Commuting Cognition: Block Droppin’, Wingy Pop

What is this?

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.


Block Droppin’

Block Droppin’ is Match-Four meets Tetris, which sounded like a really cool concept in my head.

You have two boards, one filled with coloured tiles and an empty one. Making a line of four tiles on the top screen will make that shape fall down Tetris-style on the empty board; the game ends when the next move you make would overflow the bottom board.

This sounds so cool, and i see so much potential in the idea. However, the way it’s currently designed, it’s purely luck-based with very little strategy. The game is entirely dependant to how lucky you are with the coloured board; most of the times i only had one available piece per turn and ended up losing by the second turn. Additionally, when you lose, the board isn’t reshuffled, so your next run will probably only have one available combination again. Such a disappointment.

The most obvious solution to fixing this issue would be to make the boards bigger / tiles smaller. Halving the size of the tiles would dramatically increase the number of potential combinations per turn; it might cause input issues with selecting multiple tiles on a single touch, but there could be workarounds for that. Another solution could be to play around with other combination numbers; 2 tiles might be too few, but 3 might work just as well while again increasing the number of potential moves.

Edit: I found out after the fact that you can slide tiles onto the empty slot on the coloured board, allowing you to re-shape the pieces as you see fit. This is explained in the tutorial, so i really have no excuse. With this mechanic in place, the time limit becomes your greatest enemy as you can’t waste too much time figuring out how to arrange the shapes perfectly. This changes the flow of the game dramatically, adding a sliding puzzle element to it and definitely making it a lot more strategic, rendering my complaints null and making my other considerations less relevant. But hey, it was a fun thought experiment?

Wingy Pop

Wingy Pop is an arena-based platformer, with a very oddly-designed arena.

Your character runs automatically, and you tap to jump or walljump around the arena while attempting to collect eggs and avoid birds that explode?

When your run starts, your very first jump will go against a wall and the character will merrily fall down and into a pit. Why would you start your game off into a walljump when we haven’t even figured out that there’s automatic movement? The whole arena is so odd, it’s hard to put into words. Those walls block the upper platforms so you’re pretty much always moving back and forth on the same platform, begging the question as to why they’re there in the first place. The pit also feels wholly unnecessary; it should be difficult enough to manage collecting every egg without also having to worry about an ill-timed jump leading you straight into a bomb.

Speaking of the bombs, it took me a couple of runs to figure out what they were and to watch out for them, especially when they’re covered behind eggs. It wouldn’t hurt to make them stand out more, maybe with some sort of warning circle around them.

Edit: I found out after the fact (again) that you can jump while in mid-air, which completely changes the flow of the game. This time, however, nothing in the game lets you know about this (unless i totally missed it again), so i think my points are still valid from a first-impressions perspective.

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