RPG (Role Playing Games) for Palm OS PDAs Review


Do you secretly wish you were an elf or wizard? Do you love games where you have to
figure out puzzles and explore scary dungeons? Well it sounds like you need to install
some RPGs (Role Playing Games) for your Palm Pilot. An RPG is a game where you become a
character that has certain attributes such as strength, dexterity, etc. As your character,
it is your job to fulfill some quest by exploring, hacking and slashing. I’ll be reviewing
all the current RPGs (let me know if I left any out) in this three part review.

Dragon Bane v1.13
ShadowThief v.097
Secret of the Orb
Pilot Rogue v1.03b
Dark Haven
Kyle’s Quest
Overall Summary


Program Requirements:
All Palm OS PDAs
212 K free RAM

Are you in the mood for some serious hacking, slashing, and exploring? If so, then Palm Creation’s new 3D graphical adventure game;
Dragon Bane v1.13 might be just the diversion you need.

Dragon Bane has a huge 3D world of towns, forests and dungeons. There are 20 levels in the
registered version and 3 levels (the first three) in the unregistered version.  When
you first begin the game, you create your party. There are seven different characters to
choose from. A Knight, Dwarf, Archer, Thief, Elf, Wizard, and a Sorcerer. Of these seven,
you can choose up to five to make up your party. Each character has different strengths
and abilities which help to round out the group.

Once you have the party selected, you then can start exploring. The software allows you to
use either the stylus or the hardware buttons to navigate. You have the ability to go
forward, backward, left, right and strafe left or right. There are streets to walk down,
buildings to go into, forests to explore and dungeons to get lost in. It’s a blast! The 4
level grey scale graphics are very well done. I found that turning the contrast just a bit
darker than usual really made a difference in the graphical detail of the game.

One thing that is a little disorienting about the game was that when you leave a building
your view is facing the direction as if you just walked out of the building. I don’t know
why this confused me, but it did.  There is an option that will let you change your
view when you leave a building so that you are facing it. Fortunately, there is also an
overhead map view that helps you keep your bearings although the map isn’t marked to let
you know which direction is which.. Also it’s too bad that there isn’t a way to annotate
the map with your own notes. That way you could remember where certain shops were located.

What about the hacking and slashing part? Well there are monsters a plenty. Actually there
are 40 different types of monsters… spiders, barbarians, and cobras to name a few. When
you do battle with any of these beasties, your party can fight or run (you might not get
away though… and have to fight anyway). During the battle phase, each member of your
party can either attack, defend, or use an item. The battle then begins as each member of
your party tries to attack the monster(s). The monster(s) then get their chance.  One
thing that needs to be added to the display is the monster’s hit points… then you could
see if you were making any progress with your hacking and slashing! 🙂 Once the battle is
over, you’ll usually find gold and get earn experience points. You might even find other
items if you’re lucky.  The gold and experience points are shared among the party.
Items are picked up by one member of the group. You can then either have that character
equip that item or give it to another member of the group.

Dragon Bane is really nicely detailed. Your characters can sleep to regenerate some of
their hit points, they can earn experience points towards higher levels. They can cast
spells to help them in battle or heal another character…. they can also find puzzles and

Since this is a BIG game, you have the ability to save and load multiple games.  Also
since this is a BIG game, you’ll need lots of space to load it in.  Dragon Bane
requires at least 212k.

Dragon Bane contains lots of gaming fun that will keep you entertained for hours. 
If you enjoy D&D role playing type games, you’ll really like this one.

Price: $24.95

Great graphics.
Ability to save games.

> 200k in size.



Program Requirements:
Palm III or PalmPilot Pro)
175 K free RAM

ShadowThief v.097 is a terrific new
RPG by R. Zane Rutledge. The game incorporates arcade type action with exploration and
puzzle solving.  The first adventure in a trilogy is called The Circle of Stealth.
  You are the Shadow Thief and it is your goal to kill the evil Dark Riders and
become part of The Circle of Stealth. To do that, you have to wander around in a castle,
and dungeons, killing bad guys, skeletons and snakes!  On your way, you can collect
gold coins, keys, rings, potions and other items.

shadowthief1.gif (2863 bytes) shadowthief2.gif (2845 bytes)

Control of your character is done with the hardware buttons.  You use the buttons to
move LEFT, RIGHT, and UP/DOWN stairs. You also use the buttons to pick up items, open
doors and fight.  When you encounter a bad guy, you press the fight button which
causes you to jab your weapon.  Controlling the character with the hardware buttons
is pretty easy.  After a few minutes, it becomes second nature.  The only real
problem is that the up/down buttons on a Palm III are quite stiff… so using the up
button is a little hard at times.   I don’t think this game would benefit from
navigating the character via screen taps though… using the hardware buttons just ‘feel’

You can check your inventory, and stats by tapping on the screen.  The inventory
screen also allows you to use or drop an item.  I had a little trouble with this
screen not letting be back to the game.  The author is aware of the bug… and since
the game is still in beta testing stages, I wasn’t worried about it.

The graphics in this game are very well done. As you move your character, the animation
actually makes him look like he is walking and swinging his arms. I really liked all the
special little graphical touches that were added to the game. For example, the torches on
the walls flicker, gates rise up, and doors open. One neat thing is that little thought
and speech bubbles appear above your character’s head when he is thinking something or
meets another character. This almost gives the game a comic book type feel.

There isn’t much in the way of sound effects for the game…. and the game defaults to
SOUND ON every time you go into the game. This can get a bit annoying when you’re trying
to play at work! 🙂  Mostly there are just little beeps and boops and you progress
through the game.

The game keeps your attention as you try to figure out puzzles (this is mainly hidden
items). I would love to see some harder puzzles to figure out in the next installment

shadowthief3.gif (2764 bytes) shadowthief4.gif (2052 bytes)

The best part (at least for game wimps like me) is the fact that you never actually die in
this game. If you are killed, you’re sent to Hell where after you escape, you’ll start
back up at the same spot before you were killed. This is great for those of us that
sometimes get frustrated when forced to restart a game after dying.

One thing that could use a little work is the time that it takes to restart (continue) the
game. It takes about 20 secs before you can start playing. At first I was worried that the
game was crashed as there isn’t any real indication that anything is happening while you
wait. I was playing ShadowThief on a Palm III with an almost full 8meg TRG board though…
so that could have something to do with the lag.

The first ShadowThief adventure seemed short and I was disappointed when it ended. I
wanted more!  🙂  The actual plot should be beefed up a bit because even after
finishing the first game, I wasn’t quite sure what whole story was about.  But, that
didn’t matter because it was fun!  I’m really looking forward to new adventures for
this game.

Price: $15.00

Neat graphics and animation.
Just the right blend of action and puzzle solving.

Game a bit too short.
Long start  up time.


Secret of the Orb

Program Requirements:
Personal, Pro, Palm III
70 K free RAM

Secret of the Orb
by Clayton Lilly is a another fun RPG game. This game starts at the royal palace where a
special Orb artifact that has always brought the royal family good luck has developed a
crack. Now everyone in the royal family is sick. It’s your job to go to the Ocean of Sand
to find Luzhin The Wise who will know what to do to remedy the situation.

soto1.gif (3438 bytes)

Your character starts out with 10 hit points, 10 gold, 1 spell, and 1 healing potion. You
first walk down a short path and come to the Elderwood village. This small town has an
inn, a shop and a tavern. You talk with some of the locals and learn some clues. To the
east of the town is a forest…and in the forest are monsters (did you think otherwise?).
At first, about all you can do is go to the very edge of the forest, kill a monster, go
back to the village, go back in the forest, kill a monster and go back to the village…
since your character really isn’t strong enough to wander very far at all into the forest.
Every time you kill a monster, you will collect a piece of gold and gain some experience.
The more experience that you gain, the quicker that you’ll rise to higher levels which
will give you more hit points and mana points. Be wary of the monsters, because it is VERY
easy to die when you first start the game. I learned that it’s best to fire a spell at the
monster when it is one step away from you, that way, he’ll walk into your spell and you’ll
get the first hit.

soto2.gif (3775 bytes) soto3.gif (3595 bytes)

When your hits points get low, you have to sleep at the inn to regain them. It will cost
you 3 gold to sleep buy a key to sleep there. Sleeping at the inn is also the only way
that you can save your game. Everytime you sleep, it is saved. I really didn’t like this
and wished you could save the game any time you wanted…

The overall game interface is good. The right side of the display has your status
indicators that show your character’s current hit points, mana points, gold, time of day
and sleepiness.

Controlling your character takes a bit of getting used to. Instead of using the four
hardware buttons to move your character east, west, north or south, you use the Address
and ToDo buttons to change the direction and the up arrow to move in that direction.
Pressing the Address or ToDo button will rotate a little arrow icon on the character so
you can see which direction he is pointing. I found this method to be a little difficult
to get used to because I kept wanting to use the up/down scroll button to move up and
down. The down button is for casting spells…so I was constantly launching a spell. Also
when a monster was after me, I’d get flustered and not be able to move as quickly as I
wanted and would end up dead on some occasions. Just remember, practice makes perfect.

Secret of the Orb is a pretty challenging game that will keep you busy for a long while.
It has interesting puzzles that require you to think a little bit. After finishing the
first ‘quest’, I really felt like I had accomplished something! The game has a cavern
overrun by giant ants,  a mountain top and a volcano dungeon, a desert, and a lost
city. There are 25 types of creatures and 15 spells. If you enjoy long well thought out
adventures, be sure and give this game a try.

Price: $12.95

Well thought out game.
Interesting puzzles/quests.

Can only save your game certain locations (inns).
It takes awhile to build up your character.


Pilot Rogue

Program Requirements:
Personal, Pro, Palm III
78 K free RAM

Pilot Rogue v1.03b by
TAKEBAYASHI Tomoaki is a port of the classic UNIX game called Rogue. Rogue was created in
the 1980’s by college students. The game is totally text based and doesn’t have any fancy
graphics. The plot of the game is as follows: You’ve just finished several years of
training as a student at the local fighters guild, and you’re now ready to indulge in your
first adventure. The local guildmasters have decided to send you off into the hideous and
foul Dungeons of Doom, and have asked you to return to town with the renowned Amulet of
Yendor. If you succeed, you’ll become a fully fledged member of the fighters guild, and
you’ll get to keep the booty you returned with. You start off your journey with an
enchanted mace, a bow, a quiver of arrows, elven armour and enough food for you to reach
the dungeons.

rogue1.gif (1493 bytes) rogue2.gif (1549 bytes) rogue3.gif (1830 bytes)

You start the game in a dungeon room. You have to explore the level till you find a %
character which is a stairway leading to the next level. Pilot Rogue has 99 dungeon
levels. You navigate your character through the dungeons either by tapping the screen in
the direction you want to move (one step at a time) or with the up/down scroll buttons and
Address / ToDo buttons. While you travel, you’ll come across different items that you can
pick up and of course monsters you have to slay. Monsters are designated by an alphabetic
character A-Z.  Items are punctuation characters such as *, !, and ? which stand for
gold, potions and scrolls respectively. To pick up an item, you just walk over it.

Some actions require you to use the menus or write graffiti characters. Some of these
actions include fighting. I prefer using the hardware buttons to move around in the game
because it is faster. As a result, it is a little annoying to have to switch back and
forth between the buttons and a stylus to do certain things. But, since the game isn’t
really all that fast paced, having to do this isn’t too bad.

Pilot Rogue is a pretty fun game even though it doesn’t have fancy graphics or sound
effects. What makes it fun is that the game is different every single time you play it.
Monsters, rooms, and items are never in the same place twice.

Check out this great
Rogue site
for the history and information behind the game.

Price: Free

Game is different every time you play.
Free source code available.

No graphics (you have to use your imagination).
Can’t save your game.



Program Requirements:
Personal, Pro, Palm III
60 K free RAM

EPOS is by Jens Rupp. I wanted to mention
EPOS in this RPG comparison review even though it is not actually publicly available yet
but is still in alpha testing.

EPOS which stands for Epic in German is a fantasy role playing game where you get
to create your character and assign to it various attributes. For example: Strength,
dexterity, etc.

EPOS1.GIF (2403 bytes)

In the game, you travel around a dungeon using your stylus. As you move, the area around
you is revealed. It is kind of like only seeing what is directly in your line of sight.
Around the display are quite a few action icons that allow you to interact with objects
and/or non player characters. You can do such actions as picking up items, using items,
talking to characters and fighting. You can also save your place in the game easily. The
number of saved games is only limited by the memory on your Palm device. Only 16 slots are
displayed though.

EPOS2.GIF (2552 bytes) epos3.gif (2529 bytes)

The great thing about EPOS is that it is script driven which will allow anyone to redefine
the whole game’s look and feel using the included graphical IDE. With this program, you
can create the game’s maps, icons, and scripts.

To complete the game the author is searching for several people who would like to help him
with scripting, graphics, mapdesign and the docs. If you are interested or have any
questions please email jens@gacel.de.

Price: Unknown at this time

Complex actions.
Graphical IDE allows you to create new games.
Unlimited saved game slots.

Unknown, game not yet finished.


Review by David Sugarman

Program Requirements:
Personal, Pro, Palm III, Palm V
73 K free RAM

Telengard by Andrew Brault, is a
decent little RPG. You control an adventurer in search of the mysterious orb of power.
   You can travel through 50+ levels of dungeons, as well as the surface world,
which consists of various inns. The instructions consist of a little background for the
game, and unfortunately little else.  This is a solo quest.  In other words, you
do not play as a team of adventurers, which you do in most traditional RPGs.  I’ve
personally been playing RPGs since I was a kid in the 70s with pen-and-paper D&D-type
games, so I’ve been around. Telengard has some good qualities, but I think it needs some
work before it’s ready for the Prime Time.

telengard1.jpg (5380 bytes)

Let’s start with the good:  In the tradition of all good RPGs, you have the
ability to roll the computer dice until you have an adventurer you like. You have the
basic characteristics, like strength, hit points, intelligence, dexterity, etc.  I’m
not sure what the highest rating is, but the most I’ve been able to get on the initial
roll is 15 on a given characteristic. Beyond your core abilities and a sword, you are also
given magic points and a few level 1 spells to start out.  I think this is a good
thing, since it gives your character a pretty even balance between fighting and magic
abilities.  Another good point is that there are numerous monsters and evil doers.
  So far, I’ve encountered hobbits, mummies, trolls, evil fighters, gnolls, a gnoll
king, vampires, zombies and skeletons.  The bad guys are randomly generated
throughout the dungeons numerous levels, which adds an element of surprise.  When you
run into a beast, you can either fight or run, and sometimes the monster doesn’t even see
you, giving you the options to slink away.  You gain experience points and gold with
each monster you defeat.  Aside from running into monsters and such, you can also
find randomly-generated items, such as cloaks, magic rings and potions.  Of course,
what kind of adventure would this be without treasures.  You will find gold, gems and
silver strewn about the dungeon.  You can get to inns on the surface world to rest
and trade gold for experience points.  Like I said, it has the basics of any good

telengard2.jpg (4631 bytes) telengard3.jpg (6130 bytes) telengard4.jpg (5492 bytes) telengard5.jpg (5451 bytes)

The graphics are both good and bad.  They’re ok for the Palm, but relatively
undetailed and there’s no animation.  The dungeon is also pretty basic, with just a
overhead maze-type of outline.  Although this is a minus, its also a plus because
Telengard is not a memory-intensive application.  At only 73K, its pretty small.
  If you’re like me and have many applications on the Palm (in my case, a Palm V with
only 2MB), the less memory a program takes, the better. The interface is decent and
intuitive.  Buttons pop-up for each situation (i.e.-when in battle mode,
"fight" and "evade" buttons appear at the bottom of the screen).
  You can keep track of gold, hit points, magic points, character level, etc on the
right panel. Controlling your character is simple: just tap the screen on any adjacent
square to move.  Hardware buttons are not necessary in this game.

On the not-so-good side, there are a few notes.  There is no real documentation,
except for the intro.  While the game is pretty self-explanatory, there are some
things, like saving, that I feel could use some explanation.  Now, this brings me to
what I think is one of the games more ugly points: Saving.  With over 50 levels, its
going to take some time to get through this.  The only way I know of to save is by
switching applications.  It then saves automatically.  I would have liked it if
there was a save button or something so I could save periodically without having to
re-start the game each time.  Also, when you die, you can not resume from the last
saved game. You need to start at the beginning.  This means that you really need to
finish the game as carefully as possible, which isn’t the way most people like to play
RPGs.  You want to experience some excitement and adventure.  You want to fight
and be the hero (or villain, if that’s your preference).  Although the lack of
restoring after death does make the game more challenging, and makes it too tough.

Telengard isn’t a bad game, considering the Palm is not exactly a game platform, but it
could have been much better with a few minor improvements, like the saving/restore issue,
and maybe some interaction with the occasional NPC (Non-Player Character, for you
non-gamers). There are no real puzzles or side quests, but if you like exploring dungeons,
this game will keep you occupied.

Price: $10.00

Only 73k
Lots of monsters and items

No real variety
Can’t restore after death
Simple graphics


Dark Haven
Review by David Sugarman

Program Requirements:
Personal, Pro, Palm III, Palm V
374 K free RAM

Wow!  Dark Haven by Gasgorf Software, is quite a
piece of work.  First, it’s HUGE.  I use all caps because it’s huge on a couple
of levels.  It takes up a huge amount of memory.  If you have a PalmV like me,
this game doesn’t leave room for much else.  It is also a huge game in scope.  
I’ve been playing it for a few weeks, and I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface.  
Dark Haven is quite an amazing title considering it’s Gasgorf’s first attempt at a Palm
Pilot game.

haven1.jpg (7756 bytes)

In Dark Haven, you control an adventurer who has been captured and forced to fight in an
arena as a slave.  Your purpose is to escape the city of Dark Haven, but this is no
easy task.  You must explore the city, fight in the arena, sleep at the inn, interact
with a myriad of NPCs (Non-Player Characters, or computer-controlled characters), purchase
and upgrade weapons and armaments, fight random monsters throughout the city, train at a
number of guilds, and a number of other tasks.

haven2.jpg (13529 bytes) haven3.jpg (8477 bytes)

There is really only one negative aspect to this game.  Actually, it’s both a
positive and a negative:  the size.  Because Dark Haven is so big and takes up
so much memory, it is a very linear adventure. In other words, you follow a pre-determined
path.  You talk to people and perform tasks in a specific order.  To have made a
game of this scope non-linear, which would have required building in many complex
artificial intelligence and randomization algorithms, the game probably would take up more
than 2MB of memory, which wouldn’t be feasible for a Palm Pilot.  This is a drawback
because once you finish the game, there really isn’t any replay value, which is important.
One other minor drawback are the graphics.  They are pretty simple and there’s no
animation.  Again, more complicated graphics or animations would have added more to
the memory requirements, and it reminds me of the original Ultima-type games, with simple
graphics, yet deep

Of course, the arena fighting and random battles throughout the city are not
pre-determined.  There are monsters galore.  You’ll fight everything from orcs,
rogues, pixies and cutpurses to slime, spiders, rabid dogs, salamanders and rats.  
When entering the arena, you choose between a novice or apprentice-class fight.   The
novice fights will be challenging enough for a while, until you get enough experience
points.  When you’re ready to move to the apprentice-class fights, you’re in for
quite a challenge.  The purpose of fighting is to get ranked.  Once you are
ranked, you will be able to leave the arena and wander around the city of Dark Haven.
  Eventually, you will get to fight the ultimate battle: the Dark Slayer.  No
one has defeated him yet, so it’s up to you.  Defeating him will earn you your

haven4.jpg (9306 bytes)

The city of Dark Haven is very big, with many areas to explore, and many people to talk
to.  You’ll see the Inn, the Pub, the Weapons store, the High Hopes Church, the
doctor’s office, the beastiary, the garden, and many, many more.  As I said, you will
encounter many beings, both good and evil, throughout your journey.  You will also
get the chance to earn some extra money by completing various jobs, ranging from
janitorial work to guarding a supply room.  The money will come in handy to gain new
skills and purchase upgraded weaponry.

haven5.jpg (8930 bytes)

One of the more interesting aspects of this game are the guilds.  The first guild you
will have the opportunity to join is the mercenary guild.  Here you can increase your
strength and dexterity for fighting, and also increase intelligence for magic spells.
  Once outside the arena’s walls, you will have access to other guilds, including the
wizard’s guild and the menacing-sounding shadow guild.

In case you haven’t guessed, I like this game a lot.  It will take a serious time
investment to finish, and it has all the trimmings of a quality RPG: exploration, tons of
bad guys to fight, interaction with NPCs, many neat
little side quests, and a noble goal-your freedom.  Of course, the huge chunk of
memory it takes up is a drawback, but its worth it.

Price: $24.95

Lots of monsters and items
Deep gameplay
Lots of NPCs
Side quests
3 game save slots

Linear gameplay
Large memory requirement
Simple graphics

Overall Summary

See feature comparison table below:

  Price Size Ability to save  games? Level creator program available? Choice of difficulty level? Mapping Features?
Dragon Bane $24.95 212k 6 slots No No Yes
ShadowThief $15.00 175k Just saves current location No No No
Secret of the Orb $12.95 70k 1 slot No No No
Pilot Rogue Free 78k Just saves current location No No Yes
EPOS Unknown 60k Unlimited slots Yes No Yes
Telengard $10.00 73k Just saves current location No No No
Dark Haven $24.95 374k 3 slots No No No
Kyle’s Quest            



Product Information

  • Lots of monsters and items
  • Deep gameplay
  • Lots of NPCs
  • Side quests
  • 3 game save slots
  • Linear gameplay
  • Large memory requirement
  • Simple graphics
  • Overall Summary
  • See feature comparison table below:
  • Price
  • Size
  • Ability to save  games?
  • Level creator program available?
  • Choice of difficulty level?
  • Mapping Features?
  • Dragon Bane
  • $24.95
  • 212k
  • 6 slots
  • No
  • No
  • Yes
  • ShadowThief
  • $15.00
  • 175k
  • Just saves current location
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • Secret of the Orb
  • $12.95
  • 70k
  • 1 slot
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • Pilot Rogue
  • Free
  • 78k
  • Just saves current location
  • No
  • No
  • Yes
  • EPOS
  • Unknown
  • 60k
  • Unlimited slots
  • Yes
  • No
  • Yes
  • Telengard
  • $10.00
  • 73k
  • Just saves current location
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • Dark Haven
  • $24.95
  • 374k
  • 3 slots
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • Kyle's Quest
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