When platformers make their way to the App Store, they have a big question to answer: how will the user control the character? Some titles, like Nintendo’s Super Mario Run, offer tap-and-hold controls that assign a single task to the user; others, including the popular port Downwell, elect for software buttons simulating a console-type experience. The vast majority of platformers fall into one of these two categories, either limiting the control of the user or giving up simplicity in favor of pressing the screen in just the right place.
Run Jump Die is the best of both worlds, featuring one-touch controls that are intuitive and smart. It’s a platformer in the vein of retro classics, but with mobile and modern updates that make it feel like it belongs in 2017. The overall game, anchored by the unique control scheme, is a joy to play, showcasing just the right combination of challenge, exploration, and satisfaction.
Square Enix has announced that its role-playing epic, Final Fantasy XV, is coming to iOS this fall. Since the original game was created for powerful consoles like PS4 and Xbox One, it’s requiring a major overhaul in its journey to mobile devices. The mobile game is being branded ‘Pocket Edition’ and brings several significant deviations from the original:
- The graphics and design have been redone to give the game a more playful, cartoony feel.
- While the story for the game is taken from its console counterpart, it will include some gameplay changes.
- The game will be split into ten episodes, all of which will launch at the same time, with the first episode available for free.
While it’s common practice to create mobile spinoffs of popular console games, Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition appears unique in that it’s taking a sort of hybrid approach: major pieces of the original game, such as the story, are being directly ported over, while other aspects are changing. We’ll find out this fall how well this approach pays off.
Pigeon Wings is a hyper-fast, racing game with shoot ‘em up elements and a lot of personality. You play as Pigeon, a pigeon-pilot tasked with saving Megalopolis from the evil Duke Dexter. The backstory immediately sets a light-hearted, humorous tone for the game that doesn’t get bogged down in long cut scenes explaining what’s happening. What sets Pigeon Wings apart though, is its tilt control steering system. The controls work flawlessly becoming second nature so quickly that they fade into the background making it easy to get lost in the game’s short races.
You might be tempted to feel confident after the first few levels of Neo Angle, the follow-up game from Blyss developer Dropout Games. After all, you just have to move your triangle to a certain spot on the grid, occasionally picking up small fuel cells along the way. Early on, the most challenging part may be refraining from bobbing your head to the music.
Gamebra.in’s new puzzle game, kubrain, proves that there is still room for creativity and innovation in the color matching puzzle genre popularized ages ago by Tetris. Like many other games in the category, kubrain requires players to match colored blocks as they descend onto a playing field, but there’s a mind-bending twist. The playing field is a 3D cube that players can rotate to make room for incoming blocks. The result radically changes the way you approach the game compared to other matching games creating a challenging and novel gaming experience that is fun to play and difficult to master.
Linelight, an award-winning minimalist puzzle game by My Dog Zorro, debuted on iOS this week. The game was released for Windows and macOS earlier this year and is available on Sony’s PS4, but this is the first time the game has made its way onto a mobile, touch-based platform. Many games bill themselves as ‘minimalist,’ but few are as elegantly simple as Linelight. The result is a game that is easy to play and understand, highlighting the game’s perplexing and fun puzzles over its mechanics.
You play as a dash of light traversing a line. You guide your dash along the line that splits and branches in different directions by dragging your finger across the screen of your iOS device. To stop and consider how to solve a puzzle, just pick up your finger and your dash stays put. Linelight works so well as a touch-based game, it’s hard to believe that it was designed for keyboards and controllers first.
As you advance your dash along the line, you encounter puzzle after puzzle. In total, there are over 200 puzzles split across six separate spacey worlds. As with any good puzzle game, Linelight introduces new challenges gradually. There are sections of lines that shift depending on whether your dash passes over a switch, keys to be picked up and delivered to designated spots, red dash enemies that you need to avoid because colliding with one means starting that puzzle over, and much more.
There is no up or down in Linelight, so it doesn’t matter if you play in portrait or landscape, which is a nice departure from the many games that require you to play in one orientation or the other. Add a soothing piano-based soundtrack to its tricky puzzles and Linelight is one of the most relaxing and absorbing games I’ve played this year. If you’re a fan of puzzle games, Linelight is a must-play.
Linelight is available on the App Store.
Color Magnet, by The One Pixel, is a classic color-matching puzzle game with a twist. A grid of colors blocks advances down the screen as you drop in strategically placed new blocks to make color matches. The blocks are magnetically attracted to other blocks of the same color. When placed on the grid, the blocks between the newly placed piece and the closest piece horizontally or vertically of the same color change to match the color of the block you placed. Match five or more blocks to clear them and the ones below them on the board.
Gameplay is complicated by locked and cross blocks. A locked block is unlocked by matching colors nearby or clearing a cluster of blocks next to it. Once unlocked, a block becomes a random color. Cross blocks can only be destroyed by clearing blocks above them in the stack. It's not nearly as complex as it sounds, though it requires careful planning and strategy.
Color Magnet looks and sounds great, pairing a palette of pastel colors with a playful soundtrack. There are also light and dark themes for comfortable late-night binge playing in bed.
Replay-value is enhanced by three game modes. Classic mode challenges players to beat their high score. Universal mode pits you against the rest of the Color Magnet-playing world with the same sequence of puzzles presented to everyone. Puzzle mode has 30 unique puzzles that challenge you to clear the entire board.
The magnet mechanic and depth added by the trio of gameplay modes takes what might have been a 'me-to' matching puzzle game and gives it a unique spin that's fun and addicting in the same way Threes is. If games like Threes are your thing, Color Magnet won’t disappoint.
Color Magnet is available on the App Store.
Resynth creates a novel experience by fusing synthesizer tunes with a puzzle game. Stripped of the musical components, Resynth would be a fairly standard puzzle game that requires you to push blocks into positions and flip switches on a map to move to the next level. What makes Resynth unique though, is its music.
Each level begins with a looping synthesizer track. As you move blocks into the correct positions and toggle switches, notes are added to the loop, evolving the music. The changes to the music provide an added sense of accomplishment as you play. Pack 1 includes 36 puzzles. Pack 2 has another 36 puzzles that can be unlocked by earning stars or with an In-App Purchase.
Throughout each level, a white line loops across the screen in time with the synth loop, adding a sense of motion to the music. Also, once a block is pushed into position, it pulses to the beat. The approach reminds me of Sound Shapes, a musical platformer available on the Sony PS4 and Vita that combines music and motion in a similar way. Although Resynth is a very different game, the effect is similar, adding a sense of progress and motion to each level.
The mechanics are straightforward. You push blocks around the map by swiping. Moving around faster can be accomplished by swiping and holding. The levels get progressively harder requiring more complex maneuvers like moving two blocks in tandem. The maps become more complex too, limiting the space available for moving blocks into position. If you get a block stuck in a place where you can’t complete a puzzle, there are undo and restart buttons, which I appreciate with this type of game.
The challenge is mostly in the puzzles themselves, with one qualifier. There is a star system tied to each level. Stars are earned based on time to complete the puzzle and the number of moves it takes you to do so. Fortunately, it’s easy to ignore this, which I’ve been doing because I prefer the low-stress approach to this sort of puzzle game. The one downside to ignoring the star system is that unless you earn enough stars, you won't be able to unlock the Pack 2 puzzles unless you buy the In-App Purchase. Still, challenging puzzles combined with an excellent soundtrack make Resynth an excellent way to unwind over the weekend.
Resynth is available on the App Store.
It’s a good bet that I’ve stumbled onto a great game when it gets in the way of finishing the review. That’s been the case with Poly Bridge, a physics-based puzzle game with simulator elements that sucks me in for long stretches every time I launch it.