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Game Over Online ~ Saffron

GameOver Game Reviews - Saffron (c) Jimmy Software, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Saffron (c) Jimmy Software
System Requirements Pocket PC
Overall Rating 84%
Date Published Tuesday, March 19th, 2002 at 10:02 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Saffron is a game from reputed Pocket PC developer Jimmy Software, probably one of the first companies to really treat the Pocket PC platform as a showcase for audio-visual games. In its most basic mode, Saffron is a derivative of Taito's Arkanoid and it is naturally so, considering it was this development group that first brought an Arkanoid clone to the Pocket PC operating system. Saffron isn't a sequel or update of that predecessor but it is certainly spiritually inspired by it. The fundamental premise of the title still entails you to clear various blocks controlling a pad from the bottom.

However, Saffron's developers have taken a page from Nintendo's book by introducing some interesting character twists to the game. Instead of the usual pad, you control a character called Sudchai who is endowed with a large enough head that he can deflect projectiles. Sudchai is also more flexible than a regular pad because of his ability to do soccer-style saves when the ball is close enough. He's a very elastic character and though the resolution is not as sharp as the rest of the graphics, Sudchai possesses quite a bit in way of facial expression and animation. The bricks Sudchai is tasked to hit with his ball are not bricks so much as they are eggs captured by the resident evil underworld creature, Kapor. Kapor is actually a dragon and has nothing to do with the actual Arkanoid process of the game except to disrupt you on certain levels. Fire-breathing in nature, Kapor's flames are able to rebound against solid objects, thus making up for his slow speed. As Sudchai, you have to time your ball and aim at Kapor, which in some cases is much easier said than done.

In the midst of all this, Kapor has also secretly cursed some of the eggs, so it adds another dimension of the game as you try to figure out which ones are worth saving and which are not. In this sense, there is a propensity towards the classic arcade Rescue title, where people jump out of a burning building. Kapor and his devious devices do not kill Sudchai so much as they stun him so to make him immobile and unable to recover your Arkanoid style ball. To aid the hero, you are given plenty of interesting power-ups. There is a hat that the player can wear to increase the size of his head, thus making it easier to catch those balls. Another interesting one is a thing called 'Bunger' where you essentially get a one-time safety net of heads below your character.

Luckily, the control scheme is easy to pick up. You can opt to use stylus only play or, device permitting, you can use your handheld's buttons to do all the work. Saffron does not have configurable speed but it is slow enough to play when you're in motion. It's also simple enough to ease people into the game.

Overall, Saffron is faithful to its developer's reputation. There is always a pleasant musical soundtrack present and the product itself is small, supporting a wide range of Pocket PC devices, albeit ARM-based ones. The visuals are charmingly colorful and possess a cuteness factor that is often attempted by other developers but not delivered. The star of the game, Sudchai, is quite an anomaly. The amount of animation he exudes reminded me a lot of the Oddworld franchise, with Abe and what not. At least, it seems like that to me. By combining the Arkanoid archetype with attempts to personalize the often-sterile Taito game, it builds Saffron into a much stronger title. No longer are you aimlessly battling through hundreds of levels. The appearances by Kapor keep you on your toes and really add an appeal or allure that is found in Nintendo's Mario franchise.

If you enjoyed Arkanoid, I can guarantee you'll love Saffron. It's a well-executed and equally well-designed title. The attention to making the power-ups as visual as possible and their varied placement is a testament to the developer's meticulous care. The package, from installation to finish is nothing short of what we would expect from a developer of this caliber.

[08/10] Addictiveness
[16/20] Gameplay
[14/15] Graphics
[08/10] Interface/controls
[09/10] Program Size
[05/05] Sound
[04/05] Discreetness
[12/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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