This week, paid apps really reigned supreme. With the possible exception of MOBIUS FINAL FANTASY, the free-to-play offerings failed to deliver long-lasting gaming experiences. However, not being personally familiar with (or frankly that interested in) the FINAL FANTASY franchise, you won’t see MOBIUS on my list this week.
The only freebie of interest for me this week was Apple’s long-awaited, brand new Apple TV Remote app. This app replaces the previous remote offering and is a HUGE upgrade over the previous app, with a dynamic display that changes based on content, emulating all of the features of the Siri Remote that comes with the latest generation of Apple TV boxes. Your iPhone essentially becomes a giant Siri remote with the top half of the screen becoming a swipeable area for navigation. On the lower half of the screen is where you’ll find the menu, play/pause, home and Siri buttons. When pressed and held, the Siri button allows you to use voice commands to control the Apple TV. If you prefer to enter search strings and passwords, etc via text rather than speech, the new remote app will automatically pop up a much-needed keyboard, allowing you to quickly type in what whatever you need to (ABOUT TIME!). Finally, should you decide to play a game, you will be presented with a little game controller icon which launches a special Game Mode which puts the controller into a landscape mode with swipe area on the left and select and play/pause buttons on the right in classic diagonal placement. This app is a must-have for any current gen Apple TV owner.
Albert & Otto is a dark atmospheric puzzle platformer in the same sort of vein as LIMBO. You are a boy named Albert, traveling through a haunting world trying to find a lost bunny-ear wearing girl who mysteriously vanished in a cloud of smoke. Along the way you’ll find letters with drawings and shards of pictures which will give you clues as to who this mysterious girl is. At first you only have the ability to move, shoot and jump. However, it is once you happen along a tiny bunny rabbit named Otto, that they game really gets interesting. While not directly moveable himself, Otto can be placed by Albert to trigger switches, dropped into tight areas and more, and while Albert is carrying Otto, it unlocks other special abilities like double jumps and more. This is such a neat mechanic, because there may be moments where you need to trigger two pressure switches, so you drop Otto on one and move Albert to the other. However, while the Albert and Otto are apart, Albert no longer has his special abilities and if either is hurt, you’ll have to restart the level. It makes for some really interesting and engaging puzzle design. Aside from the more methodical puzzle sections of the game, there are some fast-paced and exciting boss battles as well, which will require quick reflexes, but still have a puzzle element to them. I have been really impressed with this one. The game offers about 2.5 to 3 hours of gameplay and this is apparently just the “first installment” of the adventures of Albert and Otto. I’m not sure if the future installments will be updates to this app, IAP or new apps, but Albert & Otto is easy to recommend at its launch price of just 99¢ (reg. $2.99).
A circus was passing through town and the trapeze artists were the final act. However when one of them falls, questions began to arise as to if the death really was an accident. You, a detective, have been called in to investigate and interrogate the eclectic cast of performers and witnesses to ascertain who the murderer is. One Show Only is a bit of a strange mashup, part logic puzzle as you use information gathered through interrogations to solve a crime, and part strategic card battling game. In order to question individuals you must play question cards to a 3×3 grid. Questions must enter from the bottom row and on subsequent turns you move them up the rows, trying to take out the person being interrogated’s cards. Each card has an indicator of how that card moves based on which column it is played in. Some cards can only be moved straight up columns, others move diagonally, while others offer the player multiple movement options. If your opponent’s card reaches the bottom row of the grid, you can no longer start cards in that column for this round of questioning. By reaching the top row you can unlock additional cards. Each time you play or move a card you ask a question to gather more info to assist you in solving the crime. The game is certainly unique and has a wonderfully indie and gritty hand-drawn art style.
Released by Fire Maple Games way back in late 2010, in the early days of the App Store, The Secret of Grisly Manor was a brilliant point and click adventure game in which you have been summoned to Grisly Manor by your eccentric inventor Grandpa with the promise of seeing something “truly amazing”. However when you arrive, your Grandfather is missing and you must solve a bunch of puzzles and follow clues to figure out what happened to him. I loved this title when it came out way back in November of 2010 and remember captivatingly playing through the entire game in one sitting. So imagine my delight when all of a sudden this week, a sequel, Return to Grisly Manor, appeared on the App Store out of nowhere. Squee! In this latest adventure you need to help keep Grandpa from losing Grisly Manor to a bunch of greedy land developers. To do so, you need to repair his time machine, and travel back to the original Grisly Manor to find the evidence Grandpa needs to prove he owns the land. Another great collection of puzzles await you as you find items that you then need to use and/or combine to solve other puzzles and then just when you think the game is about over, there is a whole ’nother set of puzzles to solve. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there is an amazing callback to the original game which, even not having played it in nearly six years, had me more than a bit giddy. Right now as a special promotion, Fire Maple Games has made the original The Secret of Grisly Manor available for FREE for the week (so go grab that now). Play the original and then grab Return to Grisly Manor as well and you’ll have yourself a fun 4 to 6 hours of point and click adventuring to enjoy for just $2.99.
Flying Slime is a 2D (speed run) platformer with a fun swinging mechanic. Players control Slimie, a cute little creature, swinging through the forest, trying to save his Slime homeland from “the evil harvester machine”. You have two slime slinging buttons to send a stream of slime diagonally in front or behind you and then separate up and down arrows to move Slimie up and down the string of slime. Once you get the rhythm of the controls down you can really get Slimie swinging satisfyingly around the levels as you race against the clock trying to find the Spirit Heart to end each level. You start out with a campaign story mode, but there are multiple additional game modes including survival, multiplayer, challenge.
Blitz Breaker is a challenging new tap and swipe-based arcade/platformer hybrid in which you play as Blitz, a little robot trying to escape the factory he was made in. You make your way around each of the danger-filled levels using a combination of taps and swipes. Since Blitz only has the ability to jump and do in-air dashes, timing is the key to staying alive. You tap to get Blitz going and then swipe up, down, left or right to dash him in that direction. He will keep moving in that direction until he comes into contact with a surface. If that surface is not one that will kill him, then he’ll start to fall in the direction of gravity, at which point you can then swipe to send him in another direction. The control scheme gives the game a rather unique and airy feel and a constant sense of motion which is quite satisfying. It’s never a straight path to the exit and you’ll have to avoid spikes, spinning blades, ride conveyor belts and span multiple screens and more on your way to the exit. There are two game modes, Story and Arcade. Story Mode allows you to play through the levels at your own pace, and pickup where you left off, unlocking new areas of levels as you progress. Your time is your score on the level, which is constantly counting down. Collecting coins helps to boost your score and completing levels faster (and within the specified score) earns you a star for that level. Arcade Mode is more of a survival mode where you are given a starting number of lives and you are basically trying to make it through as many levels in a row as possible starting from beginning. The level design is well done, with a nice progression of difficulty, but things do start to get challenging pretty rapidly. The Blitz Breaker experience is capped by its nice pixel art and classic feeling chiptunes soundtrack, this was one of those really nice surprises, a retro, yet fresh feeling twitch gaming experience.
BebopBee has followed up their popular Pokemon Snap-inspired game Snapimals that they released late last year with the new dinosaur-themed title Jurassic GO. Playing much like the original, the biggest distinguisher between this game and its predecessor (besides the theme) is that Jurassic GO is a paid title. Otherwise, the gameplay is pretty much the same; you head out on on-rails expeditions through the wildlife, panning around to line up and snap pictures of the dinosaurs to create photos and post cards that will drive guests to your Dinosaur Museum. Once you reach the end of the expedition or run out of film, you look at the pictures you’ve taken, select the best three and then see how much they are worth and if they meet certain objectives. I really enjoyed Snapimals, but my biggest complaint with that game was the (all too common) free-to-play nonsense that unnecessarily and artificially limited gameplay. Switching to a paid for this sequel was a great choice and results in a much more satisfying experience. I hope Jurassic GO does really well for BebopBee.
That’s all I have for you this week.