While this review is on Android games, it’s more accurate to say it’s on phone games. I have a couple of personal requirements in my phones games. So bear these in mind when reading the following reviews.
- They can’t be too involved. I don’t sit down to play a phone game, they’re something I do in transit, for a minor distraction or like most phone gamers, while on the toilet. A phone game shouldn’t demand more than 5 minutes of my uninterrupted time and I should be able to put it down whenever I want.
- Phone games play on a small touch screen, so games should utilise this technology, or at least realise the limitations of it. Don’t produce a stock-standard FPS unless I can somehow hook a controller or keyboard/mouse up to the phone.
- Value for money. Games over $5 need to be damn fine.
Duet has a jillion awards (maybe closer to 3) for best mobile game, as well as being in several PAX indie showcases. And there’s a reason for this; it’s pretty good. The core concept is incredibly simple. You rotate two balls around a central axis to try and avoid the obstacles. You can revolve clockwise and anticlockwise and that’s all there is to it. Duet is quick and easy to play with a trancey soundtrack that lends itself to being played with earphones. It’s very original in it’s idea and has been well-produced by Kumobius Games. I found it immediately easy to play and very addictive.
The levles are short enough that the end is always in sight and it’s incredible satisfying when you pass them. Duet flows very quickly which is absolutely neccessary for a game where you progress through trial and error. Duet is well worth the cost and should keep you entertained for hours.
A procedurally generated RPG inspired by Metroid. Sounds fun. Hmm, you seem to be doing quite a bit of mining… oh goddammit it’s a Terraria clone. Not that this is neccessarily a bad thing, especially if you’re the kind of person who enjoys Terraria, Starbound, etc. But I am not one of the kinds of people. So I’ll try and look at Mines of Mars as objectively as possible. It is a cut down, hub-based version of Starbound. Your ship crashes above an abandoned mining settlement from which you take a teleporter to under the surface to mine materials. What the materials used for? Upgrading your pick axe, weapons, armor, jetpack and heat resistors (allowing you go deeper under the surface with every upgrade).
There’s less emphasis on survival in Mines of Mars than there is on exploration. You don’t have to craft a house or fire but rather craft your means to explore further. Now it’s time to rant on the controls. I hate the dual joystick control scheme for phone games, even worse in this case where the joysticks are invisible. It’s particilarly annoying when you have limited jetpack fuel which you can accidentally use by pressing up two high on the invisible joystick, or by having the jump button in roughly the same area as the aim and shoot invisible joystick. The game isn’t bad, except for the control system… which is disgusting.
First, a bit of background. Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf was a series of gamebooks published from the early 80s to the late 90s. For those of you don’t know, gamebooks are choose your own adventures (Goosebumps made these big in the 90s) with elements of pen and paper games such as a character sheet, health, inventory and stats. You play Lone Wolf, the last of the Kai Lords, a warrior monk with superb fighting abilities and psychic abilities. Well, with the help of the original Joe Dever, Forge Reply have produced a Lone Wolf gamebook, or what should be called a game-ebook (gameybook if you pronounce it out loud).
Though I’m pretty sure Joe Dever’s involvement in the acutal writing was tenuous at best as some of it is appalingly written, full of flowery, adjective-ridden prose. “He stared unblinkingly at the scene before him.” Staring is by definition unblinking. This game is half ebook, half action game as you start off creating your character and then flick through the pages, reading through the story. Every now and then you have a skill challenge until finally you come to the first combat. They made up for the lack of “game” in the ebook part by putting all the “game” into the combat. Possibly too much game as the combat is too complicated, time sensitive (like Final Fantasy) and requires a little too much precision, more than I can guarentee while in transit.
While Lone Wolf definitely has it’s problems, it’s probably still worth the low price (especially if you’re on Android) as the story is compelling enough and some of the artwork is amazing.
Next review in 3 weeks will be Hydrophobia: Prophecy