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Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

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Captain Dynamo

Capable of generating a spark?

The life of a computer game hero isn't all princesses, multi-format sequels and crazy go-karting spin-offs. For every Mario there are a dozen or more nameless characters that have but one outing and are then lost to obscurity.

A bit like this here Captain Dynamo. Originally the star of his very own platform adventure back in the early 1990's, he sank pretty much without a trace soon after. And while Telcogames and Codemasters are keen to point out that he's a superstar, much like Sonic or the aforementioned plumber, we struggle to reach the same conclusion.

This isn't likely to change with Captain Dynamo's debut on mobile phone, either, as he's limited to appearing on only handsets that support Symbian games. That means just 20 or so models (all of them Nokia), so he's certainly not going to reach the mass-market.

Should we feel sorry for the be-caped Captain?

Well, first impressions would suggest not. The visuals, while completely authentic to the original, have been surpassed by more modern fare. Even though it's a Symbian game, which is capable of being many times more graphically advanced than a basic Java title, you wouldn't know it.

Things start to look up once you get into the game, though. The Captain moves on screen with a fluid and responsive smoothness that's rarely seen in mobile platform games. This gives you a great deal of confidence in Captain Dynamo's controls which, while simple, must be mastered if you're going to get anywhere further than the second level.

Providing the basic walk left/right combo with two jump buttons ('5' for a small jump, '7' for a bigger, higher one), it's a system that's almost tailor-made for the N-Gage. Play on any other handset and you'll struggle to find the same comfort level.

That will make playing Captain Dynamo a lot harder than it already is. Based on the traditional platform ingredients of jumping from one place to another, avoiding hazards and bouncing on enemies to kill them, it requires a degree of skill and control that's fine indeed.

Working your way up the levels rather than from left to right, there's little or no margin for error in many of the leaps, dashes and jumps that you'll have to make. Understand: this is a very, very hard game.

This is why it scores so well in longevity terms - despite there only being ten levels, once you're engrossed in Captain Dynamo you'll keep banging away at a level until you nail it.

You get three lives per level, which helps. Also, when you die you can choose to restart at any level that you've reached so far. So when you burn up your last life in the lava pits on level two, for example, you don't have to go back to the beginning of level one. Mid-level save points further aid your cause, saving you from returning to the very start of the level when you've gotten close to the end.

This might all sound rather lightweight, as if you're being given too many chances. But play Captain Dynamo for just two minutes and you'll be glad of the soft landing that you're afforded.

This really is a game about the little victories, and completing each level brings about a feeling of satisfaction that dwarves that which arises when you finish most games. But you will have to work for it and, if you don't have a handset that's expressly set up for playing games (like the N-Gage), you may well walk out before the show is over.

6 / 10

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