Those that listen to my mutterings on the newbreview.com podcast will already know that I recently acquired one of those ringy, touchy, flashy things we call a Smart Phone. And before you dig out your pitchforks and flaming torches, no I haven’t sold my soul to the the house of Apple, I have in fact gone down the route of Android based solely on the point that Android is vaguely technologically related. An apple is just a piece of fruit innit.
For ages I’ve been hearing about some of the incredible things Android phones can do. You can send files wireless by just touching the two devices together or customize the OS (Operating System) as horrifically as you please. But what I’ve heard most about ALL smart phones for that matter is the games.
Long gone are the days of Snake and Block Breaker. Instead mobile games now need dual core processors in order to run, eye shattering HD resolutions and offer up vast technological advances, like the ability to simultaneous boast your high scores AND clog up your friends’ feeds on whatever social network they’re using. The point is they are vastly different to what they used to be. They are bigger, more sophisticated and command far much more time from us human beings than they used to. But I can understand people’s hesitance to delve into the vast world that mobile gaming has become because well… it’s become just that, vast. With that in mind I thought it important to document my findings so far and give some of you would be converts the leg up so, here are five games on Android (and probably on iOS, I don’t know.. I can’t be bothered to look, that’s what Google is for) that you should check out..
I like Radiant HD. It’s good. Its pixelated, retro meets high resolution graphics (think Space Invaders Extreme) looks lovely, sharp and poppy on my super AMOLED display… not that I’m boasting or anything. But above all else is incredibly simplistic yet thoroughly engaging. You simply glide your spaceship from left to right by touching the screen and watch as it dodges bullets and emits powerful laser blasts disintegrating your enemies who look like a cross between Space Invaders and well… actually they just look like Space Invaders but that’s besides the point! The point is that the simplicity of the controls, the cool weapon upgrade system between levels, its aforementioned stylized graphics and a blooming marvellous, trance-y futuristic soundtrack make Radiant HD a great starting point for those looking to get into smart phone games. Definitely one for fans of Space Invaders, Geometry Wars and anyone that enjoys space and shooting things.
Next one up and a close runner up of my favourite out of the entire five games is Cogs. Now before you jump down my throats, Cogs as its name would suggest is a mechanical themed puzzle game which, I know is nothing new. But what developers Lazy 8 Studios have done by implementing the ability to move the puzzles around in the 3D plane has broadened the scope for more intelligent, sophisticated puzzle design. That’s not to say idiots won’t enjoy it, I mean I love it for Christ’s sake, but the game manages to fulfill all that’s magically satisfying when solving some really intricate puzzles. Sporting a charming soundtrack and comprising of two different modes, ranging from simply beating puzzles to beating puzzles with time and move limits. Cogs is simple, satisfying but will get them gears a turning in your brain. Do you get it? Gears in your brain… cogs… oh nevermind!
When you think of giants in the mobile gaming world there are a few that spring to mind. Rovio are the first that come to your head after all, they have managed to rip off the fantastic game Crush the Castle and repackage it as the phenomenon that is Angry Birds. Up there with Rovio is Kairosoft, aka the ladies and gents that brought us such time vacuums as Game Dev Story, Pocket League Story and Mega Mall Story which, I’m sure you can agree is a lot of stories.
One of their efforts that I’m particularly enjoying at the moment is the deceptively named Dungeon Village. I say deceptively named because straight away you’d assume that Dungeon Village is a retro RPG. And even as you load up your game, naming your town as ‘Nobsville’ or something and selecting the character design that wears the most pink you’d be fooled into thinking that yes, this is a retro RPG. But it’s not. Sort of.
In fact you play host to a whole host of RPG heroes in a weird, Sim City meets Zelda mash-up. You build up your town and RPG heroes on their travels visit to stock up their supplies, the better the buildings and the supplies the better heroes you attract and he better upgrades they get, it’s all so lovely and helpful. There are of course RPG-esque elements included in the form of quests, which usually take the form of a battle with a monster, but as anyone who’s played a Kairosoft game in the past will expect, it’s extremely addictive. In fact, I’m going to go and play some Dungeon Village now. BRB.
Back! And just in time to tell you about perhaps the oddest inclusion in the list of five games, the extremely difficult point and click puzzler 100 Floors. It’s safe to say 100 Floors is not for everyone, it’s incredibly divisive but in a way that’s part of the appeal. So, you’re at a hotel right? And you need to get to the 100th floor? Well instead of getting in the elevator and going straight to floor 100 you decide to get off at each floor on the way up to solve a puzzle that opens the elevator door to take you to the next floor. Now I think about it, why don’t you just take the stairs?
Anyway ridiculousness aside, 100 Floors is a great point (or should that be touch?) and click puzzle solver. It’s clever, it uses your device in odd and interesting ways and its incredibly hard (so much so that even I’m stuck on floor 10). There’s no tutorial, it’s just you left to your own devices which means that, when you do eventual work a puzzle out, it’s incredibly satisfying. Definitely not for everyone but give it a try, you may like it.
And last but by no means least, the game that coincidently is my favourite out of the five, Temple Run.
Obviously taking influence from other mobile games like Canabalt, Temple Run takes twitch response games (yes, I know I just made that genre up) to a whole new level.
Smart phone game gurus may scoff at this next statement, but Temple Run is the best looking Android game I’ve encountered during my very short tenure as a smart phone owner so far. It’s vibrant, full of detail and just LOVELY. But that’s not to say it’s just an aesthetic affair, oh no. In fact Temple Run is probably the cream of the crop when it comes to reflex testing platformers. As you run away from a pack of Gorillas in an Aztec inspired jungle (I assume you stole their bananas or something) you must use a variety of different gestures from taps to swipes and tilts in order to avoid obstacles and collect as much score as possible.
The main thing though is that it manages to instil the addictive nature of these times of games leaving the player with the constant though of ‘just one more go’ and that, combined with the simplicity of gestures and high detail graphics makes Temple Run a stand out.
Boom. There’s your five games. Now go out and spend vast amounts of money on Android mobile devices and go play ‘em!
-Kieran E. Roycroft