Ahoy portable pioneers! It’s E3 time and quelle surprise, the industry is awash with rumours and speculation, but we all know where the real innovation is happening, right? Let’s crack on with this month’s pocket-sized picks!
Let me play among the stars.
This oft-overlooked gem of a game wrenched our hearts apart when it first appeared on PC, and while we’re eagerly awaiting the second installment of this world, Finding Paradise, it’s pleasing to find the rich narrative experience now fits in your pocket. Just make sure you have a handkerchief to dry your eyes in the other one.
For the uninformed, To The Moon is a visual novel with some mild puzzle elements which tells the tale of a man at the end of his life and the two doctors who can dive into his memories Inception-style and grant him one last wish - to go to the moon. Excellently written with copious dry wit and packed with moments both joyous and melancholy, the new mobile version’s cleaned-up pixel graphics are an improvement on the PC’s blocky originals. The delicately themed soundtrack, also written by the game's creator Kan Gao, is as moving as ever. It’s an unconventional pick and the install size is quite large, but trust us, you should give this one a chance.
Nothin' to it but to do it.
Also in the realm of games that don’t have much ‘game’ to them is this little astronomical oddity which is firmly in the clicker genre; set some variables and tasks to get resources, wait for those resources to build up, rinse and repeat. Normally these aren’t worth bothering with unless they’re making some kind of clever satirical point (Cookie Clicker, Little Inferno), but Spaceplan’s offbeat humour, deliberate misunderstanding of science, and strange potato-based economy make it a unique proposition. Boasting a clean, stylish interface and a trippy synthwave soundtrack, this curio from the twisted minds over at Devolver Digital won’t take up too much of your time and will certainly fulfil your weird indie game quota for the week.
If I go forward, you go backward, and somewhere we will meet.
A sequel to a critically lauded indie darling and double BAFTA winner was always going to be a taxing proposition, but UsTwo Games have delivered a competent next chapter which retains the same basic gameplay of pathfinding in a wonderful world of pastel-coloured MC Escher-like impossible architecture. This time the game follows new character Ro and her child as they work together to navigate the geometrically unfeasible landscape. If you don’t feel some tension in your heartstrings when the two find each other and embrace after a trying time apart, you are an automaton and this game is too good for you.
When we collide we come together.
After a few minutes of play it seems such an obvious idea, but somehow it’s only materialised now, some three decades after its respective parent games. As you might expect the gameplay is a mashup of both, with your paddle now reflecting the blocky invaders’ lasers right back at them. A sizeable roster of supporting characters from Taito’s other games are available to unlock, each providing a special power of some kind to aid in repelling the invasion. Admirably these are are all unlocked using currency earned in-game, with dastardly microtransactions thankfully absent from proceedings. Classic arcade fun with a twist.