Jump Dash Roll's Mobile Roundup #14 - April 2019
This month we’ve got a grab-bag of old and new, serious and frivolous alike. Point your device of choice to the app store and let’s get down to business!
Cure Hunters (iOS, Android)
A meteorite has struck and a nasty zombifying disease has contaminated the planet, turning a host of people and animals into slavering mutants. Your intrepid explorer ventures from area to area, searching for the titular panacea (although your primary method of data gathering seems to be mostly shooting said mutants in the face - who am I to dispute academic research?). After clearing an infected area of beasties, it’s on to the next one with a quick stop at the shop to reload and purchase ever more impressive weapons. Freeloaders will have to suffer an ad at this point, but a small in-app purchase removes these.
The side-scrolling blasting action and hefty weapons recoil brings to mind a stripped down Metal Slug, while the roguelike random nature of the levels and bold pixel art is reminiscent of the more recent Enter The Gungeon. As with other mobile platformers, the controls have to be put on the screen itself, but developer Lucky Kat has done well to keep them minimal and unobtrusive. A fun, irreverent aesthetic and a hi-octane chiptune soundtrack from Moose make this one of the better mobile run ‘n’ guns in quite some time.
Thrust 30 (iOS, Android, browser)
Gamers of a certain vintage will remember the original version of Thrust released for home computers way back in 1986, a tricky physics-based space shooter of some repute which has influenced many other games hence. This remake was crafted by fan Andy Hayes for the 30th anniversary, and it’s just as fiendishly fun as it ever was.
Controlling a spaceship with a single engine, the goal is to gently and carefully drift deep down into planetary chasms in search of a shining orb to collect and drag up to the surface. Getting to the orb is difficult enough, with narrow passageways to navigate and turrets to avoid or destroy, but that’s only half the challenge. With the orb tethered to your craft, its inertia wrenching you this way and that, returning to the surface without exploding against a wall is doubly difficult.
The vector-style graphics of the original have been cast in a neon sheen in this new version, but if you find the glow of the particle effects too distracting they can be turned off. Matt Gray’s pulsing 8-bit soundtrack is a great addition, and there’s even a sandbox mode if your struggles with gravity become too much to bear.
Big Bang AR (iOS, Android)
More a piece of edutainment this, but I’m giving it a pass because space is awesome. Made in collaboration with CERN and Google and narrated by Tilda Swinton, Big Bang AR is an interactive whirlwind tour from the beginning of the universe itself right up to the here and now, from the creation of the tiniest particles to our own solar system.
Because it’s AR you can spin the camera round to see the majesty of a star forming and then exploding in a massive supernova, and there are links to further reading material if you find it all endlessly fascinating, as you should. You can even take your own star-selfie at the end!
Viewport (iOS, Android)
Casting the player as a subject in a scientific experiment has often been a useful framing device for games, and is employed here in this visual and spatial puzzler from Korean developer DimArea Games. Inspired by a feature commonly used in 3D game development, your willing participant is tasked with correctly identifying how a 3D object will appear in 2D cross-sections from the side, front and above. While the perspective on the object can be altered slightly, this is mostly a test of your spatial reasoning to imagine how the object will appear face-on.
Starting with simpler objects, the difficulty quickly ramps up with more complex items with any number of holes and protuberances. After every test your unseen examiner showers you with compliments while also letting slip unsettling details about the reason for the experiments and your eventual fate. An old-skool green screen aesthetic and gameplay ideally suited for touch screens make this a fine first offering from a solo developer.