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Posts tagged with "game day"

Game Day: Trick Shot 2

Trick Shot 2 is a physics puzzle game from Jonathan Topf, the lead designer of Monument Valley 2. This isn’t a game that breaks new ground, but it’s one that is executed wonderfully on all levels and has some great extras, instantly endearing itself as a fun diversion.

The goal is simple: shoot a ball into a box. You launch the ball by sliding your finger back inside an outlined launch area and releasing. The action is similar to the slingshot mechanic used in Angry Birds. The trick is to get the perfect angle, velocity, and timing to land the ball in the box. The process is complicated by the fact that the ball is incredibly bouncy and there is often a maze of household and other objects between you and the ball’s destination.

Trick Shot 2 is one of those casual games that works extremely well on a mobile device. The game is easy to play in short spurts, and it can serve as a way to pass idle time, like a sort of digital fidget spinner. However, that sells Trick Shot short because it has more to offer than similar games.

First, Trick Shot looks and sounds fantastic. Everything from the beautifully rendered 3D obstacles and smooth animations to the jazzy soundtrack is top notch. The game is split across 9 chapters each of which are made up of multiple levels. As the chapters unfold, the game introduces new mechanics like switches and teleportation machines that keep the gameplay challenging. If you get stuck, you can spend coins to get a hint from a helpful robot. When you run out of the coins that come with the game, you can purchase more as an In-App Purchase, but they aren’t necessary to complete the game.

Second, and most critical, is that you can build your own levels. The level builder drops you into a blueprint-style view where you can place, move, and rotate all 48 game elements into your own Rube Goldberg creation. If starting with a blank slate is too intimidating, you can copy and adapt an existing level. It’s a wonderful addition that creates an extra dimension and sophistication to the game.

I imagine that almost anyone who’s played iOS games has tried physics-based games like Trick Shot 2, but not all such games are created equal. The trouble is finding the best examples of the genre. Trick Shot 2 qualifies hands down as one of my favorites and one I recommend to anyone looking for a new low-key iOS game to try.

Trick Shot 2 is available on the App Store.


Game Day: Bring You Home

Earlier this month Alike Studio released Bring You Home, a charming puzzle game about a blue alien on a quest to save its pet from thieves. It’s a delightful game that showed up one day with little fanfare. The game, from the creators of Love You to Bits, was teased almost a year ago, but its sudden appearance on the App Store means it hasn’t gotten the coverage it deserves. That’s a shame because this is a low-key but captivating game that should appeal to a wide audience.

Exploration is at the core of Bring You Home. As soon as the alien’s pet is whisked away, it leaps out the window after the thieves landing face-first on the ground. Time rewinds, and you’re shown how to swipe panels up and down until there’s a cart of hay under the window to break the alien’s fall. It’s a simple mechanic similar to the hit game Framed but executed with a style and personality that fits Bring You Home.

The goal is just as simple. By manipulating the environment around the alien, you help steer it from scene to scene in pursuit of the thieves. As you move through Bring You Home, new layers are added to the gameplay. Instead of just cycling through panels vertically, you can swap their position horizontally too. Next, the game adds multi-step puzzles, which require you to rearrange the scene, pause, and make further adjustments. Along the way, there are also collectible photos featuring your alien and his pet, which is a nice touch suggesting that it’s ok to explore, fail, and explore some more.

There is an absurd logic to each of the nearly 50 levels of Bring You Home, which rewards thoughtful examination. There are no time limits or penalties for failure, which encourages a leisurely, calm approach. Sure, you can power through Bring You Home quickly, but that’s not the point. Trial and error is part of the fun. This is a game best-enjoyed at a pace at which you can absorb each scene’s brightly-colored, playful animations.

Bring You Home is a Universal app that’s also available on the Apple TV. The game looks great on a big screen TV, but the controls work better on an iOS device, so on balance, I prefer to play on my iPad. Also, achievements are tracked in Game Center, and your progress is synced between devices via iCloud, which I always appreciate.

Bring You Home is a relaxing game with a playful, sweet personality that will appeal to kids and adults alike. The puzzles range from easy to challenging without ever becoming frustrating, which makes it an excellent choice for relaxing on a quiet afternoon.

Bring You Home is available on the App Store.



My Favorite iOS Games of 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, we’ve seen what may prove to be a shift in iOS gaming. With the recent introduction of app pre-orders, iOS may attract more paid-up-front indie games and ports of console and PC titles than in the past. Pre-orders aren’t limited to games, but it’s no coincidence that the first batch of pre-orders released on the App Store were all successful indie titles.

It’s too early to tell if recent developments are the beginning of a trend towards a more diverse and interesting iOS game market or a one-off anomaly that will fizzle, but I hope it takes hold. The prospect of the App Store attracting new sorts of games could broaden the appeal of iOS as a gaming platform, which in turn, could change the dynamic of iOS gaming in 2018.

We’ll have to wait to see what 2018 has in store, but in the meantime, the end of the year is a good time to look back. It’s always hard to pick favorites. So many excellent games were released this year, and I didn’t have time to try them all, but here are my six favorites of the 37 that I covered in 2017 along with links to each of the reviews of them.

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Game Day: Fowlst

Sometimes the best distraction from a frantic and chaotic day is an even more frantic and chaotic game. Fowlst, which developer CatCup Games, describes as ‘an action game about an owl that is trapped in Hell for some reason’ is perfect for just such an occasion.

Fowlst is an arcade-style action, dodging game. You play as the owl, pursued by demons that shoot lasers at you while you try to avoid buzzsaws, fire, and other obstacles. The game gets crazy fast.

The mechanics remind me of Don’t Grind, one of my favorite arcade-style games released last year. You control your owl by tapping on the left and right-hand sides of the screen, which makes your owl fly in a bouncy kind of way in the direction of your taps. The controls purposefully require a careful coordination of left and right taps to navigate your owl. Power-ups are activated by swiping up on the screen. It’s a simple control scheme that makes Fowlst easy to pick up and start playing, but difficult to master.

Demons are defeated by colliding with them before you run out of hearts from being hit by lasers or other obstacles. Unlike Don’t Grind, you don’t have to keep your owl aloft constantly. You can rest on the bottom of any stage or a perch, but constantly moving helps make it harder for the demons to get you. There are also periodic bosses theoughout the game to mix up the pace of the action.

When you defeat a demon, it’s replaced with a floating sack of money and occasionally a heart or power-up that disappears after a few seconds. To collect items, you need to steer your owl into them while simultaneously dealing with other demons and obstacles. The cash you collect can be spent to upgrade your owl with health and weapons.

The game ends when you run out of hearts. Fowlst then tallies the money you collected, the number of levels cleared and shows how you did compared to your high score, which has the effect of making the game wonderfully-compulsive to play. Fowlst keeps things interesting by randomizing the levels you are presented each time you play through. It’s a carefully struck balance that keeps the gameplay familiar enough to avoid frustration but also avoids becoming monotonous.

Fowlst combines its arcade action with pixelated art, a complementary chiptune soundtrack, and lots of ‘pew-pew’ laser sound effects. The result is an addictive arcade game that has almost no learning curve and is easy to pick up and play for short periods of time but is difficult to master and hard to put down. It’s a perfect combination for a mobile game, making Fowlst a title I’m going to be returning to often.

Fowlst is available on the App Store.


Game Day: Swim Out

As the summer draws to a close, take one last dip into the pool with Swim Out, a stylish and challenging puzzle game from Lozange Lab that’s available on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV.

Swim Out is a turn-based puzzle game that requires you to make your way across a swimming pool to a ladder that takes you to the next puzzle. The playing area is a traditional grid viewed from a top-down perspective, dressed up like a swimming pool, which is a clever touch that gives Swim Out a unique personality. The other design choice I noticed immediately and like a lot is the sounds of people at the pool and the water. The artwork is also excellent with summery blues and reds dominating the puzzles.

The game starts off simply to ease you into the mechanics. Your goal is to maneuver your blue swimmer to the exit ladder without colliding with the red swimmers and other obstacles. As you progress, the obstacles become more complex. Multiple swimmers, people sitting at the edge of the pool, and other hazards appear and get in your way. Run into an obstacle, and you have to start the puzzle over.

As you progress through Swim Out’s 100 levels, objects that help you along the way also appear. For instance, if you grab a beach ball, you can throw it at a red swimmer and freeze them in place for a certain number of turns to allow you to pass by.

Swim Out is a perfect summertime game. It’s easy to learn, you can play for short periods of time, and it’s relaxing to play, while also being challenging. The game does a fantastic job of staying engaging throughout by throwing lots of different obstacles and tools at you, which makes Swim Out an excellent companion for your last few trips to the local pool or beach.

Swim Out is available on the App Store.