Mobile Gaming Round #7

Platforms: Android

Smartphones, tablets, Kindles and phablets; if it runs iOS or Android and you want games on it, we've got you covered here.

Fairway Solitaire (iOS, PC)

Get up and gopher it.

Solitaire, usually the last recourse of the terminally bored; simple but necessary, existing on pretty much every current computing device out there, but usually a bare bones, functional, time-killing affair. Not so with Fairway Solitaire; developer Big Fish has indeed gone big with their take on the genre, framing it within a somewhat ludicrous but fun golf setting. Each course, of which there are a considerable amount, consists of different arrangements of layered cards which must be matched by playing one higher or lower than the card currently in the discard pile. Complicating your task are various other obstacles borrowed from the golfing world: ‘rough’ cards, which require two matches to clear, ‘bunker’ cards which are unplayable until you uncover the card with the sand wedge on it, and the ‘water hazard’ pile, which can only be revealed by playing all of the ‘wet’ cards. When faced with a difficult hand, you can reach into your golf bag and pull out an ‘iron’ – a numbered card you can use to change the one currently on the discard pile. Using these effectively you can chain together long runs up and down the deck and maybe even get a great shot bonus!

I am so great, I am so great, everybody loves me 'cause I am so great.

As with most mobile games these days there is an in-game currency, ‘golfbucks’ in this case, either earned by playing the game or bought with real cash. These can be used to buy new courses, more irons for your bag, or for various game-enhancing bonus items, like the weed eater to remove one rough card per hole, or a draw pile counter to check how many cards remain. A lot of mobile games abuse this kind of system to ensure that those who wish to progress in the game have no option but to fork out, but with the game awarding you big bucks for winning trophies or randomly triggered ‘wild shot’ mini-games, in-app purchases are only ever a last resort for the impatient.

The game really runs with the golf crossover concept, from the colourful art backdrops for each ‘hole’ to the equally colourful commentary, which chips in every now and then with an endearingly rubbish joke told in possibly the worst attempted accent I’ve heard in a game since The Saboteur. A free trial version exists but for a meagre 69p the full version provides a whopping seventy-two courses, with a further thirty-six bonus ones available to buy with your golfbucks. When all is said and done it’s still just solitaire, but it’s so well presented and feature-packed that you’ll find yourself playing for hours.

Hundreds (iOS)

Just be glad there's no thousands too.

The goal is simple; on any level there will be a number of circles which you can cumulatively expand by touching, the level being won when the total area reaches the titular century mark. The danger comes in that brief transiently tactile moment of truth - if a circle which is currently expanding collides with another, the screen runs awash with the red signifier of failure. As you progress through the levels other elements are introduced: spinning saw-blades that cut circles back down to zero, circles whose movement can be paused and released, negative circles, and more.

The game’s quality should be no surprise when you learn its pedigree, a joint venture from developers Adam Saltsman (Canabalt) and Greg Wohlwend (Puzzlejuice, Gasketball). It exudes an exceedingly minimalist design aesthetic, like a diagram in motion, which coupled with a soporifically ambient soundtrack makes Hundreds as lovely to look at as it is to play. The abstract nature of the puzzles conveys a purity of form uniquely suited to touch-enabled mobile games.

Mean, clean and pristine.

An element of mystery is also at hand here; every now and then the completion of a level will earn you a strange cipher to decode. How these secret messages relate to each other and the game itself is for you to find out, if you’re up for a spot of cryptography.

Hundreds is a game to be pondered, mulled over, and carefully considered; rushing in pell-mell will do you no favours here. Patience is the key; you will find often times when the screen explodes in scarlet you will have only your own hubris and greed to blame. Look closely and you will see the patterns emerge, and when the moment is right you can strike with steely precision. Those slow of finger would do well to get the iPad version, where the greater surface area makes levels easier to manipulate.

Wreck-It Ralph (iOS, Android)

The clue is in the name.

Disney’s latest animated picture was an absolute joy in the cinema, telling the tale of a video game bad guy who gets dissatisfied with his role in events and ventures forth to other games in search of honour and recognition. Fans are well catered for by the tie-in app, which features four of the fictional games from the film.

There just aren't enough modern games about building maintenance.

Fix-It Felix Jr. is the main game from the film, where Ralph’s task is to smash up a building so Felix (under the player’s control) can fix it up good as new, hopping from window to window with his magic hammer. The best of the four, the game’s retro design is very authentic, with a distinct old-skool Nintendo feel. The world of Sugar Rush is represented in Sweet Climber, which is basically a Doodle Jump clone, and you can also join rough ‘n’ tough Sgt. Calhoun slaying aliens in Hero’s Duty, a top-down Smash TV-esque affair, or indulge in a spot of kart racing in TurboTime. The latter three are somewhat passable pastiches of other more popular games, but the package is worth getting for the nostalgia buzz alone.

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