I’ve never been a big mobile game player, but I ended up working in a mobile games company (opinions are my own etc), so I’ve been trying to expose myself to more games in this market and attempt to gain an ever-better understanding of them. One of the ways I’ve been doing that is in trying out new games, seeing what they do wrong and right, and try to draw conclusions from them that I can use in the future to make our games better. One of the resources I’ve been using for this is TouchArcade (not sponsored), and their columns listing the new iOS games of the week.
This resulted in me playing a lot more new games during my daily bus rides, but I also feel the need to discuss them somewhere and keep a log of my thoughts instead of just internalising them. So, Commuting Cognition. These will be brief, bus-ride-long thoughts on these games, and should be seen less as reviews and more as first-impression brain dumps. They also may not be daily, depending on how full the bus is that day.
Amigo Pancho 2 is kinda like a much simpler The Incredible Machine-styled puzzle game that uses touch controls rather nicely. I didn’t play the first one, by the way.
The premise is simple: Pancho is hanging on some balloons and needs to make his way up the canyon, but there are obstacles in the way. You tap to destroy these obstacles, then tap on Pancho to let him fly up and out of the level, hopefully unimpeded. As the levels progress you’re given pieces that you must drag and drop onto the stage and which have their own physics, often used to nudge other obstacles out of the way. One of the most interesting obstacles is the sand pit, a solid block usually with spikes inside of it. You drag on it to clear out the sand and make a path while taking care to avoid the obstacles, or maybe dragging slopes for the spikes to slide out of your way.
An initial difficulty i found with the game is that my instinct is to drag and drop the pieces with my thumb rather than my index finger, so i end up obscuring most of the screen. Not sure if that’s a common instinct or if it’s just from being used to gamepads. Also not sure if there’s anything the games can do to help me unlearn that. I do feel that that instinct is stronger when the games are in landscape, so perhaps portrait mode would feel more natural for games that rely heavily on drag and drop.
Dyna Knight is an endless runner with a theme that doesn’t really add any significant changes to the genre.
While your character runs, you can tap the left half of the screen to explode yourself and jump, or the right half to throw a bomb forward. You use these to destroy and jump over stacked physics objects on your path, Angry Birds style, the game ending if you run into anything. The use of physics on the obstacles is interesting but hardly exciting, while the self-explosion never really did anything for me that a regular jump wouldn’t have done, and so feels gimmicky.
The shop only offers to sell you more bomb slots and faster bomb throw cooldowns, none of which i felt the need for while playing. Worrying sign when you don’t offer anything desirable in the shop.
I feel like the controls could’ve been streamlined further. Perhaps firing only while in the air, by tapping after jumping, while also offering tighter jump height controls according to the length of the tap. Regardless, i very much appreciate the lack of virtual buttons.