If the thought of dragons, knights, and monsters makes your heart beat faster, then The Rise of the Lost is for you. This first ever non-Apple game for iPods takes you to a fantasy world modeled heavily on J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle Earth. Though you battle orgs instead of orcs, you can serve a king, protect a queen, and save a kingdom.
The game costs $14.99 (&siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Exoplay%2Ecom%2Friseofthelost%2Findex%2Ephp">available here), and installation is simple on both Mac and Windows. Simply enable disk use on your iPod so that it mounts on the desktop (Macintosh) or in My Computer (Windows) as an external hard drive, then drag the downloaded game folder into your iPod's Notes folder.
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The Rise of the Lost uses simple text to lead you through the choices of the game.
In the game, you are Sir Jacob Zavier, knight in the kingdom of Valance (presumably where &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Em%2Dw%2Ecom%2Fcgi%2Dbin%2Fdictionary%3Fbook%3DDictionary%26va%3Dvalance">drapes are made), and the king has summoned you for an important mission. The evil rival kingdom of the Lost is rising again, and your job is to beat it back down. The game is text-based and similar to Choose Your Own Adventure books, where you were presented with options at the end of every page and were required to make a selection.
The Rise of the Lost works within Apple's Notes system, which is a clever workaround but also somewhat limiting. There's no way to save a game, so you can't stop and browse through your music, although you can play while listening to prequeued tunes. Thus, you need to play the whole game in one sitting, then use the Menu button to return to the main screen when you're done.
The Rise of the Lost will be fun for fantasy fans, but the game won't hold the interest of the uninitiated for long. There are no detailed descriptions of settings and no characterization, so the game is fast and surprisingly uninvolved. Most of the available paths end quickly, so it's unlikely that any game will last longer than 10 minutes. As a result, you can play all the possible paths in less than an hour, which makes the $14.99 price seem a bit steep. Plus, there's no replay value--once you've read all the text, you've read it. Besides that, we found broken links in the game, and the text would have benefited greatly from the services of a good copy editor.
Text-based adventures have a lot of potential for the iPod, but XO Play needs to craft longer story lines and smooth out some of the glitches.