Mobile Roundup #5 - July 2018
A sun-kissed retro racer, a brace of logic puzzles, and a cyberpunk point-and-click with real heart and wit - a perfect quartet of mobile titles to enjoy at the beach, in the park, on the patio, or wherever else you find yourself in this uncommonly beautiful summer weather!
Horizon Chase (iOS, Android, PC)
The age of near-perfect simulation and impeccable attention to detail has granted us many stunningly accurate recreations of ‘real’ driving, but somewhere along the line, the simple joy of the arcade racer, with its basic controls and exaggerated style, was left behind.
Horizon Chase, with its stark lines and bold colours, has arrived to remind us of what we once knew - that retro racing is rad.
Presenting us with a more idealised version of how good our collective memory recalls OutRun and its ilk, sharp contours abound with nary a stray pixel in sight. With controls limited to left, right and accelerate, players are free to race across the world from the USA to China, earning accolades and new cars throughout. Master your timing and use of your limited turbos, and your nameless driver will issue sassy quips from the car window as he tears past competitors. Drive badly or run out of fuel, and you will come to an ignoble halt, and the shameful black flag will fall. The icing on the automotive cake is the sweet synthwave soundtrack from long-time gaming composer Barry Leitch, charged with energy and squealing synth guitars. Unabashedly throwback and proud of it, this is an excellent effort from Brazilian studio Aquiris. An enhanced version, Horizon Chase: Turbo, is available for PC should you wish to take your journey to the big screen.
.projekt (iOS, Android, PC)
Extremely intuitive but nonetheless challenging, this puzzler will require you to think three-dimensionally. On a five-by-five playfield, you are tasked with stacking cubes in such a way that they conform to cast different designated shadows on adjacent walls. Initially a simple proposition, but for maximum completion you are challenged with finding the correct solution with the minimum and maximum number of cubes.
While not charting new territory (see Shadowmatic for an earlier, more organic take on this idea), .projekt is well-presented and just taxing enough to fill the odd five minutes here and there.
Minesweeper Genius (iOS, Android)
Nineties-era Windows mainstay that it was, Minesweeper never really lived up to its potential, its promise of logically determining the safe squares cast to the wind whenever you ran out of adjacent squares to try, and were forced into a potentially explosive stab in the dark. Minesweeper Genius takes the base concept, adds in a little numbered grid magic from Picross and sets the result in a colourful pastel world, with a broom-brandishing cartoon Aristotle in the titular role. The gameplay is straightforward; little Ari must sweep his way to the exit tile avoiding all mines on the board, but as is befitting a proper puzzle game, each correct move can be ascertained from the current state of the board. No chance-taking is ever required.
Total number of mines per column and row are listed, and like the original you can mark any suspect squares with a flag. Special tiles allow the hemmed-in philosopher to rearrange the board or hop over mines, but can only be used sparingly. With a whopping 130 main puzzles and even more difficult bonus levels to be unlocked, you don’t have to be a genius to check this one out.
Read Only Memories: Type M (iOS, Android, PC, Switch)
The point-and-click adventure game was until recently thought a relic of the recent past, its style and mechanics clunky and obsolete, but there has been a slow trickle of new additions to the genre. A lot of these are banking on nostalgia vibes for sure, but also prove that mechanics and interactivity don’t need to be cutting edge to deliver a solid narrative experience.
Read Only Memories falls squarely into this category; a throwback, pixel-ridden, cyberpunk mystery romp set in space year 2064, blending forward-looking themes with an appreciably retro aesthetic. Your best friend has been kidnapped and the only witness is his highly experimental AI bot, Turing. Together you must comb Neo-San-Francisco to get to the bottom of his disappearance. Unfortunately while the fun synthy soundtrack remains intact, the above-par voice acting present on the PC/console release has been axed to save space. If you want the full uncut experience you’ll have to seek out the main release, but this mobile port is still a fun, well-plotted take on a resurgent genre. If you’re curious but unsure, there’s a free demo available.