Android Games Roundup [7/31/19]

roundup-20190731-intro

I was hoping to get this roundup out in July, and it looks like I’ll be sneaking it in right under the wire. This time around I actually dug up a unique spin on the idea of trying to keep a balloon from popping, and I also found a cool one tap platformer that might just remind you of a certain fedora wearing history teacher. I covered a game that I originally reviewed on the iOS side as well, because I ran across it again and it turns out that it is still worth talking about. There’s a fun puzzle game, a surprisingly entertaining game featuring fancy purses, and then of course there were a couple of games that weren’t quite so worthwhile. Through it all, hopefully you’ll read about something that seems worth your time.

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Alabama Bones [6/18/19] – Do you like exploring ancient temples? How about collecting golden statues that will undoubtedly fetch you a tidy sum if you make it out alive? Welcome to Alabama Bones, the cheap knock-off of everyone’s favorite academic archeologist. This is one of those games where once you tap your character will keep running until something persuades him otherwise. If you’re lucky that will be an icon containing an action that you can make him perform, like climbing a ladder, jumping or crawling under something. Or, if you’ve collected all of the idols and the key on a given level, hopefully you’ll be running into the gate that gets you to the next level. Unfortunately, there are other things like spikes, angry natives and potentially bottomless pits that can hamper your progress as well, and these things will force you to start the level over. The nice thing is that most of the levels aren’t very big, so even if you do have to play through them a few times it is not the end of the world. You can also replay a level if you don’t collect all three idols, though that isn’t necessary unless you don’t consider a game “beaten” unless you have everything. Because most of the levels aren’t very challenging there isn’t an overwhelming sense of satisfaction, but the short nature of the levels makes gratification nearly instant. The pixel graphics are great, and the audio ambiance isn’t too bad. Indiana Jones it’s not (you knew I had to say it eventually), but it’s entertaining in short spurts and easy to play with one hand should the need arise.

Verdict: Play
Alabama Bones on Google Play
Alabama Bones GameResort LLC, Alabama Bones – Free

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Happy Handbags [5/13/19] – Okay, I want you to forget about the fact that the subject of this game is purses (sorry, Joey, but there are no man-bags here). If you need to, just pretend that you’re playing with food or toy cars or whatever is cool to you. It doesn’t change the fact that this game is oddly entertaining. You’ve seen the concept plenty of times – merge two items into a new one, and keep going until you run out of space on the playing field. That’s about where the similarity to its peers ends, however. Instead of somehow sliding the board to get new pieces to appear, you simply tap a box at the bottom of the screen, or just wait for a couple of seconds, and the next box appears in a random location on the screen. If it’s a standard box then it will be whatever the base purse is for your level (this can be increased via IAP), and if it’s a specialty box then it will be a random draw of all the purses you have available, quite often a match for something you already have on the screen. To match one purse with another you simply drag one on top of the other, regardless of where the two of them are on the board. Some might argue that this makes the game too easy, and given that I’m still on my first game even though I’ve played it several times since I installed it, I could actually agree with that. On the other hand, if you’re looking for an ultra casual, almost Zen-like experience, this might be it. The game is not stressful to begin with, and you can make it even easier by activating auto match mode for short bursts of time or by purchasing higher level handbags to speed the matching process along if you desire. The latter is done with coins you earn both during game play and while the game is idle, again adding to the relaxation factor. You can level up to add more spaces to the playing field, and there are achievements to earn that will give you bonus higher level purses when you complete them. Even the music is soothing. The only real criticism I might offer is that the game is not really designed for long play intervals, but sometimes it’s nice to have something on your device to just tinker with for a few minutes every now and again.

Verdict: Play
Happy Handbags on Google Play
Happy Handbags - Click & Merge Mezmedia, Happy Handbags – Click & Merge – Free

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Twist Hit! [3/26/19] – I didn’t mean to download this game. I actually thought I was just going to play an interactive ad for a moment or two, when suddenly I found myself in the Google Play store. But I figured while I was there, why not? It turns that I’ve spent a lot more time playing this game than I’d like to admit. You basically use a device to “spray” rings around a core in the middle of a tree stump, and when all the rings have been completed a new tree will magically sprout up in front of you. Partial black rings will spin around the core trying to deflect your spray, and if one gets between your stream and the core you’ll either have to watch a video to continue or start the level over (that’s the entire level, not just the tree that you were on). Each level consists of multiple trees, and each tree has one or more rings that you have to create before getting to the outer ring, which is nice because it’s full of coins and there are no evil ring remnants to try and thwart your plans. The game does get extremely repetitive, but I find that if you take it in small chunks it’s always fun when you come back to it. Plus, I don’t think I’ve run into a level yet where I didn’t have the urge to complete it once I started, no matter how many times I messed up or ads I had to watch. The coins you earn get you new skins for your shooter, though other than “coolness” factor the skins don’t make a bit of difference to game play. You’ll also unlock new trees every so often, some of which are pretty nifty, but again don’t seem to affect game play. There are no goals to meet, no achievements to earn, yet somehow Twist Hit manages to keep my attention. Plus, it is another game in the growing list that works great playing it with one hand. Twist Hit is definitely not right for a deep, meaningful relationship, but if you want something to hang out with while you’re taking a break from more in depth games, this should be perfect for you.

Verdict: Play
Twist Hit! on Google Play
Twist Hit! SayGames LLC, Twist Hit! – Free

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Rise Up [3/31/18] – When you first read the title you might be thinking F2P MMO, WDIC (that’s Why Do I Care)? But only the first acronym would be correct. This is F2P, though the premium option is ridiculous at $3.99 a week, so I won’t even go there. In the mean time, you’re probably wondering what this game is about in the first place. Turns out it’s one of those games where you have to safely escort a balloon through a series of trials. Since the theme has been done many times you will then probably think what makes Rise Up so special? Well, instead of controlling the balloon, you actually have a “protector”, which is an object you can use to deflect the perils of each level so they don’t come into contact with your balloon. What’s both really cool and often frustrating about the game is that it’s all physics based, so just because you knock an obstacle out of the way doesn’t mean it won’t come back to haunt you. On top of that, what you do to the immediate threats could affect things down the road, both on and off screen. Basically, you can never assume that you are safe. The main game is comprised of 45 levels full of randomly generated obstacles with a score that continually goes up until you let your balloon get popped. In Challenges mode each milestone is comprised of three levels, and you can watch a video to get around one failed attempt at a given milestone. In the main game you can also watch a video once before calling it quits and starting from the beginning. Luckily in challenge mode you’ll only start from the beginning of the current milestone. You can unlock different balloon and protector skins in various ways, and if you actually subscribe to the weekly plan you can get rid of ads and get additional missions. There is a leaderboard for the main game, but there aren’t any achievements to earn. Some music and sound effects would be a plus, but overall this is a nice twist on an oft revisited premise.

Verdict: Play
Rise Up on Google Play
Rise Up Serkan Ozyilmaz, Rise Up – Free

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Thirteen and Half Cats [12/15/17] – First of all, I’m not trying to be disrespectful. That is actually the full name of the game. Second, the game is free to download and play all the way through, so you might want to just save yourself the trouble of reading this and just try the game. It will probably take you less time to play it than it did for me to decide what to write about it. I seem to recall reading somewhere that the game took about 15 minutes to play, but I think it was less than that. What little story there was gets lost in itself, and in the end has a bizarre twist that’s worsened by the fact that there’s no real tale to go with it. Most in-game dialog consists of a witch telling you about new spells, and the “puzzles” are nothing more than casting the right spell at the appropriate place. The thing is, this is a great start for what could be a really nice side scrolling adventure game framework. It just needs an actual game to go with it. This really feels like a tech demo more than anything else. At least the artwork is well done. I do hope the developer takes the core of this and creates a whole new game around it. I could eventually see something like the great side scrolling adventure The Silent Age coming from this. As for Thirteen and Half Cats itself, it’s such an oddity that I have to give it my first…

Verdict: On The Fence
Thirteen and Half Cats on Google Play
Thirteen and Half Cats LaTorri Lindsay, Thirteen and Half Cats – Free

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Neon Hook [7/8/19] – On the plus side, Neon Hook doesn’t play by the rules. It’s an infinite runner, but instead of going horizontal you’re going vertical. Not that this is the only game to do that, but it’s not nearly as overcrowded a concept as the traditional runner. You use your hook to latch on to objects that are higher than you and keep going until something that you’re not supposed to touch knocks you down a peg. The first problem is that your hook doesn’t have a very good range, which often makes it impractical to reach the next object you need to keep moving upward. Then there is the fact that basically everything you are scaling is junk falling from above, so many times you won’t know something is bad for you until it actually hits you, at which point it is obviously too late to do something about it. There are different characters you can buy which may or may not make a difference in game play (I hope they do), but given that over every time I’ve played so far I’ve raked of a total of less than 15 coins, I won’t be sampling any of those new characters any time soon. There’s a scoreboard for height reached that I’m sure I’ll never place well on at any point in my life, and there appear to be no achievements at this point. I do like the artwork, and I’d really like to know if the other characters impact the game at all, but the truth is I really don’t want to play the game long enough to find out.

Verdict: Pass
Neon Hook on Google Play
Neon Hook Arytomi Studios Inc, Neon Hook – Free

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Tomb of the Mask [6/19/18] – I wrote about this one in an iOS roundup a little over three years ago. When I saw the Android version pop up in a “you might like these games” list, though, I decided to give it a try again. It turns out the game is just as fun this time around. It’s sort of like Pac-Man, except that the setting has kind of an ancient Aztec vibe and the layout of the levels actually changes every time. There are actually dots to collect, and if you get all of them in a level you’ll earn a bonus. There are also stars to gather so you can earn you three star ranking on a level as well as coins to grab. The coins let you continue a level when you die and also give you the chance to buy new characters. Unlike way too many games these days, you will receive game play bonuses when you switch to a new mask. You just have to decide which ones suit your style of game play more. There are also power ups like magnet, freeze and more that you can increase by using some coins. The game offers two modes of play: story mode has predefined levels for you to beat, and arcade mode has endless, randomly generated levels where you not only have to survive all the deadly obstacles but you have to stay ahead of the lava that’s rising up to consume you. There are missions to complete for you to earn even more coins and a leaderboard for high scores in arcade mode. The graphics have a retro look that might be off-putting to some, but remind me of why I’ve loved games for as long as I have. As with any free to play game the ads can get a bit annoying, but then you always have the option to remove the bulk of them through IAP (apparently only the pop-up ads disappear, but that’s what gets in the way anyway). Whether you choose to tolerate the ads or not, Tomb of the Mask is worth a try.

Verdict: Play
Tomb of the Mask on Google Play
Tomb of the Mask Playgendary, Tomb of the Mask – Free

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How to push the button [6/19/19] – First you’re going to look at Greedy, then you’re going to notice the food, and ultimately you’re going to think that maybe this is a Cut The Rope clone. While the objective is to feed Greedy, the game play is quite different than its potential inspiration. In each of the 55 levels you have a remote that activates the arm holding the treat, and you have to figure out, well, how to push the button. Full disclosure: it’s not technically always a button. At the end of the day, though, you have to figure out how to get the arm to release the food. The challenges are not overly difficult, but the solution is not always immediately apparent either. Luckily, in many cases you can get the answer by studying Greedy’s surroundings. And if you really get stumped on a level you can watch a video to pass by the level and go back to it later. On some levels the “remote” is more like a mini game, which is a neat twist. And there are even a few times where the game tries to take advantage of the mobile device’s capabilities as a mobile device. I’m hoping in future updates, if there are updates coming, that we see more puzzles that utilize what the device has to offer. Along the way you’ll unlock a couple of costumes that you can choose from, and you can also switch out the treat, though neither effect the game play in any way. My main gripe is that the game is rather short, especially given the fact that you have to watch an ad after every level. But, I would definitely check it out again if the developer ever releases new level packs. There are two versions of the game listed on Google Play, and I’m not really sure what the difference is, so the link below is to the version I downloaded.

Verdict: Play
How to push the button on Google Play
How to push the button gameday Inc., How to push the button – $1.99

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

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