The mobile games of Macworld

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This year was my first time attending Macworld at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and the main reason I came was to check out the mobile games. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot on display, but the few titles I played are definitely worth checking out, and best of all some of them are free. Here are my impressions.

Telekinesis Kyle

From Vellum Interactive

What is it?

A 2D puzzle platformer starring a young boy named Kyle who can manipulate objects in the environment with his mind control powers. As Kyle, you must escape a deadly fortress filled with challenging test chambers or continue being a guinea pig for the military.

How was it?

From the very brief demo I played, Telekinesis Kyle reminded me of a 2D version of Portal minus the gun. Like Portal, you move from room to room and must use your wits to survive. The section I demoed was fairly simple requiring me only to stack boxes to create a path into the next room, but I imagined the game gets more complex the further you play. Also encouraging, is that TK feels more like a complete gaming experience on par with dedicated handheld games rather than a short five-minute diversion. I’m curious to see what else TK has to offer and will be checking it out again when it releases in March.

DreamCat

From Vellum Interactive

What is it?

An on-rails side-scroller where you control Terrance the cat and try to eat as many cheeseburgers as possible without falling to your death.

How was it?

Very fast paced and a lot like Cartoon Networks Robot Unicorn Attack. Terrance runs automatically, and you tap the screen to make him jump, double jump or burgerdash across the screen. The game is pretty challenging, and you’ll need some fast reflexes to survive if you want to get the best score. I died a lot, but I never felt frustrated or thought the game was unfair. For $1.99 DreamCat is well worth the price, and it’s satisfying to playing short bursts or for hours because of its addictive nature.

Ghostbusters Paranormal Blast

From XMG Studios

What is it?

An augmented reality game where you move your iOS device around real life environments to locate ghosts and take them out with your gun.

How did it play?

Ghostbusters Paranormal Blast looked and played similar to Face Raiders on the 3DS. The AR tech is impressive and playing on a bigger screen like the iPad works great. It’s cool that you can play using real locations you go to every day and finding ghosts is cinch thanks to the handy red icon that appear on screen. The ghost I encountered during my demo darted frantically across the screen and when I did take him out with my ghostbuster it was incredibly satisfying. The verdict? GPB is a fun diversion to tide you over until Luighi’s Dark Moon hits the 3DS and it’s only 99 cents.

Fashion Star Boutique

From XMG Studio

What is it?

A fashion game where you can design your own clothes or pick from other designs from top designers and interact with customers while running your own boutique.

How did it play?

To be honest I didn’t try this one out because it not my type of game. However, it’s really impressive how much content is packed into this title. The tagline for the game is “designed by fashion lovers for fashion lovers” and with over 80 million fashion designs, tons of customizable options to personalize your experience, and active Facebook community it definitely lives up to that claim. As a free download, it’s steal for girl and guy fashion enthusiasts.

Cows vs. Aliens Barnyard Blitz

From XMG Studio

What is it?

An animal herding game with a charming art style where you need to carefully push your cows back into the barn without knocking them off the cliff or allow them to be captured by aliens.

How did it play?

The touch controls proved to be difficult at first, and I sent way too many cows off the cliff to their death, but once I got the hang of it everything clicked. I found slow and precise swipes to work best instead of frantically tapping the touch screen. The time limit adds a nice sense of urgency to the game and can get addictive after awhile. Right now you can download it for free in the app store, but in my opinion it would be worth paying for too.

The Angry Billionaires

From XMG Studios

What is it?

A short collection of micro mini games similar to Warioware.

How was it?

The world can always use another WarioWare style game, so I was excited to play XMG’s micro mini-game collection Angry Billionaire. I didn’t play it at the show, so I downloaded it for free to test it out on my iPad mini. The art style and music compliment the gameplay well and look like The Artist or a Charlie Chaplin short. I also found it pretty cool that the micro mini games are in a Monopoly board game format and that the character designs look like they’re from a Popeye cartoon.

As for the gameplay, AB is a lot harder than I expected and tilting the iPad or touching the screen isn’t as precise as pressing buttons in WW. That said, with practice you’ll get the hang of it, and you’ll want to test out each micro games because many have hilarious objectives like dodging veggies to reach a cupcake. A free iOS title that’s several games in one is hard to find, so I recommend you check out AB if you enjoyed the WW games.

Pinyinpals

From Chinese Character a Day Foundation

What is it?

Words with Friends with the added benefit of learning Chinese while you play.

How did it play?

Pinyinpals plays exactly like Words with Friends, so there’s no steep learning curve to master. Letters of the alphabet represent Mandarin characters, and you must guess the right one to get points or you risk losing to your friends. You can also identify definitions for Chinese’s words and even if you fail miserably, with repeated exposure you’ll start to memorize the language. The best part of Pinyinpals, besides that it’s free is that you can disprove people’s notion that video games aren’t educational.

Bowblade

From Chiropractor Ron Green

What is it?

Practice your archery skills with Bowblade a bow and arrow set for your mobile phone. 35 games are currently available each offering a variety of gaming experiences from duck hunt style games, target practice, and first person shooters. Two bow versions are available for $188 and a second one for $200 which offers an exercise program.

How did it play?

I was a little skeptical of Bowblade at first, but after testing it out I found it to be surprisingly fun. You hold the device just like a normal bow and follow the cell phone screen to lock targets in your sight. Once you’re ready to fire the perfect shot you pull your arm back as if you were firing a real arrow and tap the trigger to shoot. The hardest part is keeping your arm all the way back because if you don’t your shots won’t game won’t register in the game. The games I tried involved shooting snowball at turkeys, target practice, and sniping soldiers similar to a first person shooter. Playing the games got to be tiring after a while, and I could feel like my arms were getting a good workout. I can see parents liking this game because of the physical exercise involved, but I think the price is too high.

I hope you enjoyed my impressions and will consider giving some of these games a shot. Thanks for reading.

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