According to those who monitor such things, the future of gaming is mobile. It certainly has a ring of truth about it, and over the years, you’ve probably noticed that with each successive smartphone upgrade, you are gradually installing more and more sophisticated games. We’ve certainly come a long way since the days of Snake and Tetris on those turn-of-the-millennium Nokias.
There is, however, a perception that as mobile gaming becomes the norm, games are being designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. If, like me, you’re getting a little tired of games where you have to get through 200 levels of banality before you feel even vaguely challenged, I’ve got just the thing for you – in fact, I’ve got just the five things. Read on, seek them out, but please don’t hate me if you find yourself battling into the wee small hours to come out on top.
I love it when an indie developer hits the big time. Bennett Foddy is a man in the Brendan Greene mold who grew up in the 1980s on a diet of hard games where there were no checkpoints or saves. If you died, you had to start again. That’s something you seldom see these days, but it’s just part of the retro charm of this platformer. In short, you must guide a man called Diogenes, who lives in a cauldron and moves himself around with the aid of an almighty hammer. The game won numerous awards in 2018, including the Nuovo Award at the Independent Games Festival, and was described by Gamespot as “one of the weirdest games of the year.”
This is a game you’ll love to hate. If you end up throwing your phone at a wall, don’t blame me. Duet puts you in control – or not – of two orbs, one red and one blue. These are attached to a ring and by pressing left or right, you rotate the ring. The objective is to avoid the falling blocks, and in theory it is about as sophisticated as Space Invaders. So much for the theory. There is something about this game that makes it as addictive as hard drugs. It’s brutally difficult, it’s absolutely stupid, and you won’t be able to put it down. There, you can’t say you weren’t warned. Now go and enjoy.
Tired of all those battle games with a myriad different guns, bombs, rocket launchers and the like? Big Hunter takes you back to a simpler age. In fact, it takes you quite a long way back. You have a cave to live in, and need to hunt down dinner. Best of all, you’ve got some big pointy sticks with which to do so. It’s a little like Angry Birds in that the game is in your aim, but you won’t go screaming through the levels in 10 minutes flat, believe me. Limited spears and a tiny point of weakness on your pray mean you need to be spot on or you’ll be going hungry. Fellow gaming nerds might notice something strangely familiar about this game in that the cover art is almost identical to the Williams Interactive casino slot classic Montezuma.
Fast, addictive and merciless. These are the words developer Chandramohan Sudar uses to describe this little treasure of a game, and it’s hard to put it any better. It’s a wonderful throwback to the eighties with its minimalist graphics, and like Duet, its simplicity can fool you into thinking it is easy. It’s not. Straightforward to learn but devilish to master, this is a challenge of your reflexes and your hand/eye coordination like nothing else you’ll play this year. Pilot the grey balls to gather green balls while avoiding the orange ones. That’s it, what could be easier? Give it a try and then you’ll see.
Did you ever see that cartoon series Happy Tree Friends, with the adorable little creatures that always ended up on the wrong end of chainsaws, meat cleavers and pits of rotating knives? This game is along very similar lines, and will appeal to the same kind of sick sense of humor. Just be warned, the hazards mean there’s no happy ending here. It’s a case of when, not if, you end up flattened by a commuter train or disemboweled by some random kitchen appliance with murderous intentions. It’s cartoon violence at its best, and I absolutely love it.