , except that the rows don t move, and you highlight the balls to make the matches.
Tetris is the main attraction, and it is the most sophisticated game in the pack. The opening screen allows the choice of 4 different game modes: Marathon, 40 Lines, Ultra 2 Minute and Ultra 3 Minute. Whereas Marathon lets you keep playing as long as you can stay alive, the other modes set some type of limit on the game duration. I guess that is helpful for the truly addicted, who may need a nudge to get back to their lives. You can also choose your starting level, anywhere from 0 to 9.
Under the Options menu, you can modify the tetramino queue (off, 1 piece or 6 pieces), and you can toggle on or off the Hold Window, Ghost, and Sound Effects. I was not able to figure out what the Hold Window does. Sometimes, a tetramino appears in the window, but I don t understand why. Unfortunately, there are no detailed written instructions to explain this. The Ghost function can be helpful to some and bothersome to others. It gives you a faint outline of the piece in play down at the bottom of the screen. This can help you plan your move, but also be a distraction. For the queue, the upcoming pieces appear in a nice sized window to the right of the main section. They scroll up the screen, with the next piece in the sequence appearing at the top.
There is also a menu option to change the hardware button assignments for the following functions: Left, Right, Hard Drop, Soft Drop, Pause, Hold, Rotate Left and Rotate Right. Regardless of the button assignments, if you tap the screen during play it pauses the game. I think it would be useful if you could choose to rotate the piece in play by tapping it. Sometimes I found that trying to use the buttons for every function was difficult on my Dell Axim.
Summary of Experience
The Handmark version of Tetris faithfully reproduces everything that s great about the game. If you play the Marathon version, the drop rate speeds up as you progress over the many levels. You can also start any game at a higher level to get the additional challenge. One nice thing about this version is that they don t clog up the screen with too much extraneous graphics. You just see a faint background of Russian currency, with a bust of Lenin s head. The pieces are nicely sculptured and colored. There is no distracting music in the background. Turning on Sound Effects generates a clicking noise when you move a piece or when the piece hits bottom, as well as an explosion sound when you clear a row. I always turn this off when I m playing in public, but it does give you some good feedback when you are trying to place the pieces. I think that the Ghost function is a good way for beginners to judge where the piece will land, but it does seem to get in the way once you are experienced with the game.
If you buy the game pack, a few other goodies get tossed in
Inconsistent pricing for Palm vs. PPC
[Ellis] The only gripe I have with this package is the pricing. I think the price for the Palm version is just about right: $15 for just Tetris and another $5 if you want a suite of games. For Pocket PC gamers, they charge $20 for the standalone version, and $10 more for the Pak. Perhaps the price will come down when they amortize more of their development costs. Overall though, it’s a great game pack that offers a lot of fun for Tetris and classic board game fans.
[Brian] I played the game pack on the Garmin iQue and really enjoyed it. As much fun as I have with more robust action-type games, I also revel in the strategy needed to play a challanging game of Chess or Backgammon. The handful of games Handmark throws in with Tetris make for a nice package, only slightly more expensive than Tetris by itself. Overall, another job well done by Handmark, who is challanging Astraware for the throne when it comes to high-quality gaming on PDAs at reasonable prices.
Handango offers a free trial for both operating systems. The game pack is certainly the best deal, $19.99 for Palm and $29.99 for Pocket PC.