Commuting Cognition: SailCraft, Power Hover: Cruise

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.

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SailCraft

SailCraft is Battleship! With added bells and whistles. I didn’t realise it until today, but why are Battleship games not more common?

The game is turn-based but each player can take shots until they miss, so it’s possible for the first player to win the match without the second player doing anything. It’s true that matches are much faster as a result, but the various skills you can use — like making three shots in a line — already do that work of speeding up the game, so this unbalancing feels both damaging and unnecessary.

Matches net you chests, which grant you new ships that have their own skills you can use, as well as passive skills like expanding your board. One of those skills is Magic Missile, which lets you select an area of effect and automatically strikes a ship within it, and that’s a fun D&D reference, but come on, this is a pirate game! You’re ruining my immersion! (it didn’t actually bother me that much, but it felt a bit weird)

Battleship has always been one of my favourite classic games so i’m very biased towards anything expanding on that concept, but i am very much into this. And, again, still in a bit of a shock that this isn’t more common.

 
Power Hover: Cruise

Power Hover: Cruise is an endless snowboard game, and a super stylish one at that.

It’s a very simple premise: slide down a level, tapping the left and right sides of the screen to move and dodge obstacles. You have 3 different stages, all unlocked off the bat, each with their own twist: level 2 features a full pipe you can loop around in, while level 3 has the pipe you’re moving over constantly rotating, making slight movements have a lot more impact. Upon clearing a level you get a progress bar displaying how far you went, with distance thresholds unlocking new skins and “items”; these “items” are pretty much just stickers on a sticker page and don’t really do anything, as far as i can tell.

The game could use some more motivators, like progress quests or objectives. The progress bar is meant to do that, but because it only appears at the end of the match you’re not really planning for it or striving to achieve that goal, not as consciously as you’d be if it appeared *before* the match, or even better, as a counter updating during the match. Rodeo Stampede is an example of a game i played recently that does this very well. As it stands the game is fun, but i’m just not that terribly motivated to invest more time in it.

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