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Mobile Game of the Week: Spooky Squashers

Mobile Game of the Week: Spooky Squashers

At PocketGamer.biz, we happily sit inbetween the world of business and consumer writing.

You can consider it 'biz-sumer' or 'consum-ness', if you like.

What that means in practice is that we write about the business of mobile games from the point of view of passion about mobile games.

We're not dry number crunchers (quite moist, actually).

Neither are we clueless fanboys, who write articles from the seat of the pants, heart on sleeve etc...

Best of both

In our view, the best mobile games require business and pleasure in equal measure, which is why we're starting our Game of the Week feature.

It's where we'll highlight the games we consider the most significant, hopefully in a positive way, but perhaps sometimes in a cautionary way too.

You'll enjoy or learn something from playing these games, maybe both.


Click here to view the list »
  • Spooky Squashers

    Spooky Squashers logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    Most people love Christmas for presents or Easter for chocolate. But for me, I prefer Halloween! Sweets and scares, what's not to love.

    In the spirit of my favourite day being just over a week away, this week's Mobile Game of the Week falls within the spooky category, well, kind of.

    Spooky Squashers has combined Halloween with squash, the sporty kind, you know, the one that leaves you in a sweaty, heavy breathing heap on the floor—possibly having hit yourself in the head with the ball, no? Just me? Moving on.

    Players will take control of a rather active pumpkin, smacking balls at any ghost that dares to say boo.

    Smashing pumpkins

    The controls can take a bit of getting used to, with the bottom of the screen being blank to allow players to use their thumb to move the joystick.

    However, with a bit practice, players will speed all over the court, showing those ghosts who's boss by smacking them with the ball, hurts, doesn't it. throughout the levels, upgrades may drop, giving the pumpkin a pace that Speedy Gonzales would envy.

    Although, the rather energetic pumpkin will be kept on its toes as a big bad ghost will show up with a knife, clearly intent on taking part in its favourite Halloween activity, pumpkin carving.

    On top of this, while the standard white ghosts will cause no harm, the ones that are purple and hiding behind masks will.

    Furthermore, the number of balls a player has will dwindle as the levels progress. Also, they serve as your health bar, so be careful not to lose too many.

    Pumpkin spice

    The music is fun, reminiscent of walking through a haunted house, though no attraction that I ever walked through featured a pumpkin playing squash. A shame as that would have scared me, the idea of playing squash, not the pumpkin.

    As players progress and earn higher scores, they will fill up a chest bar. Once filled, users will be rewarded with a new racket or a different bat type altogether.

    Ads are non-intrusive in Spooky Squashers. However, players can choose to watch them in exchange for a chest boost.

    While Spooky Squashers is not going to keep me hooked, it is worth playing in the spooky month of October. That, and technically I can say I played squash, making room for all the sweets I'm going to eat.


  • Poor Thief!

    Poor Thief! logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    The App Store and Google Play are filled to the brim with puzzle games, and wherever you look, you can be sure a pesky puzzler will pop up.

    Sometimes, okay rarely, I do enjoy a puzzle game. On occasion they make me feel smart when I totally nail it, while most of the time I'm left questioning how I've made it so far in life.

    Having said that, this week is a rare occasion, as my game of the week is a little puzzle gem known as Poor Thief!.

    To catch

    The premise of the game is straightforward. The player takes control of a thief who is after a lovely looking gem.

    Of course, it is not as simple as spotting something shiny and picking it up. Instead, it takes some brain smarts.

    Players must swipe the screen to move the thief in their chosen direction, using the walls and various blocks to reach the diamond.

    In a way, I kind of feel sorry for this little thief, while at the same time being impressed by their persistence. To complete some of the levels, the thief has to die...over...and over, to allow them to use the graves as a means of reaching the loot.

    A thief

    Poor Thief! is entirely free-to-play, unless the small number of ads prove to be too annoying, in which case a small price can be paid to have them permanently removed.

    Unfortunately, the game can get repetitive fairly quickly with the levels lacking much variety with the quality of the design wavering on occasion too.

    So, will Poor Thief! keep its spot on my phone? No, but it certainly has its charms and made me slightly jealous, who wouldn't want to be an immortal thief! Actually, maybe dying over and over again would get boring after a while.


  • Hot Wheels Unlimited

    Hot Wheels Unlimited logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    Sometimes it is nice to come across a mobile title that gives you a little trip down memory lane.

    I am a sucker for some nostalgia, so when I found out that Budge Studios had created a new Hot Wheels game I knew I was going to have to check it out.

    Therefore, Hot Wheels Unlimited has picked up this week's Mobile Game of the Week slot.

    Tear it up

    The controls are simple and easy to use. When it comes to construction, players simply check the track pieces at the bottom of the screen before choosing one and sliding it into position on the track.

    As you race through the track, use your finger to steer the car, though this could be a bit touch and go at times. It seemed that no matter what I did, I could not control the car.

    I'm sure most who played with Hot Wheels when they were younger would agree that it was not just about collecting the cars – though some were must haves – but also about building your own track.

    There were many track collections to be purchased and built, so to be able to do that yet again, this time for free, through a mobile phone is great for those after a serious nostalgia trip.

    With an impressive amount of track pieces and variations, players can create a wide range of unique tracks. However, there are a number of classic cars just waiting to be collected in this racer, some of which may well be sitting on the shelf of an avid collector.

    Round the track

    Naturally, given Hot Wheels Unlimited is a racing game, there will be challenges that involve racing against opponents. To come out on top, it is not only about controlling the car, but rather building momentum at the start and knowing when to use the ever-helpful boost.

    However, I will say that on occasion the races felt slow, almost as though the vehicle had little no speed, kind of like a Sunday drive as opposed to tearing up the track.

    So, will Hot Wheels Unlimited keep its spot on my phone? Probably not, but I do recommend it to anybody that wants to reconnect with the child in them.


  • Genshin Impact

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    Without a doubt, my favourite games genre is RPG, the way that you can get lost in a vast world filled with fascinating characters is something that has always appealed to me.

    Therefore, it will come as no surprise that this week, I have chosen MiHoYo's recently released open-world RPG Genshin Impact.

    The beautifully crafted game has taken the world by storm since its release on September 28th, as it came to players around the world on a variety of platforms.

    While I would encourage anyone and everyone to pick up this game, I would certainly suggest downloading it on mobile, and no it's not because I'm biased – though given I write for a mobile site it is a plus – but rather so that Genshin Impact can go wherever you do. Being able to play this on the go is a massive bonus.

    How to make

    In terms of controls, the mobile adaptation of the game has been made well. Players have a joystick to move around and can adjust the camera angle through swiping across the other side of the screen.

    However, on smartphones, thanks to a lack of a controller, the buttons appear on the touch screen, but it doesn't affect the view of the game all that much.

    Genshin Impact's combat is smooth and enjoyable, with the mobile rendition offering both a dodge and attack button. As with all RPGs, there is a leveling system to make your character more powerful, with a vast array of weapons available throughout the game.

    Graphically speaking, the game is beyond stunning, no matter what platform you choose to play one. Genshin Impact looks just as good on mobile as it does on PC and PS4.

    The game is filled with cutscenes, all of which make for a great watch on mobile devices. Honestly, if the first scene of the game does not get you hooked with intrigue, I'm not sure anything will.

    Moreover, with a cross-save feature, you can play across all platforms, so you can go on a quick quest while on the move and settle in for a night in front of the PS4 and take a deep dive in, exploring as you please.

    An impact

    Want to know what one of the best things about an open-world title such as Genshin Impact? It is the opportunity to explore with friends, and this can be done regardless of which platform you choose. Prefer mobile, but your friends prefer PC? No problem, you can still team up and slay some monsters.

    Not only is the game lovely to look at, but it is also stunning to listen to with a peaceful soundtrack to complement the beautiful world. The music provided by a game can be an underappreciated component, but it is one that this RPG fanatic takes into consideration when determining how good a game is.

    Lastly, I feel the need to give a shout-out to the cooking system in this game, mainly because anytime I get to show my culinary prowess is a cause for celebration – if you tasted my cooking in real-life you'd understand why.

    Time to answer that question I ask myself each week, will this game remain on my phone? Of course, it will, how could I remove such a stunning game, one that has kept me entertained since launch and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.


  • Swap-Swap Panda

    Swap-Swap Panda logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    If there is one genre that I have no problem with picking up at any time, it's the platformer.

    With that said, my Mobile Game of the Week goes to Swap-Swap Panda, a cute little platform title that, as the name suggests, features pandas.

    One of my favourite mobile genres, mixed with one of my favourite types of animal, was always going to be a winner.

    Throw on top of that the beauty of the game, and the lovely level design, Swap-Swap Panda, is a must-play for fans of the platform genre.

    Panda

    The controls are simple and refined, with a button to move left and right and a jump button. Then, as you have two pandas at your disposal, there is a final button to switch in between the two mammals.

    As with any classic platformer, there are obstacles to overcome. As such, each panda has different uses to achieve various tasks.

    The red panda can climb bamboo to reach higher platforms; it can also collect items that have been dropped by enemies.

    Meanwhile, the giant panda, given it is the stronger species, can jump on enemies to defeat them, and move objects around. Also, the giant panda is the only one of the two that swim, meaning the red variety needs to catch a ride.

    Each of the pandas can hitch a lift with its friend, which can save some time.

    Bear

    After completing so many levels, the game will be interrupted with advertisements. While they may be short and not overly disruptive, players can choose to remove them for a small fee.

    So, will Swap-Swap Panda keep its place on my phone? Yes, at least until I complete all available levels with my mammal friends.

     


  • Auto Brawl Chess

    Auto Brawl Chess logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    Sometimes, every now and then, I feel the need to have a game of chess, although I have never understood why.

    This week, rather than scratching the itch with a traditional board game, I picked up a mobile title instead, one that adds so much more excitement to chess. Therefore, this week's Game of the Week award goes to Auto Brawl Chess.

    The game ties auto-chess, hero-collection and merge mechanics together to make a tactics-based game. Those who tuned in for our sister site's LaunchPad event may recognise Panoramik Games' title.

    Your move

    The game involves the player placing their collected heroes onto the board. Thankfully there is a button that will automatically place your best characters on the battlefield. However, as the match progresses, you may want to recruit doubles of those already in the fray to boost their attributes.

    As you play, coins are earned which are needed to not only recruit new heroes but to also up the number of combatants a player can have on the battlefield. Due to Auto Brawl Chess featuring auto-chess features, your job is done when the round is set up as the heroes will fight for victory themselves.

    Each individual character will have different skills and attributes that will affect how they perform in battle. Furthermore, tapping on a hero will provide more information and enable the player to move them around the board.

    Checkmate

    To gain even more of an advantage, it is worth taking factions into consideration as multiple heroes from the same team will offer a tactical advantage.

    Naturally, there are in-app purchases available for those that are looking to get ahead and have their eyes set on certain heroes and equipment. However, it is not necessary to spend money to progress in the game. Moreover, there are daily login rewards available for the most dedicate chess brawlers.

    Time to answer that all-important question, will Auto Brawl Chess keep a spot on my phone? Yes, it will, simply because it is an easier way of playing one of my favourite board games – despite being quite strategically dense at times. Oh, and who doesn't like being in charge of a group of heroes, right?


  • Nameless Cat

    Nameless Cat logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    Having spent the past week commanding a group of elite soldiers, I was after something a bit more chilled this week.

    Thankfully, I found just what I was looking for in the form of a beautiful pixel-art platformer known as Nameless Cat by Kotoba Games. The game gave me the ultimate feeling of serenity within seconds, from the stunning pixel surroundings to the lovely soundtrack.

    To top it off, the exclusive Android game features a story that involves the player guiding the young feline back to its family, journeying through a mysterious world.

    Soft kitty

    The controls are nice and simple; three buttons are displayed on the screen allowing you to move the cat left and right, there is also a jump button, be a bit tough to play a platformer without one of those. Furthermore, there is a button that allows you to teleport, granting access to different platforms.

    As is the case with all platform titles, there are various obstacles to overcome, with some environmental hazards thrown in for good measure. Namely moving spikes and spike pits, seriously, what is it with platformers and spikes? Also, as it turns out, cats do not have nine lives, nor do they always land on their feet, so avoid falling down canyons.

    Naturally, the further you get into the game, the more hazardous situations there are, but there are some interesting characters to offer advice along the way.

    Warm kitty

    The game features in-app purchases, allowing players to purchase skins for the loveable cat. There is also the option of finding currency throughout the levels that will enable you to buy a new look.

    Oh, and if dealing with ads drives you crazy, for a grand total of $2.49, advertising can be removed. Although, it has very little impact on the actual gameplay.

    Nameless Cat is not the longest game that you will find on Google Play, but it's a beautiful little gem that is worth a journey through.


  • Tom Clancy's Elite Squad

    Tom Clancy's Elite Squad logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    It would be fair to say that I have been waiting for Tom Clancy's Elite Squad to hit mobile devices for quite some time.

    Now that I have finally been able to get my hands on it, I felt it was only right to name Ubisoft's new military RPG as my Game of the Week. It is a must-play for any Tom Clancy fan, as Elite Squad features many recognisable characters that can be found in the various worlds Ubisoft has created based on Clancy's novels.

    Most notably, fans will see familiar faces from various franchises including The Division, Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six Siege and Splinter Cell. The latter of these boasts one of the most well-known characters in gaming, Sam Fisher.

    More importantly, the game plays well, is executed to near perfection, and offers the experience that I was hoping for.

    Best of

    The gameplay itself is relatively simple, with some impressive real-time firefights that Tom Clancy fans are sure to enjoy. Moreover, as you increase your command level, you will unlock unique abilities that you can use in a battle to turn the tides in your favour, such as dropping rockets on top of the enemy – be sure to choose your loadout wisely.

    At the start of the game, you have a few select members in your squad. Over time, you will unlock new members to add to your team, giving you the best chance at survival, securing victory over UMBRA, the faction that stands in your way.

    Moreover, as you might expect, each character offers different strengths and weaknesses; some may heal the team, others may deal a ton of damage, while different squaddies may withstand more of an assault.

    Furthermore, as you progress through the game, completing various missions, the difficulty will increase. As such, it is important to gear up the team; successfully fulfilling objectives could well reward you with better equipment for different team members. Not only that, but each character has a ranking, which will increase as you choose to level them to meet your commander level.

    The best

    Naturally, as with most free-to-play mobile games, there are optional microtransactions for in-game currency. The virtual-money can be used to buy a variety of things, including packs that contain new characters, resources and soldier upgrades.

    Tom Clancy's Elite Squad was everything I wanted and more. For years, I have craved a new Splinter Cell but being able to operate with Sam Fisher in Elite Squad is enough to tide over my undying need for the excitement of espionage.

    I, for one, will enjoy completing the campaign, and experiencing all that Elite Squad has to offer, including the guilds system. This military RPG will not be leaving my phone anytime soon.


  • Kingdom of Heroes: Tactics War

    Kingdom of Heroes: Tactics War logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    If there is one type of game you can be sure to find on a mobile storefront. it's a turn-based strategy.

    Fortunately, this week, I happened to be in the mood for a bit of strategy, with some near-flawless turn-based combat integrated and lovely RPG elements. My Mobile Game of the Week is Neowiz's Kingdom of Heroes: Tactics War... the game is better than the name I swear.

    Must defend

    As with any good tactical RPG, there is a whole roster of summons available, and all characters, naturally, have their strengths and weaknesses. However, in Tactics War, it all comes down to the elements, for each character will be affiliated with fire, water, and tree – among others – all of which are either strong or weak against one another.

    For victory in battle, be sure to use a range of melee, ranged, and healer summons with various elemental affiliations to cover all bases. Players are able to take four fighters to the battlefield with them, which in itself is pretty small. However, a strategic mind is still required to secure victory. It is important to think your attacks through as some do require a cool-down period.

    There is a battle simulation option for players looking to speed things up, although it is much more effective to be in control of the heroes yourself. The combat is everything in this game, quite literally given everything else seems to revolve around it.

    The kingdom

    It is a fun game with plenty to keep you entertained; there is a ton of content to explore for the low-low price of free. There is the main campaign to follow that sees you and your trusty allies embark on an adventure to save the kingdom. Through doing so, you will unlock new summons and runes. The latter is crucial in powering up your characters, increasing both offensive and defensive stats and attributes such as health.

    Runes can also be upgraded to increase their ultimate effect. Furthermore, there will be heroes that you never use, so do not be afraid to transfer experience from them to your preferred summons, no point in letting good skill go to waste.

    Although, as with most mobile games, there are in-game purchases available. However, these will have minimal impact on the game itself, meaning there is no need to spend your money.

    All in all, I have very few complaints about Kingdom of Heroes: Tactics War – except maybe the name – and it will have a place on my phone for some time to come.


  • EVE Echoes

    EVE Echoes logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    If there is one genre that rarely does me wrong, it's MMOs - no matter what, I can always find some sort of positive within, even if the game itself appears somewhat lacklustre.

    However, my Mobile Game of the Week this week is a well-executed MMO by NetEase, EVE Echoes. It's a must-play for any fan of massively multiplayer online titles, especially if you happen to be a fan of the EVE Online game for PC.

    If you happen to be familiar with the EVE series, you will recognise some of its famous features in its mobile adaptation – PvE, PvP, planetary exploration, and mining.

    Out of this world

    Going into EVE Echoes, I had quite high standards given how well-executed EVE Online is, and thankfully, I was not disappointed. The sandbox space environment was a pleasure to explore, and naturally, the combat was a lot of fun.

    As is the standard with EVE, players are in complete control of their purpose within the universe, with multiple playstyles available to suit either the most seasoned or rookie spacewalkers. Upon starting a new journey, players will be asked to choose a race with each one offering unique perks and characteristics.

    When playing, users can choose their path - will you be an explorer? Or perhaps the world of business calls to you, making you into a tycoon as you take on the trading markets. However, if like me you prefer to be in action and like a good pillage, the life of a space pirate might be for you.

    Vast universe

    The beauty of EVE Echoes is that there is so much to do; the universe is huge, quite literally, as there are more 8,000 star systems just waiting to be explored. In such a vast space, having friends to join you in intense battles can be crucial, so take advantage of the allies system.

    Furthermore, there are more than 100 ships on offer, each one with unique skins. Your spaceship is important as you forge your own legacy in EVE Echoes, so why not make it look the part?

    A question that I always answer is, will this game still be on my phone in a week? The short answer, yes. This game may have a permanent space on my device for the foreseeable future – I'm talking months here!


  • Brawlhalla

    Brawlhalla logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    Ever get that "I wanna punch someone in the face" feeling? No? Well, I do, and a fighting game offers me plenty of opportunities to do so.

    Having said that, for my Mobile Game of the Week, I have chosen Brawlhalla by Ubisoft. There is just something about being able to get your frustrations out on a virtual opponent - it is almost therapeutic and certainly much better than performing the action in real life.

    Not to mention that Brawlhalla has been out for a while on other platforms, and if you have enjoyed it before I would encourage you to put your fists up yet again on mobile devices.

    Round one

    The aim of the game is in the name; it is an all-out brawl, and you need to fight your way to victory. Thankfully, the controls for the mobile version of the hit fighting game are simple and easy to use - there is a directional pad and four action buttons that allow you to attack, dash and jump.

    There are both online and offline options, so everyone can enjoy the action if the prospect of going against other players is not ideal. However, for those that are ultra-competitive, perhaps you would like to try your hand at the ranked online matches, fight for your honour, and claim victory.

    As with any good fighting title, there is a large roster of characters - in this case, Legends - to use. Each of them has different attributes and weapons at their disposal, meaning there is a fighter with the right style for everyone. It also happens to be fun playing as each of them, at least until you find a Legend you click with.

    Fight

    Also, for those who like a story – something Ubisoft has a natural talent for telling – each Legend has some lore behind them. Give them a read if you want a better understanding of those that you take to battle.

    Naturally, there are in-game purchases available, but these will not affect the game significantly, and plenty can be achieved without spending your hard-earned cash. However, if fashion is important to you, there are a range of skins on offer, as are emotes, sidekicks and avatars.


  • Merge Dungeon

    Merge Dungeon logo

    By Kayleigh Partlteton

    There is something oddly appealing about being stuck in some dark and murky dungeon.

    With that in mind, for Mobile Game of the Week, I have chosen endless dungeon crawler Merge Dungeon, because who doesn't want to fight skeletons among other things in a never-ending cycle?

    Nanoo Company's latest title is a must-play for anyone who was a fan of its predecessor, Merge Star.

    It's dark

    The gameplay itself is very simple. Players take control of three characters that cover three offensive styles – magic, range and melee – as they progress through the never-ending dungeon gathering loot and cutting down whatever gets in their way.

    You craftraft weapons via the instructions at the bottom of the screen, then drag it up to character equipment slots to equip it. Naturally, weapons, armour and other equipment have different stats – attack and defence – that will affect how much damage the player can cause and withstand. Also, the more it is used, the higher the proficiency level will be.

    Multiple pieces of equipment can be crafted and compared, giving players the chance to replace what is in their arsenal if a new version boasts better stats. Merging two pieces of the same gear will offer something unique.

    So very dark

    There are multiple game modes for these dungeon crawlers to take on. The adventure mode is what it says on the tin, and can be played in either standard or nightmare difficulty. For those seeking a more significant challenge, or wish to craft better equipment, there are other areas to tackle.

    As with most mobile games, Merge Dungeon does have in-game purchases available. However, these are not necessary to make decent progress within the game.

    Do I plan to keep Merge Dungeon on my phone? Yes, indeed, I do. It's easy to pick up and play, offers entertainment, and gives me a distinct sense of badassery as I tear down all who get in my way.


  • Color Switch World

    Color Switch World logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    Everywhere you look on the App Store, hypercasual titles will jump out at you, and this week one managed to grab my attention enough to snag Mobile Game of the Week.

    It is a rather fitting choice really, given its predecessor helped to kick off the hypercasual craze. This week, we took a look at Color Switch World, the successor to Color Switch. However, this new title embraces the endless runner element.

    Switch it up

    As with all hypercasual games, the premise is simple, as are the controls. To move the ball you need to swipe left and right on the screen, and as you progress through the level, there will be obstacles for you to dodge based upon the colour of the ball.

    Those who have played Color Switch will have a good idea of what to expect - as the level goes on, the ball you control will take on different colours which will correspond to objects in your patch. Collide with matching colours to score points, but as soon as you hit a mismatch the game is over.

    The game can be made as difficult or as easy as you like, with a slider to determine drag speed as well as three difficulty levels.

    All the colours

    As with many mobile titles, you can pick up the in-game currency as you play. In the case of Color Switch World its stars, plenty of which can be found as you progress through the game. They can be used to purchase cosmetic items such as a different style of ball.

    However, given the game is new, some missing features will soon be released, such as trails and roads that can be purchased through in-game currency.

    Color Switch World is a fun little game that may keep you hooked for a while. However, as with most hypercasual titles, I enjoyed it for a time, but it is not likely to stay on my phone for the long run.


  • Wave Redux

    Wave Redux logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    Usually, when someone mentions the puzzle game genre to me, I associate it with brainteasers or other activities that leave me feeling fried.

    I am yet – or was – to find a puzzler that I would call relaxing, but here we are, there really is a first time for everything. This week's Game of the Week goes to Thomas Janson's Wave Redux.

    It's a straightforward title that had me feeling chilled out within seconds. Seriously, the chilled game mode is a much-welcomed distraction to alleviate stress.

    Making waves

    The gameplay itself is simple - in this geometric puzzle game, you control a line of shapes and need to avoid crashing into walls while picking up points. In chill mode, the game moves at a slower pace.

    If you are still after a more relaxed feel but with more of a challenge, there is the chill plus mode which makes the line move a bit faster. However, the difficulty in both features comes from the screen moving around, which can make you lose your sense of direction. In the easy modes, you press and hold on the screen to move in a different direction.

    However, if you are after an even bigger challenge, the hype and hype plus modes are available. Instead of pressing on the screen, you move the line by swiping left to right. Be prepared; the puzzle moves a lot faster.

    Let yourself go

    If there is one thing I love in games – be they mobile, triple-A, or indie – it's a good soundtrack, particularly when I am feeling the need to relax. Wave Redux has nailed this. It became easy, in the more relaxed modes, to lose myself in the shapes and music.

    Entirely free-to-play, the only money that a player may need to spend is to remove ads - not they are that much of a bother, to begin with. So, will Wave Redux keep its place on my phone? A difficult task for any puzzle game – yes, it will, for the time being at least.


  • SINoALICE

    SINoALICE logo

    By Ric Cowley

    I'm a simple man. If you throw a game at me and say "look, it's anime, it has a weird, slightly-fetishised collection of classic literary heroines killing monsters, and Yoko Taro designed it", I'm probably going to check that out.

    And so we have SINoALICE, a game in which, well, you play as classic literary heroines with a slightly gothic-fetish look and kill countless waves of monsters, all while reading the words of Yoko Taro exploring what it means to be alive and to kill.

    It is incredibly confusing. Battles seem to mostly play themselves, as a colourful cast of CPU characters spawn in from nowhere and deal huge amounts of damage with limited input from yourself. You can join in with special moves of your own, but why bother? Just let the fight play out on its own and you'll probably win.

    Progress through the game's absolutely wild story chapters, interspersed with random snippets of Taro's typically bemusing pseudo-intellectual insights into the human (and demon) condition and you'll unlock new gear to add to your collection, opening up new attacks to help defeat tougher enemies.

    Further down the rabbit hole

    You can also unlock new characters to play as, including Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Alice (of Wonderland fame), and other similarly-themed heroines. Except here they have enormous, floaty chests and are designed expressly for a very particular goth lover - Yoko Taro, the man who designed them.

    This may all sound like I didn't enjoy SINoALICE, but honestly, it's hard not to enjoy its utter weirdness. Battles are as flashy as they are confusing, the story so utterly baffling that you can't help but ponder what it's all about. And hey, you usually win the fights you're thrown into, so there's that.

    SINoALICE probably didn't need a Western release - it's about as Japanese as it gets for mobile games. But for anime fans and Taro devotees alike, it's another chance to explore the mind of someone who goes through their professional life wearing a creepy moon mask at all times. And, really, what more do you need from a game?


  • Hellrider 3

    Hellrider 3 logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    Sometimes it is nice to pick up a game that requires no thought - you just fire it up and go with no puzzles around to stump you. A racing game would fit the role nicely.

    With that said, this week's Game of the Week is Hellrider 3 by Anji Games, the perfect title to install for a quick ride on the road whilst destroying your foes in such a badass fashion.

    Highway to hell

    The controls are simple. Two buttons on the screen allow you to move the bike left or right to avoid obstacles and dodge incoming attacks when on the ride. To get over roadblocks, players need to hold down their thumbs on both sides of the screen.

    When it comes to getting rid of the other bikers, there are a variety of tools at your disposal, such as guns and bombs. The former will aim automatically while the latter is up to you – my aiming hasn't been so bad since Crash Nitro Kart. There are multiple weapons available. However, some need to be bought with real money as opposed to in-game currency.

    Players can put a personal touch on the game as they can change their character's – of which there are a few – appearance, and of course unlock more bikes through either buying them or winning races.

    Ride or die

    There are in-app purchases, there are both coins and drums available, but both can be earned through playing the game. The latter of these can be obtained through spending coins or by watching ads. Drums hold bullet perks that can give you an advantage – increased ammo and a shield, for example.

    Will I keep this game on my phone? Possibly for a while. There's just something about hitting the open road, blowing up skeletons whilst feeling like Arnie in The Terminator franchise...


  • Endurance

    Endurance logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    I do love a good adventure game, especially on mobile as I can play it on the go.

    So, as you may have guessed, my Game of the Week falls within the adventure genre, and much to my delight is very story-driven. Endurance was developed by Ivan Panasenko and serves as a prequel to last year's Ailment.

    It has a sci-fi setting and embraces a horror-based atmosphere. Ah, sci-fi and horror, what a beautiful combination. It is time to discover how the virus got out and how it drove those aboard the ship insane.

    Out of this world

    You get to choose your character from a small selection of scientists. Each one has different stats for the attributes - health, regeneration, speed, shield recharge and trap detection. For example, one character may have 82 per cent speed but at the cost of having 0 per cent trap detection. Seems like a fair trade, you run so fast that you don't see your upcoming demise – pretty accurate for me.

    To control the character, you move your thumb along the left side of the screen, while to interact with items and to attack you need to slide your other thumb along the right side of the screen. When it comes to walking, it can be a bit clunky and hard to change direction.

    There is a map to help you navigate on the left-hand side; the red markers represent your objective. It will come in handy when you start to explore, as it will enable you to find computers and other objects to help you progress. The ship itself is quite eerie to explore; it creates an atmosphere that will keep you hooked.

    Jumping Ship

    There are character upgrades available; you can find the stats button on the right-hand side where you can go to heal. However, there are power-ups found throughout the world in boxes and lockers.

    The game can only be played online unless you choose to pay a small fee to remove ads, but honestly, they are not much of an issue.

    Do I plan on keeping this game on my phone? Yes, I do. I want to see this one to the end, Panasenko has nailed it - and maybe I'm a sucker for anything that puts me on a spaceship with imminent danger.


  • Words for a Bird

    Words for a Bird logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    The puzzle genre is one of the most popular that mobile devices have to offer. Nothing beats a proper noodle scratcher that forces you to think – at least until you have steam coming out of your ears like me, but that's beside the point.

    However, despite my somewhat short attention span, I have chosen a puzzle title as this week's Game of the Week – Words for a Bird by Bart Bonte. I always wondered why birds sometimes sit in a tree and look spaced out, and now I know, it is because they are trying to solve riddles and jumbled words.

    Birds of

    The game is straightforward in its design, there is a bird in a tree surrounded by letters, and you need to figure out what word comes at the end of the sentence provided to you. There are clues available; in particular, a box will appear with letters inside. They will be placed in a certain way which serves as the clue. For example, a star found in an L surrounded by a G is Starling.

    Unfortunately when you have brain power like me, this can go over your head, and thus you proceed to create random words until you get the right answer. But, some of the answers are bird-related, so it is possible to make an educated guess.

    A feather

    If you find yourself struggling – no judgment here – then there are an infinite number of assists you can call upon, all you need to do is watch a five-second ad. However, if ads are not your thing, then you can always pay to get them removed.

    The game itself is very short, trust me, if I can complete a game – especially a puzzle one – in a single sitting it doesn't have great playtime. However, I would recommend people give this game a try and get to the end. There was a short but sweet sentence upon completing it that resonated with me and no doubt it will resonate with others too.


  • Demon Blade

    Demon Blade logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    There are many countries I would love to visit, one of which is Japan for my love of its history, more specifically my love of samurais.

    With that in mind, for this week's Game of the Week, I have chosen Demon Blade by Garage51. Seriously, anytime I get to go at enemies with a katana or any oriental weapon is a major win in my book.

    As an action-duel title, you get just that - action, and the badass feeling of wielding a Katana. Time to draw your sword and fight like the legendary Japanese warrior you are.

    For Honour!

    The controls are simple; combat flows smoothly and has not been made in a complicated manner. You can swipe the screen three different directions, and each one will perform a separate attack.

    Of course, to be a true samurai, one must be able to counter and block effectively. Tap the screen to defend yourself from an incoming attack - if you perfect the block, then your foe will be open for a counter to inflict some severe damage.

    The music is fantastic and only adds to the atmosphere. Furthermore, the overall feel does take you to Japan and serves as another way to feel fully immersed in the experience. As with most stories centred around samurais, the story is focused on revenge and redemption.

    Build your legacy

    Furthermore, there is some in-depth customisation to turn yourself into the ultimate samurai, including armour and weaponry. Not only that, but demons may possess your sword to grant you that extra edge in battle.

    Demons can be unlocked as you progress through the game and can be summoned from a temple at the cost of in-game currency. As with most mobile titles, there are two options for getting money, earn it through playing or spend your hard-earned cash. Either way, it's a good option to gain the advantage on your journey.

    Will Demon Blade maintain a place on my phone? Keeping in mind that it is notoriously difficult to take up memory on my device for the long run, the answer is yes. I am determined to see this story through, and ultimately live out my fantasy to walk alongside those legendary Japanese warriors.


  • Super Fowlst 2

    Super Fowlst 2 logo

    Platformers are practically synonymous with mobile devices at this point.

    With that said, it's time to reveal our pick for Mobile Game of the Week. Naturally, it's a platformer, but this one is both random and different to what else you find in the iOS store - it's focused on chickens!

    Despite the randomness, Super Fowlst 2 is quite charming. It reminds me of some good old fashioned gaming with retro graphics and a fun soundtrack.

    Playing chicken

    The controls are simple, to move left, or right you tap on that side of the screen while swiping allows you to use the items you pick up along the way.

    Defeating enemies in this game is fun, simply send your chicken crashing into them. Or you want to do something with a little more kick; you can shoot yourself out of a cannon - chickens really can fly! At top speed too.

    Besides being around to get beaten up by a flying chicken, enemies must be defeated to progress, their form of attack varies depending on enemy type, some will use projectiles. In contrast, others become electric to give my new favourite chicken a good roasting.

    It's a hoot

    As you complete levels and progress through the game, you will find gold coins, plenty of crates throughout the area will provide them. Naturally, this earned currency allows players to upgrade their character with more health, item slots, Rockets, a magnet and body slam to crush further those who dare fight the chicken.

    However, there is an entire roster of characters waiting to be unlocked. Who knows, you may even recognise some of them - Dadish for one. Other unlockable characters include a possum, pizza, a duck and bunny ice cream cone.

    Will this game still be on my phone in a week? Yes, it's about a chicken and as random as that is, it's enough to keep my interest for a while.


  • Rumble Hockey

    Rumble Hockey logo

    The sports genre has proven to be popular on mobile over the years, and this week's Game of the Week will be no exception.

    Rumble Hockey by Frogmind has been an anticipated game, hardly a surprise given how popular Rumble Soccer was. As you would expect, the ice-hockey inspired title takes a lot from the previous entry. However, it has improved upon its aspects as well.

    Leave it on the ice

    Thankfully, the arenas are bigger in Rumble Hockey than those of its predecessor. This means that players have more room to manoeuvre and can plan their attacks accordingly. Naturally, users will have King Goalie, but there are many other Rumblers just waiting to get on the ice.

    There is a whole roster for players to unlock, and each character has its own skills and offerings. All Rumblers have various attributes which are worth looking at when selecting a team, which can be increased through upgrades.

    Rumblers also fall into three categories - Core, Pro and Superstar. These determine just how powerful characters are on the ice, and every team needs its core players as much as the star.

    The controls are simple: you select the team member you wish to sling and point them in that direction, the rumbler will do the rest. Squad members can perform combos to give that extra edge in the match.

    Gloves are off

    Rumble Hockey is free-to-play. However, progress can be spread up through in-game purchases. There are coins and gems available as currency. They can be used for purchasing new characters and upgrades to give an edge on the ice.

    Overall, I enjoyed Rumble Hockey and can see it staying on my phone for some time to come. At least ice hockey on my phone prevents me from getting hit in the face - by a puck at least.


  • Forza Street

    Forza Street logo

    By Ric Cowley

    Forza Street gets off to something of a slow start, which seems kind of like a death sentence for a racing game.

    It's purely intentional, of course. At the very beginning, you're thrown straight into a tutorial for the very basic controls, which would be a difficult thing to do at breakneck pace.

    But when the rest of the game is zippy, cinematic races through dimly-lit streets in the flashiest cars money can buy, it does feel odd to start off on a bit of a weak note.

    Shift up

    Get through those first few turns, and suddenly Forza Street really kicks into gear. You're offered a shiny new car, thrown into a race, and from there the game really starts opening up.

    It's got some nifty little tricks to keep you enticed, too - like being teased with an even shinier new car as long as you sign back in the next day, which will surely bump those D1 retention numbers right up.

    The meta game feels very familiar - you work through a series of events, facing off against racers both real and manufactured, making incremental improvements to your car as you go.

    And as previously mentioned, the racing itself is quite simple. You rev at the starting line, hold down the gas to go forward, and let go at the right time to perfectly brake into a corner before slamming back down to accelerate out of it.

    It's gameplay you've seen before - see CSR and Race Kings for the main influences - but it has a Microsoft sheen to it that makes it that bit more exciting.

    Photo finish

    The camerawork is the main UPS here, with wild, cinematic cuts as you race making every corner feel that bit tighter, every straight feel that bit longer as you time your nitro boosts perfectly to squeak ahead of your opponent.

    And once the very first drab turns of the game are jettisoned from your memory at 180 MPH, the race action really is quite thrilling, and perfectly designed for short bursts of action.

    Can it outpace its more seasoned rivals? Some tweaks to the UI, like making text larger and menu items clearer, would certainly improve the experience. And that FTUE needs some more time in the shop for certain.

    But as the new kid on the block, Forza Street certainly has a lot going for it. The real question is how much gas is actually in the tank.


  • Manor Matters

    Manor Matters logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    Ever have those moments where you put an item down and 30 seconds later have no idea where it is?

    Well, I do. It happens to me on near enough a daily basis, which is why it's ironic that for my Game of the Week I have chosen Manor Matters by Playrix. The aim of the game is to find missing items.

    Perhaps my reason for liking the game is that so far I have been quite successful - if only that transferred into real-life...

    I spy

    The mechanics are simple. Each level presents the player with a different scene. At the bottom of the screen will be a checklist of items that can be found within. As you progress, objects can become harder to spot.

    There are ways to aid yourself in hunting down that one item you are bound to miss. Hints are available, and they will show you where one of the missing objects are. However, you can also zoom in on the scene, something you may not have seen before could become apparent at closer inspection.

    Certain actions such as opening the mansion, lighting a fire and other scene progressions can only be performed with stars, which are earned as you explore your surroundings. There is a time limit so don't spend too long staring in one place

    My little eye

    There is a story to follow - the manor in which the game takes the player has just inherited. Not only that, but there are some strange occurrences and a mystery to be solved.

    I must admit, I enjoyed Manor Matters more than I thought I would. It is surprisingly addictive, and easy to lose yourself in the scenes, and half an hour has passed before you know it.

    Not sure how I would feel getting a giant house only to have to clean up a mess and not know where anything is – I struggle in my two-bed thank you very much. Nevermind it being haunted.


  • Gumslinger

    Gumslinger logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    Nothing beats a good old fashioned duel; they're incredibly dramatic, and a great way to let off steam.

    That is why for this week's Game of the Week I have chosen physics dueller Gumslinger. It's been so long since I went toe-to-toe with one person in a 'may the best man win' sort of way. Usually, I'm running around a map with a gun shooting as many people as possible.

    It's a nice change of pace to be given a countdown before shooting relentlessly at one foe.

    Shall we duel

    The controls are straightforward. On one side of the screen, you move your finger up and down to aim the gun. On the other end, you tap to shoot. Where you hit – assuming you do – will determine how much damage is caused.

    There are various objects in the arena, some of which are obstacles to shoot through or around to get the victory, which adds some variety. I also need to give a little shout out to the soundtrack; it is like Western meets Alvin and the Chipmunks – oddly addicting and a great fit for the game.

    There are various weapons available – pistols, shotguns, sniper rifles – which can be unlocked with in-game currency - my personal favourite is the Ko-Gun, a comical boxing glove weapon.

    Start your paces

    There are many gummies just waiting to get their chance at redemption - I've even come across the Grim Reaper in gummy form. Granted, he's not overly intimidating as he wobbles about, but shooting him was certainly fun.

    Gumslinger will be on my phone for a while, even if it is just to listen to the soundtrack. However, if there is one thing I wish I could do, it would be to slap the gummy and challenge them – Imay have gotten the idea from Looney Tunes.


  • Gameloft Classics

    Gameloft Classics logo

    Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. Nostalgia for a thing you've never experienced is even more powerful. Maybe that's why I love to play old, weird games that I couldn't get my hands on when I was younger.

    I never played many Java games on older phones, my pre-smartphone days mostly dominated by a version of Tetris I downloaded on WAP while in the queue to register for my courses at university. But all my friends had them well before me, and gosh was I jealous.

    I don't need to be anymore, and neither do you, because Gameloft has compiled 30 of its classic Java games into the Gameloft Classics collection on Android for everyone to play. And what a nostalgia trip it is.

    The wayback machine

    Let's address the elephant in the room: mobile gaming has advanced considerably in the last 20 years. While these titles may have been interesting at the time, playing them now is a mostly frustrating affair. Controls are clunky, graphics are blocky, and none of it feels particularly fun to actually dive into.

    Gangstar 2's driving is so poor it's basically unplayable. Avalanche's moveset is hugely limited. Modern Combat 2's combat is an unsatisfying slog. How did we live like this?

    And yet it's very easy to lose yourself in each of these incredibly dated experiences. Maybe it's a morbid curiosity to see how far you can progress in a collection of games that seem like they really don't want you to play them.

    Rose-tinted glasses

    Or maybe it's because, actually, these games aren't half bad. Dated, clunky, sure. But there's a reason Gameloft has survived for 20 years in mobile gaming, and it wasn't by making bad games that nobody bought.

    The Gameloft Classics collection is a fascinating look back at what came before and a reminder of how far we've come, but it's also a chance to lose yourself in that warm hug of nostalgia, reminding you of simpler times, even if they weren't really that simple. And maybe that's all we need right now.


  • Undersea Solitaire Tripeaks

    Undersea Solitaire Tripeaks logo

    If there's one thing that Gardenscapes proved, it's that throwing a narrative and base-building aspect together with a puzzle game actually makes for a brilliant experience.

    You become invested in more than just beating levels for high scores - you can look across your tiny kingdom and remark at how far you've come, all from your prowess at casual gaming.

    Undersea Solitaire Tripeaks takes the formula and moves it into the world of cards, swapping match-3 for solitaire, and the end result is polished, engaging, and remarkably fun.

    Darlin' it's better

    Undersea Solitaire Tripeaks sees you helping a cute cartoon crab rebuild a small, underwater town by beating solitaire puzzles.

    Each solved puzzle gives you a gem, which lets you build new things or clear some space for the next building, with each advancement in the plot shown through a cute animation of the crab running about, doing its thing.

    So far, so Gardenscapes - and that's not necessarily a bad thing, given how good those games are at keeping players coming back.

    But the meat of the game is those solitaire puzzles, which task you with clearing a board of cards by grabbing cards either one higher or one lower in value than the current card in your hand.

    Down where it's wetter

    Unlike the traditional solo card game, however, you're greeted with a variety of towers to pick and choose from, so you can easily jump around between values and suits as more cards become available.

    What might seem confusing at first quickly becomes second-nature as you rattle through the deck, building up a streak which generates more cards that you can turn to if you end up unable to pick anything from the board.

    It's hard to describe without getting stuck in the weeds, honestly. But actually playing it is a dream - it's smooth, pretty to look at, and you feel like a god when you've smashed a big, tricky board.

    Take it from me

    The only complaint one could have really is the name - Undersea Solitaire Tripeaks may hit a very specific SEO niche, but try saying it out loud five times fast. Or remembering it after you've finished reading this article.

    Still, it's a sure sign that narrative + puzzle game = a pretty good game, and if you pick it up for a quick go, prepare to be hooked for several hours.


  • Game of Thrones Beyond the Wall

    Game of Thrones Beyond the Wall logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    One of the most popular genres on mobile is strategy, check the App Store and Google Play; they are full of them.

    Mind you, not all of them are Game of Thrones. Which leads me to my game of the week, the recently released Game of Thrones Beyond the Wall. Who wouldn't want to join Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryan? Who wouldn't want to pick up arms in the Night's Watch?

    Not me - as soon as I heard there was a GoT mobile game on the way I was sold. And as soon as that famous theme tune hit, I was happy and invested.

    Join the Night's Watch

    As with many games in the genre, Beyond the Wall features turn-based combat, with all characters placed on a grid. When in battle, you select your soldier, and the grid squares will turn blue or red to indicate where they can move to and their attack range.

    Fighters with ranged attacks can make an assault from a distance, whereas those with swords must be up close to strike the enemy down. And, of course, no strategy game set in a fantasy world would be complete without abilities.

    Each chapter and battle have win conditions and additional challenges. Through in-game currency, characters and soldiers can be upgraded to be of a more significant threat in combat.

    You know nothing

    As the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, not only do you command your men but you can unlock fan-favourite characters to join the fight. No Game of Thrones title would be complete without Jon Snow, Jamie Lannister or Daenerys Targaryan – in this game you get to fight with them all.

    Besides commanding a band of badass characters, there are multiple types of soldiers at your disposal – spearmen, crossbowmen and scoundrels.

    Is this a game I will still be playing in a week? Yes, for the foreseeable future Game of Thrones Beyond the Wall will have a permanent place on my phone. I have longed to be a part of the fantasy world, and I have always related to Tyrion Lannister – I drink, and I know things.


  • Charisma

    Charisma logo

    Visual novels are incredibly hard to innovate. After all, they're already pretty barebones affairs - typically all they involve are static artwork, a lot of dialogue, and choices to affect the path of the story.

    That's oversimplifying things a little bit, of course, but there's nothing you can take away, and very little that can be added.

    But Charisma, the first game from To Play For, has brought to the table something that could shake up visual novels completely - AI.

    Say it again

    Where other visual novels give you a set number of choices to pick from at key junctures, Charisma instead gives you an open text box and the chance to write whatever you feel.

    Naturally there are still only so many choices you can actually make - it would be impossible to build an entire game to account for every whim of its players.

    But the illusion of choice is still pretty remarkable, and being able to make your own personality felt in the game is rather unique.

    You can add a bit of flavour to your responses, turning your "yes" into an "I'd be absolutely delighted!" and still seeing the same narrative path chosen.

    Of course, this system also leaves itself open to be abused, but To Play For has taken into account idiots like game journalists with too much time on their hands as well.

    It can't handle every situation, but when it catches you out, it is rather delightful. And yes, you can even reject the story altogether, which simply ends your game outright.

    Charming

    You don't lose access to the chapter that you're unceremoniously removed from either. Each chapter you buy with the game's hard currency of tokens remains yours forever - though you will have to restart the chapter once you get kicked out.

    Unlike mobile rivals like Episodes, you don't get any free tokens each day to unlock new chapters, which is disappointing from a freeloader perspective, but makes sense for the developers trying to make money.

    But overall, Charisma is an interesting step forward in the world of visual novels, but one that also highlights some of the shortcomings of adding total player freedom to responses - the players themselves.


  • Bullet League

    Bullet League logo

    If there is one genre that is not lacking in games, it is the battle royale.

    The main problem with them is that there is very little to differentiate new games from those that have come before them. However, this week's Mobile Game of the Week has done just that.

    Funday Factory's Bullet League took the battle royale genre and lovingly mixed it with a 2D platformer. This is the BR I never knew I needed.

    Jump on it

    The controls are simple; players get a directional pad to move their characters, a jump button and a directional stick to both aim and shoot at the enemy.

    As it is a 2D platformer, the pressure is on to get moving as soon as the match begins. Various weapons and items can be found on the map – plenty of guns and grenades.

    The matches themselves are quick. If you take too long finding a weapon or stay still, then you are likely to be the first person to bite the dust. To give yourself an edge in combat, be sure to upgrade your weapons.

    Over time, players will unlock a more extensive arsenal as they gain experience and level up. Fortunately, even if there are not many players online, Bullet League features a bot system – want to shoot things when no one else does? Funday Factory has you covered.

    Watch your step

    Besides earning in-game currency through completing matches and challenges, players have the option of using real money to purchase gems.

    Gems can be used to purchase boxes – these include new skins, coins and blueprints for new gear. Furthermore, gems can be converted to coins – the in-game currency.

    There is no doubt that I will continue to play Battle League - it is more convenient than the likes of PUBG Mobile, and shorter matches mean I can find time anywhere to shoot people, my favourite past-time.


  • War Tortoise 2

    War Tortoise 2 logo

    If there is one genre loved by most players, it's the shooter. For some - including myself - it is a great way to blow off some steam and leave your troubles behind you.

    This week's game of the week - War Tortoise 2 - combines two of my favourite things, shooters and tortoises - they are oddly cute, and a great combination.

    The exploration-shooter puts you on top of a heavily armoured giant tortoise. Travel across the world, destroy your enemies and ultimately take their land.

    Incoming

    The controls are simple, use your finger to aim at the enemies on screen - the bullets will shoot automatically once a foe is targeted.

    Each mission involves you going to war, to take the land and claim it for yourself. Upon completion, new areas on the map will be unlocked. You can go anywhere; however, areas with a star are the next mandatory zones.

    All missions - optional or not - grant experience, which allows you and your tortoise army to increase in strength.

    There are multiple soldiers at your disposal - once you have enough funds, you can feel free to add a mouse assault squad, mouse rangers, hamster commandos, war balloon brigade, a sparrow squadron and more.

    Up your arsenal

    No act of war would be complete without a vast array of weaponry - miniguns, flash cannons, plasma rifles and more make the cut here. On top of this,you can improve the efficiency of the tortoise's armour to make it a proper tank.

    To purchase upgrades, weapons and squad members, there is the in-game currency earned through playing the game, which continues to tick up even when inactive. As with any free-to-play title, there are microtransactions available - in this case, war gems. The gems can be used in turn to get further in-game currency for upgrades.

    Would I return to this game? Absolutely. It involves a giant tortoise exterminating bugs with heavy machinery - a great way to spend my time.


  • Knighthood

    Knighthood logo

    Keeping a game in soft launch for over a year starts to raise eyebrows - after 18 months, most onlookers will be wondering why you didn't kill your game much, much earlier.

    But Knighthood has arrived against all odds, following an eye-watering 19 month soft-launch period, and proved that sometimes a longer testing period can actually be better for your game.

    It has slick combat coupled with King's cartoon-y charm, and enough systems in place to keep RPG fans happy without being too overwhelming.

    Arise, ser

    Knighthood lets you create your own character from a handful of options, then sticks a sword in your hand and shows you how to put the point end in a range of angry nasties.

    The look and feel of the whole affair is very "3v3 battler", except that you're pretty much on your lonesome. But developer Midoki has balanced that with some neat changes to the formula.

    For one, you have four moves per turn, and you can use these to chain together basic attacks. Using your standard sword slashes build up the meters of your summons, which burn one of your move slots for a high-powered, single-target attack.

    On top of that, you have a glove which can be used to punching foes in the face, building up a seperate meter that then unleashes a multi-enemy attack from a chosen summon. Fist and sword attacks can also be chained together, so you don't need to sacrifice one for the other.

    Then perish

    You can even switch the focus of your attacks mid-chain, which is particularly useful when you kill an enemy and still have moves left - chains build up a damage multiplier, so it's nice that you don't lose that just because your chosen target has already perished.

    It's a satisfying battle system that allows for a little bit of strategy, but not so much that it becomes overwhelming. And there's also gear to unlock and upgrade, summons to level up, and all that gubbins if you really want to get stuck into the grind.

    And this fine balance between quick play sessions and in-depth mechanics means that I simply can't put it down. I'm playing it as I'm typing, in fact. It's a serious problem.


  • Loud House: Outta Control

    Loud House: Outta Control logo

    One of the most popular mobile game genres that can be found on the App Store and Google Play is strategy. Some players like the challenge, and it suits those that like to plan before jumping into a situation headfirst.

    For this week's game of the week, I chose to try Loud House: Outta Control - a new addition to Apple Arcade.

    Much like the TV show, the game is centred on Lincoln Loud, an 11-year old boy with 10 eccentric sisters - Lori, Leni, Luna, Luan, Lynn, Lucy, Lana, Lola, Lisa and Lily. If there is one thing I am sure anybody with a sibling can relate to, it's a rivalry.

    Don't touch my things

    The gameplay is simple, the siblings all have tasks that they need to complete - such as Lana getting to her mud pies, Lincoln to his comic books, and Lori to her sun lounger.

    The levels take place in different environments from the front yard to various rooms inside the house. You need to get the siblings to their goals while avoiding each other. It is utter chaos - those familiar with the show will recognise the mayhem.

    Should any of the 11 siblings collide, a fight will break out - that brings back memories. To get the characters from A-to-B, you must draw a line, a path for them to follow.

    The goals and challenges will change during different stages; on occasion, all the Loud siblings want the same thing - players need to draw their paths carefully.

    Should the siblings collide, chaos will ensue - for most siblings, it's wedgies and sitting on top of one another. For the Loud siblings, it's lightning bolts and throwing diapers.

    She started it

    After completing each level, you will receive various trophies - these reveal unlockables in the attic. The collectables are recognisable items from the programme.

    Would I come back to this game in a week? Probably not, though it is a more acceptable way of throwing diapers around - not sure I would have gotten away with that one.

    For anybody with Apple Arcade, who happens to be a fan of the show, I would recommend giving it a go. You will feel like a member of the Loud family in no time.


  • Cookies Must Die

    Cookies Must Die logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    If there is one genre that can be found all over the App Store and Google Play it's the platformer.

    Simple yet effective in design, platformers allow the players to progress through a level at their own pace to collect in-game items. Usually, you need to wipe out your enemies by any means necessary - guns, knives and even the character's own body.

    This week, I tried out Cookies Must Die - a platform-shooter hybrid. I must admit, I'm no stranger to demolishing cookies, however that's normally because I devour them - not because I shoot or tackle them to the ground.

    Cookie crumbles

    The premise of the game is simple: cookies have overrun the city and it's your job to take them down. Our protagonist is Jack, an agent hell-bent on cookie annihilation, who also possesses various powers thanks to some government experiments, such as the ability to slow down time.

    One of the best things about Cookies Must Die is the controls. Simply swipe on the screen in the direction you wish to send Jack, he will cling to the environment and smash through any cookies that get in his way.

    There are also a variety of weapons at your disposal. Tired of eating cookies the old fashioned way? Then pick up a weapon and start blasting. Several gadgets are available too, such as the Mega Kick and Cold Wave.

    However, the only way to unlock these extras is through earning in-game currency or via microtransactions.

    One tough cookie

    Each chapter has various stages, you defeat the cookies and save humans. However, each chapter will culminate in a boss fight - this is where the big cookies come in to play.

    Speaking as a cookie loving person, this is absolutely a game that I would like to return to. It's simple to use, the story is entertaining and it stars my favourite type of biscuit.


  • Butter Royale

    Butter Royale logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    In this day and age, many people that play games seem to enjoy the battle royale genre.

    Experiences such as Fortnite, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Apex Legends have all gained a mass following. However, for upcoming battle royales to be successful, they must have a unique factor that makes it stand out from the crowd.

    Enter Butter Royale, and honestly, it's about time a food fight-based battle royale hit mobile devices. So grab yourself a ketchup gun and get shooting.

    Pass me the butter

    As with all games in the genre, the premise is simple - be the last player standing. As indicated in the title, food is your best friend here.

    The controls are simple yet effective: the analogue stick on the left side of the screen moves your character while the right analogue stick determines what direction you aim your weapon in.

    The gameplay itself is much like every other battle royale, run around an ever decreasing map (this time being slowly engorged in butter) shooting your opponents until you are the last one left. Multiple weapons can be found in the environment and items can also be collected from your fallen enemy.

    To pick items up you must stand in the circle in which they are placed. Once the circle turns green the item is yours.

    There's something on your face

    Getting bored with using the same foods? The more you play the more in-game currency you can earn, which can go towards items such as burgers to chuck at your enemies.

    Furthermore, there are many collectables to obtain. This makes it easy to keep coming back to join in on the mayhem.

    I might not return to this game in a week, however it is a more socially acceptable way of launching food at people. On top of that, it really is a refreshing take on the genre. No machine guns, no jet packs, no building or jumping - just a good old fashion food fight.


  • Retro Bowl

    Retro Bowl logo

    By Ric Cowley

    New Star Games have pedigree in the world of sports games - New Star Soccer is a stone cold legend on mobile, and New Star Manager is one of the rare titles to receive a 10/10 from our sibling site Pocket Gamer.

    But there's only so much one team can do with football (unless it's EA Sports), and now the developer has moved on to a different kind of football - the American kind, to be specific.

    And Retro Bowl, while it may not carry the New Star name, certainly carries the developer's DNA - it's got the look, the deep management, and, most importantly, the short bursts of pure fun.

    Toss the pigskin

    It all boils down to those bite-sized moments of gameplay that make up each match between all the text-based simulation.

    As the quarterback, you can choose to quickly pass the ball to the running back and start charging through the pack, or toss it to a receiver as they run along a pre-determined path.

    Chucking the ball is a bit like Angry Birds - you pull back on the screen, aim where you want the ball to go, and send it flying, hoping that the right man will pick up the ball in time.

    It's a far cry from the usual American football fare, where tapping a button will fling the ball out and it's all down to calculations and a bit of luck.

    Here, when that ball lands in the receiver's hands, it's thanks to your skill. And the feeling you get when it does is pure ecstasy.

    That good ol' hand egg

    There's more to it than that, of course - you need to run with the ball, score field goals, and then there's all the team-building and management that you could easily lose your entire life to if you so desire.

    But that passing play, that tiny little mechanic, is what sets Retro Bowl apart from the majority of sports games on mobile. If you want to see how one tiny thing can make an entire game, this is one you should immediately check out.


  • Mineblast!!

    Mineblast!! logo

    By Ric Cowley

    If you haven't played a Neutronized game before, you're doing yourself a disservice. The Super Cat Tales games are a masterclass in designing platformers for mobile, and still hold up to this day as some of the best on mobile.

    Hell, the first game recently featured in Awesome Games Done Quick 2020, so it's clearly got legs outside of the indie mobile games scene.

    But if you're only looking for new experiences, then you're in luck - the tiny developer has just launched a game in the same universe known as Mineblast!!

    Blowing up right now

    Mineblast!! (and yes, I will be using those exclamation points every time) is, on the face of it, another fairly simple puzzle platformer from a developer which specialises in the genre.

    You have a little character running about in a series of caves, jumping on platforms and trying to find their way to the end of the level.

    Only your way is usually blocked by giant rocks, and the only way through is to blow them to smithereens with TNT that's handily dotted about the world.

    The first few levels are simple enough - just drop some TNT by the rocks, walk away, and wait for the chaos. Rinse and repeat until you win.

    But when you start getting further in, a ridiculous physics engine begins to rear its head, and you learn that Mineblast!! is much more fascinating than it first appears.

    Almost everything has physics applied to it - rocks, enemies, and even the dynamite you're chucking around.

    And with all that in mind, you're invited to cause true chaos, chucking explosives willy-nilly, pushing them around with your own body if you're feeling brave, destroying everything in your path to get at the precious gems which act as collectibles.

    Sticky wicket

    It's superb fun, and rewards smart thinking and clever throwing with new areas and hard-to-reach collectibles in each of its relatively small stages.

    There are some issues - the controls are mostly superb, except when ladders come into play (and they do, a lot), and even though the levels are fairly short, some checkpoints would reduce the pain of dying needlessly from your own stupidity and being sent right back to the start.

    But there's still a lot to love in Mineblast!!, and Neutronized has clearly put a lot of love into this small, ridiculous, explosive game.


  • Johnny Trigger

    Johnny Trigger logo

    The first week back after a holiday period can be a tricky time for games. There's unlikely to be any huge releases because people aren't looking for them, and some games will still be getting traction from before Christmas, making it nigh-on impossible to find actually new games.

    What I'm trying to say is that Johnny Trigger might well not have come out this week, but it's still pretty high in the charts even if it's been around for no more than a month.

    And there's a good reason for that - it's surprisingly fun to play.

    Say again?

    SayGames has a knack for this whole hypercasual thing by now, as proven by its consistent performance in the download charts. And Johnny Trigger is another in a long line of quick, simple, and fun games that deserves its download numbers.

    The titular Jonathan runs automatically, pulls off a stunt when he approaches an enemy, and it's up to you to tap the screen when the aiming line crosses the body of a baddy and end their life with a well-placed bullet.

    It's a relatively slow-paced affair with a focus on precision over bombastic action, but it works well and lets you savour how ridiculous some of the flips and tricks Mr Trigger pulls off.

    The amazing Jonathan

    The levels are no more than 20 seconds long, giving you ample opportunity to feel like a badass before you put it down again and do something else.

    And there's reasons to come back too, with weapons and outfits to collect as you progress, and bosses to fight to really test your skills.

    Will I be playing it in a week's time? Probably not. But as a fun, throwaway bit of casual gaming, Johnny Trigger simply can't be beaten.


  • LEGO Builder's Journey

    LEGO Builder's Journey logo

    By Kayleigh Partleton

    When it comes to mobile games, the puzzle genre is one of the most popular.

    Not only do they give your brain a workout, but they can also be relaxing, especially when the soundtrack is on the more mellow side.

    LEGO Builder's Journey clicks snugly into the much-loved genre, offering the standard form of building that is known in LEGO titles, while allowing players to drift away into peaceful oblivion.

    Build them up

    The premise of Builder's Journey is simple - complete the puzzle and unite the characters. Naturally, this requires you to use LEGO blocks - as if it would be anything else.

    The controls are also pretty straightforward. You simply tap the screen to pick up a brick, and tapping the screen again allows you to turn the items to better fit the puzzle you need to solve. Holding your finger on the screen for a prolonged period of time places the brick in the desired location.

    Gameplay remains interesting due to the change in environments, along with different forms and shapes of LEGO bricks. Items such as sticks also serve as part of the puzzles as the game progresses, offering up new problems to deal with as you go along.

    Knock them down

    As with any title, there are faults. As simple as the controls are, it can be a pain to get the blocks to go where you wish to place them - then again, it could just be my phone playing silly buggers. When playing for prolonged periods, the gameplay can feel repetitive, despite the change in surroundings.

    However, LEGO Builder's Journey is a must-play for anyone with Apple Arcade. Its soothing soundtrack and atmosphere will help to relax any player, offering a small escape from reality into the world of mindless building.


  • Donut County

    Donut County  logo

    By Iain Harris

    After six years, several iterations and one Peter Molyneux-inspired game jam, Donut County has hit app stores across the globe.

    Humorous and light, Ben Esposito’s quirky hole-based adventure provides a welcome distraction over its two-hour run time.

    This story is full of holes

    The tale of Donut County centres on a rowdy racoon called BK, who proves to be more of a villain before his redemption arc is complete.

    Selfish, immature and unaware, the entire town finds itself stuck underground after BK has swallowed them up through an app on his phone that creates holes.

    The reason he is so readily up for throwing his fellow citizens down the hole is that it racks up points for a quadcopter he’s pining after.

    There are plenty parallels and meaning that can be drawn from Donut County and how it reflects the real world, but according to Esposito himself, the story ended up being a reaction to internet culture in 2016 and 2017.

    BK is one of many racoons who have taken over the word but what unites them all is their dudebro-like approach to life and their lack of empathy for others in their personal pursuits.

    As Esposito tells us it’s a reflection of how silly ideologies can spread online when there is no mechanism in place to check them.

    Hole in one

    Gameplay revolves around a hole in the ground. While inspired by a parody account of fable developer Peter Molyneux, the gameplay gets its tempo from Keita Takahashi’s Katamari Damacy.

    As you snap up smaller things like grass and rocks the hole grows in size before it’s capable of swallowing up humans and houses.

    Things swiftly differ after that from Takahashi’s beloved hit, as while Katamari Damacy offers a challenge with a timer mechanic Donut County is more content to be a laid-back bit of fun.

    Levels do throw up some novelty though as mixing items in the hole leads to various effects.

    Swallowing a kiln will set the hole on fire which can send a balloon adrift as you create an updraft beneath it and throwing two rabbits in the hole leads to many more. I’ll let you figure that one out.

    Chill beats and daring feats

    An understated star of the show is the music. Daniel Koestner and Ben Esposito’s soundtrack sets the tone and illuminates the game's funny, upbeat and chilled-out vibes.

    Some novel ideas are fleeting and the games two-hour runtime may not be for everyone. But in a day and age where plenty of titles are measured in quality against their difficulty, Donut County is a charming escape from the humdrum of standard fare.

    Check out Donut County on the App Store.


  • Rowdy Wrestling

    Rowdy Wrestling logo

    By Iain Harris

    Long before battle royales become so synonymous with being dumped on an island and shooting and looting one another, ‘battle royal’ used to refer to a traditional-style of wrestling match.

    Much like Fortnite and PUBG the goal is to be the last one standing, but elimination in wrestling is often signified by getting lobbed over a top rope.

    While battle royal matches still exist today, the 80s and 90s were absolutely packed with them and it's a similar sense of nostalgic silliness that Colin Lane’ and Brad Erkkila's Rowdy Wrestling nails on the head.

    Hit me with your best shot

    The crux of the gameplay lays with punching and drop-kicking foes to a stunned state. Once those stars appear above their head, they’re ripe to be lobbed out the ring.

    To spice things up every now and again a manager who looks like WWF veteran Jimmy Hart will pop up to offer you a weapon.

    While the ragdoll physics lends to the amusement the costumes themselves offer up a similar sense of hilarity with a pinch of nostalgia. Unlockable characters are modelled after old WWF favourites such Doink the Clown, The Undertaker, The Ultimate Warrior and plenty more.

    Slobber knocker

    Rowdy Wrestling isn’t merely content to throw players into a ring and watch them jump about though and offers a variety of modes. Alongside the battle royale mode there is also a career mode that lets you take on wrestlers one-on-one in a gauntlet-style match. A gauntlet royale if you’d like.

    The randomness doesn’t always hit the mark though, fights can be just as unpredictable and can unfold without rhyme or reason.

    Despite it all, though, Rowdy Wrestling is a fun romp that embodies the over-the-top and larger-than-life spirit of 90s wrestling.

    Check out Rowdy Wrestling on the App Store and Google Play.


  • New Star Soccer Manager

    New Star Soccer Manager logo

    By Craig Chapple

    Getting the intricacies of football right on mobile is always a difficult task.

    Console games like FIFA and PES offer fantastic complexity in a relatively simple setup, which is difficult to truly replicate on mobile. Particularly when it comes the fast nature of the beautiful game and stringing together attacking moves.

    Management titles meanwhile have to deal with a small screen and the trappings (for better or worse) of the free-to-play model if they’re going to be successful.

    New Star Soccer has long been a popular game, and now New Star Soccer Manager has arrived on the scene.

    You're in charge

    There’s a lot to get through when you start the game, from how to play matches with your team (and beat relegation), to how to run an entire football club. You're basically taking the board's job, even though you also have to deal with them.

    There are collectible cards, staff to manage, buildings to buy to improve your club and team, sponsorship deals to sign, and lots of small details you might expect from a management sim.

    It’s all a bit overwhelming at first, though the game does its best to deliver lots of information as quick as it can.

    Match day delivers what you’d expect from a sim, from deciding your lineup to setting up formations and tactics. During the game you’re given written commentary of proceedings ala Football Manager.

    Back of the net

    But once there’s a chance to get in on goal or start an attacking move, you’re personally given control over players. And the result, once you get a handle on the controls, is a delightful football game.

    Play stops once a player gets the ball, letting you decide how to proceed. You can simply pass the ball straight to another player, shoot, dribble or set players on runs and to set up a cutting through ball into space behind the defence.

    Successfully combining passes in quick succession, delivering that decisive through ball and smashing the ball in the back of the net is a delight.

    Much like the best football sims, there’s as much drama to be had off the pitch as on it. From keeping the fans onside to dealing with egotistical players and ensuring a happy board, there’s much depth to be found in New Star Soccer Manager.

    What I’ve played so far is just the tip of the iceberg. New Star Soccer Manager feels like it’s carved out its own space from other sims and put together an essential football title in the process.

    Check out New Star Soccer Manager on the App Store.


  • DERE EVIL .EXE

    DERE EVIL .EXE logo

    By Iain Harris 

    One of our favourite trademarks of horror is its tendency to play on what you know.

    Society tells children not to trust strangers and many horror films indulge this wisdom by presenting random figures as malevolent tricksters.

    Not all horror films are scary clowns and abandoned houses though, with some going so far as to subvert expectations by preying on the unknown; be that through suggesting the killer is among us or presenting what you believe to be safe spaces as inherently evil.

    Darius Immanuel Guerrero’s meta pixel horror DERE EVIL .EXE is the latter.

    I see pixelated people

    The opening segment is pleasantly jarring, as horror is flipped to nostalgia and comedy.

    Upon hitting the start button, players are forewarned that all is not as it seems and the game is not for the faint of heart.

    Moments later, you find yourself in the familiar surroundings of 80s and 90s nostalgia. As a silent knight called Knightly, you are here to traverse the pixelated kingdom with an upbeat chiptune to match. The sheer familiarity and genre tropes are then swiftly maligned by a fourth-wall-breaking dev.

    Slowly but surely, however, it all descends into a glitchy nightmare as the once evocative music is swapped up for ominous PSX-era orchestral music.

    Once fun and games, the narration takes on a new meaning when a murdered teen haunting the code of the game suggests she may not be the evil one.

    What’s the meta, man?

    Regarding gameplay, DERE EVIL .EXE doesn’t rest on the narrative to see itself through.

    You’ll need platforming skills and timing to work through the game’s levels, which soon becomes part of the story as the forces at work hack the code.

    Controls are simple and mostly sweet. Left and right directional buttons are situated on the left side of the screen while jump sits on the right. A few moments of stickiness aside where Knightly wouldn’t move, they remain responsive and work just fine.

    File corrupt

    All in all, DERE EVIL .EXE stands out for brilliantly blending pre-noughties nostalgia with meta-horror.

    While the echoes of Super Mario and Mega Man are ever present in games today, they are rarely subverted like this.

    Check out DERE EVIL .EXE on Google Play and the App Store.


  • Pokemon Quest

    Pokemon Quest logo

    By Iain Harris

    Despite spanning many a different genre under one anime sprawled banner, Japanese cartoons are often united in wonderfully depicting a stunning plethora of food.

    When Pokemon made its jump from Game Boy to anime in 1997 it was one of the more notable additions. Upon being bested by the forever youthful Ash, gym leader and rock-type specialist Brock joins the hero's journey and swaps up strategising battles for masterminding fine dining.

    In that sense, it’s oddly true to form that crafting meals brings a nostalgic sense of joy in Pokemon Quest and made up the crux of my enjoyment on Tumblecube Island.

    Gotta catch all ‘em berries

    As a trainer you come to Tumblecube island seeking adventure and eventually spend your time between dolling up your camp and clearing single-floored dungeons with your preferred three Pokemon.

    Traditional Kanto starters Charmander, Bulbasaur and Squirtle are offered up, alongside Pikachu and Eevee, and you garner more by crafting meals in your base.

    There isn’t much going on in terms of story, but the game’s appeal comes in its lightness.

    From the start Pokemon Quest develops a pleasing rhythm as you toss berries into a pot and see what meal comes with it and in-turn what Pokemon are drawn in. Results do vary, a highlight for me was luring in a level 14 Polygon when my humble team was but level nine. Dejection followed when a level two Magikarp came flopping in next.

    Meals take time to cook and time is measured by how many floors you clear, as such going out to explore is a necessary but fulfilling endeavour.

    Beat ‘em all. Up.

    Combat is a departure from the turn-based strategy that many will fondly remember. Instead, your rowdy rabble of Pokemon run amuck smacking up anything with a pulse in real-time. Battle rhythm can be broken up by issuing commands for special attacks, but more variety doesn’t follow.

    You can’t really herd them either and It can get a tad frustrating. Especially when your Charmander has 1HP and is running head-on into a Tentacruel.

    In all Pokemon Quest is a light and breezy adventure that hits a fine stride once it’s simple mechanics come together. It may not prove more than a light distraction while we wait for Pokemon Lets Go and beyond, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    Check out Pokemon Quest on Google Play and the App Store.


  • Suzy Cube

    Suzy Cube logo

    By Iain Harris

    There are few genres loved more in the games industry than the humble platformer, but it is a passion that seldom translates well to the mobile platform usually due to spotty control schemes.

    NorthernBytes’ Suzy Cube is next up to bat and succeeds not just in the harkening to older platformers but by cracking a steady set of controls in the process.

    BLOCKED UP

    Suzy Cube’s simple premise is standard fare for the genre as thieves have nicked treasure from a castle. At the behest of the King and Queen, titular character and protagonist Suzy steps up to give chase through various platform-filled levels.

    Controls are quite simple but hold up well. The left half of the screen lets you move Suzy as you press down and drag where you want to go while the right side is simply for jumping.

    Gameplay is kept fresh with an array of stylish hats that give you special powers. One grants you an extra life, another lets you double jump and hover while the next lets players smash down onto enemies Mario-style.

    The locale also does its part to keep things fresh but also familiar as you travel through desert and snowy-filled landscapes that’ll no doubt throw up memories of Mario 64. Rest assured they each play their part by throwing up unique challenges, such as puzzles to solve, ice slides to throttle down and drops to nose-dive down.

    A chip of the ol’ block

    The game is certainly not without its faults, camera angles can prove a challenge, and new ground isn’t broken past the games controls scheme.

    Nevertheless, Suzy Cube is by far-and-large among the best platforming experiences on mobile. With a stable set of controls, Suzy Cube is a satisfying romp through 3D platformers past.

    Check out Suzy Cube on Google Play and the App Store.


  • Only When Howling

    Only When Howling logo

    By Iain Harris

    Following Mountain’s light but memorable exploration of love in Florence the question re-emerged of what makes a game.

    Indeed, if games are a form of escapism, that requires a continuous engagement in controls, then interactive stories based on our reality may not fit that bill.

    Kim Savory’s Only When Howling is the latest mobile offering to pose the question, and stands out because of it.

    Screen-turner

    Only When Howling is a short and breezy interactive story that revolves around three characters who adore something society thinks they shouldn’t.

    The first is a bright young girl who is enchanted with her forest laden home. This displeases her parents who think someone with her intelligence should be city-bound for a better life than that on offer.

    Second up is a middle-aged man who finds satisfaction donating time and money to the elderly. He does so at the expense of his own family, much to the ire of his wife.

    Last up is an older woman who is close to completing a writing task that has taken several years. The cost, according to her doctor, may come at her own life as she rejects care by refusing to live with her niece.

    Over the game’s short 30-minute play time you explore artistically rendered visuals that represent their psyche. You do so by swiping from screen to screen then tapping and interacting with objects to move the narrative along.

    The aim of it all is to explore an overarching theme of the cost of committing to something you love.

    Deep thoughts

    With an atmospheric soundtrack to match, Only When Howling manages to be a calming and thought-provoking momentary escape from day-to-day life. The experience is neat and may not hang about for long but is sure to linger after its short run time comes to a close.

    If you fancy something different and don’t mind parting with a few dollars than Only When Howling is waiting on iOS and Android.

    One piece of advice, however, is don’t click off the app like I did. Progress doesn’t save.

    Check out Only When Howling on Google Play and the App Store.


  • Lost Island: Blast Adventure

    Lost Island: Blast Adventure logo

    By Craig Chapple.

    After a small hiatus, Game of the Week is back!

    I’m a huge fan of casual games on mobile - which is lucky for me since we’re living in a new golden age of them.

    I’m a particularly big fan of ‘blast’ games like the titular Toy Blast and Toon Blast from Peak Games.

    So in comes the most unlikeliest of contenders to play with that winning puzzle game formula: Plarium.

    Tackling a new genre

    Best known for its 4X strategy and RPG games like Vikings: War of Clans, Stormfall: Age of War and Throne: Kingdom at War, the studio has now entered the casual space following its $500 million acquisition by Australian casino firm Aristocrat Leisure.

    Blending Toon Blast-like gameplay with Gardenscapes narrative-driven setting and map, plus a few extras, new title Lost Island: Blast Adventure proves to be a winning formula.

    Led by archaeologist Ellie, Lost Island takes you on a journey to uncover the mysteries of the newly acquired island. The story doesn’t get in the way of the puzzles and never outstays its welcome, but rather provides a reason to stay engaged, while offering a nice break between gameplay.

    It’s not completely original, but by blending the best parts of other titles and sprinkling in a few ideas of its own such as a larger game board, it shapes up to be a winning package.

    Taking a step back from the game itself, Lost Island’s launch is significant as it also marks what could be a fresh rush by mobile studios, that may traditionally have tackled other genres, into the casual space.

    Check out Lost Island: Blast Adventure on Google Play and the App Store.


  • Florence

    Florence logo

    Whenever a game like Florence comes around, some wiseguy always decides to say something like "can it really be considered a game?", as though they're the first to think about the definition of games.

    Yes, Florence is a game - a mobile game, specifically, and one what does everything it wants to do through incredibly simple interactions that mean a lot more than they first appear.

    Accompanied by a beautiful, subtle soundtrack and gorgeous hand-drawn graphics, it's a game that's impossible not to love.

    Hold me close

    Florence tells the story of the titular 25-year-old woman and her relationship with a man she meets one day.

    It hits all the key points of the relationship - the first awkward dates, the negotiations around moving in, arguing while buying food and so on.

    But it does it all with incredibly minimal dialogue, instead making your actions part of the story in an incredibly meaningful way.

    Actions with meaning

    The first dates, for instance, feature a speech bubble-shaped jigsaw puzzle, which starts with six pieces but eventually eases up as the relationship progresses and the characters become more comfortable with one another.

    It's stunning through and through, and exactly the kind of thing mobile games, and games in general, needs more of. Yes, it's about 30 minutes long and runs you $3. But it's 30 minutes you're unlike to forget, and will probably never experience anywhere else.

    And yes, it is a game.


  • Dandara

    Dandara logo

    It is a true thing of beauty to load up a game on mobile and within thirty seconds understand everything you need to do and how to do it.

    Dandara, obstensibly an enormous hardcore Metroidvania, somehow manages to do exactly this, with a control scheme built with touchscreens in mind and no fear in leaning hard into its limitations.

    It might be a bit pricey for the traditional mobile audience, but those willing to take the plunge will not be disappointed with their purchase.

    Feeling jumpy

    Dandara has just two inputs - a joystick that you use to point towards a surface and jump to it, and another joystick that aims your gun and fires it.

    You get a helpful arrow telling you where you're going to land when you jump, and the levels are all built to accomdate the fact that you need to fling yourself in a straight line each time - there's no hopping between small gaps adjacent to each other.

    The gun also needs to charge and can't be fired mid-jump, so each movement needs to be carefully considered, else you'll get killed almost instantly.

    It is blissfully simple, and the game bends over backwards to accomodate the controls, swinging the world around as you move and building puzzles around your simple movement to ensure you're kept on your toes.

    We haven't had much time to dig into it, but we'll definitely be returning for more. Just watch out for that price - at $14.99 it's one of the more expensive premium games on mobile, but it's definitely worth a look if you can part with the cash.


  • Hero Hunters

    Hero Hunters logo

    On the surface, Hothead's latest shooter looks a little bland and brown - the kind of military shooter you'd want to steer clear of most of the time.

    Happily, however, it's actually a damn fine shooter with a surprising range of tactics, deeply-integrated RPG elements and simple, responsive controls so that just about anyone can play.

    It's also clearly taken monetisation inspiration from Asia, with an incredibly generous number of drops to get you going, and a tempting VIP bonus for anyone willing to part with real-world cash.

    Annie, get your gun

    Hero Hunters is essentially a gallery shooter with a squad of soldiers, which players can jump between to get different viewpoints of the battleground.

    You sit in one spot and shoot enemies as they run in, but you can also dodge between cover and crouch to avoid damage, and you can always swap to a new character if you're having a rough time elsewhere.

    There's a nice range of heroes available too - if you're a crackshot, pick a sniper, or if you've an itchy trigger finger, you can bust out a machine gun.

    Levels are short and fast-paced, with a huge number of enemies swarming you at any time, but it never feels so chaotic that you lose your way - and it helps that the AI teammates are pretty good too.

    Throw in some early generosity to keep your squad fully-levelled and armed to the teeth, along with a PvP that plays smoothly and similarly quickly, and you've got a very exciting game indeed.


  • Onmyoji

    Onmyoji logo

    Let's be honest, NetEase's Onmyoji is absolutely not a game for everybody, and you'll work that out within 60 seconds of loading it up.

    The onboarding is, frankly, terrible, and when you do finally get into the game itself, it's an incredibly daunting task simply working out what the heck is going on.

    Give it some time, however, and you'll realise why exactly it's been such a hit in Asia, and why NetEase is making so much money off the back of it.

    Tell me a story

    Onmyoji is, on a surface level, a fairly standard team battler - you build up a squad, send them into turn-based battles, level them up, and so on.

    But the level of customisation and stat-boosting is like nothing you've ever seen, which makes it incredibly daunting for newbies and very handy for veterans who want to get their teeth into pages and pages of stats.

    There's also a strange story of demons and evil spirits tying everything together, with full Japanese voice acting to appease any hardcore otaku out there.

    And it has a strange, unique artstyle that, while not technically amazing, still looks gorgeous in its own way.

    It's confusing as hell to begin with, but give Onmyoji ten minutes of your time and it'll all sink into place, and you too will understand why 200 million people have played it before you.


  • Nindash: Skull Valley

    Nindash: Skull Valley logo

    It's been said a thousand times, often by us, but it bears repeating: sometimes, simple really is best.

    Such is the case with the surprisingly excellent Nindash: Skull Valley, from DOFUS developer Ankama, another entry in their hyper-casual series of mobile games that just goes to show it's not a one-trick pony.

    It's simple and elegant in its design, incredibly responsive to your actions, and somehow one of the trickiest puzzlers we've played in a while.

    Move like the wind

    Nindash has a very simple premise - you're a ninja, there's waves of skeleton enemies, it's your job to kill them all before they reach the bottom of the screen.

    Your ninja teleports to wherever you tap on the screen, moving in a straight line and slashing with its sword as it goes, so the trick is to line up enemies and take them all out in one fell swoop.

    You can just rapidly tap on each one, but it just feels so cool to take out ten enemies in one go because you got your angle just right.

    There's other wrinkles thrown in - boss fights, enemies you can't attack, and so on - and the responsive controls mean you can rack up huge chains with the minimum of effort.

    It's brilliant both in its fun factor and its simplicity, and you'd be doing yourself a disservice by ignoring it.


  • Antihero

    Antihero logo

    Digital board games don't usually float our boat here at PocketGamer.biz, but Antihero has bucked that trend.

    Combining a gorgeous aesthetic with impressively deep mechanics, it's a game that anyone looking to develop a board game - digital or not - should be looking at.

    And despite its complexity, it is very encourgaging to new players, holding their hand in the early stages but offering enough leeway to experiment from the very start.

    Skullduggery and stabbery

    Antihero gives you control of Lightfinger, a master thief who has to rob, cheat, and kill to earn enough tokens to win a round and move on to the next board.

    Lightfinger only has a few action points each turn, so you need to recruit new units to assist in your thieving and killing, and upgrade your abilities as you go to make sure you can handle bigger challenges down the line.

    It makes the whole experience incredibly strategic, as you plan a few turns ahead each time, deciding whether to save resources for a big push later on or build up your skills early to try and rush a win.

    The game slowly opens up through the campaign, so you don't get too overwhelmed as you play, and the tutorial has a lot more showing than telling, so you pick up the basics very quickly.

    It's a gorgeous, clever digital board game, and you should absolutely check it out.


  • Gorogoa

    Gorogoa logo

    Annapurna Interactive raised a few eyebrows when it first opened its doors - why would an indie film studio decide to get into the indie games publishing business? And why would it choose to extend into mobile with its releases?

    Whatever its reasons, the publisher has built up an impressive slate of weird and wonderful games, and Gorogoa is no exception.

    It looks like a fairly standard puzzle game in the same vein as Framed, but it very quickly reveals that it's nothing like anything you've played before.

    Goron then

    Developed by one-man band Jason Roberts, Gorogoa plays out across four panels, and has you moving pictures around to progress the worldless story along.

    You're never quite sure what to do, but it's so simple to play that experimentation is both actively encouraged and easy, so you're never stuck for long.

    And it might not make much sense either, but even if you can't follow the narrative, each puzzle you solve makes you feel like the smartest person in the world.

    It's difficult to describe the various ways Gorogoa plays with its own mechanics, and really you should just try it out for yourself. Right now. Go! Go!


  • Game Dev Tycoon

    Game Dev Tycoon logo

    If you ever played Game Dev Tycoon on PC, then you'll already know that it's an incredibly fun, witty, and weirdly tense game.

    If you've never played it and are a mobile die-hard, then rejoice! You can now buy it on iOS, and it's every bit as good as it always was.

    There's a few neat additions to the base game, but it's basically the same core experience perfectly designed for mobile - and yes, it's still a premium game, but we'll let that slide this week.

    Design 'em up

    Game Dev Tycoon, as the name implies, puts you in charge of your own game development studio and tasks you with making yourself rich and famous.

    It's a fairly hands-off approach to development - you choose the topic, genre, platform, and focus of development at different stages - but it still feels like a lot of hard work.

    That's all part of the fun, of course. Every decision can feel life-or-death, and making one duff game can absolutely destroy your company, while one hit can keep you afloat for years.

    It's got a simple core gameplay loop and relatively basic presentation, but it's a true emotional rollercoaster that will soak up hours of your life without you noticing.


  • Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

    Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp logo

    To be frank, there was no competition this week on Game of the Week. It could only have been Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

    Regular readers will note that one of the team at Biz has been waiting for the launch of this game for a very long time, and the especially eagle-eyed will recognise his name on both those articles and this one as the author.

    So with that in mind - why aren't you playing Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp?

    Give me s'mores

    Pocket Camp distills the Animal Crossing core gameplay into a simple, highly-engaging mobile game with plenty to do and an incredibly strong progression system.

    By completing tasks for animals, you can raise your friendship levels, earn new items, earn crafting rewards, and eventually ask them to come visit your own campsite.

    This is fully customisable with the items you create to lure the creatures in, and there's no limits to what you can put in - besides needing to own the items, of course.

    Everything resets once every three hours, and a typical play session can last around 30 minutes, meaning highly-engaged players are going to playing the game for hours each day to maximise their progression and unlock everything.

    Throw in an unobtrusive monetisation system and all the charm of the main series, and you've got a fantastic game both on its own merits and as an entry in the Animal Crossing franchise.


  • Mighty Battles

    Mighty Battles logo

    When you play as many mobile games as we do, you tend to notice a few trends - and in the last year, a lot of these trends have been inspired by Clash Royale.

    The same menu structure, the same crate mechanic, the same cards and levelling up, and sometimes even the same gameplay mechanics.

    And while Hothead's Mighty Battles doesn't stray too far from the tried-and-tested formulas, it brings its own innovations that make it a whole different beast to what we expected.

    Blast off

    There's several key changes gameplay-wise - you take a first-person perspective from a turret and therefore have much more of a role in combat, and energy doesn't recharge throughout the battle.

    Instead, you have to wait until waves of grunts come out, which reward coins when killed that can be spent on units.

    It opens up whole new strategies - do you blow all your coins in one go, or spend some now and save the rest for later? It's a finite resource for a substantial period, making you rethink basically every strategy you may have built up.

    And it's a lot more fun to play too, now that you have control over a whacking great gun and can choose which targets you want to target while the rest of the battle plays out below.

    Monetisation-wise it's nothing new, and the metagame won't be a surprise to anybody, but the core game is so unique and interesting that you can't help but just have one more go.


  • Craft Away!

    Craft Away! logo

    It wasn't long after Futureplay launched its first game, Farm Away!, that we started wondering how else it could implement its "view-to-play" logic in other games.

    Its first response was Build Away!, which was a lot like its predecessor but with extra wrinkles that detracted from the joy and simplicity of the original farming game.

    But in Craft Away!, the developer has found a whole new genre to tackle, and it's even started to move away from its rewarded video ad monetisation focus.

    If you build it...

    Craft Away! avoids building up towns or farms and instead sends you out on an idle adventure, smashing blocks and jelly as you free creatures and earn gold.

    You swipe the blocks to smash them, and once they're all cleared, you move on. Eventually you unlock companions to deal damage for you, though they take a little longer to clear the blocks if you don't help.

    So far, so idle game. What sets it apart is a wealth of upgrades - double damage, extra resources - which can only be accessed if you're willing to watch a short ad.

    Even more interestingly, there's now powerful one-time-use items which can only be restocked if you use gems, the game's premium currency, with no option to watch an ad to earn them.

    It makes the whole experience slightly less casual than previous efforts, and it'll be fascinating to watch how gamers respond. Oh, and it's pretty fun to play too.


Comments

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Takeme Fromhere developer part time at kativiti.com
im proud to know the author and i must say hes a brilliant platformed.
i was happy when he help me in my game.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kativiti.fugitivodasenzala
Jesse Conlon Gamer at Berryio
Such a great game! I love the plot and its character, will definitely play this later after playing blog.secretslots.com. Can't wait!
Teut Weidemann
I lolled: "Battlejack, is very exciting indeed, and nothing like anything we've played before."
Yes, it is a polished experience but everything in this game, nearly everything is copy/paste from other games. Well done indeed, but maybe the staff of Pocketgamer didn't play Puzzle&Dragons, Best Fiends, Summoners War, Clash Royale?
Gaming Unicorn Marketing Director
It's a polished game, and it has a nice core loop, but for fans of the series, Intelligent Systems has done the equivalent of turning chess into checkers. There is no perma-death. If you fail a stage, you can pay to continue - making the product pay-to-win. The small map and limited number of characters you can control in battle make the experience more about the stats of your cards than your strategic skills. Gacha is less consumer friendly and far lower value than the novel solution 3DS provided for Fire Emblem Fates: buying an Amiibo of a legendary character (like Marth), which you can scan in, battle, and add to your team. FE Heroes also requires an internet connection, which makes it vulnerable to sunsetting. It's a real Fire Emblem game, but it's also a series low point - the "Superman IV" or "Phantom Menace" of the series.
Rejane Balisi
This game is really cool , i love the characters.Never before i play mobile game again then i discover this WWE Champions and Arcadia Phantasm https://t.co/ObjJQmkjj9 .

Mathieu Castelli C4M Productions
I find the squad controls clumsy.
I also find the battle end zoom on 'vibrating' troops around the giant not on par with the production value, strange to zoom on a defect probably due to pathfinding/positioning.
Mathieu Castelli C4M Productions
This comment was for Dawn of Titans.
This thread is attached to changing games which is a bit weird...
Greg Quinn CEO/Lead Developer at Meltdown Interactive Media
Yeah, it is a bit weird.
Gaming Unicorn Marketing Director
When CSR2 hit the market, it looked like Natural Motion might become part of a new wave of developers embracing transparency in pricing. The game's base currencies were not offset from real dollar value: 300 gold coins cost $3.00, 500 gold coins cost $5.00, and gacha could be skipped entirely in favor of directly purchasing cars. Better still, currency pack prices did not exceed $9.99. This was an evolutionary step forward, which left me excited to see how they managed pricing on their next game, Dawn of Titans. Well, it's out, and it's a massive step backwards. Offset currency is all they offer, and that indefensible $99.99 IAP bundle has reared its ugly head, too. It's sad, because I know this one has been in development for a long time... but the monetization model leaves me unwilling to even give it a download.
TitanBrawl
Thank you all for your comments!
Here's the team behing Titan Brawl:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiPBArp1Aa8
Jak Marshall Games Analyst
This game is gorgeous to play, no doubt about that.

Being able to play this game and maintain a sense of progression from session to session as you complete the checkpoints is somewhat tempting. I'll be keen to see quite how many casual consumers agree with that notion. We're in uncertain territory. I've never seen a game charge the player to have a save file!
Min Zhang
This game has really high production values.
The gameplay is a pretty innovative take on card battling.
The energy and monetization has some weird asian influenced stuff going on though. It will be interesting to see if the game can be successful long term.
Jennifer Bradshaw Data Analyst at DHXMedia
Thank you VERY much for having the option to toggle a one-page view instead of a slideshow! Those annoy me to no end.