Mobile Roundup #8 - October 2018

October 15, 2018

Hello campers! Our portable picks this month are a handful of absolute stone-cold classics that you might have missed out on, but even still are worth downloading for another playthrough. Think of it like a carefully curated museum collection of mobile games. Here we go!

Canabalt  (iOS, Android, PC, C64, PSP)

Before the more polished examples of the now ubiquitous endless runner like Temple Run or Jetpack Joyride, there was the gunmetal grey dystopia of Canabalt. Surprisingly cinematic despite its 8-bit monochromatic appearance, you are thrust into a world in the midst of some kind of invasion, with rockets whizzing by and crumbling buildings shuddering beneath your feet.

A fine degree of control is needed to avoid obstacles and hop across rooftops; longer presses result in higher jumps, but with the foreground rushing at you at ever increasing speeds, ‘how high is too high?’ is a split-second decision more often than not. This current version has a host of even harder variants, for people who think the end of the world isn’t quite dramatic or challenging enough.

Beat Sneak Bandit (iOS)

Swedish developer Simogo is now a legend in the field of mobile games, but this was the first major title of theirs which got people to sit up and take notice. As the titular toe-tappin’ thief, you must infiltrate the stately manor of Duke Clockface and take back all the timepieces he has confiscated from the local town. Using an ingenious rhythm-based system, each step to the beat moves you around each level, avoiding guards, spotlights, automatic doors and other nefarious traps. Tap out of time, and one of the clocks will explode, presumably out of sheer indignation.

A smooth blend of puzzle and reaction-based play, the later levels will have you carefully planning out your path before your first tap. If you’ve got that expert timing, you’ll want to check out the bonus shadow levels, where everything is cast in silhouette and the mechanical soundtrack is substituted with smooth jazz piano. This is by far the most accessible of Simon and Gordon’s games, but the rest of their catalogue is just as compelling, like the intricate interactive storytelling of Year Walk and The Sailor’s Dream.

Eufloria HD (iOS, Android, PC)

Abstract plant wars might not seem the most obvious theme for a mobile game, but it’s the perfect format for introducing large-scale RTS-style tactical combat on a smaller device. Your goal: control a colony of seedlings from humble beginnings to total domination! Starting small with just a smattering of friendlies on a single planetoid, you must spread to other systems with enough force to beat back your opponents, but retain enough seedlings to grow your forces for the next battle.

Mastering the basics is a breeze, but as things start to scale up and enemy factions start to encroach on your territory, you’ll have to juggle planned attacks on weak planets with the protection of your own. Further into the game, you’ll have the option to customise your seedlings for speed or attack. If you miss your grand strategy fix when away from the PC, this is a great alternative.

Super Hexagon (iOS, Android, PC)

The work of independent developer Terry Cavanagh, Super Hexagon occupies that weird intersection between casual, easy to learn mobile games and the insanely unforgiving creations which appeal to masochists and perfectionists alike. Guiding a defenceless little triangle tumbling through an infinite hexagonal vortex, nimble fingers are needed to stave off the walls of catastrophe for as long as humanly possible, but as soon as it inevitably happens you’re thrown right back in for another attempt.

It’s the essence of pure challenge and dexterity distilled to its purest form, and once you get into the groove ably provided by chiptune maestro Chipzel, you’ll find it hard to put down.

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.