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My Favorite webOS GAMES for 2009

So… you have a Palm Pre or a Pixi, and you’re ready to spend a little of your hard-earned cash on games to pass the time.  After all, Palm has finally lifted their app limit, right?  Let the shopping spree begin, right?   … But which games are actually worth your money?

As of this entry, there are 1000 apps in the Palm App Catalog.  Of those, 229 are games. While the App Catalog currently doesn’t offer famous games like Bejeweled just yet, there are still some "jewels" to be had in the gaming department.

Of course, nobody wants to get stuck with a crap game after paying for it, and Palm’s lack of a refund policy doesn’t help matters, either. That’s where Totally Palmed comes in! After the break, read my opinion on which games I think are worth their price. (Bear in mind I haven’t downloaded all webOS games… just a bunch more than my wife should know about.)   If you feel any other games deserve mention here, please share it with us it in the comments section below!

[UPDATE] Well, this is embarrassing!  At CES 1/7/10, Palm released awesome 3D games for the Palm Pre which totally changed the landscape of webOS gaming.  So I guess this entry is sorta/kinda moot.  However, these games are not available for the Pixi, and are more expensive ($6-10), so this post may still be of some use to you!

Wait… what about FREE games??

Oh, alright… you twisted my arm hard enough.;) … I have like 4 or 5 free games on my Pre, but my favorites are none other than the two offerings by Self-Aware Games:  Card Ace and Word Ace!
Card Ace by Self-Aware Games (FREE)

I’ve been a Zynga online poker fan for a while now, and was thrilled to see online poker come to webOS. For the most part, this app delivers on a fun gaming experience, though it can feel slow when other players aren’t paying attention to the game (ahem, people!). The game is also woefully lacking sound, but the developer has indicated that as soon as Palm makes adding sounds easier in webOS games that this functionality will be added. (As evidence, this app for the iPhone DOES use sound.) I would love it if the developer would consider a landscape mode for this app, but hey… we’re talkin’ free here.
Word Ace by Self-Aware Games (FREE)
Word Ace is like Card Ace, but with a twist… think of it like Texas Hold ‘Em and Scrabble thrown in, and you’ll get a good sense of what this game is all about. I actually enjoy this game more because of its unique concept and the added challenge. I do wish the game would have a system in place to warn you if the word you are attempting to use is in fact not a word, but again… free. CAUTION: some of the people you play against are vicious word nerds! … Don’t worry, I’m not one of them. (See pic… "neaty" is a word… isn’t it???)
… There! You happy?? Now let’s move on to the PAID apps!


Wobble Words by Gobico Games ($2.99)
This game has been a featured app in the App Catalog for some time, and with good reason.  Of all the games on my Palm Pre, this is the one I play the most. It’s kind of like Boggle on steroids. Basically, you try to make as many words as you can in a limited timeframe.  I’m hopelessly addicted to it in my futile attempts to beat my little sister’s high score.  Occasional lag issues aside, this is a great example of a webOS app done right. Definitely worth the $2.99.  Watch the video below to see how the game is played. (P.S. I’m soooo much faster than the example on the video!  … But my sister is even faster.  Arrgh!)

Topple Ball by Josh Bilderback ($1.99) A free "lite" version is available.
My wife’s iPhone had the famous Labyrinth game, and when this app first came out I was skeptical that it would be worth anything. Turns out I was wrong! With very smooth gameplay, challenging levels, and great use of the Pre/Pixi’s accelerometer, Topple Ball is a fantastic app that, while not quite up to the iPhone’s level of sophistication and smoothness, is still highly entertaining.  I’m sure as Palm enables GPU support for the Palm Pre this game will run even smoother.  Mr. Bilderback also has another app called Tilt-A-Maze ($0.99), which I haven’t gotten around to buying yet. But judging by how much work he puts into his games (as seen in his video below), it’s a pretty good bet that it’s a pretty good game as well.

Paratrooper by 185vfx.com ($1.99) A free "lite" version is available.
This is a very entertaining game! Using the Pre/Pixi’s accelerometer, tilt left or right to guide your brave paratroopers to their target.  This game is oozing with personality and fun, but can get quite challenging to the point of frustration (much like Topple Ball!).  It also doesn’t have sound yet, but I think that’s due more to the current limitations of webOS than the game itself. I love this game, and look forward to further updates. Thumbs up.   Below is a cute preview demo that shows you the gameplay:

(click pictures to zoom)

Crosswords by Stand Alone, Inc. ($9.99)  A free limited version is available.
If you are a crossword puzzle nut, then this app is a must-have (I’m not, which is why I don’t have it listed in the "must-have" section). At first glance, the $9.99 price tag seems steep, but bear in mind that a) this is the same price for the app as found on the iPhone and b) you can download crossword puzzles from numerous sources daily, which basically means these puzzles are in UNLIMITED supply. Not only that, the game is well-done and is fully playable on the Palm Pre’s screen. (I cannot speak for the Pixi, though.)

Zombie Invasion by Conniption Entertainment ($0.99)
This game is more action-based than your average crossword puzzle app. The premise of the game is simple: shoot the zombies before they get to you, or you’re dead. It’s priced at $0.99, which is good because it woefully lacks the sophistication of similar games on other platforms (ala Zombie Nazi for iPhone). It also has limited sound capability, but again both gameplay and sound should improve as Palm continues to upgrade their OS.  Plus, nothing kills time better than blowing away a half dozen zombies at a time with a shotgun!

Wumpus by Inspiring Apps ($1.99)
Wumpus is a cute game which requires deductive reasoning (which is probably why I suck at it) and a little bit of luck.  In this famous game ported over to webOS, you are a zoologist assigned the task of exploring caves to seek out the legendary Wumpus, armed with a single tranquilizer dart, dynomite sticks, and a canary…  (hey, if you wanna know what the canary is all about, get the game and find out for yourself).  Gameplay is basic, but well-executed.  If you manage to catch more than three Wumpuses, you’re already doing better than me!

Word Whirl by SacherSoft, LLC ($2.99)  A free "lite" version is available.
If you’ve ever played the famous game "Text Twist," then you’ll know what this game is all about. Gameplay is slightly clunkier than Text Twist, but was great for me to pass the time in long lines. It sports thoughtful features like detailed instructions on how to play, as well as two game modes: timed, and puzzle. It also saves your game if you close it in the middle of a puzzle. It currently does not have sound, but I think that’s more a function of the limited capabilities of webOS to produce sound.  This app has improved by leaps and bounds since it first launched, which says volumes about its developer. Worth a look.

Tilt GT by Under Clouds Games ($1.99)
This is the first racing game available for webOS, and it’s a pretty fun one, once you learn to master the sacred art of "accelerometer driving."  In this game, you tilt the phone to guide your race car around tracks of increasing difficulty. There are several modes of play, including time trial, ghost race (where you race your best lap), and then vs. races where you race ghosts of other users.  A nice touch.  It has only very basic sound and it can be a little frustrating to master, but you can tell a lot of attention went into the creation of this game.  Best indication that this game is any good?  My wife’s 6 year old cousin put down his Nintendo DS to play this game. P.S. Don’t forget to use your nitro boost! 🙂

Ditto by Revision X Games ($0.99)  A free "lite" version is available.
Like playing Simon Says? Then this game is worth plunking down a buck.  There’s a couple versions of this game for webOS, but this one is my favorite.  It uses phone dial tones as sounds, and gameplay is smooth with no lags. Even my wife, who used to play this game on her iPhone, found this app enjoyable.  You can track your high scores and even liked it.

DeadMan v1 by Fusion Creative Studios ($0.99)  A free "lite" version is available.
If you want to see another example of a webOS app done right, then look no further than DeadMan.  This is like hangman, but with a twist:  you are trying to diffuse a bomb by punching in the right code. Meanwhile, the bomb’s timer is ticking away.  If you don’t solve the puzzle in time or if you take too many guesses, KABOOM.  Just so you don’t accuse the game of making up words, you can look up the word’s definition after you are dead.  Features single player, pass and play, and versus versions.  Lots of fun, great animations and sounds.

Honorable Mentions:

Blocked by Brandon VanBelle ($1.99)
Block Breaker by Invasive Bamboo ($1.99)
Tap Flick Slide by My Company ($1.99)
Roll Quest by Under Clouds Games ($0.99)
Scatter by Caldantech ($0.99)

There you have it! My first entry of the webOS games that I think are worth the money.  Bear in mind that as webOS continues to mature, the quality of the games will only improve with richer graphics, sounds, and gameplay. None of these games (except Wobble Words for me) are a fully immersive experience, but for now, they fit the bill as time killers quite nicely.  UPDATE!  On 1/7/10 Palm took the next step in webOS gaming by incorporating 3D games!  These are more expensive ($6-10), but are truly a much more amazing gaming experience.  Take a look at the App Catalog now if you haven’t already!

Have anything to add? Please leave a comment! Be sure to read my next installment …
"My Favorite webOS Apps for 2009!"

Categories: App Reviews
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  1. February 16, 2010 at 2:43 am

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