The Death of a Good Idea, A Cautionary Tale
Once upon a time, a perfectly nice little company had a perfectly nice little game- eSoft Interactive’s Traffic Jam, based on a board game with the same name. It used few resources, was stable, intuitive, attractive, and fun. I would stack it up against any other company’s offerings for its price of $9.95.
alt="eSoft's Traffic Jam"/>
alt="eSoft's Traffic Jam solved!"/>
[eSoft's TRAFFIC JAM- a solidly written, fun game!]
The original Traffic Jam is a great game- I even like the cheerful little car horn when you finish the level. A nice little reward.
eSoft decided to update Traffic Jam by making it 3-D. On the surface, this does not seem like a bad idea, but…
alt="Traffic Jam 2 Opening Screen"/>
[The Wait Screen. Get familiar with it. It takes forever to load (and crashes about every 5 tries on my Palm T/X).]
[The playing field is smaller. See the overhead view in the upper left? You'll need it.]
[To move, you tap the vehicle, which shows a box around it, and the square you want to move it to. It took several taps to move this truck one square.]
[Trying to tap onto this pickup and then move it was incredibly tough, requiring many, many taps.]
I have played Traffic Jam (the original board game and the first Palm version) for hours, even though I am not a big fan of sliding block games. Traffic Jam 2 is frustrating enough that it has taken me a few weeks to play it enough to review it. One hint for anyone thinking about trying it- make sure your screen is well-calibrated!
OK, something nice to say, something nice to say… surely there is SOMETHING? Well- it only costs $9.95, and I would bet that it is more fun to play the PC version. In fact, I sort of suspect that many of the problems I found vanish with lots of memory, a bigger screen and mouse controls.
Traffic Jam 2 also has more interesting vehicles- buses, fire trucks, and so on. They are oddly pixilated compared to the rather smooth images in the original game, but they add a certain touch that I appreciated. Bottom line- I think the best thing about Traffic Jam 2 is that the original is still available.