For Pocket PC
Girders will put your engineering skills to the test. You must build bridges across ever widening gaps to take the weight of a fully loaded train. Should your bridge collapse; you will have to hope that the passengers can swim faster than the sharks in the water below!
The game also features a tower building mode where you must build a tower of the required size from base points on the ground. As your towers get higher they will be increasingly effected by the wind. Some towers will also need to be build in earthquake zones, these need to be especially strong to stay up.
Girders for Pocket PC, by Smart Mobile Games, is one of those rare examples of a game that, rather then being forgotten by the developer after release, has received several updates, game tweaks, and extra levels since its release at the end of September.
Thanks to Clickgamer.com I was able to review the current version (1.3) of Girders for Pocket PC. Even better, thanks to the developers Smart Mobile Games I was able to secure an exclusive first preview of the forthcoming major update, version 1.10, which will be released shortly. The preview of version 1.10 can be found following the review.
First impressions of the game are good as you are greeted by cute graphics and a fun musical score. The game runs entirely in landscape mode and is entirely stylus driven, not that either are particularly troublesome to get used to. The option of toggling screen rotation between left and right handed is included, ensuring lefties like myself are not left out.
As you begin the game you can choose between two game modes, Bridges and Towers. I'd recommend most start with the Bridges mode as Towers seemed more difficult to master and builds on skills acquired in the first mode. Having selected your game mode you will be given your first assignment in your newly chosen career as a bridge or tower designer.
This is where the fun begins! As you progress through the Bridge mode you will be given steadily more difficult tasks to complete, constructing bridges using the iron girders that the game is named after. From ultra simple bridges across narrow ditches to complex bridges capable of spanning wide open waterways. Once you have contructed your bridge to satisfaction by placing girders (you will need different lengths and angles), you can then test how safe or otherwise your bridge is by sending a train and all its passengers over it!
Whether a train ends up in the shark infested waters below will depend on how stable and strong your bridge is judged to be by the in-game physics. Success will allow you to move onto stronger challenges while failure prompts you to try again (all the time counting the fatalities that resulted from your failure!).
This game obviously has to rely on its built in physics a lot, calculating how well supported a bridge would have to be to support the train and carriages, what angels and length of girders should go into it, and if you forgot to add that vital piece load bearing girder! Thankfully the game physics seemed pretty much spot on in this release (this hasn't stopped the developer quoting improved game physics as an improvement included in the upcoming release - see below). Although I cannot claim to be an engineer it all seemed about right.
The difficulty level of the game is about right too although as you get to later levels there will be times when you just cannot make your bridge pass the test. In these cases I often found starting the level from scratch was necessary (going 'back to the drawing board' as it were).
The Tower building mode is when the game becomes really tricky. For the first time you'll be having to take into account how much the wind, and in later levels even earthquakes, affect the towers you build! Interestingly I found I had to unlearn some of the methods I used for bridge building in order to develop all new ways of arranging the girders for tower building.
Completion of both game modes directs you to a location on the Smart Mobile Games website where you can download extra features for one of their other titles. Even if you can not or will not take advantage of this, the satisfaction of beating the many tricky bridge and tower building missions included makes the game seem worthwhile. Even if there were moments when you got totally stuck and had to restart a level several times! The games longevity is further increased by including the ability to revisit each levels solutions after the game is beaten, so allowing you to improve your bridges, or indeed undermine them in favour of once more seeing the bridge break and the train fall!
An enjoyable game that provides quite a challenge in later levels. I found myself occasionally frustrated trying to work out where I was going wrong, but each time you subsequently progress the satisfaction is all the more. For those wanting more of a mental challenge from their games this is exactly what they're looking for.
The developers Smart Mobile Games should be commended for continuing to add to and develop the game after its release. The forthcoming version 1.10 expands quite a bit what was already a challenging, entertaining, and addictive game as you can read below.
Version 1.10 Exclusive Preview
The updated release features a new bridge building mode that expands the game to allow use of a combination of materials. No longer will you build your bridges with just the iron girders included in the original. This new mode allows construction using wooden planks, steel wires, and of course the traditional iron girders. The result? Get ready to design your first suspension bridge!
The new game mode proved just as enjoyable and welcoming as the original bridge building mode, offering new challenges as you struggle to get used to working with the new materials of wood and wires. Again beginning easy and getting more difficult the further along you get, this new mode requires the player to rethink their building techniques and proves a challenge even after completing the previous two game modes.
The new release also includes bug fixes (not that I encountered any in version 1.3 as reviewed above) and adds Finnish language support and improved game physics. Interestingly, Smart Mobile Games inform me that this will provide a whole new challenge aside from the new game mode, as you can test your existing solutions against the new, more realistic game physics. You may find your existing designs were not actually that good!
Available from www.clickgamer.com
Cost is $14.95 | £8.46 | €12.52
NOTE: Updated version coming soon, please check with your vendor.