Android Games Roundup [4/1/19]

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Welcome back to the latest edition of “games you probably played a year ago!”  Actually, if my sources are correct at least a couple of these games came out fairly recently, relatively speaking, which brings us to the newest feature of my Android roundup.  Like I used to do with my iOS roundups, I am now including the date each game was released on Google Play.  For some strange reason Google doesn’t make this information easy to spot, but after some annoying Google searching and a couple of failed attempts to use “free” Google Play app detail sites that wanted me to explain my needs or actually pay for basic info, I finally found the details I needed in the on-device version of the Play store.  Oh, and I actually have some thoughts on the games themselves as well!  Read on, and as always may you find something to increase your game collection in a positive way.

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Infinity Arena Battle Royale [1/19/19] – As I started to play this game my thoughts drifted towards “cheap knock-off”, though I couldn’t actually remember the name of the game it reminded me of.  I finally realized my subconscious was telling me “Super Crate Box”, but I haven’t gone back to play that game and determine how similar the two are.  What I do know is that the more I play Infinity Arena the more I want to play it some more.  The premise is simply to survive as long as you can in a given arena, collecting gems and crowns and dodging the ever increasing horde of creatures that comes at you from multiple directions.  Luckily each time you snatch up a gem or crown you get a weapon with which to destroy your adversaries.  Sadly, these weapons aren’t always very useful.  Then again, any game that can make a hot dog gun worthwhile gets a plus in my book.  There are 4 arenas, each with 4 milestones that earn you a bonus (the first three give you three guns and unlock the next arena, while the fourth gives you four new weapons).  The milestones are achieved by collecting a certain number of diamonds in a single play.  Besides collecting them in arenas, which doesn’t happen often, crowns are earned by completing quests.  Both crowns and diamonds can be used to unlock new skins as well as upgrade three power ups (Immortal, Crown Rush and Lucky Diamond) as well as your health meter.  There are 26 quests which theoretically correspond to Google Play achievements, though that integration doesn’t seem to be working so well.  There is also a leaderboard for each arena, but even though I’ve placed on two of them according to my scores I don’t actually show up on either, leading me to believe that integration there isn’t working so well either.  Still, quibbles like that aside, the game is very entertaining and becomes addictive rather quickly.

Verdict: Play
Infinity Arena Battle Royale on Google Play

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Scalak [6/15/18] – I had never heard of this one, and then one day it came up in a “free today” list so I downloaded it.  I’m so glad I did, though I wish I would have come across it sooner.  Scalak is kind of like a fancy jigsaw puzzle.  You have one or more surfaces on the playing field and a bunch of pieces that you can use to cover those surfaces.  In many cases the surfaces are 3D in nature, and often involve cubes that you might actually have to rotate.  The pieces themselves aren’t always straightforward either.  Some might wrap around corners, while others fit together with their neighbors when you get them aligned right.  As you move further along into the game you’ll get pieces that have little colored circles on them that have to be lined up together as well.  If you put a piece in the wrong spot you simply hold it until you get an X and then you can remove it and use it somewhere else.  This game is very relaxing, with no timers or stars to earn or leaderboards to climb.  The individual levels are not overly challenging, but the answer isn’t necessarily obvious right when the level pops up either.  As you’re playing the game the only interface is a little circle in the upper left corner to pull up a menu, and the graphics are clean and sharp with just enough visual effects thrown in to keep things interesting.  The music is tranquil and the sound effects are minimal.  Scalak is just a really well done game in every aspect.

Verdict: Play
Scalak on Google Play
Scalak Michal Pawlowski, Scalak – $1.99

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FoxyLand | Premium [10/16/17] – Do you remember what it was like when you couldn’t actually download games to your device of choice?  How about the need to blow on the exposed connectors of a cartridge to get your favorite game to work?  If you’re starting to feel nostalgic then you’ll be right at home with FoxyLand.  The pixel graphics and animated details like rustling bushes and fluttering leaves prove that 2D imagery can be just as compelling as modern 3D artwork.  Levels are small to accommodate the frenzied nature of mobile gaming, yet they still pack the same punch as the old classics like Mega Man on the NES.  Traps can be tricky, precise timing is often required, and while you know a switch affects the game board somewhere you don’t get the luxury of a quick in-game movie showing you what actually happened.  Each level requires you to collect a certain number of gems to pass, and there are also cherries to gather which you can use to buy outfits for your fox.  The outfits don’t affect game play at all, but if you’re into fashion you might want to dress the little critter up.  You can earn up to 3 stars on each level, and there are 39 levels to complete altogether.  For really skilled gamers this might not be the longest game in the world, but if you’re looking for something with the quality of classic platformers and the modern sensibilities of mobile games, FoxyLand fits the bill pretty well.

Verdict: Play
Foxyland | Premium on Google Play
FoxyLand | Premium Ivan Matskevich, FoxyLand | Premium – $2.99

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Links Puzzle [10/19/18] – Confession time: this is the type of game that I tend to play a few levels and then give up and move on.  Not because I get bored or don’t like it, but because I get stuck and don’t want to look for help.  That’s actually already happened to me in one spot, but thankfully this game has 4 variants to keep you entertained for quite some time.  The basic idea behind the game is that you have to slide tiles around so that the pattern on the playing field matches the one in the upper right corner of the screen.  The caveat here is that each tile is connected to at least one other, limiting the way that you can move it.  There’s also a move counter to deal with, though if you don’t meet the target I’m assuming it just affects the leaderboard (whenever that gets implemented).  Classic mode gets your feet wet in the game.  Switch Color adds wrinkle where certain squares change the color of your tile and then inherit the color your tile was before moving it on that square.  In Magic mode you have teleports that will move your tiles around the board.  Finally, Relaxing mode has no gimmicks or move counters to worry about.  There are 800 levels between the first three modes and an undisclosed number in Relaxing mode, so there are plenty of links to make.  This one won’t be for everyone, but fans of pattern matching puzzle games that want a twist in their genre should definitely check it out.

Verdict: Play
Links Puzzle on Google Play

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Kaiju Rush [12/20/18] – While I still appreciate a more in-depth gaming experience every once in a while, over the past few years I have become content with the fact that simple is entertaining.  You can’t get a whole lot simpler than Kaiju Rush.  You tap to launch your Kaiju (when the arrow is in the center of the meter you get the best launch), and then tap when the creature is at the top of its arc to get the strongest decent and impact.  You keep tapping until the creature slows down and ultimately comes to a stop.  Each landing will earn you some coins, or whatever the currency of the world is that you are in, and if you land on a gem you’ll get the chance to shoot your Kaiju at helicopters to earn more gems after the round is over.  There are also springs periodically that will help propel you further if you land on them.  As you travel certain distances you’ll level up, and when you reach specific levels you’ll unlock new worlds to conquer.  You’ll also unlock different Kaiju to play with.  I’m not sure the various Kaiju affect game play at all, but having grown up with a brother that loved giant monster movies (and actually enjoying them myself), I love seeing what the next caricature is going to remind me of.  Use the currency you earn to raise various stats on your Kaiju – all Kaiju share the same set of stats – and use gems to hatch new Kaiju you’ve earned instead of having to wait for them to break out of their shells.  The game is pretty good about not badgering you into spending IAP, but you can buy packs of gems or a Kaiju subscription, which for $7.99 a week (!!) gives you access to some special Kaiju as well as eliminates ads and gives you 20 gems a day.  The game is perfectly playable without all this spending, though, and the Kaiju are just too cute to resist.

Verdict: Play
Kaiju Rush on Google Play
Kaiju Rush Lucky Kat Studios, Kaiju Rush – Free

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Zombie Run 2 [10/29/17] – After Temple Run was released, it seemed like you could barely turn around without a new third person running game showing up on the app stores.  Lately, with a few exceptions like Subway Surfers, the genre seems to have faded into obscurity.  Around Halloween of 2017, however, Zombie Run 2 was released on Google Play, and for me at least it offered some fresh options to the genre.  In this case you’re chasing someone instead of being changed, and while it’s a subtle difference it gives you an additional goal.  Granted you’ll probably never catch the guy, but you never know.  You also have the ability to mutate once you’ve unlocked it, which is kind of like becoming a super-minion in the Minions running game except the mutations look a lot cooler.  What really sets the game apart from its peers, however, is the upgrade tree in the castle.  When Igor periodically stops to take a break and you think you’ve got him you’ll be able to snag his book bag which contains resources.  You can get additional resources from chests as well.  These items allow you to upgrade your castle, which in turn does things like give you power ups to collect and unlock zombies and mutations to use.  While one might argue that it’s really no different than upgrading characters in other runners, I guess it’s just the presentation that makes the difference to me.  The visuals might not be as shiny as Temple Run 2 but they still look good, and the sound effects and music aren’t too bad either.  The game has two leaderboards, one for score and the other for distance, and according to the settings it supports cloud save for playing across different devices.  I’ve always been a fan of this style of game play, and I like knowing that there are some solid alternatives to the mainstays like Temple Run or Subway Surfers.

Verdict: Play
Zombie Run 2 on Google Play
Zombie Run 2: Craft Fun Runner RetroStyle Games, Zombie Run 2: Craft Fun Runner – Free

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Spicy Piggy [12/13/19] – Nitrome is one of my favorite mobile companies at the moment, because while I don’t love every one of their games (not sure I can say that about a single company that has a decently sized back catalog), there’s a good chance I’ll get some enjoyment out of each of their latest offerings.  One of their most recent outings is the silly Spicy Piggy, and it certainly has the makings of another Nitrome classic.  From the quirky intro logo to the stylish pixel graphics and frantic action, this feels like what I’d expect from them.  All you have to do on each of the short but challenging levels is get your little pig from point A to point B.  You have at your disposal the ability to jump, slide and shoot fireballs thanks to the peppers that you keep eating.  There are 5 worlds of 6 levels apiece to conquer and a leaderboard for every single level.  Even though the levels are short there are checkpoints along the way, which you can take advantage of simply by watching a video.  If you do decide to start the level from the beginning any peppers you’ve already collected will still be yours – just don’t actually quit the level and come back before completing it unless you absolutely have to.  You can even beat the levels in a given world in whatever order works for you.  If I were simply reading this description I’d think this sounded like a recipe for success.  The problem is that the winning conditions are insane!  Thankfully one condition of each level is to just complete it, so I can at least get one star on most levels.  The second goal is to complete the level under a certain amount of time, and I can confirm that the only level I’ve done that for is the practice level.  Finally, if you can stomach it, you need to get at least 50 peppers on a level.  At the beginning this wasn’t too unreasonable, but in the later levels I don’t even bother trying.  Like most things you have a bit of a reprieve – when repeating levels you only need to get the stars you missed the first time around.  The trouble is that once I’ve beaten a level, I have little desire to revisit it.  If you like extreme challenge in your casual games you might get a kick out of this, but I prefer mine to be a little less frustrating.

Verdict: Pass
Spicy Piggy on Google Play
Spicy Piggy Nitrome, Spicy Piggy – Free

That wraps up another edition of the Android Games Roundup.  Check the list below for prior installments and keep on gaming!