When I first saw the screenshots of this new title over at PocketGamer.org
, I thought at once it’d be just a remake of AIM
’s well-known Pocket PC / Smartphone oldie “Done In 50 Seconds
” (or, as far as games similar to the AIM classic are concerned, Simbsoft
’s “Railroad Jam
”) quickly reviewed for example in the Pocket PC Games Bible Part I
(the same on a VGA PPC
, a QVGA Pocket PC / Smartphone
and on a 176*220 Smartphone
. Note that they don’t have a title as I couldn’t take screenshots because of the excess CPU usage of the game and the fact that the logo is only shown for about a second at start)
Fortunately, the situation is way different and there is little resemblance to AIM’s evergreen – if at all. In this game, you will spend most of your time deciding what tools to give your burglars (screenshot
of the main “Inventory” screen where you can give your crooks the tools they will need) and what path they should follow to do what they are supposed to. This is much more complicated than you might think as there are several tools to choose from, with different parameters.
Knowing the other games of the developer (of which, I recommend the most (except for the, in my opinion, sub-par Arcades for Adults
). See THIS
– make sure you follow the links backward), I knew I can expect something cool – at a pretty low price. Fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed – it’s indeed a pretty good game, particularly if you swap your favorite MOD music files into the game.
The main homepage of the title is HERE
. The Pocket PC version costs $11.75; the MS Smartphone version is $7.75. This means as with (most) of their other games, it’s quite a bargain, especially the Smartphone version. Note that they support almost all mobile phone platforms; for example, if you have a pre-v3 Series 60
Symbian device (even the screen resolution of 352x416 is supported!), you only end up paying $3.90 for the game - quite a bargain for a game like this, if you ask me.
To test the latter, I’ve also played the game on my (now) low-end, original Nokia N-Gage
, which has a really bad, low-speed (~100 MHz) CPU. The game ran almost flawlessly on the handheld, albeit a bit slow in both the path drawing and the actual gaming mode. This couldn’t be helped by disabling (the, compared to Windows Mobile devices, much lower-quality) music (which, by the way, sometimes stutters when there is a full display & music track change – for example, switching between different screens). However, it was still playable.
Windows Mobile compliance-wise, it’s compatible with both Pocket PC’s and MS Smartphones. All (common) screen resolutions are supported and taken, when necessary, advantage of: both VGA, square-screen and QVGA on Pocket PC’s (with high-res graphics on VGA devices!) and both 176*220 and QVGA Smartphones. Note that WVGA (800*480) compliance (for the Toshiba G900 or the forthcoming HTC Omni) is not explicitly stated. The resource files don’t explicitly contain files for 800-pixel-high screens.
I haven’t encountered any problems running the game on the following Windows Mobile devices (except for the high score list bug with the "cooked" WM5/WM6 ROM's explained below):
HTC Universal (VGA WM6 Pocket PC Phone Edition)
HP iPAQ hx4700 (VGA Pocket PC with WM5 AKU 3.5
HP iPAQ h2210 (WM2003 QVGA Pocket PC)
Dell Axim x51v (WM5 VGA PPC; ROM version official A12)
HTC Vox / s710 (WM6 QVGA Smartphone)
HTC Oxygen / s310 (WM5 AKU3 176*220 Smartphone)
I’ve already mentioned this title is WAY different from AIM’s Done In 50 Seconds
. You have a LOT more to pay attention to; this also means this game has a far steeper learning curve than that of AIM. It's, however, really worth the trouble as the game is a LOT deeper than AIM's title.
Let's start with the tools, which already add a LOT to the complexity of the game.
For example, there are more than one tool to break into wooden doors. Some examples (of the 12 tools available) are as follows (with other essential parameters, which also have a direct effect on whether you can afford it at all; which tool is the best, weight- and operation time-wise etc.
Jimmy: 30 sec / $3000 / 1 kg
Crowbar: 22 sec / $50 / 10 kg
Hammer: 18 sec / $120 / 15 kg
Saw: 15 sec / $7000 / 11 kg
(Click the links for screenshots!)
Of course, these tools have other uses than just breaking into wooden doors. For example, Jimmy
also support breaking into built-in safes (in 70 / 35 sec, respectively), which isn’t supported by the two other tools and so on. This all means you will really want to carefully plan what to take with you, who should carry a given tool (if you make use more than one burglar) and what tool should be best used to make the burglary as quick as possible. There are a lot of possible combinations, which means you will need to do a lot of planning and comparison to carefully plan your burglary.
The game has 24 missions (in addition to the default 6 or 7 (haven’t exactly counted them), easy training missions, which explain selecting the right tools).
As far as the complexity of the game is concerned, while the training missions are very easy to get through (it took me about an hour to do this), the real missions themselves are VERY complicated, particularly if you pay for additional tips (sometimes, there are several of them; upon receiving them, the ) on which safe should be opened for additional money and treasures. (You don’t need to do this all if you don’t have the time / still don’t have the money for the necessary tools to do this in the time you’re allowed.)
For example, the first real mission has, if you pay for all the information, 6 real targets to break open into (in addition to the alarm system) as can be seen in the following screenshot (showing, in the lower right corner, how much time it has already taken me to instruct the burglar to break thought the front door, disabling the alarm and break into two safes):
This means it can take you, sometimes, hours to come up with a strategy (picking the right tools; deciding who should do what) for a given mission. For example, the following screenshots shows pre-planning what two burglars should do in parallel:
Note that the route of the boss can’t be pre-programmed (as opposed to the crooks he hires); he must be manually controlled during the actual burglary. This means watching what your burglars do is, as opposed to the first five missions, isn’t just passive. You must control the boss during this, while the other burglars do their pre-programmed path – directing him to the next target, selecting the right tool etc, as is the case with pre-programming the ordinary burglars.
Fortunately, the game supports auto-saving, which makes it possible to continue planning a burglary even after restarting a game.
This means the game can entertain you for quite a lot of time. I don’t think (after having completed all the 24 missions) it can beat Orions: Legend of Wizards
(particularly with its expansion pack, Orions: The Second Age
), which guarantee fun even months after the purchase. Still, this game might entertain you for weeks to come.
Music & sounds; hacking
Music-wise, the game uses tracked soundtracks played back in stereo (with the Hekkus Sound System engine). There is a separate track for in-game and non-in game music. I didn’t find them as good as the ones in some of Herocraft’s earlier titles – they’re pretty short and, after a while, repetitive. They are, however, better than nothing – particularly if you get the cheap Smartphone version of the game.
As all the game resources are all in the “game.dat
” file, which is a standard .7z
compressed file, you can even easily swap the music files. There are four .MOD
files under the \snd
directory – just overwrite them to your favourite MOD file. To do this, you’ll need to download the excellent 7-Zip
(you can safely get the current (4.52 beta) beta), make sure you associate the .7z file extension with it, rename game.dat
to, say, game.7z
, click it and, after it’s loaded by 7-Zip, just move the mod files you’d like to listen to during the game.
I’ve tested the game with the EXCELLENT modules coming with TapzMania (see the Windows Mobile Multiplayer Bible
for more info on this title). It worked flawlessly.
There are some short sound effects; I’ve counted 18 of them (alarm, bomb, success, failure, being thrown in jail etc). I particularly liked the “Yeah
No problems in here: as with most Herocraft titles, it’s pretty good, particularly on VGA devices. As far as the, resolution-wise, diametrically opposed platform, the 176*220 Smartphone platform is concerned, I haven't encountered graphics-related problems on it either.
The game supports several languages, which you can choose from at startup (screenshot
). I’ve, in addition to the English one, checked the accuracy of the German translation: I’ve found no mistakes.
Since this is a version 1.0 game, there are some bugs in it. For example, the game shouldn’t be started in Landscape mode (otherwise, screen tap coordinate registration will be messed up). This was a problem on two devices I’ve tested.
Also, the game throws an ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException
(and, then, just exits – screenshot HERE
) upon trying to access the high score list on my WM5 hx4700
and my WM6 HTC Universal
(both running “unofficial”, "cooked" ROM’s). On my (non-cooked) MS Smartphones, WM5 AKU 2.2 A12 Dell Axim x51v
and on my WM2003 iPAQ 2210
, this wasn’t the case; that is, it seems that it’s only devices with popular XDA-Developers “cooked” ROM’s are affected, not devices with official, factory ROMs (or upgrades).
Finally, as with all the other HeroCraft
games, it’s continuously running the CPU at 100% speed (even without the sound enabled), meaning it will chew through your battery really fast. Otherwise, the game runs fine on even slower devices – even with A2DP enabled and music (tested on my non-overclocked, TI OMAP-based HTC Vox
). Note that, in order to fix the problem of high power consumption, you can mercilessly underclock your handheld. On my, by default, 624 MHz Dell Axim x51v, the game runs flawlessly the device underclocked to 208 MHz. Then, the power consumption is about 60 (SIXTY!) % lower than running the PDA in auto mode (~580 mA vs. 230 mA, using ~40% brightness and running acbTaskMan
in normal refresh mode). Quite a difference in battery life, eh? Yeah, this is why it’s REALLY worth reading ALL my articles – this result is pretty close to what I’ve published in my well-known, related article
, also published
in the printed version of Smartphone & Pocket PC Magazine, on these questions.
Pretty much recommended, particularly for MS Smartphone users (because of 1, the lower price 2, the lack of good games for the platform). While, IMHO, it can’t beat Orions
(on the long run: you’ll, once you learn to play it, will play Orions for months and will really be addicted to it), it’s still a very nice game. Just don't forget to underclock your handheld if you can.