Commuting Cognition: Level 24, Bouncy Hoops

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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Level 24

Level 24 is a puzzle game in the style of 2048, where you collapse cells of a certain colour to increase their score.

The gameplay is still a little unclear to me even after an extensive tutorial. I get the overall mechanic, but i don’t get the score system. Sometimes 4 cells will have a score of 4, but sometimes 5 or 6 cells will also have a score of 4. Sometimes a cell of 5 will increase to 6 when joined with another, but sometimes it will stay at 5. I think it has to do with the images in the cells, but it didn’t feel obvious to me at all. Furthermore, cells of 10 can only be merged with other cells of 10, which is fine, but cells of 11 cannot be merged with other cells of 11, so i have no idea what to do with those.

Once the tutorial ends and the game begins proper, after my very first move i completed a quest. I tapped on it and claimed my reward, then returned to the game. After another move, i completed another quest. This is an issue i talked about on a previous post, that of getting reward far too early for them to feel earned. It’s worsened by the fact that you need to go to a different screen to claim your reward, which breaks the flow of the game (or in this case, doesn’t allow it to start at all).

You have a selection of three powerups you can use when you’re stuck: shuffle the board, undo your last move, and destroy a cell.
When the game ends a gameover screen appears and gives you the option of using one of these powerups to continue, but it covers the board and restricts you from making an educated choice.

Completing quests gives you more powerups, and that’s another issue i had with finishing so many quests so early. By having a large amount of each powerup right at the beginning, the first game lasted me a really long time, and i got bored of it before it even ended.
The game is cute and entertaining enough for what it is, but i feel that short, faster matches would’ve worked to its advantage. It’s possible that future matches are like that, but because the first match lasted me the whole bus ride i have no desire to find out.

 
Bouncy Hoops

Bouncy Hoops has a fun concept: you tap to make a basketball jump repeatedly, and attempt to score hoops with it.

On my first few games i was having trouble understanding why the controls seemed flimsy and sometimes tapping wouldn’t do anything, causing me to be unable to jump and lose the level. Eventually i figured out that the score label was preventing input on and around it, so tapping too high on the screen wouldn’t do anything. Getting around this made the game more enjoyable, but this is something that needs to be fixed ASAP.

The game has a few tactics to keep you hooked. You gain extra points by scoring hoops in different ways, like not hitting the backboard. There are also gacha-style unlockable balls which you can buy with in-game currency, which you get by scoring hoops, by watching videos, and for free every few minutes. So basically everything that Crossy Road did right. Unlike Crossy Road’s characters, however, unlocking new skins for a ball isn’t terribly exciting, and there’s only so much you can do with that.

Input issue aside i found the game pretty enjoyable, and i very much appreciate the pixel art style, though i’m not sure if that’s something the kids are down with in mobile. I didn’t get a lot of time with it, as is the nature of these sessions, but i might keep this one installed to play around with later.

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