Some of you may know of a cross-platform gaming development library called GAPIDraw, which came from the Pocket PC, encircled the Symbian camp and has recently performed a bloodless coup in the Palm OS world. This is a good thing because it's suddenly a lot easier for developers to port their existing applications across to the Palm. Traffic Jam is the first of these to make it to the starting line, and e-Soft Interactive were kind enough to supply a copy to play with.
This product has actually had quite a few reviews and for the most part I'm not going to be going anywhere different. For those who haven't encountered it, the game consists of 200 odd levels where the object is to free the yellow car and get it to the exit. If you like Vexed then this will be right up your alley. It's simple enough to pick up and get going straight away, but requires enough thought to stop it being a walk in the park of your choice. They've luckily made it a bit easier by mixing in a few easy levels with the harder ones, making it somewhat less frustrating. And of course it records the moves you've taken and lets you come back and beat them.
As for presentation – gorgeous. The cars are cleanly drawn and finely detailed, the screens are consistently cleanly laid out and attractive and the sound effects are fantastic. The music is a little repetitive, but it's of high quality and easily turned off when it becomes annoying.
Unlike most other Palm games, when you exit Traffic Jam it doesn't save your state. Instead you should use the save-game slots to manually save your game. I found this system somewhat odd but it has its advantages, if you've multiple people playing for instance, but some users might find it strange.
Save-slots for multiple games
One small oversight – the background fills the screen nicely for landscape (480x320) users, but portrait users (320x480) will find merely a large black area.
But despite this, especially given the price (US$5.95), it is great value.
Now this is where I start to deviate from all the other reviews. It's a great wee game, but it's not a great wee Palm game. It violates just about every usability guideline for the Palm, and it gets a touch vexing.
In common with most games found on the Pocket PC it takes over the device. Thus your device's buttons and HotSync button don't work, and on the palmOne T3 the status bar is replaced with a blank area. And to exit a game takes 3 clicks (exit icon in the game, exit on the menu, another click to clear the credits).
So in summary – the game-play is excellent, the presentation is excellent, but it's let down by feeling like a port, not a Palm application. However, kudos to e-Soft for expanding to the Palm market, and I hope to see more from them soon!