You Review: Nokia Ovi Store games that get physical

In the latest in our irregular series of user reviews, forum regular David Gilson tests out games from Nokia's Ovi Store that use your phone's physical sensors

In the latest in our irregular series of user reviews, forum regular David Gilson tests out games from Nokia's Ovi Store that use your phone's physical sensors. If you have a review of a product you would like to appear on Crave and you're prepared to put the same care and attention into it that David has, email it to and we'll publish the best.

Nokia phones are able to run ever more impressive games thanks to their increasing processing power and new-fangled sensors. The hottest trend in mobile gaming right now is to incorporate physics, both in creating realistic dynamics, and exploiting handsets' ability to detect changes in their orientation.

Nokia's Ovi Store has a great selection of games that feature realistic physics and sensory input. We hunted around for the  five best games to get you started in the world of physics-driven mobile gaming. If you've played any others, we'd love to hear about them in the comments.

Here's the science part: if your phone can detect how it is tilted, such as for automatically rotating your screen, it's equipped an accelerometer. This marvellous bit of kit tells your phone which direction gravity is pulling from, and how you're moving the phone. A magnetometer, otherwise known as a digital compass, gives you a bearing relative to the Earth's magnetic field, just like a traditional compass. If you're not sure whether your phone has a digital compass, you can check its specifications on Nokia's Web site. 

The Ovi Store application on your Nokia phone will filter content according to what's compatible with your phone. Because of the wide range of Nokia smart phones out there, we've simply given guidance on the minimum hardware required for your phone to run each game. All five games were free at time of publication, but this might change.

Update: A previous version of this article suggested all the games were free, which they were at time of publication. As of 19 March, however, only Bagatelle and Space Impact are free. The rest cost £3, which is still great value, and some have free trial versions.

Click 'Continue' for our first candidate, Edge.

By: Connect2Media
Genre: Action
Minimum hardware: None
Recommended hardware: Accelerometer
Download here

The object of this game is to guide your cube around a 3D maze, planning your moves in advance to avoid hazards. As you progress, you need to practice better control over the cube, as timing becomes critical to success. We found the graphics to be rather basic here, and some might find it confusing to be moving diagonally, rather than up/down and left/right.

Edge will play on any Nokia phone, controlled by either keys or touchscreen. It's much more fun on phones with accelerometers, as you can move the cube around by tilting your phone.

By: Connect2Media
Genre: Puzzle
Minimum hardware: None
Recommended hardware: Touchscreen
Download here

This is a hilarious action puzzle game that does exactly what the name implies. Thanks to 'rag-doll' physics, the star of the game, Dummy, is launched by either demolition ball or rocket chair, and is realistically bashed and flung around each level, all for points and laughs.

Again, the graphics look dated, but it's understandable with the game's wide compatibility. As you progress, you unlock new comedy elements to play with, such as spring-loaded boxing gloves and anvils.

By: Offscreen
Genre: Arcade
Minimum hardware: Touchscreen
Download here

Bagatelle is the ancient game pinball is derived from. You have a board filled with pins and holes, and you launch each ball by pushing with a cue stick. Your objective is to score points by landing as many balls in holes as you can.

Bagatelle Touch recreates this with accurate physics and impressive graphics, although we found that the game slowed down if more than one ball was in motion at once. To play the game, you simply touch the onscreen cue stick to set how much force to launch each ball with. It's a simple yet addictive game, with the bonus of a competitive two-player mode.

By: Offscreen
Genre: Arcade
Minimum hardware: Touchscreen and accelerometer
Download here

This is the only game of the group to combine true physics and accelerometer input. The object of the game is simple: tilt your phone to roll a ball around a maze, avoiding the trap-holes as you go, against the clock. Labyrinth Touch has three environments -- wooden, garden and 'caramel' -- and each has nine levels. The different environments determine how the ball moves and bounces. When the ball collides with a wall, you also get haptic feedback, which adds to the sense of realism.

At time of publication the game was free, but when we tested the game it cost £3. If that's the case, you can also try Labyrinth Lite for free, with one level from each world.

By: Nokia
Genre: Action
Minimum hardware: N97 or N97 Mini
Download here

Here, you play a lone gunner in an orbital turret, defending Earth from an onslaught of meteors. The gimmick of this game is that you turn the turret by turning yourself -- your movement is detected by the phone's digital compass. As you turn, you can see the sun, moon and stars pan from side to side with your real-life environment.

There's no vertical aiming, as long as you're looking in the right direction you get a target lock, then just tap the screen to fire. The game comes with a warning that it can cause motion sickness. You'd be wise to heed this, given how addictive it is.

About the author

    David Gilson has always revelled in tech and started writing about it in 2009. He covers the smartphone world and is rather partial to a spot of BASH scripting. David is a freelance writer and is not an employee of CNET.


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