Mobile Roundup #11 - January 2019
Welcome pocket players! New year, new games, am I right?! This month we’ve got two very different takes on golf, a word game with a twist, and are boldly going where plenty of other Star Trek games have gone before. Let’s jump right in!
Golf Club: Wasteland (iOS)
Golf games have been around since the dawn of video-gaming and as such you have to do something pretty different to stand out. Luckily, GC Wasteland does precisely that.
In the not-too-distant future, the wealthy have left the decaying Earth behind in favour of the newly created Tesla City habitat on Mars, but sometimes pop back in protective spacesuits to play golf on improvised courses in the ravaged post-industrial landscape.
The golf mechanics by themselves are nothing we haven’t seen before, but what makes this one special is the bleak, desolate setting of the world we used to call home, and most of all the wistful tones of Radio Nostalgia in your ears, tight-beamed from Mars with a calming selection of classic hits from the 2020’s and bittersweet recollections from citizens of what life on Earth was like, peppered with little dystopian reminders to take your bone density pills and to restrict shower time to thirty seconds or less. A secondary story is also told in the comments before each new hole, from the perspective of an Earther who has remained behind and is witnessing these opulent strangers arriving back to play in the ashes of their former home. If you’d rather just listen then the soundtrack is available, but it’s somehow more poignant hearing about humanity’s fractious and fragile future while lining up a bank shot off a rusted old car.
Golf Peaks (iOS, PC)
Our second golf game this month also takes the game in a new direction, this one more puzzle than narrative. For each hole you are given a set number of cards representing the type of shot; lofted or putted, and for how many squares. With only these options available, you must logically tease out how to get the ball in the hole.
Sporting a sparse watercolour aesthetic and a relaxing solo piano soundtrack, Golf Peaks is an admirable exercise in minimalism. Sometimes the solution requires rather deliberately and counter-intuitively playing into a bunker or water tile, but once you’ve accounted for this, a challenging eighty-four holes await you.
Supertype (iOS, Android)
Normally in word games you’re tasked with spelling or other forms of lexical dexterity, but there aren’t many games which ask you to consider the physical makeup of the letters, their shapes and contours more valuable than their sound or meaning. Supertype presents a sparse landscape of shape, above which hangs a single line to enter what letters you think best. The goal is to have letters simultaneously covering a number of small dots in awkward positions; while the long slant of a j or an l may be useful to bridge gaps, other times the gentle curves of a o or an s may best serve the problem in hand.
It also states handily on the keyboard how wide each letter is, which together with the space between each letter can affect how they fall (typography nerds will know this as kerning). The letters make various percussion sounds as they fall, and a winning solution is rewarded with a satisfying drum flourish. While players may rely more on trial and error to get a solution than intense study of the aerodynamics of characters, it’s certainly a novel entry in the competitive world of mobile puzzlers.
Star Trek: Fleet Command (iOS, Android)
There have been several other similarly themed Trek games before (Trexels 2, Star Trek Timelines), but the powers that be at CBS have decided there’s room for one more, on an arguably grander scale that any previously attempted. Taking place in the Kelvin timeline established by the recent reboot films, you start the game as an independent roister in a rickety ship, playing Starfleet, the Romulans and Klingons off each other. At a certain level of progress you’re invited to pick a faction to join for keeps. Be warned though, if you want to pilot the Enterprise, you’ll be playing a while!
The usual 4X strategy-style machinations of slowly building your fleet, gradually levelling up and exploring the galaxy to extend your influence are represented here, with the ability to jump from star system to galaxy view at the touch of a button. Games this slick-looking always have microtransactions under the hood, but Fleet Command doesn’t overly pressure you into participating; the main campaign can be enjoyed without forking out, if you’re prepared to wait for the longer activities to complete. A lot to like for Trek fans, but more casual players may be put off by the depth and complexity.