Mobile Roundup #10 - December 2018

December 24, 2018

Season’s greeting o mobile ones! No matter what delights Santa has for you under the tree, you’re going to need something entertaining yet discreet to avoid unnecessary Christmas dinner conversations with boring relatives. What better choice than this month’s selection?

Command & Conquer: Rivals (iOS, Android)

C&C destruction factory.

There can be fewer more perennial game series than C&C, but while you’re waiting for those long-awaited original remasters, here’s a mobile version which has a good stab at transplanting the turn-based formula to the small screen. Compressing the whole affair down into a single-screen hexagonal grid, Rivals keeps the familiar factions of GDI vs NOD and plonks a nuclear missile silo between them. Paired with a randomly selected opponent, each side fires out vehicles and units attempting to secure the silo and launch at the opponent’s base. The real-time element is successfully preserved, and the unit selection is varied enough that no match feels like an foregone conclusion. Granted this is an EA release and as such microtransactions and loot boxes are in the mix, but they are toned down so as to be fairly unobtrusive. A classic lineage staking its claim on a platform where turn-based offerings would seem to have the edge.

Kingdom Rush: Vengeance (iOS, Android)

Take the path less travelled.

Unlike RTS, tower defence is a strategy subgenre almost tailor-made for the mobile platform, and the Kingdom Rush series is one of the most well-crafted out there. In this fourth entry in the series the tables get turned, with you assuming the role of the evil wizard Vez’nan and his forces of darkness for a change. Aside from the alignment flip gameplay remains mostly familiar, with the slight difference that you can now choose a loadout of tower types to take into battle, instead of making the choice to specialise in-game. Repeat play is the key to determining your preferred style for warding off the forces of good.

After you’ve selected and placed your towers you still need to be alert, as you have several special powers at your disposal to summon extra units or deal magical death from above. Hero units can similarly be freely controlled to stomp on over to where they are most needed. Even more abilities can be purchased with in-game currency, which can be earned through play or bought with real money (for the well-off but impatient). Some optional cool towers and hero units also need to be paid for (naturally), but aren’t necessary for enjoyment of the core game.

Fans of the series should be happy with this new entry, but it’s also a great entry point for newcomers to the genre.

Rebels Inc. (iOS, Android)

Your face is a mess.

NDemic Creations’ first game Plague Inc. has been a staple on the app charts for months, a high-level strategy title where you coax a little germ into becoming a global pandemic. Cunningly substituting genes with memes, their follow-up task tasks you with nursing the seed of dissent into a full-blown revolution. On the surface this looks like a differently themed reskin, but they’ve incorporated several new concepts, like the need for intel on regions to uncover what’s happening there, or the balance between the use of civilian initiatives and raw military force to get the populace on your side. A great next step for this studio!

Dropmix (iOS, Android)

Drop it like it’s hot.

A slight departure here as this game requires extra hardware to be purchased, but you can now pick it up on the cheap and it’s a surefire hit for festive gatherings of all kinds.

Created by Hasbro in partnership with Harmonix, the developers of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games, Dropmix is a card-based music party game where single players or teams compete to create the best mix. Each card in your hand represents a specific instrument from a specific song, e.g. the vocals from ‘I Want You Back’ or the piano from ‘Bring Me To Life’. Once laid down onto the special Bluetooth-connected board, the tracks will start playing in time and in key with each other via the technological gifts of near-field communication and sampling. Players take turns to build up the mix to exhaust their hand and keep the simulated crowd happy. Tracks from a wide range of styles are included, and additional modes include a collaborative party mode, a single-player puzzle mode, and a freestyle mode if you just want to put together interesting mixes.

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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.