Let’s face it, the Pandora is pretty much end of life: you can’t buy it anymore (out of stock), it had only a limited production run, and the community is less and less active (well, it’s been almost 10 years since the project started). Yet, thanks to the ongoing efforts of PtitSeb, another unexpected port makes it to the format: Stardew Valley.
So, what, maybe you are thinking “are you kidding me, there were already fun racing games on the Pandora so far!“. Sure. Like one of my all-time favorites, Super Cars III (actually a remake of Super Cars I and II) as pointed out in my earlier article. And there’s the excellent F-1 Spirit Remake, very challenging but very fun as well once you get the hang of it (and it’s also a very nice example of how PtitSeb optimizes his ports for the Pandora). But these two games, as excellent as they are, are 2D racers, and while we have a good collection of 3D racers (TORCS, Ultimate Stunts, Super Tux Cart, Skunks, and more…), even the FOSS-loving person in me faces the harsh reality that we all know too well: it’s not because it’s Free Software that it’s great.
Notaz has once again taken everyone by surprise. After Starcraft and Diablo which were already pushing the limits of static recompilation, he has managed to port Diablo II to the Pandora and released it without prior notice on the repo – It took him a month and a half to get to the current point. End 2015 and it’s still amazing to see what can be done on this little machine.
As announced a few days ago, Half Life can now run on Pandora with the help of the Xash3D engine. It’s fantastic that allows the user to use Half Life data and run the game on a target that was not possible until now. And it runs great (at least on my Pandora 1Ghz, you mileage may vary a little on a CC or Rebirth). Here’s a quick look at this great game and how to get it running with PtitSeb’s port – not all was as easy as pie this time around.
Many folks have tried throughout the years to make Half Life run in one way or another on the Pandora (mostly via Qemu, with limited success since it was too slow). Half Life is just the kind of game that should run just fine on Pandora based on the specs alone, but simply won’t because it’s closed source and therefore not easily portable. Now, a new opportunity just arrived, with a recreation of the Half Life Engine with Xash3D.
A couple of months back, Lunixbochs released a new port for the Pandora, Uplink – the original game from Introversion Software, a British indie developer (current working on Prison Architect, you may have seen it on Steam). The Uplink port was not a simple feat. This is a full featured PC game that was never made to run on mobile devices. While it may not look visually stunning, performance wise it proved to be challenging port, and Lunixbochs came with an interesting solution to the performance issue, by creating TinyGLES.
Super Cars II, from the famous dev team Magnetic Fields (the same guys who released the Lotus trilogy), was one of my favorite games ever on the Amiga. Seriously. A couple of days back, PtitSeb has finished porting Super Cars III, a recreation of the original Super Cars I & 2, and now with this game the Pandora is the best portable handheld EVER.
I’m not sure how I missed that on the repo, but since there was a recent update, I had some time to check Seventh Sense. This application basically recreates the experience you could get from reading the Lone Wolf gamebooks created by Joe Dever in the 80’s. Gamebooks were heavily inspired by pen and paper RPGs, and did not read like your usual book. After every page or paragraph, you could actually choose your course of action, and jump to a different section of the book describing what happens next. But it went beyond than just that.
Since nobody had released a Flappy Bird clone on the repo, I took some time a couple of days ago to look for some of them that may be working without much effort on the Pandora. Since Flappy Bird was a such popular and, honestly, not very hard game to program, there are a ton of clones out there for many programming languages. Python and Pygame are included by default in the Pandora firmware, so I was set to find something running with those on GitHub, and it did not take too long to identify the right candidate.
In case you have been living under a rock, you probably know of the recently popular game 2048, which was itself based on the popular mobile game Threes. 2048 ended up being more popular than Threes, making Threes look like a ripoff of it, which is quite funny when you think about it. Anyway. Squared, by Gandi, is a clone of 2048 for the Pandora. It’s pretty good.