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CELL PHONE GAMES STICK TO THE SIMPLE

Cell phone gaming hasn't gotten a lot of press lately, thanks to the fancier hand-held gaming systems from Nintendo, Sony and even cell phone maker Nokia.

But games on phones are improving, and I recently tried out a few on Nokia's $449 model 6600 phone. The games are also a bargain at $3 or $4 each to download. Here are the ones I tested:

"Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" (www.gameloft.com/enroduct--page.php?game634&usop71)

"Spider-Man" (www.indiagames.com/spider-man)

"The Powerpuff Girls: Bad Mojo" (www.macrospace.com/games /cnpg.shtml)

"Lemonade Tycoon" (www.hexacto.com/game--lemonade.php)

"Prince of Persia," an adaptation of the excellent console title, is probably the best of the lot.

The 3-D graphics are gone, so it's back to the 2-D side-to-side action of the old "Prince of Persia" games. The graphics are sharp, and the game play retains most of the innovations from the console version of "The Sands of Time." For example, you can run briefly along walls or turn back time for a few seconds to undo your death.

"Lemonade Tycoon" is also fun, but it's too simple. This simulation game has you running a lemonade stand. You buy supplies, purchase advertising and tinker with the ratios of lemons, sugar and ice for the perfect cup of lemonade.

As your profits mount, you can buy high-tech appliances, raise advertising to draw more customers, get a larger stand and move to higher-rent districts.

You also have to adjust your recipe to the weather. If it's hot, you need more ice cubes per cup, for example. But sometimes your customers are displeased with your brew, and it's hard to figure out what they want.

Trial and error is your only solution, which gets annoying. It would be cool if you could spend money on marketing research to see what the consumers in a particular neighborhood preferred.

"Spider-Man" and the "Powerpuff Girls" were less satisfying, with simple graphics and side-to-side game play, but fans of those franchises might enjoy them.

The 6600 phone uses the vertical screen that also plagues Nokia's N-Gage -- most games move side-to-side, so wide-screen is more useful than tall-screen -- but it does have a handy mini-joystick right under the display that makes controlling your avatar easier.

None of these games match up with what you'll find on Nintendo's Game Boy Advance, Sony's upcoming PSP or even Nokia's own N-Gage.

-- Dallas Morning News

E-mail: vgodinezdallasnews.com

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