Palm OS 3.0 or later PDAs
Big Money isn’t a revolutionary game. It’s very similar to a slew of other
Palm games on the market, several from
Astraware itself. If you’re out there looking for something new and exciting
that’s going to bowl you over and make your eyes glaze over from shock the first
time you play it, don’t look here. But if you want a nice solid tile matching
game, a game with excellent replay value, a game that looks slick, a game with a
nice interface, a game that’s just plain fun, Big Money fits the bill.
The game, based on the PopCap game of the same name, is
quite simple to play. Coins of different denominations populate a 13×15 grid.
Each level starts with a number of randomly filled rows. You remove sets of
touching matching coins by tapping on any one of the coins. Additional coins
line the bottom of the board and bubble up to the bottom row, pushing the board
contents up one row. Your goal is to remove coins fast enough that you never
have any coins push up over the top of the board. If any coins spill over the
top, the game ends. As coins are removed, the coins above them fall downward,
changing the patterns you can next remove.
A meter on the left of the board tracks your removal rate. The faster you
remove coins, the higher it goes. When the meter reaches the top, a money bag
drops onto the board, landing on top of a column of coins. You must collect
these money bags by removing the coins directly underneath them. Just above the
meter is a safe for your collected money bags. You complete levels by filling
the safe with the requisite number of money bags. As you progress through a game
more and more money bags are needed to move to the next level.
In addition to money bags, every once in a while a coin zapper falls onto a
column of coins. When you remove the coin directly under the zapper, all coins
of that denomination disappear from the board. Don’t expect to get coin zappers
often; I’ve played entire games of multiple levels without seeing one.
There are three difficulty levels: easy, normal, and hard. They differ by the
number of denominations in play and the speed new coins push up into play, with
the easy level having the slowest rate. The easy level supports three types of
coins, the normal and hard levels support four. The scoring rate for clearing
coins is also significantly different in the three levels, but that doesn’t
really affect gameplay.
In all honesty, I find the easy level to be the hardest of the three levels
to play. Because the ultimate goal is to clear money bags from the game board
and the money bags only appear when you sustain a fast rate of coin removal, the
slow level puts you at a disadvantage. It’s difficult to clear coins quickly
when they aren’t appearing on the board very quickly. This can lead to some long
Astraware always makes visually appealing games filled with bright colors (on
color devices). Big Money is no different. However, unlike most other Astraware
games, I actually prefer playing in grayscale rather than in color. In the color
version the coins are merely color-coded circles. In the monochrome version they
have actual currency symbols – cent, dollar, pound, and yen symbols grace the
pieces. I really like this extra added touch.
The game is also quite playable on a HandEra 330, although it’s a little
sluggish unless you play in center or upper left mode. Interestingly, center and
upper left mode are the same – both actually are in the upper left 160×160 of
Big Money keeps track of several types of statistics within each game,
displayed on a nice splash screen between each level. You can see how long
you’ve been playing the game, the largest number of coins cleared at one time,
the largest bonus you scored, and the total number of coins cleared in the game.
You can also see your current score and the rank that grants you. Rank is a fun
little addition to the game that has little real meaning but is cute. Ranks
related to financial and business status. For instance, the first level,
corresponding to 0-1000 points, is Pauper. Later in the game you can be an
employee, a manager, or even a millionaire.
High scores are maintained per difficulty level and can be submitted to a
global high score board
on the Astraware website. I always like to get a sense of how I stack up to the
best player of a specific game, so global high score tables are a favorite
feature of mine. Astraware is usually pretty good about supplying them.
I mentioned at the top that Big Money is hardly a unique game. In fact, it’s
quite similar to another Astraware title Collapse and to games like HMaki,
Bubblet, and several other Palm tile removal games. I dislike the way many
developers release another version of a game that already has ten versions
available rather than creating new games that don’t already exist. Astraware at
least twists this games a little, adding an interesting variation to the basic
game. This is my favorite variant, supplanting Collapse. However, I do think
that the two games are very similar and asking folks who have already shelled
out $15 for Collapse to pay that fee again for a similar game isn’t entirely
reasonable, although the game is worth buying. As future variants of the game
come out (assuming more are planned), this becomes more and more of an issue. I
think a discount for Collapse owners makes sense and would go a long way toward
removing any possible hard feelings felt by those who already paid for a very
similar game but might prefer Big Money to Collapse.
Big Money offers many hours of fun in a nice visually appealing package. I
recommend it to anyone who likes tile removal games like HMaki or Bubblet or
falling tile games like Tetris.
Excellent replay value
Interesting variation on a familiar game
Global high score table
A little too similar to other games on the market