Commuting Cognition: Gatecrasher, Cage Away

What is this?

I’ve never been a big mobile game player, but I ended up working in a mobile games company, 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 internalizing 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 impressions. They also may not be daily, depending on how full the bus is that day.

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Gatecrasher

Gatecrasher is a fast-paced obstacle avoider a la Super Hexagon, with a super cool soundtrack.

You control your projectile by tapping on the left or right half of the screen to move it left or right, respectively. This took me a while to get used to, as the controls are super sensitive and it’s hard to correct your trajectory once you commit to a direction. Having the projectile follow your touch I think would feel more natural, but it would potentially take away from the challenge.

After a few (read: many) attempts, however, i did start to get better at the game, and once you get in the flow it’s super fun and addictive. Each level transitions to the next by making you move in a spiral inside a spiral obstacle, and that sounds like a small thing but it’s actually really captivating, and really shows the potential of the mechanic. I feel that too many games of this type get into the trap of just making you pass through gates and never try to be more inventive.

 
Cage Away

Cage Away has a super simple concept: you control a square with segments painted black or white, and tap to swap between those colours to make incoming black and white pellets hit the opposing colour. When a pellet hits the square it paints that subsegment with its own colour, forcing you to keep a close eye on every segment at all times instead of allowing you to go auto-pilot.

The concept is really simple, and the pellets don’t move particularly fast, so it feels like it should be a pretty easy game. And yet, for some reason that escapes me, my brain cannot compute that the white pellets need to hit the black segment and not the white segments, making it incredibly unintuitive. That’s not really a criticism, as that is what makes the game challenging for me, but i’m very curious as to exactly why that is a challenge.

I never got into the flow with this one as i did with Gatecrasher, so it got repetitive after a while. There’s a shop allowing you to purchase skins for the pellets with in-game currency, but that’s really all they have to hook you with and it didn’t feel particularly effective.

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