Jump Dash Roll's Mobile Roundup #20 - October 2019

October 30, 2019

What up, phone fam! This month we’re diving deep into the primo flagship releases on Apple’s new Arcade platform to see if it’s really worth the hype. Short answer: yes, yes it is. For the long answer, read on!

Assemble With Care (iOS)

Having proven themselves with the Monument Valley series, developer UsTwo unveils a new tale about mending the things most dear to us. We assume the role of Maria, an interrailing free spirit in smudged overalls who’s handy with a screwdriver and earns her room and board performing repair jobs on broken heirlooms and other objects for the local residents in whichever town she finds herself. We join her as she arrives in the cosy town of Bellariva, just when she thinks she’s earned a break, but the work has a way of finding her regardless. In each case the object and all the tools and parts needed to repair it are laid before you, but despite very little instruction or prompting being provided, it’s fairly straightforward to figure out the solution. The objects themselves are wonderfully realised in a slightly cartoonish cel-shaded fashion, and the story interstitials are interspersed with broadstroked, pastel-coloured portraits of the characters that Maria befriends. 

Kids today don't know what it was like.

The voice acting is excellent and the music wistful and tinged with that 80s synth gloss so evocative of millenial youth. From the outset it's undeniably clear that this story is out to relentlessly target your heartstrings, but rather than being trite and obvious, it comes across as touching, personable and even funny in places. We’ve seen before in the likes of The Sailor’s Dream and Florence how effective the mobile platform is for delivering these unique narrative experiences, and Assemble With Care absolutely joins that illustrious company. A joyous tale which reminds us that reminds us that in this throwaway culture of instant gratification and planned obsolescence, there are some things worth holding on to.

What the Golf? (iOS)

There is no shortage of golf games on the mobile platform, but there hasn’t been one as ruthlessly absurd as this. When you play What The Golf, the one thing guaranteed not to happen is the ball going nonchalantly into the hole. Set in a sortof golfing laboratory where the acclaimed ‘good walk spoiled’ is being tested to the limits of sensibility, new sections must be unlocked by completing themed holes. 

This wasn't in the rulebook.

Each hole has three variations to complete so there’s plenty of content here, but how much of it you’ll want to wade through depends on your inclination toward the kind of slapstick, bad pun-laden humour Danish dev Triband has crammed in here. Your expectations are endlessly subverted, from playing with the physics to riffing on other games like Super Mario Bros, Bubble Bobble or even more modern fare like Flappy Bird and Superhot. Swiftian this is not, but if the idea of putting furniture into a moving van, then putting the house itself up the road to its new location is amusing to you, then tee is served.

Card Of Darkness (iOS)

Come to think of it, there’s no shortage of dungeon-crawlers on the platform either, but when one is born from the talents of two very talented but seemingly disparate individuals, it’s worth paying attention to. Card Of Darkness is the marriage of the wizard gaming know-how of Zach Gage (Ridiculous Fishing, FlipFlop Solitaire) and the singular artstyle of Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward. The game is centred around the pursuit of the titular cards, which offer various in-game buffs when equipped.

We'll go to very distant lands.

Cards come in various values and four varieties: enemies, which may have other deleterious effects aside from their strength such as poison; weapons, which can be used to fight them; potions, to heal your adventurer; and treasure, which can buy items of use in the shop. Once a stack has been cleared, the top card on all adjacent stacks is flipped. Not all cards in each floor need to be dealt with, but if you start in on a stack you must clear it before progressing. The compelling strategy one can expect from a Zach Gage game is a perfect match with Ward’s whimsical art, and the quick pacing means you’ll always be tempted by one more foray into the dark.

Grindstone (iOS)

The chain-matching field already has a few strong exponents in the likes of Match Land and Dandy Dungeon, but there’s always room for innovation, and Grindstone adds a sprinkling of Norse mythology and a dash of danger to the mix. A dark mountain interior contains ravenous beasties galore but also a cache of the exceedingly valuable grindstones, and that’s all the reason Jorj the Viking needs to grab his sword and slash his way to wealth and glory.

Jorj can slice his way through a line connecting beasts of one colour, but if he can manage ten or more in a single turn, a precious grindstone will be unearthed. Collecting this mid-turn allows Jorj to switch his path of rampage to a different colour of beast, creating bigger and bigger combos. 

Greed is good.

However, the longer he sticks around, the less hospitable the cave’s creepy denizens will become; end a turn next to an angry one, and Jorj gets biffed. Each level offers the promise of more wealth set against the likelihood of remaining alive to spend it. If he does get mauled, our intrepid warrior is free to see to his wounds and purchase equipment at the Howling Wolf Inn.

It’s refreshing to play a game of this ilk and not be pressured by microtransactions just as you’re getting into it, and Canadian dev Capybara Games’ partnership with Apple Arcade was obviously key in making this happen. A strong entry in an impressive starting lineup.

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Steve McCullough

Gaming has come such a long way since I first started playing, and I can't wait to see where it goes next! Especially interested in mobile and indie games, and also a huge board game fan. Will talk about all of the above for beer money.