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Last Updated: Friday, 3 March 2006, 10:05 GMT
24 mini-games debut on mobiles
By Alfred Hermida
Technology editor, BBC News website

Screenshot of 24: The Mobile Game
The game is made up of mini-games such as puzzles
Taking the popular TV show, 24, and squeezing it into a mobile phone game sounds like a daunting task.

But as with so many big names from the world of TV and film, this is exactly what has happened to the real-time action series.

24 is making the leap from being a TV show to a game franchise of its own. Game versions for the main consoles are on their way.

But fans of the show can already get a taste of the action on their mobile phones, with the release of the 24 game for handsets.

Developed by Scottish mobile gaming company I-Play in just 15 weeks, the game is designed to provide people with a chance to experience the world of 24 via their handsets.

Does it work? Well, yes and no.

Short missions

The mobile game is wrapped in the look and feel of 24.

It includes the signature digital clock countdown and all the main actors lend their likeness to it.

Rather than create a something that lets players take on the role of Jack Bauer, the game puts you in charge of Jack, as well as of several other leading characters.

Unfortunately you do not get to hear them barking out information. Instead, text on screen keeps the player apprised of the latest twists in a plot involving a terrorist threat from North Korea.

Screenshot of 24: The Mobile Game
Format: Mobile
Graphics: 5
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 6
Enduring appeal: 5
Overall: 6
In trying to recreate the feel of 24, the mobile game is made up of short missions that need to be completed with a number of minutes.

This proves to be a successful marriage of TV and gaming, as casual games like these work best on mobiles.

The game also tries to provide an incentive to complete missions as quickly as possible, as it keeps an ongoing score of how well players are doing.

The aim is simply to complete everything as in as little time as possible and this technique is effectively in creating an atmosphere of tension.

Games on handsets work best when they offer short spurts of fun. And 24 is essentially a collection of generic mini-games, from puzzles to driving to code-breaking, designed to be played by just using one hand.

As is often the case with collections of mini-games, some work better than others.

Generic gaming

There is a driving game pops up when an agent needs to get from A to B. In the early stages of the game, this can be embarrassingly easy.

Screenshot of 24: The Mobile Game
The driving game has a retro feel to it
Later on, the driving gets tougher but ends up feeling like a tiresome interlude between more compelling missions.

Other mini-games such as a puzzle game with coloured symbols are more compelling, forcing players to think two steps ahead.

Infiltration missions offer a taste of stealth and the basic 2D graphics work well enough. But do not expect anything on the level of a Splinter Cell.

24 offers a good collection of games that work well on the small screen, with fairly basic graphics.

Overall, though, the mini-games lack originality and could have been branded with the wrappings of other action blockbuster franchises, such as Mission Impossible.


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