I have always found card games a bit of an odd choice for PDA implementations. Transforming such a group activity into a single player game seems to subtract a certain something. But while polishing up my mediocre skills on Championship 500 I have found I might just be wrong.
DreamQuest offer a plethora of card games for almost everything. Not just Palm and Windows Mobile Pocket PC, but Symbian and Windows as well. You also have a choice of Spades, Hears, Euchre, Cribbage, Gin as well as that old favourite Solitaire. And, of course, my choice for this review Ė 82950 Championship Five Hundred (500) for Palm.
I was slightly surprised by the method of installation. After loading the PRC file onto your Palm you are presented with a program to run. This will in turn extract the AppForge support files as well as the game itself. While unusual, itís a fairly elegant solution to save people from having to install multiple files to their device. And given the wide range of platforms supported I was surprised at just how well this works on the Palm. While the UI is a custom one, menus work as one would expect, the applications saves automatically on power off or when home is pressed and the screen automatically resizes when I move the T3ís slider. Given the limitations of some other cross platform software Iíve come across this represents some excellent work.
As for the game itself, itís well presented and the interface is easy to handle without having to resort to manuals. Whether running is 320x320 or 320x480 the UI is well spaced out and messages are clearly visible. For a single player game - you can also play online - you are presented with 3 computer opponents, represented by tidily drawn cartoons - one of which bears an uncanny resemblance to Indiana Jones. For those getting started you can run a tutorial; however those familiar with the game will want to jump right in.
The game offers a decent amount of customisation, including winning/losing thresholds, deck size, game variant (defaulting to Australian) and various rule options. It also offers 5 skills levels along with a random skill option. Thereís also an option to turn on hints and to [thankfully] turn off the taunts that your opponents will sometimes spout. And of course thereís a handy statistics screen to keep track of your progress (or lack of in my case).
On the downside the UI doesnít offer a lot of feedback. Buttons donít recess when pressed and things just happen without graphical niceties. This can sometimes lead to situations where youíre not quite sure if youíve pressed something. Thereís also a small redraw bug triggered intermittently when you access the menus while playing a hand. Finally I found my partner had a habit of trying to win hands when we were fighting a Misere bid, which hence turned out somewhat badly.
Overall, however, itís a nice little package and has kept me well and truly occupied on the bus this week. Itís well presented, it plays well and thereís a 10 game demo available - itís well worth a download to have a play. Kudos to DreamQuest for an excellent addition to anyoneís PDA.