You know what day it is? It’s Monday again and that can mean only one thing here at GodisaGeek: It’s time for another edition of Mobile Monday, the article where we take a look at four mobile games and let you know if they’re worth your time and money.
This week we’re taking a look at Picross e2 from Jupiter, Temple Run 2 from Imangi Studios, Fractured Soul from Endgame Studios and Swipe the Deck from Ender’s Fund.
Read on to find the full reviews of each game, but don’t forget to come back next week for more Mobile Monday reviews. While you’re here, if you have played any of the games listed, or even just want to come back once you’ve had a go to let us know how you got on, we’d love to hear from you in the comment box at the bottom of the page.
Titles are available on iPhone and iPad unless specifically stated otherwise. If you like what you read, click the small black “App Store” button to load iTunes up and purchase the title!
I have to hold my hands up and admit that Picross E2 is my first ever foray into the world of Picross. As I was downloading the game I looked up what Picross is all about and what I found didn’t excite me all that much. Picross – a type of nanogram, or picture puzzle, it’s a bit like paint by numbers, apparently. Sounds crap, I thought to myself. I was so wrong.
Picross E2 comes to the 3DS eShop courtesy of handheld focused Japanese developer Jupiter, hot on the heels of Picross E, which launched on 3DS in October of 2012. What we have here then is a sort of incremental update, rather than a total overhaul, so it will most likely interest Picross fans first and foremost, but let me see if I can win over the uninitiated, just as Picross E2 has me these last few days.
Picross, for those who don’t know, is kind of like Sudoku, only without the mind crushing boredom and tenuous Carol Vorderman references. Puzzles range in size from 5×5 to 15×15, blank grids surrounded by numbers that indicate the number of tiles to be uncovered in each row. The aim is to find all the tiles and reveal the picture hidden within. It’s simple stuff and easy to pick up, even for a puzzle shy numpty like me. There are four ‘modes’ of play in E2, Easy Mode, Normal Mode, Free Mode (which mixes up the difficulty levels) EXTRA (where all the hardest puzzles hang out) and Micross, which combines multiple Picross puzzles to make one of a number of larger, more complex images. For newbies there is a nifty ‘How-To’ tutorial mode that takes you through all the basics of Picross play, so there is no need to worry about getting lost, there is also the option on earlier levels to have some of the Picross puzzle completed for you at the start to get you heading in the right direction. Jupiter have included everything you need to get you up to speed, and credit to them for that.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is about Picross that makes it so addictive. I found myself finishing a puzzle, feeling good about myself and then rushing onto the next one. These little puzzles do have a way of making you feel like some sort of magical puzzle solving ninja, simple though they may be. Picross E2 is presented well, packs 150 puzzles of varying difficulty and is reasonably priced.
If you have doubts about whether Picross is for you, I urge you to give Picross E2 a try, you won’t be able to put it down.
TEMPLE RUN 2:
The first Temple Run game was something that most people weren’t expecting. The infinite runner genre had been gathering momentum since 2009’s Canabalt but it was with the release Temple Run, one of the first examples of the genre on the iOS devices, that people really started to take notice of the emerging gaming style. And by “take notice” I of course mean that they picked the game up and found themselves unable to put it back down again. The bane of the infinite runner gamer. It’s now 2013 and Imangi Studios have finally released a sequel to the massively popular Temple Run. Temple Run 2 is here but is it just as addictive?
The player’s task in Temple Run 2 is simple: Run as far as you can without succumbing to your brutal and inevitable death. The brutal thing about all infinite runners – and Temple Run 2 is no different – is that you will die. There’s no getting around that, you just have to delay your demise for as long as possible by avoiding as many of the pitfalls and hazards as you can. It’s not always easy and, because the terrain is randomly generated out of a series of pieces, how well you do is often related more to the luck of the draw than actual skill. Still, that doesn’t stop us pressing that alluring “Run Again” button as soon as we’ve finished a run.
While you’re running away from the crazed beast that’s chasing you, the stolen idol clutched under your arm, there are coins that can be collected to further your score, along with several pick-ups that will make your life significantly easier. As well as increasing your score, collecting the coins will also give you more currency with which to buy items from the game’s in-game store. These items include upgrading your runner via an upgrade system, buying more power-ups and abilities, or even buying new characters altogether who have special abilities themselves. However you like to play your game, and whatever you like to spend your hard earned coins on, it’s catered for in Temple Run 2.
If you’ve played the first Temple Run, or any infinite runner for that matter, then you’ll already be well versed in the controls. Player’s, for the most part, are expected to simply swipe left, right, up and down in order to move left, move right, jump and slide respectively. It may sound easy, and it is relatively easy to learn, but once you get a certain distance into the game and things start speeding up, you’ll have to perform the action so quickly that if you haven’t got naturally quick reflexes then you can forget getting any of those top scores – unless you’ve got the cash to spend on gems of course.
Temple Run 2 is as addictive as the first game in the series, although it may irk some people that the emphasis on pay-to-win is slightly more apparent here. The graphical overall, the extra powerups and the fact that you’re playing a brand new Temple Run game makes up for that. If you haven’t already downloaded the game then go and do it right now – it’s free too, so there’s really no excuse!
Apparently in development for some eight years, and originally planned for the original Nintendo DS, Fractured Soul has finally landed on the Nintendo eShop.
Fractured Soul is a game that immediately captures the imagination when you hear about its gameplay premise. It’s an action-platformer that makes use of the 3DS’s two screens by allowing the player to ‘shift’ dimension when needed (switching the action from the top to the bottom screen). The two dimensions offer up different enemies, pathways and obstacles, and shifting happens instantaneously.
The game is set on a ship, far off in outer space, that is sinking into a black hole. Caught between two dimensions, you control what appears to be a robot trying to escape. Along the way you encounter numerous bad guys, and each presents several options. You can fight them off with you laser gun, or you can switch to the dimension that they aren’t in and walk right by. Of course, the challenge is much greater than that, but that’s an example to give you an idea of the concept.
More hardcore platform game than out and out action game, Fractured Soul will please fans of the former genre for sure. The addition of the dimension-shifting gameplay mechanic adds a variety and depth of challenge to the genre rarely seen these days, and reminds me of the rock-hard action-platformers of my childhood. Contra, anyone?
The game drops the now-standard 3D effect, presumably because it wouldn’t be suitable, and on the whole it’s a fairly drab-looking affair. That’s not to say it looks bad, because it doesn’t, it just doesn’t excite all that often.
The difficulty curve is a steady one, with the level of challenge rising slightly level by level. When you get deep into the game, the physics go nuts and the challenge is huge, so be sure to bring plenty of extra lives with you! Look out for the old school shoot-em-up levels; the dimension shift here makes them some of the most enjoyable stages of Fractured Soul, and I’d love to see a whole game dedicated to that style of gameplay.
On the whole, Fractured Soul is a decent actio- platformer, with a unique premise that makes it well worth a look for fans of the genre. Shoot-em-up diehards should definitely get involved, if only for the few shmup levels alone.
SWIPE THE DECK:
We’ve all played a match-3 game in our lives. Whether it’s something as simple as Popcap’s Bejeweled, or something as relatively complex as Puzzle Quest, we’ve all dabbled in the genre at least enough to understand what it is. A lot of gamers will also have dabbled in the addictive card game of Poker too. You may have played the actual game with friends or relatives or you may have only experienced it inside of other games such as Red Dead Redemption or Far Cry 3 but, again, most of us will have enough experience with it that we at least know what it is and roughly how to play it. With that in mind, have you ever seen a game which combines these two game styles into a single cohesive experience? No? I hadn’t either, that is until Swipe the Deck from Ender’s Fund landed in my Mobile Monday inbox. Both game styles are rather addictive, generating that “one more go” mentality that most games strive for, but does it maintain that sensibility when you smash the two genres together? Let’s find out!
Gameplay in Swipe the Deck involves creating Poker hands out of the cards you’re given on the typical match-3 grid. The better the hand you create, the more money you’ll be able to earn at the end of the round. For example, a pair of aces is going to net you less money than a straight flush would. If you’re not a regular Poker player then you may find it difficult to see the best hands on the grid straight away, but thankfully, if you’re waiting around for more than a couple of seconds, a helpful hint system will appear to tell you where you can swipe. This allows new players to learn the possible hands, and from that point it’s just a matter of recognition. You don’t have to know how to play Poker to play Swipe the Deck but it certainly helps to know all of the potential hands.
The controls in Swipe the Deck are as easy as you would expect them to be, only requiring the player to swipe across the tiles that make up the hand they want to create, then let go in order to accept the move. If it’s a valid hand then it’ll be accepted by the game and you’ll get the points/money, if it’s not then they’ll flash red to let you know that it’s an illegal move and you’ll get to try again. The barrier to entry is extremely low thanks to the genre being instantly recognisable, and with simple controls, but it is more suited to people who already have a moderate knowledge of Poker; the game does a good job of teaching the player though so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Swipe the Deck is one of the more interesting Match-3 games to come out in recent memory, but that doesn’t mean it’s without its flaws. Most obvious of these flaws is the fact that even though you can participate in single player or multiplayer modes, without an internet connection the game won’t even start. Nevertheless, Swipe the Deck is an interesting concept, and one that has been well implemented. If you’re a fan of Match-3, and a fan of Poker, this is the game you’ve been waiting for.