Due in part to people tossing iTunes gift cards in with some gifts last year, I've been spending a bit more time on my iPhone. These are three of the games that sucked me in in the past few months.
Endless Road takes the runner craze and plunges it in minimalism, resulting in an experience that can be as stunning as it can be frustrating. But for $0, what do you have to lose?
The aforementioned “endless road” simultaneously folds out in front of and collapses behind the player’s car. To avoid falling behind (and off the edge of the road), you have to keep up your speed by hitting power-ups and swerving around obstacles.
Outrunning the collapsing road delivers you to new environments, full of new simple shapes and new carefully placed flecks of color. The map has multiple paths selected randomly for each race, meaning that world one / stage four could be one of eight different terrains.
The game is not without its frustrations, of course. It’s not easy. And once you find yourself doing really well, you may get so far ahead onscreen that you’re unable to see what the road has in store. Grabbing coins earns you helpful powerups, but you’ll have to play for a real long time (or spend real life coin) to make significant upgrades. I know you can’t really fault a free to play game for including microtransactions…but I just did it anyway.
Endless Road shows that when it comes to gaming on a small screen, less is more. It’s basically the IKEA of racing games, and it’s totally worth a shot.
Endless Road » Free on iOS
I’ll come right out and say it—while not an overly pretty game, Writer Rumble is a good fit for our readership. Y’see, it’s a literary fighting game. For 99¢ you can pit legendary writers against monsters…or against each other.
[Un]fortunately it’s not much of a blood bath, which I suppose makes sense. The cartoony Jane Austen, Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Agatha Christie, and friends fight with the magical power of words. As a player, you search for words from the board of scrambled letters below the action. Make a new word and your writer of choice sends some high impact letters at his or her foe.
You can choose between surviving against waves of monsters solo or facing off against other players, locally or online. I wasn’t confident in my skills at first and turned down a few match invites while wading through the instructions. After experimenting with different authors/fighters and their special powers, I took to the online sphere and was repeatedly rejected by strangers. So I may not be able to report on the full experience, but I did enjoy taking down monsters in that seriously haunted library. I imagine fighting against other players—or watching two famed authors fighting each other—would be a ton of fun. Maybe one day. Maybe one day.
Anyway, give it a try and coo at the cute Cthulhu.
Writer Rumble » 99¢ on iOS (Coming to Android "Early 2013")
Gunman Clive is gorgeous. Gorgeous and punishing.
This mobile title puts you in the boots of rough and tumble hero Gunman Clive as he charges through a dusky, pencil sketched Old West to save the mayor’s daughter. The graphics are smooth and the music is incredible and it’s all fun and games (hah) until you encounter your…third enemy, maybe?
If you’re a fan of NES-era platformers, Gunman Clive is your jam. It wants to kick your ass, and it probably will. It’s not that the level design is particularly gruesome (though the checkpoints aren’t very forgiving)—it’s the controls. A directional pad on a touch screen is not an easy thing to perfect, so I’d find myself turned in the wrong direction when trying to duck and shoot an enemy, because without being able to actually feel the d-pad, it was hard to know which button I was pressing before it was too late.
Or maybe that’s just me. It wouldn’t be the first time I straight up sucked at a game.
For $1.99, it’s well worth the frustration. Even without the retries, it’s a fairly long game, and the quirky characters and environments and powerups will keep you coming back even after you’ve become numb to how beautiful the game is.