Mobile Roundup #6 - August 2018

August 22, 2018

Summer just keeps on rolling and if you’re feeling the heat, why not have a lie down and a quick session on one of these classics-in-waiting? They won’t cool you down but they might distract you from that blazing orb in the sky for a few minutes.

Westworld (iOS, Android)

It’s the sci-fi crossover hit that has been impossible to avoid, and now it’s in your pocket. A management game as you might expect, this mobile recreation of everyone’s favourite android-populated theme park has you creating and levelling up hosts, that they may better cater to your guests’ varied whims. Each guest has a specific experience they want, from sage counsel and a lover’s embrace to a fight and a few rounds of cards. Find the right host to match with them and you’ll be well rewarded with currency to expand; fail to meet their lofty expectations, and the poor host gets two rounds in the chest and a lengthy time in the recovery suite. You can lessen the chances of this by equipping personality characteristics called ‘revieries’ to boost their stats, or merging their code.

Most hosts will require careful advancement over time to be able to satisfy the park’s more picky adventurers, but you start out with a couple of high level main characters. The interface is colourful and cartoonish, although apparently so close to the similarly-premised Fallout: Shelter that publishers Bethesda are suing. As ever with franchise games of this ilk, beware the microtransactions; your lack of patience to proceed is banked on so that you’ll want to fork out to speed up certain interactions, or purchase better hosts. Fitting, then, that Westworld mobile is much like the park itself; claiming its sole purpose is to offer a good time to its players, but concealing a raft of hidden agendas beneath its surface.

Play Magnus (iOS, Android)

The game of kings, chess still holds up as one of the greatest games in history, but despite its relatively simple ruleset many who might otherwise be interested in playing are intimidated by the depth and complexity of the strategy. Luckily for us, Norwegian chess prodigy and current world champion Magnus Carlsen is on hand to lend a few pointers.

With his personal app, you can play a digital version of Magnus at a range of difficulties, reflecting his ability from age 5 right up to 26.

Playing and winning matches, as well as being satisfying, earns you an in-game currency called brainpower which can be used to unlock different chess pieces and board colours.

If you’re tired of losing to a virtual child (albeit a very smart one), you can access training lessons with in-app purchases; the beginner lessons are free, but the advanced techniques will cost you a few quid. If you’re still in need of further instruction, grab the companion app Magnus Trainer where you can play a variety of mini-games aimed at bolstering specific areas of your chess knowledge. An excellent trainer, whether you’re a seasoned player looking to improve or a newcomer picking up the basics.

Pocket Run Pool (iOS)

We’ve covered Zach Gage before; he has a knack for making polished, focussed mobile versions of standard, well-established games, with a slight twist or reinvention. Clearly longing for the heyday of Flash gaming sites, his latest offering is a circle-aiming, flick-hittin’ round of pool.

Re-jigged as a solo game, PRP has a single player aiming to pot a ball every shot and achieve an admirable high score. Points are derived from multiplying the ball value by the pocket multiplier, which rotates around the table after every shot. Lives are lost for fouls and not potting, and it’s game over after three such errors. Tactical decisions have to be made and risks taken to put a worthy total up on the leaderboard. In addition to standard mode there’s a high-stakes mode which invites you to bet virtual currency on your victory chances, and a tournament mode where online players compete to get the best score off an identical break. The ad-supported version is free, but a small fee will remove these and unlock some bonus features like Break of the Week. Not much depth on offer here, but for those seeking to scratch that arcade pool itch, this is well worth a try.

Neo Turf Masters (iOS, Android)

It might not seem an obvious choice for the arcade, but for one hot minute back in the ‘90s, SNK made computer golf bright, colourful and exciting with Neo Turf Masters (sorry, golf fans). Twenty years later and it’s time to hit the turf again with a welcome mobile re-release.

It’s replicated exactly as you remember it, from the stark pastel colours to the crudely-digitised speech samples; you can even include scanlines for maximum retro authenticity. Thankfully the feeling of leaving the arcade with lighter pockets is consigned to history, as there are no microtransactions present here.

Games in progress can be saved, and two-player pass ‘n’ play match modes are available.

The play style varies a little from the traditional two-tap computer golf method; instead of the second tap controlling hooking and slicing, it controls ball height, and hook / slice is instead pre-selected via your stance. Provided you can make that small adjustment, you’ll enjoy this genuine classic given new life on the mobile platform.

F1 2019 raises the bar once again for F1 games. Whilst more hardcore racers will still prefer something like iRacing or Assetto Corsa, casual players and F1 fanatics will wholeheartedly enjoy their time here, regardless of their skill level.
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.