the Mouth of Madness:
By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman
What's new this week in loonygames? Ask our loony editor.
’ve never made any secret of the fact that I have a Palm Pilot. I use it more often than perhaps I should, and without it, well, I probably wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning. It holds my life, and therefore it is truly a prized possession. I have always had a few games on the thing, but as more and more people I knew bought Pilots, I discovered a whole new level of gaming…there’s a ton and a half of great games out there right now for your downloading enjoyment…and today I’m going to point out to you my personal favorites.
The king of all Pilot games, as far as I’m concerned (and I know I’m not alone here) is definitely Dragon Bane. Dragon Bane essentially is a role playing game, but it’s a lot more than that. It’s really a technological marvel, managing to squeeze a level of quality out of the Palm Pilot that I really never thought was possible. While the game certainly isn’t Final Fantasy quality, it is an excellent game. If you’ve ever seen a Palm Pilot, you simply won’t believe the graphics in Dragon Bane, even while you’re playing. The game’s imagery is spectacular, and since the game is played from a first person perspective, it’s shown off remarkably well. One other thing that Dragon Bane does, that few games do, is that it runs full screen. There’s no clunky interface to get in the way, and you can play with either the pen or the buttons. Way too many Pilot apps assume they need to have all kinds of extraneous information all over the place simply because it’s running on a PDA. Dragon Bane doesn’t, and as a result, it’s probably the only game that could pass for a GameBoy title.
Playing anything after Dragon Bane can be a bit of a stretch, but there are a number of excellent others out there as well. Another RPG worth checking out, and another one of those first downloads for any Palm Pilot gamer, is Kyle’s Quest. Kyle’s Quest is a RPG in the style of the first few Ultima games, or the early Final Fantasy titles. Kyle’s Quest stands up nicely next to Dragon Bane, and in some cases, surpasses it in its depth (although never coming close technologically). The real kicker behind Kyle’s Quest, however, is the fact that there’s a freely available editor out there, and there are a ton of new quests to download. Before Dragon Bane was released, one of my favorite pastimes was to download a new KQ level just for the heck of it. There are some very clever levels out there, including a conversion of Ultima I, a parody of Final Fantasy VII, and quite a few original ones. Kyle’s Quest can be a bit on the large side, so be sure you’ve got plenty of space before attempting to install it (of course, if you’ve got a Palm III or later this probably won’t be much of an issue…I’ve got a Palm Pro myself).
Probably the best "bang for your space" in Palm Pilot gaming, though, has got to be PilotFrotz. PilotFrotz isn’t actually a game, but rather it’s an Infocom game interpreter. You’ll need to provide the data, but once you do, you can play any of the classic Infocom text adventures on your Pilot. Since Zork I, II, and III are all freeware now, this is a non-issue (although personally, I’m just a sucker for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). Converting the data to a Pilot compatible database only takes a few minutes, and you’ll quickly find that PilotFrotz will give you hundreds of hours of gameplay for a very small memory imprint. Graphics be damned, PilotFrotz rules. You can snag PilotFrotz (as well as Infocom interpreters for just about every platform) and the freeware Zork games at the Infocom Homepage.
I’ve played a number of different Tetris clones since getting my Pilot (actually, the first game I downloaded was a Tetris clone) and the one I enjoy the most is a game called Ted-Truss. It’s nagware-shareware, which means registering the software (it’s all of $12) will remove the nag screen that pops up when you start the game. There are a few factors that contribute to a successful Tetris clone, and Ted-Truss has them all: the block preview, a nice starting speed with a gradual increase, and of course, since I’m a purist, no extra junk. If you really liked the GameBoy version of Tetris, chances are you’ll like Ted-Truss. They’re practically indistinguishable.
While I’m not the biggest fan of it in the world, one game that deserves a mention is Raygin. Leave it to Blue to find the world’s first Palm Pilot first person shooter. The guy had his Pilot for about an hour before he found this one…and jeez, is it strange. The game runs at an astounding 20 frames per second, and well…is a bit on the oddball side. It doesn’t run full screen, which is sort of an annoyance, and the graphics are a bit simplistic, but it is a Wolfenstein 3D style game, and it is on the Palm Pilot. You just gotta appreciate that. It also scores some points for being really, really, small. After reading about it, I was expecting at least a 100k program, but nope…the demo’s only 34k, allowing me to fit all my games into my measly Palm Pro and still have enough room to do all my normal work. Pretty impressive.
So there you have it…a brief introduction to the world of Palm Pilot games. I’m continually amazed by the level of quality in some of these (Dragon Bane never fails to astonish me) and I can’t wait to see what marvels still await me.
Until next week, stay loony!
- Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief here at loonygames. He can't count the number of times he's played Zork 1 from start to finish on his hands.
Credits: From the Mouth of Madness logo illustrated by and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. From the Mouth of Madness is © 1999 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't do it...or we'll just forget about you. Let's see how you like it.