Sometimes a game system comes around that is so easy to trash on that mocking it is like kickboxing a six year old, easy and funny but ultimately unsatisfying. The Tiger Game.com is one such system. Everyone, if they have even heard of the Game.com, already knows that the system sucks. Even the marginally better Game.com Pocket Pro is such a miserable excuse for a system that playing it is, in general, an exercise in self loathing. The challenge is to actually say something nice about the Game.com.
The Game.com (pronounced game com) Pocket Pro is the smaller lighter version of the Game.com which was released in 1997. The Game.com was on of the 10 worst-selling Handhelds of all time and for good reason. Though it had a touch screen years before the Nintendo DS, decent controls, and was the first handheld to offer online connectivity it did not have much else to offer. The screen quality was very poor and the library of games was small with the best titles being only somewhat enjoyable and the worst being about as fun as being repeatedly bitten in the scrotum by a cete of angry badgers. One of the few bright spots was the game that came bundled with the Game.com, Lights Out.
Lights Out on the Game.com is played on a 6 X 6 grid that begins with a number of dark and light squares. Other versions of the game typically use a 5 X 5 grid and some even use larger grids or even arrangements of hexagons. The object of the game is to turn all the “lights out”. The control scheme on the Game.com is simple, when a square is tapped, the tapped square and all the directly adjacent squares change from on to off or off to on. There is a silly amount of math that has gone into creating strategies for playing the game. Apparently the easier to understand strategies are good enough to ensure victory but are not optimal solutions, which allows the game to retain it’s enjoyment even if you learn the basic solutions.
Lights out reminds me a bit of some of the fun touch controlled puzzle games on the DS such as Picross or Meteos. It is not nearly on par with either of those DS games in terms of complexity or game-play however, who is to say with some creativity that even better puzzle type games could not have been made for the Game.com. If Tiger had concentrated on making fun games rather than getting big name fast paced licenses the system might have flourished. Unfortunately none of the big name games are any fun.
Lights Out only real negative on the Game.com is the fact that the screen is difficult to see except in very bright light. Though the Pocket Pro has a front light it does no good unless the player is in pitch darkness. Since the only action in the game is switching between black and light boxes the low resolution and terrible refresh rate of the screen does not cause any severe difficulties. This is quite unlike playing Resident Evil 2 on the Game.com which is nearly identical to having a sloth of zombie Kodiak bears feast upon your liver.
Rather then subject yourself to the horror of the Game.com Pocket Pro (a system that is about as fun to play as having a parliament of amorous owls molest your feet) Lights Out is available at http://www.whitman.edu/mathematics/lights_out/.
If all the games were as enjoyable as Lights Out the system’s technical shortcomings could be overlooked however the games really make or break any system and Game.com does not have the games.
Screen: 1/10 Screen is weakly front-lit, has a low refresh rate, and poor resolution. Most games have severe ghosting. No amount of fiddling with the contrast dial will make the screen any easier to see. All the Game.com units I have encountered have at least one line of missing pixels. System gets one point for having a functioning touch screen.
Sound: 5/10 System sounds beepie and obnoxious. This might be charming on a better all around system but on the Game.com it just adds to the suck.
Controls: 9/10. Controls are solid and feel nice and responsive. Touch screen is perfectly functional.
Availability: 5/10 It is possible to find online thru E-bay or at your local thrift shop but really why would you want to?
Analogies involving groups of animals using the correct terminology: 3/10 Could have said that Duke Nukem 3D is like being pistol whipped by a coterie of prairie dogs or Indy 500 is like being set on fire then run over by a Cooper Mini driven by a coalition of inebriated cheetah.
Price: 5/10 Any price it too much.
Library: 1/10 Out of a meager library of 20 or so games Lights Out and the built in Solitaire are the only games that are remotely enjoyable however both of these are available in other forms.
Overall: 1/10 Take a couple good ideas, combine it with lousy execution, an abysmal library, and behold you have one of the worst game systems ever.