2008_boardofexperts.gifIt’s already time to start recognizing the best software for Windows Mobile devices and smartphones running Windows Mobile. If you know of a product that deserves a nomination, go to the nomination form or check out the awards page, which contains 2007 winners and questions with their answers.

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Astraware Solitaire PDA Game Review

Astraware SolitaireWith so many solitaire games out there for computers and handhelds, you’d think, “Enough already!” Astraware didn’t let the thought of a crowded market stop them and it was a winning move as Astraware Solitaire hit a Blackjack.

The company earned my respect years ago and continued to keep it with its releasing high quality games for the small screen. Astraware Solitaire comes with 12 games, ranging from the easy to hard and from takes skill to relies on luck. Some take a long time to play while others are fast. So points awarded for variety.

If you’re not familiar with a game, the main screen lets you know the difficulty, chances of winning, time it takes to play, and whether it takes luck and/or skill. Games include the following:

Calculation, Canfield, Clock, Four Seasons, Freecell, Golf, Idiot’s Delight, Klondike, Pyramid, Spider, Sultan’s Harem, and Yukon.

Astraware SolitaireEvery game comes with customizable options such as how many calls to deal, how many redeals, and how to build fondations. If you don’t know what these means, tap “i” for more information. Astraware Solitaire offers plenty of help in explaining every game.

When you win games and do certain things, you also earn Trophy Cards (like badges). Trophys will eventually unlock additional backgrounds and deck card backgrounds. Go in the Trophy Room from the Main Menu to see the collected trophies and the uncollected trophies. When you complete a full Trophy Desk, it unlocks the deck for use in games. Very cool feature.

It looks like Astraware has every possible useful feature a solitaire card game can have including statistics. The statistics shows total time played, number of games, average time per game, wins, losses, longest winning and losing streaks, and current streak. Statistics are also available for each card game. With all these features, it’s amazing how fast the game runs.

Astraware SolitaireExcellent solitaire package. It’s customizable, gives awards, and comes with unlockables. If you buy just one, you should be more than happy with this one. Astraware Solitaire is available for Pocket PCs, Smartphones and PalmOS PDAs.

As usual, you may try before you buy. Trial users may play up to 20 new games in any combination of the different solitaire types on offer. Additionally, unlockables (card/background graphics/trophies) may be unlocked, but aren’t available for use until the user has registered.

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Broken SwordWhile the review focuses on the PalmOS version of the game, some of its elements can apply to the PC version, Gameboy version, and Windows Mobile version.

Broken Sword: The Shadow of Templars is an epic adventure that begins in Paris where American tourist George Stobbart witnesses a murder in a (what else?) cafe. The murdered stole the ancient manuscript from the dead man. George takes an interest in the murder and begins unraveling a lengthy story surrounding the Knights of Templars. He doesn’t go on the adventure alone as he meets photojournalist Nico Collard.

George does all the grunt work and puts himself in danger while Nico stays comfy in her flat waiting for his visits or phone calls. While maneuvering on a PalmOS device gets tricky, Astraware does a spectacular job in bringing the adventure to the small device.

Broken SwordThe engrossing story has kept me busy for hours and months. I’ve had the game for a long time, but due to other commitments — I couldn’t play it or took long breaks in between. More impressive, the long game plays beautifully on the PalmOS and never crashes. The graphics in the cutscenes, where you watch a mini-movie or stills, looked sharp and contained a cinematic effect.

The game contains many little details that appeared clearly on the small screen. The trickier parts of the game involved using two or more objects together. I had to play with the controls for a long time when I came across the first time a situation called for combining two objects. Once you figure it out, future object combinations go more smoothly — but not perfectly.

Adventure games have one drawback — replayability, or lack thereof. Few people replay an adventure game upon completion. But this one lasts a long time to earn its money’s worth. Not only does Broken Sword: The Shadow of Templars take you beyond Paris to Ireland, Spain, Britain and Syria, but also it provides plenty of comic relief. George’s quick-witted humor makes him instantly likable.

Broken SwordConsidering I took breaks between game playing sessions, sometimes I lost track of the story. In most cases, the game gets you back on track. Playing Broken Sword: The Shadow of Templars reminded me of the old days when I loved playing adventure games like King’s Quest, Mystery House and Leisure Suit Larry. Be patient, absorb all of the dialog and you’ll enjoy the game to the fullest.

Try Broken SwordBroken Sword: The Shadow of Templars for PalmOS or Windows Mobile.

Compatibility: Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars is not compatible with Palm Tungsten T and Tungsten T2, Sony CLIÉ UX40, UX50 and VZ90. It’;s also not compatible with low resolution (160×160) Palm OS® devices such as: Zire 21, Zire 31, Z22, Tréo 600, or QVGA (240×320) Palm OS® devices such as: Qool QDA 700 and the PiTech W300.

Pocket PC Compatibility: The game comes in two versions, one for Windows Mobile 2003 and the other for Windows Mobile 5. Be sure to get the right one.

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