Android Games Roundup [10/16/18]
It’s that time of the year again. Cob Webs are en vogue, the skeletons are chatty, and things go bump in the night… even more so than usual. When I can I like to try and put together a roundup that does justice to the holiday that rots our teeth and scares the rest of us, but I just didn’t get to it this year. Instead I give you a selection of non-frightening choices that can still entertain you but won’t keep you from turning out the lights. Scrolls of Gloom does have monsters in it if you really need some!
Slices – I really like this game. It’s a simple casual game where you have to fill up circles the look like Trivial Pursuit pieces with slices that show up in the middle of the screen. Each piece is divided into six sections, and each slice will fit into one or more of those sections. There are multiple pieces to fill up, and as soon as you get a slice that you can’t place anywhere the game is over. If you completely fill in a piece it will empty out, along with the piece to either side of it. Once you’ve scored enough points you’ll go up a level and get a new style of slice to work with (what the slice looks like doesn’t affect game play any, though). The game works relatively well one handed, and makes a great time killer while you’re waiting in line. The problem is the ads. I get that’s their way of making money unless the players spend some IAP, but I’m not inclined to spend IAP if the developer basically forces me into it. The persistent ads at the bottom of the screen are just fine. The ads at the end of each play wouldn’t even necessarily be so bad, except that one play through is typically quick enough that you’re spending as much time watching ads as playing the game. What really got me, tough, as that the game plays an ad when you reach a new level. What? That’s way too invasive, and enough to make me feel more than justified in simply deleting an otherwise amusing game and just forgetting about it.
Stranger Cases: A Mystery Escape – Snapbreak’s games are essentially professional feeling escape games, though at least in the case of the Faraway series tend to be more puzzle oriented. Stranger Cases opts to be more like a point and click adventure, and that’s okay too. In fact, it kind of reminds me of one of my favorite mobile offerings, Agent A, both in content and context. The game has a sense of humor about it, and it also has a nice mix of object based puzzles and mini-games. The mini-games are a bit easy, but honestly that’s okay by me. The pacing of the game felt right, and I like how even though you have an ultimate goal each location is self-contained, giving you the impression that you’re always accomplishing something. The graphics are top notch, rivaling many of the pay-for-it-all games I’ve played on mobile devices, and the sound and music do much to complement the environment. The only thing I didn’t care for in the free portion was the fact that they walked you through too much of the beginning sequence. But, there was plenty to do in the rest of the free portion. My only concern is that with just over half the game being free, I hope the paid portion provides as much game play. I look forward to finding out at some point. Even if you never cross the threshold of buying the rest of the game, the first half is definitely worth playing. Then again, I expected nothing less from Snapbreak.
Quaddro 2 – Intelligent Puzzle – As puzzle games go, I don’t think I’ve played one quite like this before. The premise is, like so many puzzle games, to clear the board of certain objects. In this case the objects are dots, and clear them away by making squares with the dots as the four corners. The mechanic is interesting because you drag the dots along the board, and as you drag your finger into additional dots that start to form a line that kind of makes you feel like you’re playing a snake game. Quaddro immediately begins to throw challenges in your way like dots that can’t move, platforms that can and dead spots in the middle of the playing field where you can’t move any dots onto. The platform situation gets more complicated as you get platforms that are linked together and all move when you manipulate one of them. I’m sure there are some other nifty tricks as well, but at least for me the game has not been one of those “solve each puzzle on the first try” deals, which is good. To solve the board you must clear away all of the dots, but since dots disappear as soon as you get enough together to form a square, you could strand yourself by leaving too few or the wrong number of dots to make enough squares. The initial purchase gets you 90 levels (the original pack of 80 plus a newer 10 level bonus pack), and IAP scores you a pack with 40 extra levels. Given the main menu it appears there are plans for at least 2 more level packs as well. As a puzzle fan I’m always on the lookout for entries that are both fun and don’t feel like everything else I’ve played, and Quaddro 2 does a good job of fitting that criteria.
Wheely World – Wheely World is an interesting take on racing games, and honestly my inclination after my first play through was to delete the game. After spending some more time with it, however, I’ve come to appreciate its idiosyncrasies, and while I don’t think I’d ever rank it as one of my favorite car based games, its unique flavor makes it worth giving a try. Wheely World is all about the obstacles – whether you go above them, below them or close enough around them to garner a “near miss”, a significant amount of your score comes from how you interact with the items that litter the playing field. Fortunately for you, the longer you last in a game or the more times in a row you play, the more cluttered the playing field gets. Of course if it becomes too much for you simply wait five seconds after a run is over or hit the reset button and everything goes back to being sparse and easier to navigate. I will say that it can be difficult to tell exactly what’s going on when the playing field is crowded, and the experience is slightly jarring when you cross the boundary of the screen, because instead of stopping or blowing up you appear on the other side of the screen. There are challenges to complete, like getting 12 near misses in 1 game, but the game doesn’t do a very good job of articulating those challenges. It’s a shame, because they seem to be tied to the one leaderboard that’s available. There is another button that appears to be loading a leaderboard, but that had never completely loaded for me. And then there is the achievements button, which leads me to a page that says “no achievements”. The game currently offers four playable worlds, each with four vehicles. You get one free vehicle for each world, and the rest can be purchased via IAP. In some ways this very much seems like a work in progress, but I think it’s a work with looking into.
Fantastic Chefs: Match ‘n Cook – So I thought I’d take a break from match 3 games where you try and rebuild some sort of structure and talk about another popular type of match 3 variant, the “Best Fiends” style of match 3 game. In some ways this feels like Best Fiends but with a cooking motif. Each level has one or more goals to complete, some of which even involve making dishes, though it seems the particular ingredients required don’t make much difference. As you complete the levels you’ll check off daily goals, and once those goals are complete you’ll earn some stars and move on to the next day. There are also achievements to earn while playing through the levels, and those will net you bars of gold. The gold can be used to buy new chefs or continue a level if you don’t complete it in the specified number of moves, while stars give you the chance to evolve your chefs. There are five chef slots, with a number of different characters that can be used in each slot. Every chef has their own power up that gets activated when you match a certain number of items of that chef’s color, and not every chef of the same color has the same power up. There are additional power ups that you can earn and use at any time, but those are fairly limited unless you spring for some IAP packages. One thing the game actually does that’s kind of neat is that on repeated attempts to beat the same board it will make things a bit easier for you after a while. Some make look at this feature as a copout, but for me match 3 games are supposed to be casual and this just adds to that feeling. Still, the game suffers from the same fate that most F2P games do in the fact that after a while it basically feels like they are forcing you to pony up cash for consumables that will still only get you so far. I’m not sure Fantastic Chefs really offers anything that most other top of the line match 3 games don’t, but if you’re not burned out on the genre yet it’s an entertaining alternative.
Hole.io – I typically don’t download .io games because to be quite honest, they usually look like rip-offs of other popular games on the App Store. It’s not about the developer, either, but rather just the connotation of the .io label. There’s no question this falls under the same category, obviously inspired by such classics as Katamari Damacy. I decided to try it based on my daughter’s recommendation, though, and I’m glad I did. The basic premise is that you are a hole, and you need to eat everything you can by passing beneath it. Anything considered “smaller” than you gets gobbled up, while bigger stuff stays put. Unless, of course, it’s another player, in which case they will eat you. In classic mode you get 2 minutes to score more than the other players, while in Battle mode you have to be the last hole standing. There’s also a Solo run for you to test your skills on your own, and local multiplayer so you only embarrass yourself in front of your loved ones. Earn different skins by reaching certain goals while playing. I don’t think the skins make any difference in game play, but some of them sure look cool. There’s really not a whole lot to this game, but given its limited scope it’s a lot of fun.
Scrolls Of Gloom – I used to spend a lot of time working my way through role playing games, but since I’ve gone mobile my time tends to be limited and I rarely get the chance to engross myself in something with a deep story. When I first saw Scrolls of Gloom I thought it might be my next casual RPG fix for my phone. I love the pseudo-3D graphics, and I’m always up for an RPG that uses match 3 mechanics for fighting. Unfortunately after playing a couple of times I wasn’t impressed with the match 3 mechanics, so I let the game sit for a while. When I came back to the game I actually discovered a fairly decent little grinder hidden in this nondescript game. Each level has one basic goal: find the key and escape through the portal. As you defeat monsters you’ll earn gold and sometimes gems. The gold allows you to level up, which increases your HP and gives you access to new spells. The gems are used to bolster your melee skills as well as your spell casting abilities. What I didn’t care for initially, and still kind of bugs me, is that your fate is literally in your hands in a way. Rather than the monsters directly attacking you, there are skull icons on the board, and if you match 3 or more of those you’ll take damage. Of course you’d never do that on purpose, but sometimes it’s inevitable, and even worse it often happens as new icons fall down to replace the ones you’ve matched. Once you get past that challenge, however, Scrolls of Gloom provides some entertaining grinding activity that you can partake in for a few minutes every now and again without having to worry about some complex story that doesn’t enhance the game play.
That wraps up another edition of the Android Games Roundup. Check the list below for prior installments and keep on gaming!