Loveshack's Framed is a masterpiece of visual storytelling
-- and using that storytelling as the basis for unique gameplay. Each page of
the story is laid out like a comic book, a "silent" story of two
protagonists, avoiding the lawmen and double-crossing each other -- but the
panels are out of order. By examining the context closely, you have to arrange
the panels into the correct order to see your hero win the day, foiling the
fuzz and escaping clean, but it's harder than it sounds.
Sometimes things ain't broke, they just need a
bit of a tweak. Although there are plenty of official Frogger options from
Konami available for mobile, they've all just been a little bit disappointing,
really. Crossy Road (trailer) takes the basic premise of Frogger and adds
"endless" into the mix. Alongside some rather adorable voxel art and
a whole bunch of unlockable, road- (and river-, and railway track-) crossing
animals. And, if you don't move fast enough, you get eaten up by a giant bird
of prey. It's mixed things up enough to give the gameplay a fresh, competitive
new feel -- and something to keep coming back for.
One of Australia's most well-known mobile game studios is
Halfbrick, of Fruit Ninja fame. That game needs almost no introduction -- your
finger is a sword, and you use it to slice up as much fruit as you can, while
avoiding the bombs. It's a simple concept, but one that works utterly perfectly
in a casual context, with collectible swords and backgrounds to keep it
Don't, also, forget to check out Halfbrick's other games -- the
studio is also behind popular games such as Jetpack Joyride, Age of Monsters
and Fish out of Water.
might look like a crossword game, but don't be fooled -- it's actually a bit
more interesting than that. Think of a completed crossword: that seems to be the
basis where Bonza begins. Each puzzle is based around a concept, and the words
in the puzzle will have something to do with that concept. It might be zoo
animals, or sports, or something more specific. The "crossword" has
been broken into pieces -- and the aim is to put them back together by figuring
out the words based on the key concept. It's a really refreshing -- and fun --
take on word games.
Uppercut Games revolutionised the cover shooter for the
touchscreen in Epoch. The game itself is more or less on rails, and you use a
series of swipes to dodge enemy fire while hiding behind cover, popping up and
tapping enemies to target and return fire when the coast is clear. It's an
extraordinarily slick system, providing enough of a challenge to keep things
interesting while fitting perfectly with the platform -- and wrapped, let's be
honest, in some pretty gorgeous graphics.
Duet (trailer) seems to be based on death, in more ways than one.
There is, of course, a little death in video games — where you crash and burn
and have to start the level all over again. Duet has a lot of that. But if you
look for the thematic clues, the game is crawling with it: from the very
minimal snippets of dialogue to the strange, void-like atmosphere to the names
of the levels — the Kübler-Ross five stages of grief (plus a few extra). It also forces you to think outside the
box, requiring your spatial cognition to go into overdrive as you navigate the
levels to avoid hitting the obstacles with your paired red and blue dots, which
can only turn on a wheel at the bottom of the screen. It's this that fills it,
in spite of its difficulty, with immensely satisfying "eureka"
And the studio is only getting better as it goes: Train
Conductor 3 will be adding curved tracks and other new features, and the
upcoming, but mysterious, Time Project, which looks just stunning.
One More Line
Every now and again, an arcade title comes out that is just
beautifully put together. One More Line has a simple premise, but everything
about it is a brilliant example of elegant game design. You control a little
icon, flying along a track, trailing three colour-changing lines behind. Along
the track are circles -- which will cause you to explode if you crash into
them. However, by holding down on the screen, you can latch onto them, swinging
around to latch on to the next at high speeds. And when you crash and burn --
which you will -- you're left with the lovely loops of your journey and that
magnificent feeling that you'll beat your high score if you just have one more
If the name of the studio seems familiar, there's a good
reason -- it's behind another game you might have heard of, a little thing
called OTTTD. Only possibly our favourite tower
TownCraft is the kind of game we'd like all town management
sims to be: free from timers and in-app purchases. Basically, it's about
building a new village from the ground up from a wilderness. A rather civilised
wilderness, with lots of berries, eggs, trees and stones, yet a wilderness all
the same. You start with nothing, and have to build basic tools such as a
hatchet and a pickaxe to gather resources, experimenting with your supplies to
see what you can make. The aim is to create a successful town, and it's some
seriously addictive stuff. Think Doodle God meets Don't Starve -- without the
whole "starving" part.
When it comes to "choose your own adventure"
gamebooks for mobile, the biggest name in the business is possibly Tin Man
Games. Not only has the Melbourne-based studio launched a large number of
gamebooks of its own, it's also partnered with the likes of genre giants Steve
Jackson and Ian Livingstone to bring a new, digital lease on life to some of
your childhood favourites, all with loving attention to detail to make the
experience true to your nostalgia as possible.