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Red-Mercury

PalmInfoCenter.com Bottom Line:

The Price:
  • $15
The Pros:
  • Good price
  • Endless levels

The Cons:
  • Requires free space on the handheld to run
  • Not many power-ups
  • Ball appears blurred on monochrome models

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*Maximum Rating is FIVE (5) InfoPalms



Atom Smash 2.0 Review
By Pepper
9/14/2001


For years, the game Breakout has been around under various names. In the Palm world, Atom Smash has always been the ultimate version. That is, until recently when Ababall came along and gave Atom Smash a serious run for its money.

Atom Smash is one of Red-Mercury's finest games, and is many people's favorite. It offers loads of features packed into just over 150k.

The remodeling begins before you even launch the program. Both of the main icons have been redesigned, and the start up screen is just gorgeous. The game itself has also been enhanced with new graphics and backgrounds.

Like any version of Breakout, the idea of the game is to hit all of the bricks without dying. But with Atom Smash, there are several features that make completing this task either easier or harder. For one, there's the power-ups.

Power-Ups and Bricks
Atom Smash has six main power-ups, and each one is very different. There's a multi-ball option which allows you to have three balls on the screen at once. A power-up to make your paddle larger, as well as one which makes it smaller. The hydrogen bomb - a useful power-up which allows you to go through any block type. There's also a pink S which slows down your ball a bit. And, of course, who can forget the one that gives you free paddles?

Another neat thing about the game is the bricks. There are the normal, multi-colored ones and a few other types. One of them is a black brick which needs to be hit twice in order to disappear. There's also bricks that you just can't kill, and another type that always reappears after a couple seconds.

Level Editor
One of the things that sets Atom Smash away from the competition is the ability to create and run multiple level packs. You can instal nearly limitless level packs (the only limit is your Palm's memory) and even modify them to customize the difficulty. When you create your own levels, you can either keep them to yourself, beam them to others, or even post them on a web site. With the level editor, you can choose power-ups and name the levels. The level packs are limited to 100 levels, but you can certainly fit a lot of action into that amount of space.

The Beta Process
So how exactly did the beta process work? A month and a half ago Red-Mercury sent out a notice saying they needed beta testers to help get version 2.0 ready for its final release. They were expecting to have just fifty participants like on their prior software, but they were quickly flooded with e-mails. They weren't able to get an auto-response up until after nearly 200 entries had been sent.

Out of that number, over 150 people participated in the beta test with over 400 responses about bug reports and suggestions. After six beta releases, nearly two hundred fixes were made resulting in a final product.

The Competition
So how does the new version of Atom Smash compare to its main competitor, Ababall? Well, it really depends on what aspect you look at. If you are looking for the best graphics possible, Ababall is definitely going to win out just like if you want lots of unique power-ups. But if you want long term playability, Ababall's 32 levels will soon bore you whereas Atom Smash has the possibility for near infinite levels for endless enjoyment.

Conclusion
Atom Smash provides hours of fun for only $15. It doesn't matter if you own a color or a monochrome device, either way this game will be just as fun. At just $15, I would definitely say Atom Smash is well worth the money.

I hope Pepper won't mind if I add a couple of comments. I tested Atom Smash on a Sony N610C and it looks awesome. Atom Smash has built-in support for the Clié's hi-res screen and you can move the paddle with the Jog Dial. -Ed

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why so much coverage?

kisrael @ 9/14/2001 10:53:42 AM #
Why does this game get so much coverage here? Is it that spectacular or does it just have a great PR firm? I mean there are tons of interesting palm games out there, an Arkanoid clone doesn't seem all that inspired...

RE: why so much coverage?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/14/2001 11:02:50 AM #
AtomSmash 2.0 is the most innovative arcade game ever. Watch out, Nintendo.

RE: why so much coverage?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/14/2001 11:09:25 AM #
Innovative or not, it's still not a new game or genre...

RE: why so much coverage?
dwarchbold @ 9/14/2001 11:49:48 AM #
It gets a lot of coverage because it is a good game. Especially on the Clie 710/610 with their hi-res displays.

That, and the fact that Red Mercury is has a large fan base I think. While they only have a few games out and some consider them pricey, they are all of high quality. Red Mercury also provides other "in-depth" information on their web site regarding battery life, hi-res abilities of the Clie, etc. This makes them more of a "community" member than a company.

So, great games, great company, great press. :)

RE: why so much coverage?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/14/2001 4:41:52 PM #
Watch out Nintendo? I'm sorry, but even the new Clies aren't going to beat out Nintendo. Can you imagine 6-year olds buying $400 palm pilots to play a glorified version of Hardball? It's a great game, don't get me wrong, but really.

RE: why so much coverage?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/14/2001 6:10:46 PM #
I bought the previous version of Atom Smash for my Handspring Prism. I thought it was fair but not great, but immediately regretted my purchase when, after playing though numerous levels for a couple hours, it crashed and forgot all I had done. I was disgusted, and put it aside ever since -- chalked it up as a waste of money.

Now I see 2.0 is out. I'd be willing to give it another try but certainly hope there's a free upgrade for registered users. Does anybody know if there is?


RE: why so much coverage?
ImpReza @ 9/14/2001 9:14:08 PM #
Yes, it is free for registered users. Anyway, AS 2 is great fun, though I wished they added some more unique powerups to make seem a little more useful, but it's more than adequate as it is right now. Though I completely agree that AS doesnt light a candle compared to Nintendo. I really like to see the day when I can play Mario Kart Advance on a color PDA. Maybe itll come sooner than I think...

I agree...
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/15/2001 2:42:23 AM #
Reviews like this are kinda silly on PalmInfocenter.
Big deal.

RE: why so much coverage?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/16/2001 11:44:48 AM #
yes there is a free upgrade, im bought it a few months ago. and i thought i would just have to re-enter the regitration code i recieved... or get a copy sent to me. but they were both wrong. i deleted my old copy of atom smash(not the data) and installed the newer demo form palmgear and it showed up as already registered.

hi-res & jog

fuzzy @ 9/14/2001 11:15:53 AM #
does as2.0 also support the qvga and the jog dial on the h330?

thx,
fuzz
RE: hi-res & jog
Ed @ 9/14/2001 12:07:30 PM #
I spoke with my contact at Red-Mercury about this, who said:
    During the beta, a number of techniques were attempted on the Handera 330 to
    get Atom Smash running full speed. We first attempted 240x240 high resolution with graffiti/stylus play area, then 160x160 scaled to 240x240, and finally "standard' 160x160 resolution. Every attempt seemed to be thwarted by the soft graffiti area, something that we are still trying to
    get a handle on.

    For a somewhat technical description of what we think was going on, when we were double-buffering the screen, the operating system had to continuously redraw the soft graffiti area, causing massive slow-down. Running in a hardware-direct mode was unacceptable, as that would eliminate the graffiti area entirely, not a comforting idea. Running in a compatible
    non-double-buffered mode at high resolution is slow. We finally got good performance at 160x160 non-scaled - that is what we are doing now.

    The fact that we could get Atom Smash running at 60FPS, 320x320 pixels, 8-bit color on the CLIE, and we could NOT get it running at 50FPS, 240x240 pixels, 2-bit color on the Handera demonstrates how different these hardware platforms really are - and it demonstrates our lack of experience with the 330.

    As for Handera-specific Jog Dial support, strangely enough, that never came up in the beta test - had someone mentioned it, we would have added it in 5 minutes flat. We had testers with 330's, but we all overlooked that one.

    In a nutshell, we have certainly put the work in to 330 support, but we've had troubles with it. This is our failing - but until we find better ways to use the 330 as a game device, we'll offer 160x160 support on these units. We certainly understand if Handera users choose to support other game developers as a result of this... hey, we tried.


---
News Editor
RE: hi-res & jog
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/17/2001 1:52:49 AM #
Well,

Thanks for the effort and hopefully you guys will come up with something soon.

I've had my Handera for a while now and I'm desperate to find some games that are compatible with it..

Though other than this fact the thing still kicks butt ;)

PalmGamePad

lorenzszabo @ 9/14/2001 1:10:26 PM #
What about PalmGamePad support? This is one really cool feature of Ababall.

(Although, I already have Ababall, I'm very interested in Atom Smash, too.)

What about Impactor??

Luka @ 9/14/2001 5:58:35 PM #
About 2 years ago I registered the Arkanoid clone Impactor.
It's not colour or hi-res, but it remains the most faithful version there is! AND it has a level editor too, plus aliens and all that.
AND it's still the smallest, and the cheapest, and the best :-) AND NOW IT'S FORGOTTEN, IN THE WAKE OF BLOATED; OVER "GAMEBOYED" OVERPRICED APPS!

http://www.palmgear.com/software/showsoftware.cfm?sid=63325720010914103531&prodID=1418

Whatever happened to real Palm Apps? It wasn't too long ago that 100k was a big program... Now it's almost standard :-(


RE: What about Impactor??
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/14/2001 6:15:25 PM #
I always wanted to try that game, but it wont run properly on color devices. You cant get the game to run at all. :(

and i also remember when a 100k program took up more then a tenth of my palm's memory. but, with bigger palms comes bigger programs.

but i still appreciate the classic games like SFcave and dope wars. they just dont make them like they used to

-Pepper

Nobody here tried Ababall?

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/16/2001 4:01:05 PM #
Man, Ababall plays soo much better, has more varied levels, more power-ups and MUCH better graphics!

www.ababall.com

(Nope, don't work for them, and haven't even registered the product, but it's still a great game!)

What about Ababall?
ImpReza @ 9/16/2001 5:14:19 PM #
Ababall might have the upper hand in graphics, but for the sheer fun and gameplay, Atom Smash cant be beat. For one thing, Ababall uses up 400k, and that is just for the grayscale version!- all because of its graphics, but it only comes with 32 levels with no opportunity to create your own or download others. Suddenly, the replay value of ababall seems to be dropping. While Atom Smash only uses up about 100k or so, and you can add your own levels or download others. Atom Smash is much simpler and easier to start playing than Ababall as well. Atom Smash's power-ups are comparable to Ababall, but I too hope that Red-Mercury adds some more in the future. But in the end, its Atom Smash that wins because of its long replay value, great gameplay and its overall simplicity (I'd rather have those over great graphics anyday.)

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