Jump Dash Roll's Mobile Roundup #19 - September 2019
Welcome, my portable gaming posse! With Apple launching their new Arcade initiative promising top-level, ad-free gaming experiences for a monthly subscription, it’s an exciting time for gaming on the go! Let’s get into it!
Mini Motorways (iOS)
Debuting as part of Apple’s new Arcade platform, Mini Motorways is the sequel to acclaimed public transport puzzler Mini Metro, an acutely observed game of strategy and balance in a tube map brought to life. Keeping the same clean minimalist feel and ambient generative soundtrack, this automotive next step shares much of the DNA of its parent, but with some key differences.
Rather than connecting stations, we are now tasked with laying down the roads connecting houses to larger buildings representing places of work or commerce. Stoplights and bridges can be placed in key spots to help the traffic flow, and the rarely doled out motorways themselves can rise over the normal roads to link problem points on the map.
Whether you try and evolve your system as it grows, periodically wipe the map and start afresh, or just create a hodgepodge of spaghetti junctions that would make any real town planner shed a single tear of regret, it’s always fun seeing just how far you can push your little city before it falls over in vehicular anarchy. Maybe not quite as good as the original, but only because the original was so perfectly executed in the first place, Mini Motorways is heartily recommended to both newcomers and fans of its train-based predecessor alike.
Mario Kart Tour (iOS)
The latest entry in Nintendo’s invasion onto the mobile platform had to be a good one. We’ve had experiments like Super Mario Run and resurrections of old titles like Dr. Mario, but Mario Kart in its various guises has been a steady, stalwart presence in Nintendo’s lineup for nearly thirty years. Some ill-considered, half-baked mobile spin-off wasn’t going to cut it, and we’re happy to report that’s certainly not the case. Containing many classic tracks from previous entries in the series, its looks are almost on a par with the recent Switch version, and controlling your powerslides with a single finger is as good as it’s possible to get without an actual controller. Races are interspersed with challenges designed to introduce new gameplay elements, like quick starts or speed rings, and you can unlock new tracks and items as you progress.
Unfortunately, as ever, we must turn to the subject of microtransactions. Coins and rubies are both used in the game, with coins allowing purchase of new drivers karts and gliders, and rubies used to either get more coins or to take a chance on getting a random item. True, it’s as much after your wallet as any other big-name mobile title, but when that old Mario Circuit music starts up you can’t help but smile and forgive it.
Knight Quest (iOS, Android)
Some people start learning chess and give up when they encounter the weird way the knight moves, but developer Golden Bite have decided to dedicate an entire spin-off game to his angular ambulation. Each level is essentially a gauntlet run of various other chess pieces which you must either avoid or capture in your L-shaped travels. Time is against you as the screen is ever scrolling down, and all possible moves need to be considered if your chivalrous champion is to make it to the other side unscathed.
Not all pieces need to be captured in order to progress, but manoeuvering into position in order to pick off those pesky pawns can be tricky when the clock is against you. Rendered in appealing cel-shaded art and with an appropriately medieval soundtrack, this is the thinking man’s endless runner.
Inbento (iOS, Android)
The bento box is an absolute staple of Japanese culture and cuisine, a carefully assembled and constructed little lunchbox of treats that is as much an art as it is food. Polish developer Afterburn has used this as the inspiration for its latest release. Each bento box in the game consists of cubes of particular foodstuffs, like rice, meat, fish, vegetables and pickles. Starting with an empty box, you must combine the various ingredients to match the desired appearance at the top of the screen. Ingredients can be piled on top of other ingredients, but what is on the top layer is what counts for presentation.
After a thorough introduction to the world of bento, you’re then given bigger boxes which are already full, and have to swap the ingredients around to match the desired outcome. Muted pastel colours and gentle piano music help focus your thoughts, and cute cutscenes show a mother cat preparing these delicious packages for her loved ones. A perfect little puzzler that will stimulate your brain and your belly!
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