Festive greetings to all mobile gamers! In keeping with the season of family fun, we’re looking at some some top board game ports, a seasonal cooking puzzler, and untrammelled capitalism. They all have the possibility of distracting you from family arguments, or potentially causing them, so have yourself a merry one!
The heist: the immeasurably cool mainstay of the silver screen. Perfectly and flawlessly executed by debonaire yet rugged gentlemen thieves with meticulous plans, as a viewer they seem almost effortless. Heists in Burgle Bros are rarely so by-the-book. Based on the excellent board game by Tim Fowers, while the app version can’t provide the physical presence of the chunky cards and the box shaped like a skyscraper, its slick interface almost makes up for it being screen-bound.
Having amassed a crack team of criminals each with their own unique special ability, it’s time to choose a building to clean out its precious trinkets. These reside in safes on each floor which must be cracked using dice rolls. A guard patrols each floor on a randomised path, generally being a nuisance and running immediately to any alarms you happen to trigger. Each time you’re caught out you lose a stealth token; wax all three and you’re busted. Best enjoyed with friends, but can also be played solo to get experience with the different characters.
A truly elegant and beautiful game in form as well as function, Tsuro is a path-finding game from Tom McMurchie featuring dragons in flight. Starting from the edge of the board, tiles are dealt to each player with paths for their scaly avatar to follow; some straight like an arrow, others that twist and turn. Once chosen, a tile is placed on the board next to your dragon, who follows the prescribed route. Over time, the board fills and the tiles interconnect to form nearly unpredictable journeys. If a dragon hits a dead end or flies off the board, they lose.
The app version is just as aesthetically pleasing as the original, with the board viewed at a slight angle on a bed of sand. Up to eight can play, with bots of varying degrees of intelligence and trickery standing in for humans if necessary. The gameplay is straightforward but pleasing to watch as your little ceramic dragon tokens snake around the board leaving a neon trail in their wake. An appropriately sparse soundtrack of koto and panflute drones in the background as you contemplate where your winged beast will soar to next.
Toasted marshmallows, or smores as our American cousins call them, are a sugary delicacy we all enjoy, but in this challenging yet relaxing grid-based puzzle, you have to work for them. Mallows are speared on twigs or metal skewers and must be evenly toasted on both sides, but with multiple marshies there’s little space to manoeuvre, and no-one wants a burnt one! Starting out simple until you get the concept, matters quickly become more tricky as more mallows, cooking pots, multiple fires and obstacles like logs are introduced.
In between toastings a cosy story plays out among the family who are doing the cooking, and there’s a substantial eighty puzzles to solve on their wilderness holiday.
Clicker games quickly surpassed their cynical origins and became biting commentary on their own nature, from the gonzo excess of Cookie Clicker to the more nuanced melancholy of Little Inferno. In comparison to these, Universal Paperclips is positively spartan, a mere screen of text and increasing numbers encouraging you to optimise and expand your paperclip producing enterprise. Sounds dull as dishwater, but nevertheless this could be one of the most addicting games of the year, and it actively wants you to realise that fact, and to fear it. Matters rapidly spiral out of control as your helpful assistant AI finds new ways and means of promoting paperclip sales and production. With the resources at your disposal and the will to succeed, paperclip primacy is assured. All you have to do is ask.
Created by Frank Lantz from the NYU Games Centre who also created early mobile gem Drop7, this innocent-looking distraction is a dark and insidious tale of the dangers of endless consumption, and is a sage lesson for us all.