App Review: Paratrooper

Paratrooper Opening Card

When Palm released the plug-in development (PDK) at CES this year, webOS immediately became the 2nd-best smartphone gaming platform on the market. In terms of graphics power, at least, the Pre suddenly equaled the iPhone as a machine capable of running rich 3D games, and today webOS only lags iOS (as the iPhone OS is now called) in the sheer number of games available. In fact, because the PDK makes it easy to port games from other platforms, all of the existing PDK apps from developers like Glu Mobile and Gameloft are iPhone ports.

Today, PDK apps require special tweaking by Palm before they can be released in the App Catalog, and they’re not available for the Pixi and Pixi Plus. With webOS 1.4.5, however, PDK apps will be as easily distributed as non-PDK apps and will run on all webOS devices. Thus, PDK gaming will be even more compelling.

At the same time, many developers have made extremely enjoyable games without the PDK, using the standard SDK development tools of CSS, HTML, and Javascript. Many are word and puzzle games that require only simple graphics without performance concerns, but some—like Kaboom Industries’ Paratrooper, available in the Palm App Catalog—are arcade games with smooth (albeit simpler than PDK) graphics and exciting game play. That’s fortunate, because while PDK games are robust and graphically rich, they do take longer to load and, in many cases, to play. When you have a few minutes to waste and lack the brain cells for more cerebral games, then simple arcade games that can load quickly and provide a few minutes of game play fit the bill.

Simply put, Paratrooper—currently the top ranked game in Palm’s Hot Apps contest–is just such a game. Based on the notion of guiding WWII paratroopers safely to the ground past increasingly complex and dangerous obstacles, Paratrooper is frustratingly addicting. It’s easy at the beginning while you learn the various game elements, such as “power pellets”  and various traps and obstacles, and it quickly becomes more challenging. The following screenshots demonstrate the game’s simple but amusing graphics and whimsical game play.

As with all good soldiers, you start out in boot camp for some training:

Paratrooper Boot Camp

Early levels are fairly easy, and paratroopers open their own chutes:

Paratrooper Early Level

Then, they get progressively harder:

Paratrooper Later Level

Until they’re a bit difficult:

Paratrooper Harder Level

Game play is simple and straightforward, utilizing the accelerometer to guide your paratroopers to the ground with a tap on each one in later levels to deploy their chutes. But simple isn’t the same as easy—it takes some dexterity to tap each paratrooper in time to avoid their smashing into the ground or, for example, to make sure a whole group doesn’t get blown up in a mind field.

Conclusion: Overall, I’d rate the game as an easy buy at $1.99, and a no-brainer given Palm’s current 50% off promotion. It’s a must-have game for the casual gamer and anyone with a few minutes a day to waste, and with new levels added via OTA updates, the game has some staying power. To whit: although Kaboom Industries was kind enough to provide a review copy of the game, I’ve already purchased a full copy to gain access to some new levels.

Positives:

  • Unique premise
  • Easy to learn and play
  • Challenging at later levels
  • Good replay value with new levels
  • High scores

Negatives:

  • Some very minor choppiness at times, but this likely isn’t the game’s fault

Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Coppock, Brad Shedwick. Brad Shedwick said: RT @aboutpalmpre: App Review: @KaboomApps Paratrooper. In short, a must-buy @Palm #webOS game: http://bit.ly/ayRjAu [...]

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