One consequence of getting sucked in by Pokemon Go is that I’ve ‘rediscovered’ mobile gaming, to an extent – just as Eurogamer predicted. Bar the odd game of Threes, I’d pretty much given up on mobile games before this summer, but the Pokemania earlier this year prompted me to see what else the App Store had to offer.
I’d been put off before by various scrounging free-to-play games that constantly needled me for money. Plants vs. Zombies 2 was a prime offender in this category. I absolutely adored the first game, but the sequel switched to free to play and consequently walled off the more interesting stuff behind microtransactions – a sure way to kill all the enjoyment. Pokemon Go, for its sins, also adopts the free-to-play model, but in a much more acceptable way – everything is available to everyone, but those who choose to pay can get it a little quicker. Still not as satisfying as a one-off fee, but a decent compromise.
Thank heavens, then, for Square Enix’s ‘Go’ series – not to be confused with Pokemon Go, which cheekily seems to have ripped off the ‘Go’ suffix. (The first in the series, Hitman Go, came out back in 2014, so it pre-dates Pokemon Go by at least 2 years. But I presume that it was too difficult to copyright the word ‘go’, as King found out when they tried to copyright the word ‘saga’, as in Candy Crush Saga.) Lara Croft Go and Hitman Go were recently bundled together and put on sale on the App Store, so I quickly snapped them up. One price, everything included – lovely.
I’ve yet to play Hitman Go, but Lara Croft Go has been an absolute delight. I wasn’t sure how well Tomb Raider would translate to a slow-paced puzzle game, but it’s managed to keep the feel of the series intact while offering an interesting new style of gameplay. Each level gradually introduces a new puzzle element – salamanders that follow you around, for example, or torches that repel monsters – and these elements neatly combine and intertwine as the game goes on, so by the end there are some real head scratchers to solve. On the strength of this, I can’t wait to play through Hitman Go – and I’ll almost certainly pick up Deus Ex Go, the latest in the series.
I’ve also been playing Really Bad Chess, which I sought out on the strength of this recommendation. It’s free to play with adverts, but you can pay to get rid of them – again, a good compromise, and much better than locking away content for cash. The game itself is a very basic representation of chess, but with the twist that you have a seemingly random mix of pieces. For example, on my first game I found I had four queens, while the computer opponent had 5 knights.
As a result of this simple change, the games are enjoyably chaotic, and it made me completely rethink how I approached the game. Interestingly, despite having four queens, I still lost that opening game – it turns out that having a phalanx of knights is awesome for defence if they’re arrayed together. The game also progresses pleasingly, just like Lara Croft Go – as your rank increases, the computer starts off with better and better pieces, while your own pieces get progressively worse.
If you’ve played any amazing mobile games recently, let me know!