One thing the current crop of mobile handsets seems to be good at doing is re-creating the vibe of games from the '80s. Most of this feeling comes from direct ports of old arcade games, but there are also original ones out there that manage to invoke the "simple but deviously challenging" feel that many older classics possessed. G-mode's puzzle game, Topolon, is just such an offering. With its arcade-game aesthetic and its short-burst friendliness, Topolon looks great and plays even better.
Topolon is a race against the clock that has you attempting to clear all the particles from a grid before your energy meter drains. The grid contains a series of nodes, and various lines that connect these nodes let you move particles from node to node. The idea is to make the particles collide. Sending an even number of particles crashing into one another will make them all disappear, but an odd number will leave one particle behind. Adding to that mechanic are other particles that can't be moved, so you'll have to send movable particles into them to clear the way. Once the board is free of particles, you're free to move on to the next stage. The game can be played in two modes, one of which lets you try to move through as many levels as possible until you lose, and another that gives you a minute to see how many levels you can get through.
With this basic setup, Topolon manages to get surprisingly deep in its later levels. The grids and nodes are placed in increasingly complex configurations, which in turn makes you think a lot harder about how to eliminate particles. The control is easy to pick up, though, so you'll never be fighting with it while you play. The graphics on the Sharp GX30 are colorful, but they also manage to create a cohesive digital style that's sort of reminiscent of old, early '80s arcade games like Qix. The sound side of Topolon also helps the overall presentation. The sound effects fit the arcade style very well, and the music is the right kind of tense that makes the situation seem dire without becoming grating.
While it would have been nice to see a networked scoreboard, Topolon has roughly everything you'd want from a mobile puzzler. It looks and sounds great, and the gameplay is about as addictive as it gets. This game seems to be pretty rare in the North American market, but hopefully it will roll out on more carriers in the near future.