Last week there wasn’t a lot of gaming news, but indie hit Ridiculous Fishing was reported to have made nearly a million dollars, but shockingly just selling the game. Console gamers got to see some big news from Microsoft. We saw the company announced its entire launch line up for the Xbox One. They also showed off some more integration for the new version of the Kinect.
Keep your eyes on the site this weekend, as we’re going to have coverage from PAX for you. We’re going to be scouring the show floor for Mac and iOS developers, as well as getting you previews of upcoming games.
On to our games of the week.
Fetch- iOS (Universal)
iOS has hosted a renaissance of adventure games. Fetch settles right into that groove, giving an adventure full of exploring and puzzles, but also delivers action with mini arcade games. The story is a sweet tale of a boy trying to rescue his dog, and going through some extreme means to do so. The game feels a bit like a Pixar film, it’s friendly enough for kids, but the heart of the story will resonate with adults.
You can download the initial level and mini-game for free, giving you an idea of how to explore the world and solve some early puzzles. The mini-game in the free game is a riff on Tapper, but you’re stunning robot dog catchers to allow dogs to escape. The rest of the game has some equally fun arcade sections, including a really creative action puzzle section. Fetch really stands out in the genre because every puzzle has an obvious solution. If there was a complaint, it would be that often some puzzles are way too easy to solve. The story is simple yet well told, and completion-ists will find that in addition to achievements, there are unique dog tags to collect through out the game as well.
What’s Good: Fun story. Inventive mini games.
What Sucks: Puzzles can be a bit too obvious.
Buy it?: If you like adventure games or are looking for something lighter to play, check out the first level for free on the App Store. You can then unlock the whole game for $2.99.
Lionel Battle Train – iOS (Universal)
Model trains aren’t exactly getting the sort of high tech updates that most toys have these days, that is until Lionel paired with Schell games that create an arcade action game based on trains. While it is exactly as silly as it sounds, the game’s mechanics manage to make it really entertaining. You arm your train by mounting weapons on your boxcars, and then you take aim at your enemies on the rails. You’ll also need to navigate the tracks by swiping up and down to avoid obstacles.
Battle Train has a story, but it is a bit silly but really its isolated to text in-between levels. There is a huge world map, and plenty of side missions that help you earn more cash for upgrading your train. (You could skip these missions and just go for the IAP.) The best way to look at the game is to consider the game the train version of Spy Hunter. The customization should keep most players interested.
What’s Good: Fun arcade action. Lots of levels to keep playing.
What Sucks: Storyline is largely forgettable.
Buy it?: If you’re looking for a quick and fun game, pick up Lionel Battle Train for free on the App Store.
Gleamer- iOS (Universal)
Seeing a genre stripped down to its barest elements is a risky proposition. Gleamer smartly reworks a puzzle platformed into a minimal design, but still works to provide an engrossing challenge. The premise is simple, you have to collect all of the gleams on a level, and your character always moves. When you hit a wall, you turn around. The only control you have over your character is a jump. You have to avoid red platforms or you die. You don’t have to start over, but the clock keeps rolling.
Each level has a time limit to “master” it, but you can advance as long as you collect all the gleams. The design choices here are very integral into what makes the game work so well. You can really see that most of the work went into controlling the moment of the character, and creating levels to test your meddle. Mastering many of the levels is really difficult, as is passing most of them in one go.
What’s Good: Excellent design. Challenging gameplay.
What Sucks: Stripped down look isn’t for everyone.
Buy it?: If you like puzzle platform games, grab Gleamer on the App Store, for $.99.
Dysfunctional Systems Learning to Manage Choas – iOS (Universal)
Visual novels are not quite games, per se. They do offer a few branching choices, it’s best to think of them as RPG’s that are missing most the G. Dysfunctional Systems tells the story of Winter, a student learning to be a mediator. As you play you begin to understand that there are parallel worlds, and you’re finding yourself away from home on one of many. Trying to put you into the situation involves a fair amount of exposition early on, but they made an effort to keep the narrative locked into the characters.
Though you only get limited controls over your character and plot, Dysfunctional Systems manages to still be a fairly engrossing experience. Even though there is a fair amount of really nice art here, the animation is rather limited. The text is well written enough to balance most of it out, but occasionally you’re hoping that you could see something described in the text, but instead you’re given the same static image. You do see other things actually animated, so it’s confusing as to what’s being shown versus the text only plot.
What’s Good:Well written. Great stories.
What Sucks:Not enough choice for the player. Inconsistent balance between animated and non-animated scenes.
Buy it?: If you’re looking for something solidly between a comic book and a video game, grab Dysfunctional Systems for $3.99 on the App Store
Papers Please – Mac
Papers Please is the latest indie title to become a sleeper hit. (Which is quite a feat for a game that addresses something as complicated as immigration.) However, Papers Please put you in a checkpoint station of an old Soviet Block country. You inspect passports, and work with the data your given. As you progress you’re given more and more data to manage for each person. As each day ends you’re given your salary based upon how many entrants you process, and you use that funds to keep your family healthy. You’ll need to pay for heat, food, and needed medicines.
Papers Please is a bit of a design geek’s game. Seeing how they weave in small stories into the throngs of people you process is excellent. It humanizes the people that are pushed through line, often forcing you to take a penalty in exchange for helping someone out. The game has a hyper stylized look that perfectly embodies the Cold War Soviet era.
What’s Good: An excellently designed game with a lot of small touches that really engross the player in the world.
What Sucks: Some places it isn’t exactly clear what you need to do, leading to a lot of needless failure in the early levels.
Buy it?: If you’re open to games that tweak genres to show off good design, grab it for $9.99 from it’s site.