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Top Trumps Star Wars

For: Mobile

Can this mobile version of the cult card game stand out from the pack or will it be dealt back into retirement?

Product: Top Trumps: Star Wars | Developer: Humagade | Publisher: THQ Wireless | Format: Mobile | Genre: Card/ board game, Casual | Players: 1-4 | Networking: Bluetooth | Format: J2ME | Reviewed on: N-Gage QD other handsets | Version: Europe
Top Trumps: Star Wars Mobile, thumbnail 1
Men like things with numbers on. Think about it for a moment. Football shirts. Car reviews in the Sunday newspapers. Stereo specifications in the local branch of Comet. We might not always know what they mean (you're guaranteed a knowing nod, whatever our actual knowledge on the subject, mind) or be able to do anything useful with them, like arithmetic, but we do know we like them. The reason for our infatuation? Waddingtons Games. Though the company no longer exists, it was a board game publisher extraordinaire. The company's games, such as Cluedo, Monopoly and The Game of Life, were staples of any childhood in the 1980's. As was another of Waddington's creations, which has been more influential in the development of the UK's twenty- to thirty-year-olds than any other: Top Trumps.

So we were both excited and anxious about the news that current owners of the Top Trumps brand, Winning Moves, had approached THQ Wireless to create a mobile phone version. And, now that it's here, we've equally mixed feelings about whether it's any good or not.

There's no denying that, at its centre, is the seed of a good idea. The original card game was ingeniously simple yet compulsively playable. But it's the execution of the game on your mobile phone that gives us pause. The first issue we're not happy about is the absolutely miniscule photos featured in the game. Considering that the photos used to be one of the best bits of the original cards, it's heresy to have them shrunk down so small that the cars appear as a coloured blob and little more.

The second big problem we have is the price. This game will be selling for around £5, while you can buy a set of cards in your local toy shop for about £3. This might not sound like much of a difference. But if you want to have an enjoyable game with a friend via the clever Bluetooth mode, you'll need him or her to buy the game on their mobile, too, which means you're spending £10 between the two of you.

You don't, strictly speaking, need to buy a second copy of the game. You can play a two, three or even four player game by passing a single handset around, but this makes the game too long-winded and not as much fun as it should be. You can also play a single-player game as you take on the computer, either in the Classic "play 'til you win them all" mode or the new Challenge mode against a time limit. But this is no fun; there's always the sneaking suspicion that the computer player's cheating and, when it gets on a winning run, you'll do nothing but stare at the screen as you wait for it to finish.

Mind you, it's not all bad. The Bluetooth mode is a clever way to play and you've got to give the developers credit for trying to introduce a new way of playing the game in the shape of the Challenge mode. But at the end of the day it serves to remind you just how good the original was. So much so that, the last time we were on the train with nothing to do, we got our hands on a copy of the original cards version of the game and played that instead. And that, dear reader, says it all, really.
Top Trumps Star Wars
Reviewer photo
Mike Abolins | 30 November 2005
Great for fond reminiscing but as a game it's too dry and un-involving to succeed
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