Steam Link Spotlight is a feature where we look at PC games that play exceptionally well using the Steam Link. Our last entry was Sin Slayers. Read about how it’s a great mobile experience over here.
Much like the last entry, this week’s spotlight is on a combat-focused rpg I didn’t know much about going into. Might is Right has a really old-school feel. You have a main character that you use to wander over a map to complete quests, which usually revolve around fighting parties of enemies.
2019 has been one of the weirdest years in mobile gaming yet. With Apple Arcade emerging alongside other game subscription services like GameClub and Playond, it feels a bit like the wild west again. I’m not exactly blown away with any of these services so far, but it’s nice to see folks attempt to create spaces on the App Store for quality games to thrive.
Speaking of quality games, I played quite a few of them this year. By a rough count (I try to keep a list every year), I ended up playing over 350 mobile games in 2019. I wish it was a little harder to cull that huge list down to ten favorites, but it honestly wasn’t. The ten games you see below are my favorite games from 2019 by a country mile.
Two Spies just dropped on the App Store this week, and it looks pretty neat. The game has two players capturing various cities across Europe, with the goal of eventually spotting and striking the other spy down. It may be simple-looking, but after playing the tutorial and a few bot matches, there’s a hidden depth here that makes it seem like something I’d want to play regularly on my phone.
Sometimes it’s hard to stick with a game, even if you enjoy playing it. Perhaps it’s just too stressful, perhaps it disturbs you, or—as is the case with Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror—you might not be down with its narrative conceit.
Queen’s Wish: The Conquerer is an open-world role-playing game from Spiderweb Software that’s been five years in the making. As soon as you boot it up, you can tell the love and craftmanship poured into the game, particularly via the game’s writing and attention-to-detail. My only problem with it is it’s asking me something I don’t really want to do: reclaim a colony as part of the queen’s empire.
Steam Link Spotlight is a feature where we look at PC games that play exceptionally well using the Steam Link app. Out last entry talked about Warsaw. Read about how it’s a great mobile experience over here.
This weekend, Apple Arcade will officially be one month old. That means anyone who signed up for the free trial on day one has a decision to make: Stick with the service and shell out $5 a month, or cancel and go about your merry way.
As someone who dove head first into Apple Arcade by playing 35 games since launch (and counting. See their rankings here), I’ve come away ambivalent about the service in its first month. While it is really nice to have a huge, curated list of premium games from a lot of well-known developers, there’s a lot about the service that could be improved. To illustrate this, check out some of my notes I kept while thoroughly testing the service:
Apple Arcade is here, and I’ve been thinking about how best to cover its debut. Writing reviews for each game seems unnecessary, and a lot of the takes on whether the service is worth the money seem a little premature. So, I got to thinking and came up with a really dumb idea: I am going to rank every game on Apple Arcade.
Why? I wouldn’t worry yourself about that too much. Just think of this as the definitive list of which games for the service are best and why.
Here’s how this will go: I’m going to work my way through every Apple Arcade game a handful of games at a time. I’ll analyze each one based on a set of loose criteria and then use that to decide where they fit among their peers. Each game will get a small blurb explaining what the game is, its rank, and additional info about rank changes as necessary.
By the end of this journey, every game on the service will have some handy info that you can use to do all kinds of things, like:
Find the best games to play. And all without dealing with Arcade’s poor organization and layout.
Learn whether the service is right for you. If the top games all seem lame, maybe don't pay for it.
Know which games to avoid. Just because you can play something doesn’t mean you should. Avoid the stinkers.
So, there it is. I’ve said I’m going to do this, so I better go and start doing it. View the list here.
You may have seen over the past couple weeks a that a bunch of premium games have suddenly become free. This isn’t a mistake, nor is it some last hurrah before Apple Arcade hits, and it’s important to know that these games aren’t actually becoming free.
What’s happening here is there is a developer called Bending Spoons Apps that is buying up premium games to put them on a service called Playond. Playond seems to be a competitor to Apple Arcade in the sense that it’s taking premium titles, like Fowlst, Crashlands, and MUL.MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL, and putting them behind a $9.99/month paywall. In the course of this transition, the games themselves get updated to be listed as free, but—just like Netflix—you need to log into a subscription account in order to actually play them.
This week, I want to talk about a new game. A brand new game, in fact. Just yesterday, Terry Cavanagh—the mind behind Super Hexagon and VVVVVV—released Dicey Dungeons, an awesome roguelike, deck-building game that focuses on dice-based combat.
It may go without saying that I really, really like Faeria. Its mix of turn-based strategy and collectible card-battling is unique, and the game itself is gorgeous. Since its release, I don’t think I’ve played a card game that grabbed me in quite the same way.
As soon as I booted up Dr. Mario World, I knew I wasn’t going to have fun with it. Nintendo’s record on phones thus far has been pretty spotty, with things trending downward as of late.
Lo and behold, a few hours later with the game and the only enjoyment I’ve gotten out of it is seeing Bowser in doctor cosplay. Otherwise, the game’s single-player offerings feel like Candy Crush Saga with less satisfying puzzle mechanics and the multiplayer is... a competitive version of that.
It feels like it shouldn’t be so hard to bring a quality version of Dr. Mario to mobile. It’s a falling block puzzler like Tetris or Lumines, and there are solid-to-great versions of those on the App Store already. Instead of just translating Dr. Mario’s mechanics to the small screen though, Dr. Mario World is a slower, clunkier, and less intuitive puzzler than its predecessor.
I am someone who wrote Hearthstone off a while ago. It was hard not to try and stick with it. The game has incredible production values and a core of really great talent working on the game continuously to keep it feeling fresh and fun (full disclosure: I have a friend who actively works on Hearthstone). I can appreciate all of that from a distance, but when it came to actually playing the game, I would always bounce off of it.
It took me a while to realize, but the thing that always stuck in my craw about Hearthstone is how disingenuous it often feels. No matter how approachable it looks or fair toward free players it seems, the game is a hardcore collectible card game (CCG). The more that time went on, the easier it was for me to recognize this. From the separation of cards into the two buckets of Standard and Wild formats to single-player expansions like Rastakhan’s Rumble, the game was preoccupied with keeping multiplayer extremely competitive and single-player content extremely challenging. None of these updates spoke to me, a player that felt like occasionally dipping a toe into the game once every couple weeks.
To be fair, Blizzard has very few reasons to prioritize folks like me over their huge pool of dedicated players. I totally get that. But with each passing day, Hearthstone had started feeling less and less relevant to anyone who wasn’t already all the way bought in. That is, until now.
Back in 2014—during the height of Flappy Bird ‘s popularity—I would not have believed anyone if they said that five years later there’d be a fighting game released based on it. Here we are now, though: It’s 2019, Flappy Fighter exists, and it also just so happens to be the most competent mobile fighter there is.
Last week, Flappy Fighter dropped on the App Store, and it’s been quickly gaining attention. This is for good reason. The game is an homage to Street Fighter that uses Flappy Bird for its character design, and—within seconds of booting it up—you can tell it’s made with a lot of love and attention to detail.