Thunderbirds go WAP
Genie and Digital Bridges launch new mobile phone games
Digital Bridges celebrated the launch of their new Thunderbirds game on Genie's WAP portal last night at London's glitzy Nutopia, amidst much consumption of free alcohol and unidentifiable nibbles supplied by an army of friendly waitresses. Meanwhile Parker and Lady Penelope look-alikes were wandering around amongst the journos as projectors played scenes from the classic TV series on to the walls. There were even inflatable Thunderbirds chairs to take home. The game itself is a turn-based affair, with you joining International Rescue and decoding emergency signals on board Thunderbird 5. These lead into little puzzle-based missions where you must carry out tasks such as digging out buried miners in the Mole or setting up mirrors to reflect dangerous laser beams. Between missions you can head back to Tracy Island to see how your score is racking up and check the leaderboard to see how the competition are doing. It's a fairly straightforward little game but enjoyable enough to fill a few minutes, and certainly a leap forward compared to most WAP games we've seen in the past. Although the event was focused on Thunderbirds, there were a few other titles on show as well, and ironically these looked rather more interesting. For starters there was Steve Jackson's Sorcery, an action-adventure game inspired by the classic Fighting Fantasy "choose your own adventure" book of the same name, which some of our older readers may remember from the 1980s. Battling your way through the whole thing should take a couple of hours, with most of your time spent squinting at the funky monochrome graphics and choosing what to do next from the list of two or three options you are given after every action. There are also occasional fights which take the form of rock-scissors-paper style bouts as you and your enemy decide whether to attack, defend or rest, with the additional option of using a series of magical gestures to try and unleash spells on your foe. It's all good clean fun, and kept us amused until the WAP emulator we were playing it on crashed. Another classic game getting a new lick of green and black paint is Scott Adams' Pirate Adventure, brought to WAP in association with Starlancer developers Warthog. Sadly we didn't get to try this one for ourselves before the bouncers came to kick us out at the end of the night, but if it can successfully recreate the gameplay of the original then it could be worth a look for retro gamers and adventure fans. Next up was Star Trek : First Duty, part of a collaboration with Activision. This drops you into Starfleet Academy as an officer cadet and then sets you the task of learning to command a starship, although the incomplete section we played seemed to be limited to chatting with the gardener and being introduced to some of your tutors. In the final game there will be lectures to attend and skills to put to the test in the academy's holodeck. It's perhaps not the most exciting sounding game, but First Duty will also act as an introduction and tutorial for a forthcoming massively multiplayer WAP game called Prime Directive, which is due to launch early next year. We've not seen this one yet, but the idea of being able to command your own Starfleet vessel from a mobile phone and "boldly go" along with hundreds of other players around the world certainly sounds promising. Finally there were the sports games. Not being a big soccer fan I couldn't make head nor tail of LMA Football Quiz, a trivia spin-off of Codemasters' soccer management series, but Wentworth Golf was entertaining enough. All eighteen holes of the English golf course are recreated in 3D, with an overhead map showing where you are and funny little animations illustrating the outcome of your stroke. In my case, this usually involved the ball rolling behind a tuft of scraggly looking grass, but I did manage to put the damn thing in the hole eventually. A variety of caddies are on offer to accompany you around the course, and given my terrible performance I'm glad I picked the "bouncy" young lady (ahem) rather than the sarcastic bloke. Still, if you like golf and take the time to read the instructions you should do better than me, and there are a series of tournaments and leaderboards to take part in. Your character's skill level will gradually rise as you spend more time on the game as well, letting you take longer and more accurate shots. All in all it was an impressive line-up, and although it's obviously aimed more at casual gamers, titles like Sorcery, Pirates Adventure and Wentworth Golf might appeal to more hardcore players with a few minutes to waste. Obviously this doesn't come for free, and pricing details have yet to be announced, but as long as Genie keep the cost fairly low they could be on to a winner.