Mobile Jigsaw for Palm OS & Pocket PC

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, March 2005 , send e-mail
Published by: Mobile Stream, go to the web site
Requires: alm OS5, Pocket PC 2002/2003, Windows Mobile 2003 SE
MSRP: US$12.50

In the quest for games which make sense on the small format of the PDA screen, you'd think that themes such as Mah Jongg, puzzles and other things which require lots and lots of detail and perceived visual depth simply couldn't work well in comparatively low resolutions. Think again. With the advent of 320 x 480 x 16-bit color (and higher), mid-to-high end PDAs have both the detailed resolution and the processor oomph to display photos, play movies and do just about anything else you can think of. So it follows that traditional games which have been kept out of the PDA 'loop' should now be welcomed into the fold. Mobile Stream sent us their latest version of Mobile Jigsaw for review. I cringed at the thought of doing jigsaw puzzles in such a small context even though Kickstartnews has been delighted by Mobile Stream's previous offerings. Nonetheless, I really didn't think anyone could do justice to the jigsaw puzzle concept on the PDA.

Surprise, surprise—it actually works well. Use the supplied photos or upload photos of your own to the PDA, point Mobile Jigsaw at the files and make a selection. Adjust the game options to increase or decrease the puzzle difficult (thereby increasing or decreasing number of pieces in the puzzle). Mobile Jigsaw is simplicity to use and manipulate. The higher the difficulty slider setting, the greater number of pieces. Any photo stored on your PDA can be loaded by Mobile Jigsaw.

The game's difficulty depends on a lot of factors. Initially, simply raising the difficulty level seems sufficiently challenging. The temptation was to push the setting all the way to maximum. Once I began to understand the game's design however, it also became apparent that changing the difficulty setting didn't just mean more pieces, it also meant more complex jumbling and rotation of pieces in order to help disorient you. Very clever those programmers. For those of you who truly enjoy personal challenges, selecting an expansive, highly detailed photo really stretches your cognitive and spatial abilities.

Cons: Only two issues. First, the screen setting in the game is too dark. On both the Sony Clie TH55 and the Palm Zire 72, the game was displayed too dimly to discern all of the fine details visible in many photos that were plainly visible when looking at the photos in Picsel, SplashPhoto and other image viewers. Second, match proximity detection is too tight. You have to drag a matching piece almost perfectly into position before the game engine detects the match and locks the piece in place. The user interface in general needs a bit of aesthetic improvement including some refinement of the game option controls. The menu button in the upper right corner of the screen can almost disappear into the background depending on the color you select. We could wish for a left/right rotate control button. We could also wish for a way to highlight a puzzle piece so that two hands did not have to be used to rotate a piece (tap & hold a piece with the stylus then use a free finger to press whatever rotate button you designated in the Options menu).

Pros: Lots of difficulty settings make for some really challenging game play, while still providing a huge range of easier settings to accommodate jigsaw puzzle beginners. Puzzles made from your own photos are broken up so well that even the most familiar shots will present a challenge. You will likely keep coming back to this game over and over again because it presents the basics of puzzles in a straightforward and obvious manner. With so many excellent PDA screens on the market, games like this can be enjoyed because the subtleties of fine detail in photos are easy to see. Recommended.

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