Tagged: iOS

Of 2014: The ‘I played some mobile games?!’ List

of2014-mobile

What is the world coming to when I — Touchscreen Naysayer No.1 — play enough mobile phone games in a year to warrant a list of them?! This was originally a moanful free-to-play list but that trend is so ingrained nowadays it’s not worth highlighting. That I put a ton of time into games on my phone is way more noteworthy so let’s do a little rundown.

of2014-mobile2

Watch Dogs Companion: ctOS
Status: Still Installed
This is the kind of multiplayer experience I want! The app syncs you up with someone playing Watch Dogs (on any platform) and puts you in control of Chicago’s police force to throw obstacles at them while they try to complete a checkpoint race. It has its own level system with unlocks and achievements and was an all around magic moment of technology in 2014.

Disco Zoo
Status: Uninstalled after months of not playing
I expected nothing less than pure, simple addiction from the makers of Tiny Tower and that’s what I got. This one throws in a memory-style puzzle game to fill the ranks of your ever-expanding pixel zoo. It was simple enough to play for 20 seconds at a time and enticing enough to come back to for a few months.

Dragon Coins
Status: Uninstalled after months of not playing
Coin Dozer meets Collectible Card Game meets RPG. It was a great combination of gameplay that had me strategizing individual coin drops and building up my preferred deck of monsters. It was fun but after a few weeks the endless slog of replaying old battles revealed itself and I mostly burned out.

of2014-mobile23

Smash Hit
Status: Still Installed
This one is still on my phone because it’s absolutely gorgeous to watch. A simple rail shooter where you launch balls at abstract shapes, it has amazing lighting and wonderful physics simulation (and destruction).

Trials Frontier
Status: Reluctantly Uninstalled
It offers so much Trials for so little I didn’t ever feel the burning urge to buy the newest console version. Maybe they made it too good. Nah, if it were I’d still be playing it but after months of fun challenges I finally hit the brick wall where absolute perfection is required. That’s not something I enjoy working for on a touchscreen so I reluctantly removed the game. It sure was great for a good long while and by far my favorite mobile game of the year.

of2014-mobile3

Disney Tsum Tsum
Status: Still Installed, Rarely Played
It’s like Bejeweled if it were made out of squishy plush Disney characters. The floppy physics adds a fun wrinkle to the typical fast-paced puzzle gameplay and the steadily improving power-ups enable higher and higher scores. Another one that was fun for months that I now only play very rarely.

Word Puttz
Status: Uninstalled
Minigolf and word games, a combination of two things I love that I never would’ve expected anyone to make. From the You Don’t Know Jack folks, it was great to have a single player word game but then they introduced an evil A.I. opponent that I could never beat. Fun for a bit but those timed challenges ruined it for me.

 

Done Playing: Trials Frontier (Android, iOS)

done-trialsfrontier1

It was the fourth part in one of the game’s longest string of quests. Each round requires out-racing an increasing number of real player ghosts. After numerous attempts and waiting for the timer on a few bike upgrades I was finally able to top the 26th opponent in my way. With the victory dialog finally ready to reveal something I felt like I was in for a big reward… and then the game broke.

It would be a day of force closing the app, restarting it and watching it crash on that same almost-reveal. I posted to the official forums and another day later was advised to remove the game and download it again. Booting it up didn’t find my save game until I’d replayed the introductory section again but finally, I was able to complete the quest. The reward? Another tier of 26 opponents and a tease of a further sentence of explanatory text. My other quest option was similar; another tier of endless grinding to craft top tier items in races against grueling A.I. opponents.

That was about a week ago at this point and since I haven’t had the heart to load up the game I think it’s safe to say I’m officially ‘Done PlayingTrials Frontier. It was a lot of fun and I played it for a solid two months and change; I even gave them five bucks when they had a pack of coins, gear and diamonds on sale. Those boosts helped but the quests I’m up to now require double the time, luck and energy as the ones I’d worked through in the weeks before.

Here is the apex of what I’m willing to give for some physics-y fun driving and what the game wants to take out of me to let me keep going. And like one of those impossibly steep inclines on an Extreme difficulty Trials track I just can’t throw myself at it any longer. Now, if they’d just put Trials Fusion on sale already!

Continue reading this series with Part 1Part 2, and Part 3 

Still Playing: Trials Frontier (Android, iOS) Pt.3

Here’s some trans-media content for ya, a little video tour of where I’m at in Trials Frontier. I’m using ADB’s screen record function here so there’s no audio and it hits the framerate a little hard in spots but mostly this is what it’s like to play; slick victories and grindy prize wheel spinning alike.

Continue reading this series with Part 1Part 2 and Part 4

Still Playing: Trials Frontier (Android, iOS)

nowplaying-trialsfrontier3

Quests, coins, upgrades and time sinks

In my last post about Trials Frontier I was on the verge of unlocking a new bike and a new tier of races. That much went fine but shortly after the game’s progression hit one of those trademark Trials inclines that looks impossible to ascend.

The new tier was fun to explore and the courses really feel on par with Trials Evolution. There’s even a few physics-y gimmicks I don’t remember dealing with in any previous Trials game. It was around this point, though, that bike upgrades became a necessity and not just a periodic quest line. It doesn’t look like it by the tiny sliver of top speed or acceleration that you’ll get out of a $20,000 upgrade but you can definitely feel it.

And so the grind has been on for coins and crafting materials while I continue to beat my head against an array of ghost races. At least three different quest lines have you racing AI or live player ghosts to progress; one set is literally a bunch of races against a ghost. Despite the impressive number of tracks available (I’ve got 50 unlocked so far) the game seems to favor the same seven or eight courses which makes things feel even more tedious. Adding to the slow new pace of progress is some actual slowdown. Sometimes a race will load and the framerate on my Galaxy S4 will be cut in half. The slow-mo effect has helped me win a few races by giving me time to fine tune my landings but overall it’s a bummer.

All this could instantly be rectified if I were willing to pump some money into the game. For $5 I could get enough gems to skip the crafting materials and for another $5 I could buy enough coins to pay for the next few upgrades. But the races themselves still have to be run and won so I’m taking this new pace as the game’s slower middle age.

I still play several times a day and almost every day. The slot machine continues to provide fun new challenges and doles out some nice rewards between quest victories. Just the act of playing Trials still feels great and that’s enough to keep me going for the time being.

Continue reading this series with Part 1Part 3 and Part 4

Now Playing: Trials Frontier (Android, iOS)

nowplaying-trialsfrontier1

Not that there’s much barrier to entry now that Trials Frontier is available for free on both iOS and Android, but for anyone still wondering you only need to answer one question: Are you good at ignoring free-to-play conceits like limited energy and for-pay currencies? If you said ‘yes’ you should already be clicking one of those links to grab the game for yourself. Because beyond the mobile game “features” is a Trials game that’s just as fun to play as any before it and light years better than all the other knock-offs.

I love that the very first thing you do — before the title screen, before being bugged about your Facebook account — is play Trials. You’ve got forward/reverse on one side of the screen and left/right lean on the other, now go run through this little course. If Trials Fusion is set in the far-flung future then Trials Frontier is the Mad Max post-apocalypse that comes after it. An almost-cel shaded look accentuates the old west/steampunk/retro-future designs and color palettes. It runs smooth, loads fast (reloads even faster) and has a comprehensive menu system that shows you all the little details of the various races. It also has crafting.

Because what modern publisher wouldn’t want to pad its game with resource gathering and pin them to a luck-based wheel of fortune spin regardless of how well you raced? It’s a gross mechanic that requires you to re-race the same courses in order to spin for fabulous prizes like… rusty nuts and blueprint scraps. The upside to it is that you get to play more Trials which, despite the grind for silly mats, remains fast and fun. The quests that require these crafting materials regularly coincide with bike upgrades so as you grind it out you notice the subtle changes to handling and speed as you clock faster times. I hate to say it but I’ve never gotten as much of a reward from these little improvements as I have with this game.

nowplaying-trialsfrontier2

Naturally, you can pay real money to skip a lot of this junk. You can buy more gems to spin the spinner endlessly to farm resources. You can spend gems to get a bigger “gas tank” so you can run more races before “refueling” which, of course, costs gems if you don’t want to wait. Passing checkpoints in races earns you the coins needed for upgrades but you can spend gems to speed up the timer or purchase a coin doubler. Eventually you’ll hit the point I’m at right now where you need a new bike to continue onto new courses and you’ll be faced with the choice: grind or buy. So far I’m perfectly happy racing old courses to pass the time because the game feels so good to play. The one thing they won’t sell you is a way to remove the commercials that sometimes burst onto the screen after races, overriding your phone’s volume setting. Yeah, that’s a pretty big bummer at work.

So it’s time to ask yourself again, is all of that junk worth some sweet, free Trials thrills in your pocket? It definitely has been for me. Like having Spelunky ever at my side on the Vita, I’m happy just to know that Trials is always ready to go for a spin regardless of how long it takes me to unlock more stuff.

Continue reading this series with Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4