Commuting Cognition: Space Frontier, 1-Bit Return

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.


Space Frontier

An interstitial AND a video ad before i even have time to read the tutorial? Have some restraint, guys.

Space Frontier by Ketchapp launches a rocket as the game starts, and you must tap the screen at the right time to unload part of the rocket and keep moving upward. Each part of the rocket quickly shrinks over time and the game encourages you to tap just as it’s running out to maximise your score. Do this five times to win the game, then repeat ad nauseum to improve your score. That’s it. There’s not even a funny voice saying “the floor is lava”. Just tap the screen five times. Top of the UK chart. Videogames.

1-Bit Return

1-Bit Return is a level-based auto-runner where you control a ball moving to the end of a path and back, tapping to jump over spikes. That’s pretty much it, the levels never really evolve beyond this concept. At least the aesthetic’s nice.

When a level starts, you will very likely die immediately because the ball will run onto a spike before you know what’s going on. This isn’t a great motivator to learn, nor does it feel remotely fair. If you must spawn obstacles that the player must respond to immediately upon starting, at least give the player one literal second to see the level before beginning. On a similar note, asking the player to rate the game after their very first frustrating death won’t do you any favours.

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