Mobile Gaming Roundup #14

The latest in pocket-sized play.

I’ve been busy so it’s been a while since the last mobile games roundup, but that just means there are more great ways than ever to game no matter where you find yourself in this crazy world (as long as you remembered to bring your phone / tablet). Let’s commence!Doctor Who: Legacy (iOS, Android)The gang’s all here.You may have noticed there’s a new shouty serious Scottish Doctor on our screens, and to celebrate the new regeneration the BBC commissioned this game from devs Tiny Rebel. It’s been out since Capaldi was announced as the one who’d be taking the sonic screwdriver from Matt Smith, but they’ve pushed to promote it now the series has started.You don’t need to tell me twice.On the face of it, it’s another match-3 game, but a nicely designed one that incorporates history from the show’s entire run. Starting off as the Eleventh Doctor, you uncover a Sontaran plot to rewrite your timeline, leading you to revisit classic episodes, collecting fondly remembered companions and battling against infamous villains. Up to six time-travellers can be on your team at any one time (although only one Doctor), each assigned to a different coloured gem which will give them the strength to attack when matched. In a world of duff TV tie-ins, this is a surprisingly fun companion to the show, with none of the money-grubbing F2P shenanigans we’ve come to expect from such things. There is a special fan area that can be unlocked for a price, but it’s not essential to playing the game.Spacepants! (iOS, Android)Abort!!! Abort!!!This entertaining endless runner is the product of Boxface Games, the creative outlet of one Sam Smith (age twelve). It features a pixel man called Guy, whose spacepants have unfortunately malfunctioned just as an interdimensional portal has just opened in the middle of the room (we’ve all been there, right?!). As Guy’s out-of-control accoutrements propel him around the room’s floor, walls and ceiling, jumps must be impeccably timed in order to collect hearts and avoid various nasties like space caterpillars. These spacepants just can’t be stopped!!!Created over a period of several months using Yoyo’s GameMaker Studio, its deserved success shows that the barrier to games creation has never been lower in in terms of financial investment and accessibility. If you’ve an idea for a game, why not try making it? It might make it onto the app store front page, just like Spacepants! It’s hard to stop saying Spacepants. SPACEPANTS!Swing Copters (iOS, Android)It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.Flappy Bird is one of those odd sort of stories that managed to escape the gravity well of the dedicated games media and rocket into the consciousness of the confused, bewildered general public. Created by Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen, it became inexplicably popular last year until Dong decided to remove it from the store at the very apex of its media coverage, citing the attention he’d received because of it unwelcome. This lead to a very strange set of affairs with literally hundreds of copycat apps flooding the market, while people with phones that had downloaded the app before it was remove flogged them for silly money on eBay. People wondered if we would ever hear from this guy again.Yeah, don’t count on your score being much higher.Well, he’s back, and while the retro feel and simplicity of his first breakout hit have been retained, the difficulty has been cranked up to maddening levels. A single tap alters the direction your ascending bug-eyed copter man is drifting in, but if you collide with the ever-pendulating hammers, you’re dead. Also if you crash into the walls, you’re dead. You’re basically dead, no matter what. You might wonder why this game is worth playing, but with Flappy Bird, Dong latched onto a hitherto dormant sadistic streak in mobile gaming, and with Swing Copters, he’s seeing just how far he can push it.Symmetrain (iOS)You’ll soon be going loco.A game which is everything a mobile game should be; that is, a clever, inventive idea which isn’t overly complex yet possesses an appropriate difficulty curve and intuitive touch-related controls. From the team that also made the acclaimed Tiny & Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers for PC and later tablet, Symmetrain presents the eponymous locomotive travelling northward, bifurcating the screen. Any landmark, building or tree which is on one side but does not already have a mirror-imaged duplicate on the other must be tapped. At the beginning of your journey this is relatively simple, but the background gets busy fast as you journey onwards from simple pastoral countryside to ever-bigger towns and cities. Choo-choose carefully.Your one last recourse is to use the train’s brakes to slow forward motion for a few precious seconds while your panicked eyes seek out the asymmetrical errors, but this can only be used sparingly. Although you’re granted an extra chance for each station you reach, if you want to complete your journey you’ll probably need some training. Training!!! Because there’s a train!!! Oh sod off then.

Steven McCullough

Updated: Sep 30, 2014

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Mobile Gaming Roundup #14 | The Digital Fix