The Green Myste, from Rusty Axe Games, is clearly intended to be a Might and Magic clone for the Tapwave Zodiac--the operative part of the phrase being "intended." It shares the RPG classic's first-person orientation, navigation system, and fantasy setting, but lacks all of its progenitor's execution and high production values. Unfortunately, The Green Myste is so ostentatiously low-budget and frayed around the edges that it plays more like a second-rate shareware title than a studio produced game, Palm OS or no.
The Green Myste's premise is cast-iron boilerplate. At the beginning of the game, your hero is chosen to mount a quest against a horrid force known as the Grim, which has apparently been sequestered in a tall castle for the last two centuries and is now releasing a hallucinogenic cloud into the populace. As any true medievalist knows, the best place to stash your demon-imprisoning facilities is right smack dab in the middle of your city (called Sanctis), so the stinking miasma of evil can leak out and corrupt the whole municipality. That seems to be what has happened to your hero's burg, and you now must unravel the secrets of Sanctis, the Grim, and eventually the insidious myste itself before things will be set right.
Navigation through Sanctis is managed via the analog stick, which moves your party through city and environs at a slow pace. It's possible to get around without too much difficulty using stick and shoulder buttons to walk and turn, but control problems rear their ugly head once you try to interact with the environment. You have to call up a menu every time you want to open a door or pick something up, laboriously scroll through each touchable object on the screen, and then wade through another menu to perform an action. Use of the touch screen would have been infinitely preferable to this clunky interface. Fueling the fire is the menu system itself, which uses a miniscule font and thoroughly baffling design throughout. In combat or out, your party's characters are represented by a tiny icon which is surrounded by a bunch of different meters and symbols, most of which are barely distinguishable from one another.
Sometimes, games that suffer from a poor layout will compensate with interesting level construction or unique gameplay. Sadly, The Green Myste makes no recourse in either area. The game begins with a badly garbled voiceover that explains who you are and what you're supposed to do, and then you're thrust into the middle of Sanctis, weaponless and friendless. If you wander around for a while and try all the doors, you'll eventually enter the tavern and meet up with the captain of the guards, who will join your party. Wander around some more, and other characters will enlist, seemingly at random. If you're lucky, someone will inform you that your first job should be to investigate the sewers; if you're unlucky, it could be a while before you figure out how to get the game to progress. There are a number of characters walking around, but talking to them does no good, as they'll just recite a platitude and move on. First-person RPGs usually take several hours to really get going, but The Green Myste has so little in the way of narrative flow that it's difficult to become interested. This is basically gaming through diffusion.
There are a number of different enemies to fight, but The Green Myste's combat sequences are badly paced and require little tactical thought. The meter-based systems that control attack power and turn timing respond very slowly, and your CPU allies will brainlessly flail away at whatever's in front of you regardless of your actions. When you defeat an enemy, its sprite will either fold up into the top of the screen or disappear into the bottom, maintaining the consistently poor level of character animation throughout the encounter.
Audiovisually, The Green Myste is most analogous to the computer RPGs of the very early 1990s. Sanctis is rendered in a murky brownish palette, with pixelated, homogenous textures and repetitive sprites. It's very difficult to tell where you are in town, because all of the buildings and doors look pretty much the same. The out-of-engine art sequences, on the other hand, are of decent quality. The sound, for its part, is packed with low-quality voice recordings and maddening effects. In the sewers, for instance, a voice actor will loudly chime in with such pithy commentary as "we'll peel their skin to make our drums!" in a goblinesque voice, even if there's no apparent voice source onscreen. A lot of the other effects consist of periodic rumbling, laughing, and thunderclaps, always at odd intervals and rarely for any particular reason. This confusing, unpleasant pastiche of sounds and visuals makes exploring the world of The Green Myste even less of an appealing prospect.
The Green Myste is fraught with so many serious problems that it's a real chore to play. Even if you're an RPG fan looking for some Zodiac role-playing, your best bet is to just stay away entirely.