Pocket PC Gold Edition
The Pocket PC Gold Edition features both Age of Empires and The Rise of Rome expansion. Similar to it's pc counterpart, it packs a punch and is a near-perfect conversion of the original. The graphics are stunning, and of course gameplay and the music are very addictive. Age of Empires in the palm of your hand? Hell yeah!
This version was developed by Ziosoft/Floodgate and released in 2003. They did an excellent job of porting it to the Pocket PC.
Gameplay modes include Random Map, Deathmatch, Campaign and Scenario. It comes with ALL the campaigns and scenario's made by Ensemble Studios! One of the best features is that you can play custom scenario's and campaigns developed with the Scenario Editor, which adds a huge amount of replay next to the other well known modes.
- All original PC game and expansion plus sound effects.
- All but 2 of the original PC game musical tracks.
- 3 minute intro video (optional).
- Full user manual embedded in Pocket IE readable HTML file.
- No Multiplayer support. This would have been a very nice feature although it would obviously be more difficult to execute strategies quickly.
- No Scenario Editor. Similar to Multiplayer, this would have been very nice to see but designing would be inconvenient.
So, how does it play?
Obviously a bit different than playing on the PC. It takes a bit of time to get used to the different controls and the small screen. Actually, AoE looks quite large still, which is very convenient! You have no mouse, but use a Stylus (pen) which substitutes the mouse quite well. Clicking/Tapping and tasking villagers, buildings and so on works very nicely, as does training units. Deselecting needs to be done by dragging the stylus on an empty spot. The most commonly used hotkeys are available to you in a small window, which I will explain later.
Playing any mode works fine - the maps generally load fast and are similar to the PC version. Strategies can be executed nicely, but it takes a lot of practice to get it right. Generally you will suffer from not being to click as fast as you want to or accidentally tasking soldiers to move somewhere on the map you didn't order them to. This can be corrected quickly however, if you pay enough attention to the Minimap. The Minimap is clear and displays every pixel perfectly. Dragging the window is a bit shaky which can be annoying at first, but you'll get used to it.
The most fun part is playing custom campaigns and scenario's from your favorite designers. Nearly all of them work with the exception of huge (I mean really big) maps filled with tons of objects - the game might get stuck during the loading of the map. Also, sometimes PER commands do not seem to work correctly or not at all, which is quite the issue - when trying out my campaign The Heavenly Escort for example, the PER file that instructs the Ferrymaster to transport you across the swamp using his Light Transport, does not work. This can ruin a scenario completely and prevent players from continueing, which is a major turndown. The computer player asking tribute on the other hand, works.
Older works like Ingo's Tai Gun or Rasher's Magnus series, which were made without any addons or the need of certain patches/versions, will load and work fine. Any beta objects that are included in scenarios (e.g. Trade Workshops or Horses) and other previously hidden units will work as the .dat files are exactly the same, luckily!
As for patches, the game comes fully patched to the latest version with no means to downgrade - in case you want to play custom works that include certain special terrains or missile objects, you can't (scenario's will load however), as this also prevents players from continueing. I cannot blame Ziosoft since several scn design add-ons were not released before 2003 and the obvious choice would be to design the PPC version with the latest version in mind.
I have not tried installing any modpacks yet - but they should work fine I think. All files in the Data folder are exactly the same and can be opened with the utitilies we have in the Granary which means they should run without problems.
All in all, I can say that the Pocket PC version is THE game to own if you have such a device. True Age of Empires fans will love it, despite the lack of Multiplayer and a Scenario editor, which are not really nesessary anyways (as I explained already), and a few tiny flaws. The game is exactly like the original and remains true to it - meaning it keeps it's lovely charm. If you want to give it a try before buying the full game, you can download the Trial version here.
You can access the Hotkey menu by clicking the "K" button in the User Interface, just above the Minimap. A small bar will show on the right side of the playfield with 9 Hotkeys:
Screenshot of the Hotkey Bar with 9 hotkeys.
The hotkeys are:
T. Click to center view your Town Center.
I. Click to see the nexxt idle villager.
C. Click to center view on the selected unit(s).
E. Click to center view on last game event.
1. Click while holding the CTRL key (hardbutton A) to set selected unit(s) as group 1. Or, click to select group 1.
2. Click while holding the CTRL key (hardbutton A) to set selected unit(s) as group 2. Or, click to select group 2.
3. Click while holding the CTRL key (hardbutton A) to set selected unit(s) as group 3. Or, click to select group 3.
4. Click while holding the CTRL key (hardbutton A) to set selected unit(s) as group 4. Or, click to select group 4.
5. Click while holding the CTRL key (hardbutton A) to set selected unit(s) as group 5. Or, click to select group 5.
Deleting unwanted units
Select any unit, and then click the "D" button on the bottom corner of the Minimap. A message will pop-up asking if you are sure you want to delete the selected unit(s).
Using the Shift-Mode (Place multiple buildings of the same type)
- Hold down either the Agenda, Mail or iTask button (try other buttons if these don't work for you). You will see a red "S" or a red "C" appear next to the Diplomacy button - you can now place multiple buildings down using the selected villager(s).
There is only one type of cheat, which is also the most convenient one - free resources. Basically it gives you unlimited resources (up to 9999 per resource at any given time) and is activated by doing the following:
- Hold down either the Mail or iTask button (try other buttons if these don't work for you). You will see a red "S" appear next to the Diplomacy button. When the "S" is active, click/tap on any of the resource icons (that's icons, not the amount!) and 1000 will be added to the resource stockpile with each click.
Screenshot of Cheat Mode - Note the Red "S" next to the Diplomacy button.
1. Main game only 9.8MB
2. Campaigns 5.1MB
3. Scenarios 1.2MB
4. User manual 0.3MB
5. Intro video 4.0MB
A complete installation with all components takes up 20.4MB. Saved games typically require 150K to 300K each; however, large campaigns can require upwards of 700K per save.
Win 3.0 CE, Pocket PC 2002 or Pocket PC 2003 Windows Mobile-based device with a StrongARM or Xscale processor, minimum of 32MB RAM (64 MB Ram recommended), with 12MB of free program memory, supporting 12-bit or 16-bit color.
Age of Empires: Pocket PC Edition uses Install Shield, and installs like any other standard Windows Mobile-based Pocket PC application. Due to large size of the game, installs are divided into five pieces: main game, campaigns, scenarios, user manual, and intro video. Only the main game need be installed to play. But to access the other components (e.g. scenarios, campaigns, etc.), they must each be installed separately using Install Shield. For Windows Mobile based Pocket PC devices with memory card slots, the game or any of the components can be installed on a memory card to free up main memory. Individual components can also be deleted after installation to save space.
Installing Age Of Empires for Pocket PC:
1. Extract the contents of the zip to your desktop PC.
2. Attach your Windows Mobile Pocket PC via activesync.
3. Click Age of Empires Demo (ARM-XSCALE).exe from your PC to launch the installer and follow the onscreen instructions.
4.Once the installation has finished, you can launch Age of Empires from your Start-> Programs-> Games folder on your Pocket PC.
Have fun playing this wonderful port!