Week in Mobile: Greedy Dwarf, Anodyne, and Hypership Out of Control
Every Saturday here on GameZone, we assess a handful of new titles released for iOS and Android and update you on the biggest news we covered during the week.
On an app store inundated with runners, Crescent Moon Games’ new Greedy Dwarf (for iOS) plops players into a minecraft for a short ride, not an endless one. Maybe limitless stretches of lava, rollercoaster-like twisting rock paths, and infinite gold would be more enticing to some — and all the better to show off their skills — but when the steering is as difficult to handle as the gigantic dragon you’re trying to steal from, you count your blessings.
Greedy Dwarf offers two types of control schemes: finger steering or button presses. One finger on the screen moves the dwarf while two fingers make him jump. This is how you’ll guide the cart over lava craters and around corkscrew-like platforms. To achieve the best score, players must collect as much gold and as many rocket power-ups as possible — if they can survive the wild boost in speed. In addition, the perspective often switches between forward movement and side-scrolling, which is a nice mix.
I found finger steering to be almost totally unmanageable. Using your thumbs is steadier but too slow while employing two pointer fingers fails to provide the grip you need. I ended up using my left thumb and right index finger for a balance of both, but immediately switched to button controls when I saw that they were available from the pause screen. These are more slippery but generally easier on the player, but even this option can’t fix the underlying problem: The design just doesn’t work well enough.
For having only one type of environment, the game glows with inviting colors. Unfortunately, the mechanics remain mostly the same as well, offering little in the way of excitement or creativity. One of the best courses (of which there are 32) includes what I assume is dinosaur-bone segment of the track and an antigravity pad that flips you upside-down until you hit another. However, Greedy Dwarf never managed to surprise me like that again. The various tunnels are simply too much of the same even though they throw together other challenges like air-boost pads and force fields that reverse the gravitational pull every time you jump.
Thankfully, the app only costs $1, and there are no in-app purchases to deal with. But I would have loved to see Greedy Dwarf experiment more with its concept and mechanics, which are — control issues aside — rather likeable.
This is the part where we put games to a quick 20-minute test. Are they fun?
The recent indie favorite Anodyne has hit iOS for $4. In the first 20 minutes, players get a clear sense of what they’re in for: This is a dark, handheld/classic Zelda-like adventure in a 16-bit style where instead of swinging a sword, your hero brandishes a dust-filled broom.
The game’s opening minutes give you the basics: You play as Young, who must protect the Briar (whoever he is) from the Evil Darkness spreading across the land. I quickly reached the first dungeon and was able to beat the boss in 20 minutes alone. For progress, that’s not too shabby.
I mostly fought typical Zelda-esque enemies like red slimes, bats, and what looked like armored slimes, and I collected a couple monster cards — essential quest items. I didn’t have time to learn too much about them or the special keys, however, that play an important role in the adventure.
Andoyne is a role-playing action-adventure with modern conveniences, like frequent save and respawn points and a feature that lets you teleport back to the start of a dungeon by simply accessing the map. Most of the dungeon puzzles revolved around picking up dust with my unusual legendary weapon, a broom, and placing it in a spot that would block deadly laser rays, for instance. It’s an interesting concept for sure.
I loved the moodiness of the game’s atmosphere, and any RPG fan will appreciate the subtle touches of humor. My only concern with the mobile port, however, is the virtual D-pad, which is a little finicky — as it often is. All the buttons are virtual; you use those instead of finger swipes and the like.
Minor gripe aside, will I continue to play Anodyne? Let me rephrase: Am I done writing up this impression yet? Yes? Good.
Hypership Out of Control
Hypership Out of Control (iOS) by Fun Infused Games isn’t new, but it did catch our eye when it was available for free earlier this week. The sale is over, but for 99 cents, the game is well worth an impulse buy. There’s even a free lite version of the game (sized down to one mode) that you can try if you need extra convincing.
The basics are simple: Fly a spaceship through space and survive as long as possible. The brakes are out, which means you’ll continue to gain speed unless a special power-up, for example, slows you down. You earn points for staying alive, breaking blocks and shooting apart obstacles like asteroids (some are huge), and collecting lots and lots of coins.
Hypership Out of Control is addictive with its pixelated retro graphics and its increasingly crazy and difficult gameplay. While steering the ship with one finger is a little awkward (moving it around the screen produces too much friction), that didn’t stop me from playing over and over again in pursuit of a higher leaderboard score. It’s simple but incredibly fun.
Players get three lives to start with, and in addition to coins, they can gather power-ups like bombs, which destroy even the most formidable blockades onscreen, and shields. One power-up speeds you up while another slows you down. You can gain temporary invincibility or an all-powerful laser shot.
It’s not an intense as some of the more advanced space-shooters out there, but it will challenge you more the further along you progress. It’s pick-up-and-play at its best.
These games were reviewed on an iPad Mini.
Graphics on future tablets and smartphones will rival that of current-gen consoles, says Electronic Arts president Frank Gibeau.
Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame will be available for iOS and Android on July 25 for $3.
Limbo is out now for iOS. It costs $5.
The Walking Dead: 400 Days hits iOS on July 11.
Turtle Beach’s iSeries line of headsets is perfect for mobile devices.