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Pondrew Reviews... Hammer Heads

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Hammer Heads

for Pocket PC 2002/Windows Mobile 2003/Windows Mobile 5 Pocket PCs

One of Astraware's recent releases, Hammer Heads, is a conversion of the popular 'whack a mole' arcade machine. You may know it? A game where the player has to whack as many moles, or similar, as quickly as possible. I must say that this particular arcade game concept never appealed to me, but having reviewed a few of Astraware's titles over the years and found all of them very polished, professional and, indeed, enjoyable I decided to give the game a chance. And am I glad I did! I found Hammer Heads to be one of the most fun and addictive Pocket PC games I've ever played! Why? Read on to find out... ;)

The first thing to strike you on running Hammer Heads is the polished presentation. Indeed, even the initial loading screen features crisp and colourful graphics. Once loaded a quick look at the available options shows the usual settings such as being able to turn up or down the sound and or music volume. No surprises there.

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To introduce you to how to play the game there is a short and simple tutorial. Hit the gnomes as they pop up to break them, if you miss any of them then you lose a life. In case the tutorial wasn't enough the Classic version of the game eases you in softly by explaining the game as it goes along, making it possible to begin playing straight away.

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Hammer Heads offers two gameplay modes. The Marathon mode is a test to see how long you last in continuous play while the Classic mode features 25 levels of increasing difficulty through an increasing variety of gnomes popping up at an increasing rate until you take on the Gnome King at the end. Each gnome has different characteristics. For example there is a booby trapped gnome that will explode taking some of your life with it if you hammer it. Ignore this gnome, you won't lose any life if you do and there are plenty of others to occupy your attentions! Other gnomes feature their own behaviour such as one which dons a hard hat if you don't hit it straight away and another that is invincible unless you upgrade your hammer.

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Both game modes are surprisingly addictive and the attention to detail through the variety of different gnomes ensures it won't get old any time soon (I've been playing on and off for weeks!). But the real beauty of the game comes in the extra features Astraware have thought to include. The first gameplay tweak has the player accumulating coins as they progress with which they can purchase hammer upgrades along with extra lifes, faster hammer action(!) and more. There are also bonus levels in which you have to whack as many coins as possible, so helping you to store up enough to upgrade in the aforementioned shop. Finally, and in my opinion the feature that will keep the player coming back for more, there is the trophy room where the player can keep track of achievements accumulated as they progress. As it is possible to create profiles it becomes possible for more then one player to keep track of how they've been doing in the game. Another of the many features which gives the game its longevity and addictiveness.

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As you've probably gathered by now this game well and truly won me over after initial doubts about the concept. I can conclude the review by stating that this is an incredibly enjoyable game where the fun graphics, sound and music little features will keep you coming back. Whether you like to spend the occasional ten minutes or an hour at a time this is a worthy addition to your software collection.

Available from www.astraware.co.uk

Cost is $19.95 (note: this excludes VAT payable by UK customers)

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