What is a wumpus? A scary purple monster that lives in a cave, of course. Unfortunately, as the chief field worker of the zoological society, it's your task to explore a dark cavern to learn more about the monster's ecological needs. So, armed with a single tranquilizer dart (due to lack of funding), into the cave you go.
The Palm Pre version of Wumpus is a remake of the original text-based game Hunt the Wumpus, which was released on the early personal computers of the 1970s and 1980s. Several iterations of Hunt the Wumpus have come and gone in the meantime, but it was never released on a major system, so this will be most people's first encounter with the game.
Unfortunately, Wumpus on the Palm Pre doesn't make a great first impression. The game is 40 years old, and it's up against modern games that offer slick graphics and tons of extras. The Palm Pre version of Wumpus has extremely basic graphics and tired gameplay…and it just can't compete.
Your goal in the game is to deduce the location of the beast in the cavern and zap it with the tranquilizer dart. This is easier said than done. First off, it's dark, so you can see only the rooms you've been in. Progressing to new rooms is perilous because the cavern is full of danger--encountering poisonous gas, running out of lamp oil, and stumbling upon the wumpus will all kill you. Entering a room with a stream in it causes noise that wakes the wumpus, and it'll move to a different room. And giant bats wait in hordes to pick you up and drop you off elsewhere in the cave if you bump into them.
To help you survive, you'll find hints indicating that nearby rooms are dangerous. A dead canary lies in each room connected to one filled with poisonous gas. A single bat waits outside rooms with a colony of the flying rodents inside. The foul stench of the wumpus carries from a distance of two rooms, letting you know that your quarry is nearby. The basic gameplay consists of skirting your way around the danger, using the hints to stay alive while you figure out which room the wumpus is in.
Once you think you know where the wumpus resides, you can't just barge in on it unless you want to be eviscerated. Instead, you stand in an adjoining room and shoot your tranquilizer dart into the room in question. If it's in there, you win, and the game starts over. If it's elsewhere, you lose, and the game starts over.
And that's Wumpus. There's no music, no multiplayer, no online leaderboards or achievements, and, most detrimentally, no sense of progression. The graphics are bland and the gameplay is repetitive. The whole experience starts fast, ends fast, and doesn't offer much fun in between.
In theory, it's a great idea to keep the classics alive. But in practice, remakes of old games need to be updated for new generations of hardware--and new generations of players. Sadly, this version of Wumpus falls flat in both areas.
This review was provided by GameSpot mobile content partner SlideToPlay.com.