Brighthand Reviews Astraware’s Mazera

by Reads (126,383)

Mazera is somewhere halfway between a puzzle-solving game and a role-playing game. There are versions of it for both the Palm OS and Pocket PC.

In this game you take on the role of Ix, who is trying to escape from the evil Mazerians, who captured him as a boy and have held him on their planet for years.

As it starts you are miraculously freed from your cage, but you still must escape from the city and eventually from Mazera itself.

To do this, you need to work your way through a huge collection of rooms. Each room is a puzzle that has to be solved in order for you to be able to move on.

Ix and Bob To get through each room, you have to figure out a way to get past laser wielding evil Mazerians, Ix-eating crabs, stationary lasers, and other traps.

Along the way you run into another race of aliens, who look like little blobs of jello with eyes. These are happy to help you out by giving you a bit of advice or opening a door for you.

Gameplay

The thing that I like best about Mazera is that each room is a puzzle in itself. So if you have three minutes to spare while standing in line at the grocery store, you can pull out your handheld and finish off a room.

If you fail, you just get sent back to the start of the room you are in. You don’t have to go through the tiresome process of working your way back to where you died.

Of course, as you go through the city, the puzzles become increasingly complex. The first ones are pretty simple, but the last ones can be pretty tough.

The controls are simple. Up, down, left, right, and pull up a menu of items like look at the map or save the game. You can’t jump and there are no weapons or spells so you really don’t need anything else.

You can also move around by touching the screen, if you prefer this to using a D-pad.

One Serious Complaint

Before you buy this game, you have the option of getting a trial version. The is actually the full game, but you can only play it a few times before it expires. Also, there’s a door you can’t get through that you need in order to get very far in the game.

OK, here’s the problem. Near the start of the game you are given a key and a choice between two doors. However, if you haven’t registered the game, you can’t go through one of them. If you go through the other, there’s no way to win the game, even if you register the game later and are able to open the other door.

There’s a combination of things that have to be done in a certain order for you to win, and you must go through these two doors in the right sequence.

Of course, there’s absolutely nothing to warn you of this. So I guess I’ll have to do it.

If you play the trial version and decide you like Mazera enough to buy it, you have to start over from the beginning. Don’t use any of your saved games.

And when you get to East Garden, use your key to go through the door to the North before you go to the door on the West.

Update: Astraware contacted me to say that it is possible to win the game if you go through the west door first, but I’ll admit I was unable to do it.

Graphics

Mazera for Pocket PC Mazera has relatively simple cartoony graphics. These fit in well with the tone of the game, which is rather light and cartoony itself.

However, the quality of these varies widely between the Palm OS and Pocket PC versions.

I started to play this game on my Axim X50v, where I found the graphics to be marginally OK. Ix is mostly just this small figure on the screen, and it took me a while to figure out that was I thought was his tail is actually part of his hair.

I tried this game on a QVGA Pocket PC to see if that made a difference, but it really didn’t.

Mazera for Palm OS Then I loaded the game up on a Tapwave Zodiac, and I was blown away by the difference. In the Palm OS version, Ix is a lot bigger on the screen, and you can actually see some detail on him. The same is true for the other characters.

Also, if you play it on the Zodiac, you get rumble effects.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the Pocket PC version is unplayable. I played it for hours, in fact. It’s simply that the Palm OS version looks better. The gameplay is otherwise identical.

Soundtrack

The soundtrack for Mazera is actually pretty good, as such things go. I can tell someone worked pretty hard on it.

It’s so good, in fact, that I almost considered listening to it. However, when I’m at home I prefer to listen to my own music, and when playing a game when I’m out I always turn the sound completely off, so I don’t get odd looks from people.

With either version the soundtrack is in a separate file, so you have the option to skip it completely.

Age Appropriateness

I think this a game that adults can love. I got addicted to it for a while.

But there’s nothing in it that would make it inappropriate for an elementary school kid, either.

Yes, Ix gets killed about a bazillion times during the game, but he never does any violence to anyone else.

And when Ix gets killed, it isn’t like he falls down in a shower of blood. He just disappears and comes back a second later.

Technical Stuff

The Palm OS version of Mazera took 406 KB for the game and another 1048 KB for the soundtrack.

The Pocket PC version took up 1.37 MB, and the soundtrack took up 405 KB.

On the Pocket PCs I tried Mazera on, I installed it to the devices’ built-in storage, not to RAM, and it ran just fine from there.

On the Zodiac I put it on a memory card, where it did equally well.

The Bottom Line

Mazera costs $29.95, which I know some people are going to think is kind of high.

However, it strongly reminds me of a GameBoy game, and these frequently cost $30. In those terms, I thinks Mazera is worth the price.

I definitely got many hours of entertainment out of it.


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