Out Now: Make the Switch? Edition21 Oct 2016 1
The big news in mobile gaming is that Nintendo revealed their next console/handheld, The Switch, because it's a handheld that docks to become a console and it's powered by NVIVIA's Tegra mobile graphics chipset. The major takeaway from this is that Nintendo has no intention of releasing a real Fire Emblem game on iOS or Android: instead we're going to get a Marth auto-runner, or perhaps a Clash of Clans clone where units beg you to take care of their families when they die. That's okay, we've got Mini Metro, Retsnom, the "Stoneborn" expansion for Legend of Callasia, and more.
We’ve been waiting for the mobile version of Mini Metro for a long time, and now that it’s here, it feels like the most naturally mobile title imaginable. This is the kind of game you’ll start playing because you're in line, then realize that half an hour’s passed, everyone else's gone ahead of you and your lunch break is over. I say that because Mini Metro starts out at soothing and never completely loses that feeling, even as it becomes more and more complicated and intense. If only public transportation was this clean and elegant, surely the whole world would be a paradise.
Retsnom is a zombie game. No, wait, don’t go! It's a zombie game about a dad trying to save his infected daughter by time traveling to the future by unknown means in order to steal the cure that the hypothetical survivors hypothetically have and he does this by flipping the world around with a magic mirror. Oh, and he tells himself that he’s done this before and failed every time? ...okay, so the story is hash. It's such an incoherent mess that Terry Gilliam has offered to direct the movie adaptation. But that’s okay: the story’s just there to give a dark and brooding atmosphere to the flipping mechanic, which is used to amazing effect. Retsnom is a puzzle platformer with very clever puzzles, and it's not too twitchy. The chaos you produce by flipping things does give one an eerie impression that you're breaking the game’s world as you play.
Yes! An original turn-based strategy game… for iMessage?!? Oh, and scratch the original because this one’s a stripped down Advance Wars clone. Still, if you happen to be one of *those people* who have friends, and if you talk to them using iMessage, this could be just the thing to enliven discussions of office gossip or determine whose turn it is to cook dinner. I’ll just be over here with my Warbits and my loneliness.
Battle Bash is out on iOS, not recommended for sexting use, and will be coming to Android as soon as Google makes iMessenger a standard app and hell freezes over.
I know this is Pocket Tactics, not Pocket Romance, but OMG, the people in this game are so pretty. So is the the tarot art. So pretty, I want to take the cards out to dinner and stick the characters in sheet protectors. Ahem. So, The Arcana looks to be a promising visual novel with an original art style and possibly some card-picking as well as decision point mechanics. Also, Nix Hydra Games gets serious bonus points with me for letting the player choose their pronouns, including the gender neutral “they.” This one sucked me in, and I’d still be gone if there was a full game here… but this is just a demo, with no release date for the full version announced.
iOS users are the beautiful people, so only they get this beautiful demo.
Sorcery is for Saps
I admire Choice of Games' for regular releases of new gamebooks with distinct authorial voices and an incredibly broad range of subject matter. Some of their user-created “Hosted” games can be a bit dicy, but Sorcery is for Saps is part of their signature “Choice of” line. Sorcery is for Saps is basically the Sorcerer’s Apprentice bit from Fantasia writ large, as you bumble your way through potions and spells in your mentor’s absence, hoping to achieve glory or at least get those stains out of the rug. This one’s a comedy in the vein of Robert Asprin’s Myth series and Piers Anthony’s Xanth, complete with the bad puns and anachronistic references. Fair warning, there are some real groaners in here.
Rusty Lake: Roots
Like Rusty Lake Hotel and the Cube Escape games before it, Rusty Lake: Roots is a surreal puzzle/adventure game. This one’s less Victorian in feel, as I haven’t run into a single puzzle about making a cocktail with blood from the living antlers of a well-dressed anthropomorphic animal… yet. Instead, there’s a kind of American Gothic quality here, as you appear to be growing a literal family tree, possibly with a white-furred ape somewhere in the roots, or is that a hint of the Innsmouth look? The trick to this one is to appreciate the puzzles for their own internal consistency and not expect rational answers.
Matt was irked by Paperback's lack of online multiplayer, but if deckbuilding Scrabble is your thing, Paperback is kind-of the only game in town right now. I played around with the Android build for a while and I have to say that this game has some of the best white people avatar art I’ve seen since Shag released a button set. Also, on max difficulty, the computer will school you in obscure vocabulary. Someone fed Watson the unabridged OED, phew!
Android users been succumbing to exposure while waiting to play Don’t Starve while folks with iPhones have been killing Johnny Depp for well over a year now. Well, the wait is over: Pocket Tactics' runner-up Action Game of the Year for 2015 is exploding onto HTCs and Samsung phones… wait, poor choice of words. Pretend I didn’t say that?
Seek sufficient caloric intake on iOS or Android.
Legends of Callasia: The Stoneborn
Nick reviewed Legends of Callasia when it came out and quite liked it, and he's going to take a good look at "The Stoneborn" and tell you how this $8 expansion measures up. Legends includes a pretty extensive demo before asking you to pay the refreshingly premium price of $15 for the whole game (that’s before that $8 expansion). I finally got around to kicking the tires on this one, and it’s RiskHeroesofWarlordsandDisciples-tastic.
Legends of Callasia is only on iOS, so it’s probably safe to presume that the expansion isn’t available on Google Play either.
Quest of Dungeons: Revenge of the Jelly King
Quest of Dungeons is a roguelite - indeed, while it’s not minimalist, it’s straightforward and uncomplicated enough that you could call it a rogueultralite. The “Revenge of the Jelly King” expansion is more in the same vein. I like my roguelikes either crunchy or puzzly, so Jelly King didn't hit the spot for me, but if you enjoyed QoD, the expansion’s a steal at one US dollar, and Crypt of the Necrodancer fans may want this one just for the QoD take on that rogulelike's hero (hint: more necro, less dancing). Nota bene: this is a phone game. I felt downright silly playing it on my iPad Air 2, and the controls become a little awkward on a tablet.