Apps with an agenda

Relatively cheap to develop, with a huge potential audience. Apps present an opportunity for companies other than games publishers to get in on the gaming act – be it for promotion, profit, or fundraising.

Is that a good thing? Not universally, of course – see TT3D Game for the very ugly side of promotional apps. But the couple of nuggets here prove that it doesn’t have to be so utterly hateful.



Am I on shaky ground reviewing a charity app? At least Amnesty International, swelled by the 59p they got from me in exchange for Bulletproof, can let me know if this write up infringes anyone’s human rights.

Fortunately for me, I don’t have to face the prospect of slagging off a charity, because it’s really not bad. Your task is to stop a firing squad’s bullets from hitting you by tapping them mid-flight – a sort of reverse light-gun game, if you like.

It’s as simple as it sounds, and quickly begins to require some pretty snappy reactions. That’s enjoyable to a point, but when I’m asked to stop 90 very fast-moving bullets with only three mistakes allowed – a level correctly described by the game as “very hard” – enough is enough. An enjoyable curiosity though.

The Nightjar

The Nightjar

The Nightjar too has an organisation linked to it, but far more subtly. To the point that you wonder what Wrigley’s – the chewing gum people – got out of it. It’s interesting to read what developers Somethin’ Else have to say on how the project came about.

The long and the short of it is that it enabled them to put out a second purely audio-based game, starring the excellent Benedict Cumberbatch – TV’s Sherlock Holmes. And it’s just about the most enjoyable thing I’ve played in… ooh… ages.

(Incidentally, Papa Sangre was Somethin’ Else’s first – not free this time – audio-based game, which clearly warrants further investigation.)

They say the pictures are better on the radio, and the same is true here: with nothing to look at, but lots going on in your ears, the atmosphere is massively absorbing – and bleak, and just a little bit scary. Given the situation – you’re circling a black hole on board a dying spaceship, unfortunately not alone – that’s perfectly justified.

The game quickly ramps up the tension, throws more to worry about at you, and exits stage left. Or right. So yes, it’s brief, but with it virtually perfect – in terms of achieving what it sets out to do. It’s a morsel of pure entertainment.

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