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Atom Smash Color (Palm) April 9, 2000

Atom Smash by Red Mercury LLC is a classic paddle game that is a perfect combination of Taito’s Arkanoid and Atari’s Breakout and Super Breakout of the 80’s. This program serves as a fine example of color gaming on the Palm IIIc. The object of the game is simple, hit your ball against the bricks until all destructible bricks on the board are clear. The added twist comes in the form of indestructible bricks and bricks that need to be hit multiple times, or regenerate after a period of time. Luckily, you can collect power-ups along the way to help advance to the next level. Atom Smash comes with a Level Pak of 64 levels. More can be added by downloading Paks from the web site (later this year), beaming from a friend through Infrared, or through creation with the built in Level Editor. NOTE: You must register the game to be able to run the Level Editor.

The color and sound in Atom Smash are exceptional. The colors are bright and easily seen under all lighting conditions. The sound effects are first rate. I do have one gripe about the sound though. The sound is only adjustable through the Game Sound setting in the Prefs Application. I personally do not prefer this way to control the sound in games. It is inconvenient to exit Atom Smash to change the sound volume or mute the game while playing. I would prefer a sound setting built into the game, or at the very least a mute feature.

Controlling Atom Smash is simple and intuitive. The outside buttons on the Palm move the paddle in “fast” mode. This is less accurate, but gets the job done when you have three balls on the screen. The inside buttons are “slow” mode and are great for placing shots for that hard to reach brick.

There are three levels of difficulty in Atom Smash: Easy, Medium, and Tournament. Easy is painfully slow, I quit after three levels. Medium is a good starting point. I was able to get as far as the appropriately named None Shall Pass, Level 47. Tournament level is a different story altogether. I was only able to advance to Riot, Level 12. The “fast” controls are necessary for most of Tournament games.

The levels are truly the highlight of this game. Some are easy, some are funny, and some are downright sadistic! With levels named Cherry-O Cherry-O, On Them Popsicles, Cricket Boxes, Gut It, & Riot there is something for everyone. The power-ups in the game keep every game different. There are a total of six power-ups in the game. While five (extra paddle, grow paddle, 3 ball, H-bomb, and slow ball) of them are true power-ups, the sixth (shrink paddle) is one you will want to avoid if at all possible. The H-bomb power-up is exceptionally powerful. This power-up turns your ball into a wrecking ball that will not stop for indestructible bricks and will permanently destroy regenerating bricks. Some power-ups can be combined, for example a 3 ball H-bomb will clear any level in a matter of seconds.

So what do you do when you have beat all 64 levels in Tournament mode? You create more with the Level Editor! The Level Editor in Atom Smash is a fantastic tool that will prolong the life of this app on most Palms. The Level Editor is accessed from within the program from the Main Menu. You are presented with a blank screen and a grid outline of where the blocks will go. The Editor is very straight forward, and acts like a paint program. Simply choose a type of brick, color, and Power-up. Once you have chosen the brick you would like to create, tap or drag anywhere on the screen. The drag feature is quite nice for creating shapes or lines. To erase a tile, simply tap on it again and it will be deleted. Sorry, no drag delete that I could find. Also, there is an undo command, but it is only one level deep. If you are placing bricks one at a time this is not very useful. Lastly you can play your level in test mode, over and over until you are satisfied the level is perfect. You can create entire Level Paks, complete with names of all levels and Ego Text (the text that appears on the main menu when you select a Pak).

In summary, Atom Smash is a fantastic game that has been well thought out and will become an instant classic. The documentation is clear and concise. The program is exceptional for a first release. There are a few issues with OS 3.5 and Visor models according to their web site, but Red Mercury is working to resolve these problems. I would like to see a few changes, namely a mute function and possibly a high score export to keep a master listing of high scores on their web site. These are all minor issues that do not detract from the over all enjoyment of this fantastic game.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars



Highlights

Title: Atom Smash
Publisher: Red Mercury LLC
Highs: addictive game play, level creator, great in color or B/W
Lows: no mute, no high score export to web site, no multiple level undo in editor
What do I get when a register?: Non-expiring version instead of 30-day version, access to Level Editor
Summary: Run, don’t walk and get this game!
 
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