Two New Games on the Way From Astraware

In a reassuring sign that some publishers are still actively committed supporting the Palm OS with high-quality new entertainment titles, two new games are on the docket from Astraware. A brief overview and sample images as well as an e-mail notification signup can be found on the company's preview page.

Filling a long-empty void in the Palm OS market for a high-quality, side-scrolling arcade shooter, Astraware's Platypus looks to be sort of a spiritual successor to the company's own Zap! 2000 series. The sample image suggests that Astraware has been somewhat influenced by the cartoony, pastel aesthetic of the classic Sega title Fantasy Zone. Both Palm OS and Windows Mobile versions will be available.

Astraware's other new title, Westward looks to be an interesting hybrid of adventure, strategy, and resource management game genres. Based on the PC title by Sandlot Games, it is being ported to both Palm OS and Windows Mobile devices. An overview of the PC version of the title can be found on Sandlot's site.

Article Comments


The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. PalmInfocenter is not responsible for them in any way.
Please Login or register here to add your comments.

Start a new Comment Down

Well that is encouraging

linds @ 12/18/2007 9:21:30 AM # Q
Maybe the centro has created additional demand for software. Now if we could just get a half ways decent browser.

Reply to this comment


reidme @ 12/18/2007 11:54:21 AM # Q
Unfortunately Astraware doesn't really make Palm OS games. They've created their own development environment and made runtime systems for Palm (and other OSes) which results in games that are slow to load/exit, are bloated in size, and are very sluggish in performance. Winmobile folks are used to that sort of thing, but on Palm it's very noticeable.

RE: Astraweak
hkklife @ 12/18/2007 3:25:19 PM # Q
Would that explain the very disappointing Titanic game that I recently reviewed?

I've noticed a very disturbing trend lately for POS titles that have minimal/broken 5-way navigator support and, even more aggravatingly, tiny, miniscule fonts & in-game text that fail to utilize the full area of the Palm device's screen.

Do you have a source to verify this info? What was the last "real" POS game by Astraware? StarPop & Bejeweled 2 both were still nice titles, so this must be a rather recent development?

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX-->Treo 700P

RE: Astraweak
reidme @ 12/18/2007 8:11:40 PM # Q
I thought Titanic was disappointing too, as well as Solitaire and Boardgames. I don't have proof, but it seems pretty obvious to me that they've created their own menu routines etc. that are common to all platforms. Either that, or it's just sloppy programming. Regardless, the results are Palm programs with the response and feel of Winmobile. :(

RE: Astraweak
theseus @ 12/19/2007 12:31:34 PM # Q
You two are way off. Ok, so it's a "port" of a PC game -- it's a darn good one! My wife and I were shopping the other day (ok, she was shopping, I was pushing the cart) and we came across the Titanic title for PC. My wife instantly put it in the basket. We got home and installed it and BOTH of us were astounded at what an amazing job they had done putting the game onto Palm... In fact, they did a BETTER job than the PC game! (The PC game had several artifacts -- as in bad pixels, not "items to find in the room" -- that the Palm game did NOT have. Certain items, once found in the PC game, actually STAYED visible -- despite it "floating off"; think "dead cartoon cat" going to heaven while its body stays down on earth. Others were "black gems" -- clearly, these were supposed to be "gems", but in the PC version they showed up only as black rectangles or trapezoids. It took my wife and I nearly 20 minutes in one room where we knew there was supposed to be 2 extra gems but for the life of us, we couldn't find them... By sheer luck, I found one of them when I decided to click on a "black hole" [dot]. The PC game recognized it as a gem and moved it to the "gem bag" accordingly, but it never did show us WHAT gem we found: it started out as a black rectangle or trapezoid and that's how it was placed in the gem bag. NO SUCH artifacts or graphical errors were present in the Palm game from Astraware.)

There are two main differences between the PC game and the Palm game: 1) the PC game allows you to see the whole room at once, meaning no scrolling and 2) the list of items "shift upwards" on the PC game, while they simply disappear on the Palm. (There's a third thing: solving the bonus rooms "ends" differently on the PC than Palm. When completing a picture, the Palm lets you see the whole picture unobstructed while the PC pastes "Success!" across the middle of the picture, obscuring the detail below. When looking for a set of items in the bonus, the PC ends with a picture showing the items as a collection, while the Palm simply has the same "completed room, but not game" message.)

As far as responsiveness, once the room is loaded, response is immediate! This is also something that they've done better than the PC version: the PC version allows only ONE item at a time to be selected and/or "found"... The item has to float to the center of the room and inflate its balloon BEFORE you can choose another item! However, on the Palm, you can choose items in quick succession withOUT having to wait!

I'm not claiming that makes their games "unique" -- clearly it's based on a title for another platform... But at the same time, they do a very nice job of porting games to the Palm platform. If you're familiar with the PC version of the title, you'll be able to pick up a Palm with that title and feel right at home. In many ways, that's a tougher job than creating something that has its own look and feel.

Do I like EVERY Astraware title? No. Clearly there are some that are better than others when it comes to style of gameplay as it relates to my personal preference. But rating the game (or developer) poorly simply because you're not interested in the game is superficial and judgmental.

Regardless of your personal preference for "never-before-seen-on-any-platform" games, the fact that [many of] the titles that Astraware offers are unique among Palm OS titles makes them stand out from other developers. The fact that their ports are well done makes them one of the better developers.

Do I think many of their games are large? Sure. Certainly, if I wasn't using ZLauncher and storing the games on an SD card, I'd quickly run out of room on my device just loading their games... But the attention to detail that Astraware has -- and the penchant for closely matching gameplay on a completely different OS -- gives them some leeway in offering "only" games under 300K... Graphics and music are by large what cause the majority of the size. To provide such high quality graphics and high quality music tracks will mean their games are among the largest out there.

If I wanted some low quality "knock-off", I'm SURE it could be done with a considerably smaller footprint. Gameplay would be completely different because you're not trying to emulate something, you're just solving a basic task and you don't need to worry about "the feel" of the game.

hkklife, I'm disappointed... I've been reading PIC for a couple years and have come to appreciate your usually grounded opinion; however with your review of Titanic and your slamming of Astraware, I have reason for pause... It may be true that other developers are having minimal/broken support for 5-ways, but Astraware is one of the few developers I can count on to include it as much as they can. Are they perfect? I wouldn't say so. But that doesn't mean they are thoughtless grunts just pushing out half-hearted attempts at games for a quick buck, either.

They are very good at finding entertaining titles -- either through "new development" or "simple porting" -- and bringing them to the Palm OS. They seem to have amazing attention to detail, and I think that often results in titles that are "larger" in size than some other developers may create.

I will not comment on having "Palm-OS-only" games, as I think it is immaterial... Astraware is providing new-to-Palm-OS titles that are fun, entertaining and well developed. They are offering a service to those users still using a Palm OS device and are doing a fine job of it.

*leaves $0.02 at the door*


RE: Astraweak
hkklife @ 12/19/2007 3:47:05 PM # Q

You opinion/comments are noted & appreciated.

I will stand ground on my rating of Titanic. I am a long-time (since '96) Palm OS gamer and have seen a lot of titles/developers/publishers come & go for the platform. Astraware truly has a sterling reputation but I still must say that their efforts in the past year have been somewhat disappointing.

Their Tetris port for Handmark was quite poor but I attribute that to so many different hands in the pie for that one (developed by Astraware, published by Handmark, licensed from Electronic Arts/The Tetris Company) If you'll look back, I gave very solid marks to StarPOp & Glyph in the past year, so it's not like I a have an axe to grind with Astraware. I DO appreciate their continued efforts to support POS (and even Palm's aborted Foleo version of Linux!) but I just cannot help but shake the feeling that their more recent titles lack much of the loving care'n attention they used to spit-shine every title with.

Also, I do not review a title unless it appears to be something I'd be particularly interested in. That's why I never reviewed Madden Football for POS despite it being a "big name" title. I detest football and find most sports video games a far cry from the real thing, so I generally steer clear of them. And if you flip back through my reviews over the past 2 years of Astraware's titles, I frequently commend them for their commitment to POS and their periodic updates of their older titles to ensure compatibility with newer devices.

Glad to hear the Palm OS version of Titanic has a few extra bonuses. Of course, unless I am specifically referencing it as such (a head-to-head comparison or, in the case of Tetris, a widely-ported game where the Palm OS version has to compete with versions for GameBoys etc)I usually try to evaluate the POS version on its own merits and relative to other similar titles on the platform. Perhaps I spoke too hastily in regards to the 5-way navigation criticism. But I think we can all agree that Palm is downplaying its touchscreen-based roots, what with the Treo 500v, increased focus on one-handed navigation on the newer Treo/Centros and increasingly smaller LCDs on Palm's devices. That was the same line of thought I had when criticizing the tiny fonts used on many recent games (not just from Astraware but from all developers/publishers) much extra $/effort would it take to have a quick option where you can toggle font size? My old Nintendo DS had RPGs with easier-to-read text than some of the recent crop of POS games! And, mind you, I have 20/20 vision. I just recently recommended a Centro to a colleague who returned it and got a 755p and is still considering returning that one because of the lure of larger-screened (though admittedly coarser resolution) WinMob devices. I'd hate to see Palm finally produce a hit product targeted towards entry-level buyers (the ones more likely to actually buy/registere game titles) and have them soured because they cannot read the in-game text!

And size? Come on, I NEVER complain about that. I only use 4gb SD and 8gb SDHC cards on a regular basis so that's the least of my worries. I'll gladly take ONE weighty PRC file from Astraware anyway! I remember the days of yore with a slew of PRCs and PDBs scatterd all across main memory and my SD card!

P.S. Rook's Revenge is STILL my favorite handheld game of all time! I'd LOVE to see an updated version of it released!

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX-->Treo 700P

RE: Astraweak
theseus @ 12/19/2007 5:15:11 PM # Q
hkklife, well, I'm glad to see you're being more "reasonable", as I've come to expect from you. ;) Still, I'm a little baffled by your low ranking of Titanic. (Btw, my comment on that review was PRIOR to my even "knowing" it was a port, much less having actually seen or played the PC title.)

Perhaps it must be the smaller screen of a Treo; while I admit some things are small, they don't appear to be "impossible" to find -- or discern -- on my T3. I don't have a Treo (yet -- VZW's 755p is very tempting), so I can't say how much larger the T3 screen is... Still, it seems unlikely that it would be _that_ much smaller to make it unusable.

It's a search game... To me it's a pretty good one. (I was only MORE impressed after playing the PC version.) Maybe if the screen were "too" small, it would detract from its playability, but aside from that, it deserves better marks (IMHO).


Reply to this comment
Start a New Comment Thread Top


Register Register | Login Log in