Okay. I admit it: I look over your shoulder on the train. I see you playing Angry Birds, poker and backgammon on your smart phones, and, hey, I don’t blame you. The daily commute on Public Transit is a weird thing: Here’s this stretch of time where we all sit together in silence and try not to make eye contact. It can be uncomfortable, it can be boring, or it can be super fun!
But people! You’ve got to branch out here. Angry Birds may exercise some strange parabola muscle in the brain, but there are some great games that aren’t infringing on the Intellectual Property of whatever bored human invented throwing rocks at windows.
Here’s a few games for the iPhone that are trying something new:
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP ($4.99)
It’s hard to talk about this game without gushing praise. But, geez, talk about getting a game right. The art is all lo-res pixely, but every element on the screen is so intricately put together. Rustle the bushes and splash the water, no problem. The game is supposed to take a while, but that’s not a problem for the commuter. Just close out and come back to it later on. In fact, after each ‘session’—chapters of game—it will urge you to take a break. Fine by me. Don’t rush it. The greatest thing about Sword & Sworcery EP is how completely immersive it is. From composer Jim Guthrie’s atmospheric music to the quietly alive environs you’ll quest through. Real smart controls, too. For flight just ‘Tip Tap’ wherever or Touch and Hold for quick action. When it’s time to fight you rotate the phone into vertical and your sword is drawn. Please enjoy this game. It’s like a time based art installation at the app store.
My Little Monster ($.99)
Flat out: This game is adorable. Also funny, dark, and totally absurd. Styled after Monster Trainers like Tamagotchi or Pokemon, My Little Monster is not quite that. It’s fun and good looking with pixel art mixed up in cel shaded graphics, but more than anything the game serves to showcase Par Fredriksson’s humorous take on game design. On a mission to destroy the world, you and your monster battle foes like ‘Lost Hiker’, ‘Lo-Res Mage’, and ‘A Skinned Fox’. The one downside to ML Monster is, being such a short game, how limited it is. There’s no chance to max out your monster, plus less damage received translates into more points to spend, so the only upgrade worth buying is defense. Once you’ve beat the game once, play through again with a winner’s exp multiplier. The art and music are worth your buck alone, thankfully it’s fun to boot.
Desi Leaves Town ($3.99)
The App Store doesn’t have a games subsection for ‘literature’, but that’s just what this game is. Pajamahouse studios was making a bold move when they released Desi. In a time when people throw actual tantrums over milliseconds of lag, Desi Leaves Town requests an audience. One with patience at that. The game is an adaptation of the novel Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysman. According to Wikipedia (#AndWhat?), the 1884 novel is about “Jean Des Esseintes, an eccentric, reclusive aesthete and antihero, who loathes 19th century bourgeois society and tries to retreat into an ideal artistic world of his own creation.” Presumably on purpose that same blurb aptly describes what Pajamahouse is attempting with this game. I tip my hat to these guys, though. As a proud literate, myself, the idea of mixing literature and technology is appealing. The story is dark and quirky, the music is intriguing, and the animation is endearing. Where the game lacks, however, is the part we’re all here for: the games! I hope we’ll see some updates that revamp the mini-games with your typical ADD players in mind.
The Impossible Game ($.99)
The Impossible Game by FlukeDude is actually impossible. It’s so nauseatingly frustrating I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack. Why am I still playing this? It’s simple. That is, the game is minimalistic and addictive. You control a box that moves unstoppably forward. Your only defense against inert triangles and other boxes is that you can jump. Timing is everything here. You’ll learn the course through brutal trial and error alongside a techno soundtrack programmed in time with the obstacles. It’s great. This is a pure game, simply put.
Grand Theft Auto III ($4.99)
GTA III was rereleased for the game’s 10th anniversary so it’s not technically new, but in adapting the classic ganglife free for all to iOS, Rockstar has done something special. The touchscreen controls are excellent, slick, and allow for a bit of customization if necessary. It’s best to leave the missions for your lunchbreak lest you miss your stop. Whatever. This is the same huge world we all remember, and it’s still just as fun as ever. Catch some Unique Stunts and run a few rampages while you’re waiting for the G train. I mean, if you’re waiting for the G train just go ahead and play. You’re not going anywhere.
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