Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Mobile Games

I haven't been able to game much this year, unfortunately, but what gaming I have done has been almost exclusively on the iPad. If I'm at my computer, I'm either writing the blog, answering e-mail, or working on Gridiron Solitaire, but when I'm away from the house, I can't be productive, so that's my gaming time.

I've recently run across a few excellent and unique games that are very much worth playing. Let's have a look. Oh, and if you're looking for an excellent, thoughtful information resource for mobile gaming, I highly recommend Pocket Tactics.

Knights of Pen and Paper (iOS and Android, .99)
This is a retro-style (both in art and gameplay) RPG, with a twist: there's a Dungeon Master "running" the game, and you can buy items for the gaming table/room that affect your journey through the game world. There's certainly a fair bit of grinding, and the game is somewhat unbalanced in places, and the treasure is quite skimpy.

Having said all that, though, I played it compulsively for almost two weeks, putting in 20+ hours and having a tremendously good time. Even with its flaws, it's compulsively playable, and very nostalgic. Certainly, it's one of my favorite games of the year.

Grading Game (iOS, .99)
This must be the most unlikely subject for an entertaining game ever, but somehow (especially for English majors and grammar nerds), this is a blast. The premise is simple: you're a graduate student with a huge number of student loans to pay off, and you get paid for grading papers. The twist is that the professor can't stand his students and wants everyone to fail, so your job is to find all the errors in the papers you grade so that they will flunk.

Again, unlikely fun, right? It's a well-designed game, though. There are several types of "levels", and there's a time limit, so there's a sense of urgency. The graphics are crisp, there's a nice bit of polish, and it's just fun.

Here's a screenshot from the Apple Store's page for the game:

I do wish there was more of a sense of progression--you go through four years of papers, but there doesn't seem to be any use for the money you're making except to pay off your student loan--but the individual levels are interesting enough to carry the game.

Spaceteam (iOS, Free)
This is absolutely one of the best multiplayer games I've ever played in terms of laughter per second. You and your comrades (up to 6 players can play together) are all crew on a space ship. You have an instrument panel in front of you. Every other player has a different instrument panel in front of them. Everyone sees different commands at the top of their screen. If you see a command, and you have that control on your instrument panel, then you set it as instructed. However, if you don't, you have to call out the command for one of the other crew members to execute.

That sounds simple, but even with just two players (myself and Eli 11.4), it's hilarious. Every time we play we're laughing our asses off, because the names of the controls are ridiculous, all kinds of silly things happen to the instrument panel if you make a mistake or don't execute a command in time, and it's all high farce to a wonderful degree.

The base game is free, but there are expansions available (each costs .99) to add more ships, missions, etc. It's a terrific idea for a game, and it's extremely well-executed. And silly.

The Lords of Midnight (iOS, $4.99)
If you don't remember, Lords of Midnight is a classic 1984 game created by Mike Singleton (who sadly passed away recently). It was huge and dense, a tremendous, epic challenge, and it's a huge gift to see it available on mobile platforms (Android release coming soon, apparently).

I'll have another post about this game next week, hopefully.

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