Tagged "iOS"

Apr 05
By Jake In Mobile Games No Comments

Few companies have enough obsessed fans or intrigued observers to get a new social network up to critical mass on day one. But only Nintendo could get away with launching an odd little social network where everything happens by proxy.

That proxy is a Mii, familiar to millions thanks to the success of the Wii. Your first task is to design the Mii that will be your representation in Miitomo, or let the app give it a bash via your device’s camera. Miitomo keeps taking photos and generates a stream of wildly inaccurate Miis, to genuinely and presumably unintentionally hilarious effect. I had every colour of skin under the sun; my wife had a variety of facial hair.


Then it’s down to business: answering questions. “What have you just been doing?” “What have you noticed that has become popular recently?” The questions come from your Mii, and the Miis of your friends. Finding friends is easy via Twitter or Facebook – assuming you know the sort of person who would immediately download a weird Nintendo thing and link it to their social media accounts, which if you’re that sort of person, you probably do.

You can visit your friends’ Miis, to have conversations in which they pass on some of the answers your friends gave them. Your Mii will also visit other Miis, and have conversations with them, then have conversations with you about what they talked about, which will be what your friend told their Mii. Your friends’ Miis will visit you too, where you can talk to them, or leave them to talk to your Mii. It’s a charmingly convoluted question and answer system.

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Jul 23
By Jake In Mobile Games No Comments

For what looks at first glance like a simple word game with cute bears, Alphabear is surprisingly complex.


They had me at cute bears though, especially as they’re reminiscent of the chaps from Triple Town – which is because the game is from the same chaps, Spry Fox. And it’s a free download, so what’s to lose? A check of the IAPs is encouraging too, as unlimited honey – used up each time you play a game – is available for four quid, give or take. It turns out it’s not that simple.

But game before commerce. The aim is to make words from the letters available on the board, which clears space for your bears to grow bigger – and bigger bears mean bigger points at the end of the game. The first complication is that letters expire after a number of turns – and on doing so turn to immovable stone, inhibiting bear growth – so you need to prioritise.

Initially this is ample fun. Hit point targets, and you hatch a new bear – which I’m pretty sure is biologically sound. The bear says a couple of sentences of nonsense using words from the preceding game, and a social networking phenomenon is born. Sort of.

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May 23
By Jake In Mobile Games 1 Comment

Coin pushers: gateway gambling machine, disappointing old-fashioned seaside arcade amusement, or terribly modern entertainment sensation? It’s looking bizarrely like the last of those.

There’s daytime ITV1 quiz show Tipping Point, in which Ben Shephard has an only slightly easier job than Noel Edmonds on Deal Or No Deal in convincing the viewer that there’s appreciable skill involved. There are a baffling number of them available for smartphones and online. And Sega has lumped RPG and collectable elements on top of one for this free to play effort.

Dragon Coins

The collectable elements are monsters, from which you put together a team to take into battle. These monsters are of various elements, they evolve, and come in balls – in short definitely nothing like Pokemon. It’s all perfectly nicely done though, and getting rid of unwanted monsters by fusing them with others is enjoyable in an upcycling sort of way.

The coin pusher-based battles are initially chaotic affairs, with as much skill involved as you might imagine. Your monsters line up along the bottom of the screen, and as coins fall into their slots, they attack. They also earn special moves, such as speeding up the pusher or showering coins on the stage. You drop coins onto the pusher, limited only by the fact that each enemy has a countdown, and after you’ve dropped that many coins, they attack. This doesn’t tend to happen much at the start though, as combos and defeated enemies make coins spew all over the stage, keeping itself going like a madly coloured perpetual motion machine.

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May 02
By Jake In Mobile Games No Comments

The obvious thing would be to write about Dsmvwld in the manner of its puzzles, omitting the vowels. On the plus side, that would end up looking a tiny bit like something uttered by Zombie Dave. But it would also be unhelpful to the point of perversion.


Your task is simple: put the vowels back in the words, names and phrases served to you. The only clue is a category, which changes every few puzzles.

It’s a very slick interface, the vowels presented in a line, which just need to be tapped in the correct order to fill in the gaps. There’s no time limit; no punishment for mistakes, just tap another vowel to try again; and puzzles can be skipped at will. Challenge? Not so much.

That’ll obviously be an issue for many, and you could almost argue that it’s not really a game as a result. But it’s weirdly compelling.

The vast majority of the puzzles are almost immediately obvious; now and then, when you’re clueless about the category, it’s virtually impossible other than by sheer trial and error. But the odd puzzle will set your mind whirring for a couple of seconds, before a moment of absolute clarity. Perhaps the game should offer that moment more often, but the presentation minimises that criticism.

The visuals are as clean and unobtrusive as they look in the screenshots, and being a paid app – albeit a cheap one – there’s no advertising, no clutter, no faffing around. One puzzle follows another without delay, so there’s no chance to take a break: as soon as you’ve tapped in the vowels for one puzzle, it’s put another under your nose – so just do that one, then stop, yeah? And the category might change in a minute. They’re massively wide ranging, from vegetables to crime authors, and it’s strangely amusing when the game switches from one incongruous category to another.

So rather than be annoyed at the lack of challenge, I’m left hoping that developer Ludometrics eventually adds some more modes of play – ones with time limits, or punishments. But in the meantime, it’s a very pleasant distraction – which, sometimes, is all I’m looking for.

Version: iPhone
iTunes App Store: £0.99

Feb 28
By Jake In Mobile Games No Comments

Have you seen just how many Flappy Bird clones there are on the App Store now?

You don’t need to, because Stuart Dredge has been keeping a slightly obsessive eye on it for The Guardian. In short: lots.


If Nyamyam had been so inclined, they might have renamed Tengami ‘Flappy Paper’. They might have got a few sales by association, but probably not the headline promotion from Apple that the game’s received.

It’s just the sort of thing that Apple likes to give prominance to. The art style is mature and beautiful, rather than the standard cartoon world; it’s from developers with a bit of a track record – in this case, ex-Rare people; and of course it costs three quid, which can’t hurt when Apple takes a chunky cut of that.

And anyway, ‘Flappy Paper’ would be an altogether inappropriate name – there’s nothing flappy about the paper in Tengami. The pop-up landscapes are precision folded, crisply opening and closing as you swipe, with impressively intricate detail.

It’s an effective atmosphere, enhanced by the soundtrack, played on traditional Japanese instruments. But not enhanced by the game itself, which gives you too much time to think, and not enough to think about.


It’s a slow moving game – literally. Literally literally. The protagonist walks at a leisurely saunter, which is in-keeping with the tone, but with fairly sparse landscapes doesn’t do much to keep your mind occupied.

The puzzles, which are few in number even for a game which is over in a couple of hours, fall into three categories. There’s the odd nice puzzle, satisfying to work through logically. There are slightly laborious puzzles, which you’ll be a few steps ahead of, limited only by the slow pace of movement. And there are puzzles that are just a tiny bit obtuse – and in an arbitrary, rather than a clever way.


With not quite enough stimulation on offer, I found myself pondering the inconsistencies in the mainly glorious presentation. Most page turns require a swipe across the screen, but a few don’t. The music occasionally takes a slightly darker turn, but without any noticeable change on screen.

In that way, the lack of substance isn’t just a problem in itself, it actually detracts from what the game has going for itself – the style. It ends up feeling a bit empty.

And then, abruptly, the game ends.

Version: iPhone
iTunes App Store: £2.99

Feb 10
By Lauren Relph In Mobile Games 2 Comments

Back in the ‘90s, Bullfrog was one of the biggest names in PC gaming. Theme Park, Theme Hospital, Magic Carpet, Syndicate and Populous became instant classics overnight, but it was Dungeon Keeper that turned the fantasy genre upside, making the player the bad guy instead of the hero.


The game’s tag line “It’s Good to be Bad” was no lie; the demonic ‘God sim’ claimed uncountable hours of our youth, planning routes to gold veins to keep our minions happy, digging out what must have been realistically tonnes of rock to make rooms for new monsters to move in, work, build, research, work out in and eat in, all for the sake of protecting the dungeon from heroic invaders coming to take us out.

Upon hearing that EA had a Dungeon Keeper revamp in development, we desperately wanted to discard more countless hours into what we hoped was going to be a modern re-imagining of our favourite game as a teen.

What we were left with was disappointment and resentment.


The main premise is the same – you create and defend a dungeon. Due to being a total overhaul rather than a remake however, that’s where the similarities end.

The demonic advisor in the original has been replaced by a questionably effeminate Horned Reaper, who asks you to call him “Horny Reaper” or “HR” (human resources – EA made a funny!), but rather than growling at us that our minions are deserting, he tells us certain actions have now completed in a voice we’re pretty sure is the father from Peppa Pig.

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Oct 25
By Jake In Mobile Games 1 Comment

Fist of Awesome has been one huge charm offensive: from the early animated GIF screenshots, through the doubling-its-target Kickstarter, to designer Nicoll Hunt’s beard.

It’s been either: (a) a cleverly orchestrated PR campaign; (b) a demonstration of the benefits as an indie developer of being a bit different; or (c) proof that people really really want to punch a bear IN THE MOUTH.

Fist of Awesome

The game will certainly sate that particular desire. For enjoyably irrelevant reasons, Tim Burr’s fist has taken on a personality of its own, and he must avenge or rescue or something his family by lamping an awful lot of wildlife. And there’s kicking and stomping and shoving and throwing, as well as a charged punch, in addition to your common-or-garden punching.

That little lot is handled admirably by the gesture controls. Logical taps and swipes on the right of the screen take care of the action – tap to punch, swipe up to jump, down to stomp etc. Only the pushes and throws are a little awkward, and as always a virtual d-pad – in this case wherever you touch on the left of the screen – is less precise than you’d ideally like, but it’s as good as it’s going to get.

It’s a solid scrolling fighting game mechanic, but not quite enjoyable enough on its own to carry the game. The storyline and humorous touches dotted around the levels hit more often than miss, but again, aren’t quite enough to carry the game.

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Jul 17
By Jake In Mobile Games No Comments

You know when you’ve been playing a game of an evening, and you can still see it in your mind’s eye when you go to sleep?

Match-three puzzlers have a habit of doing it to me. Well, Garfield isn’t an obvious choice for an endless runner, so Namco-Bandai have had to set Wild Ride in his dreams. And he’s evidently been playing Jetpack Joyride.

Garfield's Wild Ride

It really is very, very similar: the simple touch-to-rise controls; the coins, the obstacles, even the warnings of approaching enemies; the ‘vehicle’ power-ups; the challenges, three active at a time; the slide along the ground when you eventually come a cropper.

It’s diligently similar, in that it’s still a bit of fun, but it adds virtually nothing of its own. And the basics are lacking: the controls are flabbier for one thing, which isn’t satisfying whether it’s intentional or not.

The presentation is at least solid: the menu screens are very jazzy, it sounds quite jolly, and the graphics are perfectly pleasant – even if the inexplicable floating obstacles look like strange mattresses, and the lasagne pick-ups looked more like hot dogs at first.

It starts to look samey very quickly though: you start with only one location – the street – and variation only comes from buying additional themes. The cheapest is yours for 100,000 coins – not earned in-game at anything like that magnitude, but inevitably available as IAPs. That number would set you back £1.99, several times the up-front price. Poor show.

Which all adds up to little reason to throw money at a slightly pale imitation, rather than Halfbrick‘s modern mobile classic, or one of the many games which have managed to actually build on the formula.

Version: iPhone
iOS: iTunes App Store (£0.69)
Android: Google Play (£0.69)

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