Football season is now behind us, so let’s talk about a different kind of game—ones that don’t require any special physical talent. We lead off with an iOS title that lets you lead car crashes and cause mayhem. And if you’re looking for something more story driven,we might have something for you—an RPG/tower defense hybrid for the Mac. Finally, we have the followup game from the creator of Flappy Bird.
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Pako – iOS (Universal)
Pako is a Car Chase simulator, but rather than give you a big open world like Grand Theft Auto with lots of escape routes. Pako confines you to a parking lot, a subdivision, a graveyard, or a small section of freeway, among other settings. As you advance through the game, an ever increasing amount of police offers chase you, but if you drive recklessly enough, you can get them to crash. The longer you stay alive, the higher your score.
The controls are easy to master—simply tap either the right or left edge of the screen to turn in that direction—but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be a good driver. Your car always goes at almost full speed, which may explain why it is so difficult to control.
Pako is conceptually simple, but the mayhem is addictive fun.
What’s Good: Arcade driving with insane car chase mechanics.
What Sucks: Controls take a bit of getting used to.
Buy it? If you would like an arcade take on criminal mayhem, check out Pako. Buy it on the App Store for $1.99.
Walkr – iPhone
Everyone seems to be obsessed with tracking their physical activity these days, but beyond offering leaderboards and nagging you to exercise, most fitness tracker apps do little to encourage you to get up and move. Walkr tries to change that: It uses your daily step counts to fuel your exploration and maintenance of a series of planets.
Walkr starts you out in a space ship that orbits Earth, but as you exercise, you get to explore the cosmos and discover new planets, which the app creates at random. Each planet has its own lifeforms, and it’s your responsibility to feed them. To keep up the supply you’ll also need to buy “DFRs”, which generate food you send to planets. When you feed planets, you unlock coins which you can in turn use to upgrade both the planets and the DFRs.
It’s not the most original game, but compared to what passes for gamification in fitness apps, Walkr is fantastic.
What’s Good: Fun way to get you up and moving.
What Sucks: Might be a little to high-maintenance for some people.
Buy it? If you’re looking for a little motivation to kickstart your exercise routine, check out Walkr. Grab it for free on the App Store.
Boshi – iOS (Universal)
Boshi reminds me of classic NES games: It’s brutally hard and deceptively simple. You play a lumberjack in the Arctic wilderness, and your only goal is to cut down a set number of trees per level. It’s tricky because you can only cut down the mature trees of the right size. To make matter worse, wolves stalk you as you walk the tundra.
You can shake the wolves off your trail with your flare gun, but there’s a catch—you only get a limited amount of flares, so eventually your only choice is to make a run for it. The wolves will tire out and lose interest, but not if you run into another wolf. If you play “endless mode” Boshi always ends the same way: the wolves corner and devour you.
The controls consist of a virtual D-pad, which even looks a bit like the old NES controller. The controls need work, though—the D-pad isn’t always responsive when you try to change directions.
What’s Good: Fun, challenging game.
What Sucks: Controls are a bit rough.
Buy it? If you miss old-school games with old-school difficulty levels, check out Boshi. Get it for $.99 on the App Store.
Defender’s Quest – Mac
Defender’s Quest is the first tower defense game I’ve seen on the Mac that didn’t start out as a mobile title. But simply calling it a tower defense game glosses over its storyline and baked-in RPG-like elements. You play the King’s librarian, Azra, and after being presumed killed by a plague, you get tossed into a pit along with the dead. This plague turns its victims into zombies, but there are some survivors who you can use to defeat the attacking zombie hordes.
Gameplay is about what you’d expect from a tower defense game: Monsters try to kill you, and you’ll need to position heroes to defend yourself. You can’t move your heroes once you position them, so you’re stuck with your initial setup. Azra has some spells at her disposal that will take care of enemies that slip through your defenses. All the characters have their own stats you’ll manage.
Defender’s Quest tells its backstory through good illustrations, while the combat portions use more of a retro-pixelated style. The contrast in style might be jarring to some people. Still, Defender’s Quest is a solidly put-together game with both an interesting story and interesting gameplay.
What’s Good: Good story. Adds lots of depth to the basic tower defense concept.
What Sucks: Contrast between gameplay graphics and the storytelling segments might be off-putting to some players.
Buy it? Grab Defender’s Quest if you’re looking for a light RPG or a more in-depth tower defense title. Buy it for $14.99 on the developer’s website.
Swing Copters – iOS (Universal)
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to fly around with a helicopter on your head? If so, welcome to the world of Swing Copters, the follow-up game from Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen.
Swing Copters involves more than being able to fly around leisurely—you also have to navigate through gates of swinging hammers. Well, that and you’re apparently really, really drunk. I assume that Nguyen will have a different take on the backstory, but that’s my analysis.
Like Flappy Bird, Swing Copters is a single-button game: You just tap the screen to change the direction your character drifts in and try to keep them flying in a straight-ish line. It shares one other thing in common with Flappy Bird: you’re going to die. Over and over again. And for some stupid reason you’ll keep playing this dumb game.
What’s Good: Yet another perfect cocktail of difficulty and misery that makes even the tiniest triumphs feel fantastic.
What Sucks: Said frustration isn’t for everyone.
Buy it? Flappy Bird fans will find a new addiction in Swing Copters. Check it out for free on the App Store.