Jump Dash Roll's Mobile Roundup #22 - December 2019
It’s the end of the year, and if you’ve any room left after all that turkey, stuffing and chipolatas, perhaps we can interest sir or madam with a little mobile game for dessert? They’re only little!
Lego: Builder’s Journey (iOS)
The official most favourite toy ever found a new life through video games, but this new mobile iteration is quite different from the zany parodic antics of franchise tie-ins like Lego Star Wars or Lego Harry Potter. Hewing closer to ambient puzzlers like Monument Valley, Builder’s Journey charts an unspoken narrative between a son and his father. Each little triptych is a self-contained level, where you must place the spare pieces lying about in such a way that the son can cross the landscape to reach the next area. The characters are little more than amorphous stacks of bricks, yet the muted colours and gentle piano-led soundtrack convey a wealth of emotion between the lines.
In finest Lego tradition, there are multiple solutions to each problem; you just have to experiment and build one that works. The bricks themselves are almost photorealistically rendered, you’d almost be fooled if it wasn’t for the subtle animation of the characters. The first game released from their brand new in-house studio Light Brick, this is a promising new space for Lego to step into.
Graphically Spek couldn’t be more simplistic - a smattering of plain shapes and lines on a pastel background - but the basic nature of the visuals hides a lateral thinking challenge. Each grouping of lines represents an object in three-dimensional space, which can be rotated around a central axis. Where the lines intersect, the small circle that represents the player can cross from one object to the next in order to collect all the required squares and progress to the next level.
Matters get trickier still in later levels where gravity starts to play a role in complicating your task, and enemy dots are introduced. There are even some bonus augmented reality levels where the outline is superimposed over footage taken from your own camera. Another fine puzzler ideal for the platform.
Globesweeper (iOS, PC)
Minesweeper has been on everyone’s computer since they were invented in the Middle Ages, but it’s always been a terminally flawed proposition. Luckily developer Incandescent Games has brought the game bang up to date and into the third dimension. The mines now reside on a sphere, which can be easily rotated and zoomed in and out. Occasionally you’ll put a finger wrong and have to watch in horror as the mines explode all around your precious bauble, but it won’t dampen your resolve to have another go.
Most importantly, it circumvents the one issue that made the original Minesweeper infuriating - each sphere is completely solvable using the information to hand; no guessing required. Sphere size and number of mines can be increased for a tougher challenge, and various skins for the surface can be unlocked, including the Earth, Mars and Venus. For a game where entire planets are in danger of detonation, it’s a surprisingly calm and relaxing time.
Star Jolt (iOS)
Finally something less cerebral but equally fun, Star Jolt aims to capture the feel of the monochrome palette and curved cathode screen featured in the Vectrex vector-based console available in the early ‘80s. Guiding a rocket down an increasingly narrow trench, you’ll have to react fast and make quick decisions as the perspective distorts and rotates around you.
Collecting tokens on the path increases your score, but also your speed. Multiple scoreboards are supported and you can even record your run for bragging rights. A quick hit of nostalgia for when you have a few minutes to kill.
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