The Great Astraware Gaming Roundup

by Reads (10,897)

If you are into gaming on your PalmOS or Windows Mobile PDA, then you are probably quite familiar with Astraware. Astraware is quite famous for releasing some of the most addictive games to ever hit the Mobile Gaming scene. Titles such as Bejeweled, Zap 2000, and Collapse have done well to make Astraware a major player in mobile games. In this gaming roundup, BargainPDA takes a look at four of the latest titles from Astraware and gives you the low down as to why you will want at least one of these on your PDA.

A Remaking of A Classic

Bejeweled is pretty much a phenomena in the gaming world. From the PC (known as Diamond Mine) to the PDA, Bejeweled is pretty much the standard by which gaming addiction is measured. Astraware, along with PopCap Games, committed to releasing Bejeweled 2 and have taken the classic and have given the old dog a few new (and even more addictive) tricks. Bejeweled 2 brings the classic gem swapping modes of the first (Endless and Timed) and adds two more modes (Action and Puzzle).

I have been playing Bejeweled 2 since it was released and it works great on every PDA model that you can throw at it. The background music is quite immersive and allows you to really get taken away by the game action. There are tons of little additions such as transition graphics (from level to level) and special jewels (in the Puzzle mode) that keep Bejeweled 2 quite fresh. You can play it over and over and not really get tired of it. Though, I do warn you about the Endless mode, there is a surprise if you were to take the time to try to get to the end of it. Bejeweled 2 is a great sequel to the first version and I think that PDA gamers of all types will enjoy Bejeweled 2 even more than people did the first one.

Bejeweled 2 can be purchased at Astraware’s website for $19.95 for both the Windows Mobile and Palm operating systems.

A Classic in the Making

The second game in our Astraware roundup is Zuma. Set into a Mayan-like theme, Zuma, like Bejeweled 2, is a simple game to pick up, but incredibly hard to put down. The point of Zuma is to shoot the orbs out the mouth of a frog to create matches of three or more orbs of the same color. The lines of orbs move along a track and the goal is to clear the line of orbs before the line snakes to the end of the path. Zuma, like just about every Astraware game, has great graphics and sounds.

I found that Zuma is an awesome game. It is hard though. When I first played Zuma, I thought that I would make it though the game quite easily. I found that as I got to the second level, Zuma increased in difficulty. This isn’t to say that I got frustrated and put it down, but losing made me develop several strategies (most of which did not work initially) to complete each level. Much like Bejeweled, Zuma is simple enough to attract any kind of mobile game player, but involved enough to never lose its freshness. I would recommend Zuma to anyone, just make sure you have some free time, you will want to play this one a lot.

Zuma can be purchased at Astraware’s website for $19.95 for both the Windows Mobile and Palm operating systems.

The Model of Immersion

Speaking of games that are highly involving, one of Astraware’s most recent releases, Shape Shifter, takes the award as a game that you can most lose time with. Shape Shifter is a carnival/circus-themed game that takes a simple concept of matching shapes, and gives you something that resembles one of those IQ tests that you would see online. There are two modes, Beat the Clock and Shape Speedster, but they are relatively the same. The goal is to match the shapes with the corresponding slots. In Beat the Clock, you are racing the clock (a classic sand timer — very nice touch). It gets harder as there are more slots and less time to do so. In Shape Speedster, you are just racing the board of slots. In both modes, there are multiple rows of slots that move left and right, but in Shape Speedster you are racing the rows that appear faster and faster.

I play Shape shifter when I am on the Metro on the way home from work and find that I need to take my eyes off of it so that I do no miss my stop. The other end of that is that I get quite vocal when I make a mistake or lose. Shape Shifter is as immersive as some console and PC role-playing games, but it is not a role playing game. An excellent choice for the avid game player, Shape Shifter provides classic puzzling action. Just make sure that you aren’t playing this while waiting for something, you just might miss it.

Shape Shifter can be purchased at Astraware’s website for $19.95 for both the Windows Mobile and Palm operating systems.

Got Time to Get Lost

Last, but certainly not least in our roundup is a game that reminded me instantly of Zelda and Link for the old 8-bit Nintendo. Mazera has a few advantages on Zelda though, the graphics are much better, and you don’t have to be a master at puzzle solving to solve it. As you can probably tell by the name, Mazera is a game of mazes. The goal is to get through the series of mazes to enable the main character Ix to return to his home planet. It is a simple game but the puzzles can get to you if you aren’t on the top of your game. I found Mazera delightfully challenging and worth its cost ($29.95).

I think that that the best thing that I liked about Mazera was how it reminded me of the old Zelda games, but the puzzles and mazes here require a lot more thought. The levels are well designed and you can easily get immersed into the storyline. There is even a hidden level (I haven’t found it yet) to add to the surprises that you will find. If you are into problem solving puzzles or maze games, Mazera will work great for you.

Mazera can be purchased at Astraware’s website for $29.95 for both the Windows Mobile and Palm operating systems.



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