Mobile Gaming Roundup #15

Platforms: iPhone | Android

Once again we parse through the app stores' offerings to find the very best mobile marvels in town!

80 Days (iOS)

How will we get there? I haven't the foggiest.

Jules Verne’s classic tale of adventures in foreign climes has been adapted many times to the stage and screen, and more recently to board and video games, but this is the first on a mobile platform and a marvellous example of the resurgence / reinvention of interactive storytelling which has been gently but surely shaking up the app market, with such leading luminaries as Device6 and Sorcery. In the shoes of Phileas Fogg’s put-upon assistant Passepartout, you’re in charge of sketching out which paths to take and cities to visit in order to complete the famous wager to circumnavigate the globe. As you travel, the story text unfolds and you are invited to shape it by choosing the next part of the sentence which reflects Passepartout’s actions, words and thoughts. Each choice could either lead to a small humorous aside or branch the story off in a completely different direction!

In each new locale you find yourselves in, there is much to do. You can buy and sell items at the market which may prove useful or profitable, explore the city to learn important nuggets of information and, most important of all, ways to continue your journey. All this and of course being a faithful and attending valet to Mr Fogg. Care for a shave, sir?

Not Constantinople.

A wonderfully rendered spinning globe has all manner of information on the nearby cities and ways to reach them, by rail, road, sea or air, but the clock is always ticking, and sometimes you can run afoul of circumstances which will cost you precious hours and days. The turn of the nineteenth century isn’t quite as history remembers it, with certain historical events altered and technologies advanced well beyond their established years in a steampunk style. The high standard of writing and sheer number of narrative possibilities means you could easily play this a fair number of times and have markedly different adventures, encountering all kinds of new characters. Another quality example of the possibilities this platform offers!

The Sailor’s Dream (iOS)

Cast away.

Turning out quality titles since 2010, Swedish mobile mavens Simogo have of late chosen to specialise in the kind of exciting new interactive novella specified above, but in markedly different genres. While previous years brought us the folklore-tinged fear of Year Walk and amnesiac spy-fi adventure Device6, their latest offering is an altogether more romantic, classical tale. With less focus on hard puzzles in favour of soft exploration, we cast off onto the ocean waves in search of love, loss and understanding.

Uncover secrets in hidden places.

Piece together each drifting memory fragment to uncover the story of a seasoned mariner, his belle, the little girl in her charge, and the fate of house by the sea. To say more would be to spoil a unique experience, but it’s one that comes wholeheartedly recommended. Featuring great original music from frequent collaborator Jonathan Eng, innovative storytelling and remarkable craft, The Sailor’s Dream is another step up for Simogo and another revelation for us of the exciting possibilities for play in new ways the mobile platform offers, in the right hands.

Rules! (iOS)

I need to revise first.

Rules are everywhere, unless you live in some kind of anarchist commune, or it's time for The Purge. For the rest of us though, it's good to know and follow them, so you could look at this game as a trainer for successful integration into society, sort of. Rules! presents a grid of numbered squares with pictograms attached and requests you sort them according to the currently displayed rule e.g. tap all odd numbers, or tap only animals. Speed is of the essence as the clock is always counting down.

Easy for you to say.

After a successful pass a new grid and new rule are introduced, however the previous rule must be remembered as it must be followed immediately after the current one. The game is over when you run out of time or the mental capacity to remember so many infuriating rules, which for most people will be sooner rather than later. It's an interesting take on the old Simon-style memory game, and the difficulty can be ramped up to expert once your synapses are firing correctly.

Desert Golfing (iOS, Android)

At the gentle rolling slopes of madness.

The desert is unforgiving. The desert does not count near-misses, and does not offer mulligans. Desert Golfing is not like other golf games. There are no title screens, no options menus, and no excuses. The only way to quit or restart is to delete the app entirely. Until then it is just you, the ball and the hole. There will be times when your spirit will soar after a run of perfect shots, and there will be times when you curse to the heavens as the ball runs down a slope into oblivion. The desert does not offer hearty congratulations, or tearful commiserations. It does not offer pointers, or power-ups, or in-app purchases. It merely keeps score, etched into the unchanging sky in bright white numerals with searing permanence.

The end is nigh.

I have reached hole 257. Others are reportedly well into the thousands. Is there an end? Is it a test? Is it a Sisyphean metaphor for life's thankless struggle??? At the least it'll kill a few minutes if you're waiting for the train.

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