Recently, due to a number of factors that can be easily summed up as dozens of lapses in judgement (along with a bit of influence from NEO TWEWY), I've been trying to find a good mobile game.
Now, I'll make this very clear: I am absolutely the type of guy to have a gambling problem. Anyone I've ever been to an arcade with can vouch for that, plus a good chunk of the people I've played TF2 with. I am, to make it short, bad with money. Despite this, I've never found myself sucked into the neverending gambling dopemachine that is gacha. Gacha, for those who don't know, is the short form of "Gachapon"; the easiest way to describe this is that if you've ever seen one of those phone games where you open lootboxes to get anime characters, you've seen a gacha game.
The fact that I've never gotten pulled into one of these games is at once a miracle and a curse-- on one hand, I don't have any reason to lose comical amounts of time and money to something engineered from the ground up to effectively have the same effects on the brain as crack. On the other, I have this $350 phone with 128GB of space that I'm not using, and goddamn it, I have to use it for something. It's not like I'm bringing my 3DS or PSP everywhere any more, and the same goes for the Switch.
So, of course, the only logical thing to do was dig through dozens of vaguely interesting things on the google play store, both to find something to actually play on my phone and to maybe figure out why my whale-mentality remains seemingly immune to gacha.
A Girl Adrift
For the record, I'm not going in order of what I downloaded, here, so the first game I list being this comfy isn't because I managed to miraculously find it first. I just wanted to get this one out of the way
since it's pretty alright, and I figure most people aren't going to read this whole thing.
A Girl Adrift is a really simple game. You fish, get upgrades to fish better (which double as cute cosmetics for the titular girl), and gradually unlock new locations and characters to do fishing quests for.
Also, the world's been completely flooded and most people are dead, so the secondary objective is figuring out how that happened. It's kind of like a shallower version of Girls' Last Tour, if you're familiar with that. Something nice and comfy to tap away at, but not engaging enough to keep me playing for more than, like, 5-10 minutes at a time before my eyes start glazing over.
I'm keeping this installed because it's cute, but I need something else.
Wizard Legend: Fighting Master
This game is bad. It's also actually the first game that I downloaded during all this.
Like, yeah, "early access" is in the title, but this game is genuinely pretty awful. I got attracted to it because the preview videos and images were interesting-- it's a bullet hell roguelike, sort of like Monolith, Nuclear Throne, or the later parts of The Binding of Isaac, except this game feels more focused on the way shot types tend to work in STG. Each level up gives you a choice between 3 randomly selected upgrades; these can be shot types, bombs, or spells (the latter two spawning on the map as pickups that auto-activate when touched). There's also upgrade treasures that have unique effects, which can be found either at the shop or in a treasure chest after certain room types. On paper, this sounds really, really fun.
Three major issues absolutely fucking ruin this entire game for me. I'll start with the two nitpicky ones first.
The first is that the game is, put simply, boring to look at. It's got that corporate, overly-researched vibe a lot of mobile games that aren't gacha tend to have, with the enemies being these really generic-looking things very vaguely themed around desserts. It's not the worst, but art can mean a lot for how enjoyable a game ends up being for me, and if I feel like I'm looking at a parody of a video game in some bad primetime cop show, I'm going to get sick of it real fast.
The second is that this game fucking LOVES to use ads. I can't entirely blame it-- when it comes to the mobile game sphere, your options for actually making a profit are pretty much limited to MTX, Gacha mechanics, and Ad spam. Honestly, this one wouldn't even be an issue if I actually liked this game, since I probably would have forked over the $2.99 or whatever to remove the ads.
The 3rd reason is the fuckin' kicker.
Now, the enemies in this game (the bosses in particular) tend to be bullet sponges. This could be forgiven-- it's not an uncommon thing for STG enemies to take a lot of punishment, since you have a massive radius on your shot and you're supposed to be focusing on dodging anyways. This game has autoaim to make up for the different directions you could be in relation to your enemy (and to cope with the innate inaccuracy of touch controls), so ideally, you'd be focused on moving around and making sure there's no obstacles in between you and the thing you want dead.
In Wizard Legend, you cannot shoot while moving. This one change alone switches this game from "kinda okay" to "holy shit this is the single most frustrating thing I have ever played in my life". This effectively triples the length of every single boss you fight, and that's to say nothing of the fuckers designed around using cover in the arena that also blocks your shots.
Played for about 3-4 hours, uninstalled after every build I had for an hour straight died to the first boss because you can't shoot while moving.
Alchemy Stars/ANOTHER EDEN
Hey, do you like Chrono Trigger? I don't. Kind of. I've actually never played it, so I don't really have an opinion on it. All I know is that it's a JRPG where you time travel and get a Robot and Frog party member, and you go back and forth through all these different eras of the world in-game.
What I'm getting at here is that, because I've never actually played Chrono Trigger, you could give me that description and I wouldn't be able to tell whether you were talking about Chrono Trigger or ANOTHER EDEN.
Full disclosure, I only even downloaded this game because it had the frog samurai guy on the Google Store page, and I'm legally obligated to give every game with a cool-looking frog character a try at some point or another. I haven't actually reached Cyrus (the frog guy's name, apparently) yet, but spoiler: this game's pretty okay. Nothing spectacular, but it's kinda funny that this game, despite being a gacha, sort of just feels like a bog-standard JRPG with a very low budget. I could honestly see 10 year old frog_0 grabbing this game out of the used games bin at a store for like, $20 or something. Problem is, it's not holding my interest at all. This isn't the game's fault-- aside from the disgustingly massive download you have to go through when inititally booting up the game, the game's fine. The real issue with this game is that my tastes in characters I have any interest in whatsoever is fuckin' weird, so the usual gacha tactic of "haha cute girls" doesn't really grab me.
This brings us to Alchemy Stars, and in case you were wondering why I grouped these two together, it's because (outside of the Chrono Trigger comparison) I have basically the exact same opinion on Alchemy Stars that I have on ANOTHER EDEN.
The biggest difference is that Alchemy Stars (aside from being more of a puzzle game than a straight JRPG), at the very least, has a kind of cute feature where the characters you've pulled from the gacha will wonder around a little ship, text you through an in-game message system, and give you gifts. It's a nice, cute little twist on what I usually see from gacha, where you pull a character and basically never see them again outside of any main story appearances, but it's still not enough to make me care that much.
I'm keeping both of these installed because they're both pretty okay. I'll probably forget I even played these after a while, though.
haha holy shit this game rules
The translation is bad, the art and sound assets are all stock, and this is unironically the most fun roguelike I've tried on mobile. That's not because of the comically low bar of mobile games, either.
I'd tell you more about the game, but half of the fun is figuring out what's cryptic intentionally and what's cryptic because the translation is just fuckin' silly.
GOTY 2016, can't wait for the sequel.
I don't have too much to say about this one. Solid concept, boring presentation, enemy variation is pretty limited to "they take more shots now". Controls like what I wish Wizard Legend controlled like, though.
Honestly, half the reason I downloaded this to begin with was because I was still mad at Wizard Legend when it showed up on the store page.
Uninstalled, it's okay.
Tower Defense games are sort of weird for me. I think my big problem is that they're functionally idle games where you get a break to restructure things between waves, and I don't have the patience for idle games.
For those unfamliar, a Tower Defense/TD game is a game where enemies march along a set path towards a thing you generally don't want them to reach. In TD6, you defend the right side of the screen from an oncoming
army of balloons by placing varieties of dart-throwing monkeys within range of the path. They each have three upgrade paths, usually one of them has an active skill, it's all very in-depth.
This is also the only game on this list I've spent money on. I don't regret it entirely, because this game does seem pretty good, but it's also made me realize that the only TD series I've ever actually enjoyed is Dillon's Rolling Western. I'm also a little put off by the severe grind for research points and the Hero monkeys, but I get the feeling that they'd be way easier to get if I had more patience with this game.
If you like TD games, chances are you've already played this with how often I hear people talking about it. I probably won't uninstall it, if only because I spent actual money, but I probably won't be playing it too often, either.
I don't really have a good way to end this. I'm gonna keep looking for anything resembling quality (or, at the very least, something that can make my monkey brain happy) to fuck around with on my phone.
World Flipper's global release got delayed for a month and that was the one that kind of actually interested me, so that's not going to be happening for a bit. If you got bored of reading all the shit above, here's the quick rundown:
A Girl Adrift comfy
ANOTHER EDEN okay
Alchemy Stars okay
In a way, I think Mobile Games have kind of absorbed the space that Flash games used to occupy, but at the same time, at least when I was playing a shit flash game it usually wasn't trying to take my money.