Historically, games for the mobile platforms have not had a good reputation. Gamers who play solely on their tablets or cell phones are often viewed as “casual gamers” or as “not real gamers”. The main reason for being that there are numerous casual games like Hay Day ™ or Sims Freeplay™ and not many games that most who game on console or PC/Mac would consider a “serious” videogame. Like most gamers who game on console or PC/Mac I thought this was these casual games were the only games out there for mobile platforms. However, with the recent focus on mobile gaming, more developers are releasing excellent games, or porting existing games (e.g. the Final Fantasy ™ series or Dragon Quest VIII ™) to mobile format. Recently my gaming rig died and, with all my consoles in storage, I had the opportunity to try out some pretty awesome games for my tablet and cell phone. Most of these games are available for both Android and IOS based mobile platforms as well as for the Amazon Fire OS.
Deep Under the Sky by Northway Games fits into several genres including, puzzle, action, and arcade. The game takes place on Venus and the object is for you to manipulate an alien jellyfish that is trying to propagate its species by planting eggs on nearby plants.
I have to say as someone who doesn’t expect much from mobile gaming graphics the graphics in this game are stunning. The cel-shading makes them almost appear hand painted at times. I spent hours simply watching the screen on my tablet and this games stunning visual effects.
The controls are simple and easy to use. A simple swipe of your finger allows you to aim, explode, and implant eggs onto the alien plants on your screen. The only problem is that this does have a learning curve for gamers who are not use to touchscreen mechanics and may be difficult to use for people who have arthritis or other disabilities affecting their hands and fingers.
The only major problem with this game is the difficulty scaling. It almost immediately levels up from a very basic difficulty in which the environments are easy to navigate to a difficult level ranking in which environments are challenging and difficulty to navigate on the touchscreen.
Overall this game was everything I expected out of it. The lush graphics, and simple controls made it a dream to play and as a lifelong gamer even the difficulty scaling was not a problem, as I typically do not play my games on “easy”. This game is available for Android/Fire OS/IOS and can be purchased via the Amazon Appstore, ITunes, or Google Play.
Monument Valley is a stunning, complex puzzle game published by UsTwo Games. The goal of the game is to guide a princess through an endless maze in order to outsmart her enemies known as the “Crow People.” It is a game with a interesting storyline and a great deal of complexity that is much different than one usually expects from a mobile game. This game does have a DLC available that offers an additional 8 levels of gameplay called “Forgotten Shores.”
The graphics are amazing and it is clear that the stunning environments are heavily influenced by the puzzle drawings of M.C Escher. The controls are simple, and you, as the player must navigate numerous optical illusions and puzzles to help your princess find her way home.
The soundtrack to this game is also amazing. UsTwo have created a soundtrack that responds to the players actions so that each time you play or each time you change your interactions with the game, the soundtrack changes to match your actions.
One of the best aspects of this game is that it offers cloud saves that will synchronize cross platform so that you can play on both your phone and tablet without losing your place in game. As a gamer who plays on multiple platforms this is a valuable feature that we have not seen much of yet for either console or PC/Mac.
This is an intriguing game that will awe the puzzle lovers in every gamer and is highly recommended if you plan to spend hours in game exploring the world within it. This game is also available for the Android/Fire OS/IOS platforms and can be purchased via the Amazon Appstore, ITunes Appstore, or on Google Play.
Smash Hit is a stunning game by Mediocre AB with a simple objective: use a series of metal balls to hit glass pyramids while navigating a series of puzzles and obstacles that you must avoid. Every time you fill up a meter on the screen, you get an additional metal ball until you reach a total of six metal balls. Sounds simple but it isn’t since the difficulty scaling of the puzzles gradually increases until you are navigating numerous puzzles and obstacles at the same time.
Much like the previous two games, this game is visually stunning. It offers environments that are procedurally generated so that each time you play a level it is always slightly different than previous iterations of that level. It is an amazingly beautiful game and it is easy to be drawn into the environment and forget the objective of the game (hence losing the game and dying when you lose your last ball).
The soundtrack is also beautiful with relaxing New Age style music throughout each level. To be honest I spent several minutes when I first got the game simply listening to the music and looking at the graphics.
The controls are simple to use and consist of aiming the ball at the pyramid and shooting it. It is a real test of hand-eye coordination to do so since in many levels both you as the player and the environment are in a constant state of motion.
I loved this game and would recommend it highly to anyone who likes puzzles. It is also a game that is excellent for stress relief since there is something very satisfying about the sound of metal hitting glass and the smashing sound it makes when the pyramids shatter. This game is available for Android/Fire OS/IOS and can be purchased on the Amazon Appstore, ITunes Appstore, and Google Play.
This little gem of a game by Noodlecake Studios Inc. is a game that is very reminiscent of big name puzzle games for PC/Console such as, Portal and Portal 2. The aim of Continuity 2 is to navigate a little stick figure through a series of puzzle rooms in order to find a key-and ultimately the door it goes to that allows you as the character to escape the room.
The player manipulates the screen and the game environment in order to solve the puzzles. The controls are simple and involve using the touchpad to run, jump, and manipulate puzzle environments so that your character can reach the door.
Graphically this game is not as stunning as the other three games. The game uses simple black, white, red, and yellow color schematics and simple line drawings and stick figures to represent your characters. This does not detract from the overall gameplay experience and in fact adds to it because you are not distracted by lush cel shaded environments and magical soundtracks.
Overall my gameplay experience with Continuity 2 has been amazing. The difficulty scaling is effective and each level offers the player a new and intriguing puzzle. Noodlecake Studios Inc. has recently moved forward with a more visually intriguing game called Alto’s Adventure which I am greatly looking forward to playing. This game is available on Android/Fire OS/IOS and can be purchased on the Amazon Appstore, ITunes Appstore or on Google Play.
The End, or is it?
My experiences during my computer free summer have shown me that mobile gaming is so much more than just Hay Day ™ or Sims Freeplay™. There is a whole new world out there and gamers who ignore it are risking losing out on some amazing gaming experiences. While a good many Triple AAA developers such as Square Enix (Dragon Quest, Deus Ex, Final Fantasy), Bethesda Game Studios (Fallout Shelter), and Bioware (Star Wars KOTOR, Mass Effect Infiltrator, Heroes of Dragon Age) have either created ports or new games for existing IP’s on console/PC/Mac, these IP’s are available on other platforms and many gamers have experienced much of what these studios have to offer. My goal with this review was to illustrate some of the visually stunning, intriguing, and amazing games that indie studios have to offer. Overall I have been awed and amazed by what the mobile platform has to offer. Will I continue gaming on my tablet and cellphone? Yes. It is not always convenient for me to bring my gaming laptop everywhere with me. Will I spend as much time gaming on these devices as I do on my laptop? Probably not. At this point, the mobile platforms simply cannot offer gamers 500+ hours of game time in a single game. It is beyond the technology available in terms of gaming engines being used and the hardware available on mobile platforms at this time. But, once this is possible, definitely yes.