Clay Jam (Free) is a game about clay. I'm really not sure what genre you'd classify the game under, but it's different, quirky, and most importantly, fun. There are times when the controls seem a bit unresponsive and some of the challenges definitely live up to the concept of a challenge, yet the overall demeanor of the game is lighthearted and whacky, and every gamer needs a selection or two like it to balance out the "serious" nature that so many modern games take. Games are supposed to help you escape from the real world, and Clay Jam does that quite well.
It’s hard enough creating one substantial game in a series, let alone a franchise that holds up over several iterations. Sprinkle is one example of how to do it right. The original Sprinkle was a surprise and a delight, and Sprinkle Jr. was entertaining, though it sat much better with my 8-year-old son who actually played it through at least three times. Now we have Sprinkle Islands ($1.99), and it looks to be everything the original Sprinkle was to a grander scale. My only grumble so far is that it didn’t do away with the need to play each world completely through to get to the next one.
I don’t get a chance to play nearly as many G5 new releases as I’d like to, but when I do get the chance, I usually manage to pick the more interesting ones. Twin Moons HD (Free download; $6.99 IAP for full game) is no exception to that rule. Once I started playing the game, I played Twin Moons almost exclusively until I had completed it. I haven’t been quite that enthralled in an adventure game in a while.
The game has a pretty typical adventure game intro in the sense that you find yourself driving in a car and ultimately crashing in front of your desired destination. In this case, however, you’re not quite sure what you’re doing there, which is where the story comes in. Aside from the fact that the story is interesting, I like the fact that it is mostly told via scene-triggered flashbacks and other things I won’t mention so as not to spoil the premise.
My first experience with Digi-Chain Games was Dungeon Of The Damned, which sadly showed lots of promise but in my opinion failed in execution. Since then, the company has stuck to good old-fashioned, point-and-click adventures and has produced some wonderfully entertaining games in the process. Its latest is Escape from the Dead HD ($0.99), and while the overall design choices prevent it from feeling like a true horror game, it still does what Digi-Chain does best—provide the end user with a solid, thoughtful, adventure game experience. I was only disappointed that the game is easier and more straightforward than past efforts, making it a shorter overall journey.
Like most games that cause a big splash, Tiny Wings has had many imitators, and Hoppetee! ($0.99) is one of the best by far, possibly even outshining its mentor. The main character certainly has the personality the Tiny Wings’ bird lacks. His laugh is infectious, and the music in the game is quite cool. However, it really drives home why infinite-motion-themed games can be both addictive and quickly repetitive. To its credit, however, Hoppetee has employed some traits of more traditional infinite runners that help it rise above its peers.
Have you ever wondered what a muppet’s nightmare might be like? I’m betting it would look something like WeeWaa RockOn ($0.99). This game is bizarre, challenging, and might make you want to pull your hair out; but at the same time it is actually kind of fun. The biggest drawback to this mobile game is its lack of variety. Well, that and the fact that for a game based around music, the music isn’t all that great.
The visuals are the highlight of WeeWaa. The 3D engine is put to good use with detailed backgrounds and slick character designs. And tell me you can look at the Tall Purple Guy and not think of the Muppets! The sound effects are decent, as is the music. I’m a bit disappointed, though, as the focus of this game is using music to thwart the bad guys. I would have expected a more interesting soundtrack since music is a key element of the story.
The folks at Retro Dreamer taught me that sneezing can be fun. They showed me that mechanical raptor-spiders are cool, and elves really do work much harder at Christmas than we give them credit for. I’m not sure if there's a lesson to be learned with SlamBots ($1.99), but the latest Retro Dreamer games is simple, entertaining, looks great (in an old fashioned sort of way), and manages to get hectic before you’ve even realized it has done so.
In this game, you’re in the business of stamping out all these weird little creatures that look like part of the evolutionary chain from Despicable Me. You start out as a cyborg ninja with a basic slammer, and as you earn some cash you can buy new characters and better slammers. New characters don't appear to influence game play, but I believe the slammers do.
I think we often tend to romanticize things from our past, as evident when we try to go back and watch a TV show or movie we used to love or play a game that was once the “best game ever.” Such is the case with Karateka Classic ($0.99). Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed playing through it again, especially since I don’t recall ever beating it the first time around. But games have advanced so much since then, I have a feeling someone not fueled by nostalgia wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I did. Still, it’s a nice example of a game that has clearly influenced many developers since its inception.
I guess this is where I’m supposed to start my glowing review of yet another G5 hidden object game. I actually have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by Special Enquiry Detail- Engaged to Kill HD (Free, $6.99 full with in-app purchase) as I wasn’t a big fan of the first version. It’s been so long I can’t pinpoint what’s different this time around, but I do know the exploits of detectives Turino and Lamonte have now clicked with me, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the adventure. This game lives up to the quality we’ve come to expect from G5 much more than certain other recent hidden object titles. Plus, the murder mystery angle gives it a different flavor than other offerings from this company.
I’ve long been a fan of strategy games, but the more engrossed I become in mobile gaming, the less I have the desire to play a game where one “round” or “mission” takes a half hour or longer. Thankfully, some mobile developers understand that, resulting in strategy games like Totems ($2.99). They may be simple in mechanics and short on play time for an individual match, but they still provide a sufficient mental challenge and sense of accomplishment when you win. In the case of Totems, I also like the whole tribal animal theme.