Ultimate Briefcase

Well … this is certainly a video game. I can’t quite work out what the ‘end state’ of Ultimate Briefcase is, but I think it invokes a bit of an ‘endless runner’ spirit. That is, keep on going until you die … and then repeat the process until you die again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

The basic movement of the game is left and right, at least in these early stages, and it involves you dodging bombs for as long as you can. At one point you are able to launch the ‘Ultimate Briefcase’ which essentially just converts it into an umbrella which will cause bombs to harmlessly explode on top of your head, as you carry on your run back and forth for no particular reason.

I am sure that there are some perfectionists for this game who like to really push themselves to reach the upper echelons of the game, or a level that is overwhelming by design, but I’m certainly not one of those people. I was happy to play it, and I’m glad I did for the sake of posterity, but I wouldn’t be so quick to spend any money on it or invest any more time in the game than I already had.

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Zombie Gunship Survival

Most people who played Call of Duty Modern Warfare (before it went all silly with wall jumping and other sci-fi/futuristic pursuits) will know and love the great level where you provide aerial cover for Price and his team from the comfort of an AC-130 gunship. Bombarding a whole bunch of bad-guys with a very satisfying series of explosions, or peppering bad guys with a mini-gun offers a level of cathartic satisfaction that very few games are able to replicate.

Well, as it turns out, Zombie Gunship Survival does … and it does so quite convincingly on a mobile phone.

I think what makes this game so enjoyable is the haptic feedback you get from firing your minigun at the zombies below. I’ve only had two weapon types to play with so far – the minigun as well as hellfire missiles – but both offer up a slice of tactile joy that I can have in the bathroom as easy as I can in bed or on the couch.

Already, I can see myself enjoying a few more levels in this game. I’ve progressed through a lot of the first ‘chapter’ or ‘stage’, and built up some of my base, but – to be honest – the micromanagement of resources and people and buildings and weapons doesn’t interest me nearly as much as holding down my ‘fire’ button on my minigun and shooting zombies.

And let’s face it – who doesn’t love shooting zombies?

Crossy Road

If you wanted to find a game that embodies what it means to see poultry-in-motion (get it?) then Crossy Road is for you. I mean, sure, it doesn’t hurt if you have the hendurance to be able to stand the journey from one side of the map to the other – this isn’t any old pecknic.

Anyone who played Frogger back in the day will instantly feel familiar with the premise. And even if you’re not, you quickly learn that the point is to keep moving forward, preferably not in the path of traffic.

The other thing I like about this game is it’s by an Australian developer, Hipster Whale. I know Giselle Rosman from the studio does a heap of work locally to make sure that the Australian scene punches well above its weight, and it shows here. I think that Crossy Road was a good early game to showcase what Australia was capable of, and the continued growth of the industry, despite a few recent, very public collapses, there’s still a lot of heart here in our little corner of the planet.

Shadow Fight 3

If I’m perfectly honest – I expected this to be a poor man’s Mortal Kombat. What I didn’t expect was that a pretty fully featured combat game would be able to squeeze into the measly size of a few hundred MB and download to my phone over a lunch break.

Let me be clear: This is a very good game.

The very quick tutorial throws you in the deep end a little bit, but at the same time that feels OK. It gives you the basics and sets you out in the real world, and, yes, the real world can be quite brutal, but at the same time, you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth out of the fights. And this is a free to play game!

Given my performance in the first few fights, I’m not sure that I’ll return to Shadow Fight 3 just on account of having very little time and too many games to play, but this is an otherwise very under (or not-)rated title that is worth a look if you’re a lover of the fighter genre.

Mr Bullet

While I had a penchant for Batman growing up, truth be told, I was far more obsessed with James Bond as a kid. While Goldeneye was probably my gateway drug to the world lovingly crafted by Ian Fleming and Albert R. Broccoli, I found my favourite of the Bond films to sit with Roger Moore. There was something about ‘Live and Let Die’ which tickled every single part of my musical, cinematic and thematic Venn diagram overlap and if I’m perfectly honest, I’m not entirely convinced that any other Bond movie – including the Daniel Craig films which I absolutely love – has come even close.

Mr Bullet achieves absolutely none of this romanticised life-of-a-spy world. I just wanted to talk about James Bond. Instead, Mr Bullet is about one thing, and one thing only – it just wants you to shoot stuff.

The first levels take you through a range of what are essentially tutorial levels, with a range of different scenarios for you to base your shots around. At first, it’s just about aiming, and then it becomes about aiming at objects to cause a secondary kill, and lastly, it becomes about the speed of your shot.

I made it into the early stages of Part 2 in the game, which switches up the enemies for what, I assume, are Ninjas, and by this stage you have a fairly good grasp of what you need to do to finish a level. Most of the time, you just wait to see the satisfying pass of a bullet through an enemy head, creating a little hole as it does so.

Where this game really frustrates me – and it will be the case for many free-to-play games, is the forced advertisements at seemingly ad hoc periods throughout the game. Finish a level? Sure, here, have an ad. Wait three more levels, and then every level after that has another ad. It is an interesting design choice to let you work your way pretty much through Stage 1 uninhibited, and then start to slam you once you hit the Ninjas, but I suspect smarter marketers with more qualitative data have determined that this particular approach earns the most clicks.

Switching up where the Exit (X) button is on an ad doesn’t hurt either though, does it, Don Draper?

Archero

What an absolutely little cracker of a game this is! The simplicity in the design but the excellent combination of action and puzzle solving is where this game comes alive. With a single thumb, you control your little archer through a world of increasing difficulty, where when you stop moving, you start shooting (automatically). There is a need to balance where you are positioned in the map alongside dodging incoming projectiles and other enemies, but at the end of the day, like me, you will be overwhelmed.

It seems that the first stage needs you to complete about fifty levels, which I’m never likely to do in the space of a single day, but I can see how, over time, you would build up the know-how as well as a few upgrades to your character, well enough that you can push through to that big five-zero.

And then, I suspect, you move on to the next world.

One of the things that really floated my boat from this game were the graphics. With very much a Clash of Clans feel, the design of this title really works for it. There are some level design issues in some spaces, particularly when playing a portrait-based game and the level needs to be deeper than the phone allows, meaning that you end up shooting at things off screen and, likewise, you are unable to see incoming projectiles. Nonetheless, you are able to navigate smoothly, and the character model is quick to respond and you can see (when the enemies are on screen) visual indicators to tell you how much health is left for both your player character and the enemies.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this game still on my phone after a few months. For the first time in a while, I’m actually keen to see where I can expand on the fun of this game. It is well-designed, looks great, and above all else, it is just damn good fun.

Training Day

I don’t think there’s a gamer on the planet who hasn’t played, or at least heard, of Worms. It has a timeless formula that, essentially, just lets you experiment with a whole heap of different weapons times and ‘go at it’ with either the computer of a human opponent.

There are varying degrees of expertise in the Worms community. You have people who are so brilliant at lobbing their grenades across the map with the right level of force, the correct angle, and against the wind that they can blow an opponent off the board in a single stroke. There are others that (over)rely on just getting line of sight, lining up a bazooka shot and firing it with an extreme level of force (that doesn’t actually make a difference).

I like to consider myself somewhere in between.

What I didn’t expect with this particular outing for Worms was the introduction of some new toys. I thought the introduction of a tank was pretty cool – a bit unnecessary in terms of what some of the Worms joy is – but cool nonetheless.

And then, they introduced a Mech!

One of my favourite gaming memories is stomping around a desert world playing MechWarrior. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I couldn’t play it very well, but I absolutely loved it. So, now, picture Worms WMD introducing Mechs, and letting me stomp around the level with the same level of joy that was sparked well over twenty years ago. Absolutely priceless.

I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of this particular Worms, but at the same time, it has such familial comfort that I don’t need to dive too deep without giving my quick-and-dirty assessment on the game: it’s good. It’s the same ol’ Worms, with a WMD lick-of-paint.

To be honest, I wish more games took their winning formula, made them look pretty, and stopped stuffing around with the mechanics.

(The same could be said for the recently release Toy Story 4)

Hungry Shark

For those of you with a void in your life that can only be filled by stepping into the shoes (or fins) of a shark and eating fish and people alive, then have I got the game for you.

Hungry Shark is a little title out of a Developer you might have heard of: Ubisoft. But rather than flogging its Tom Clancy license or thinking up new world cities to stretch the Assassins Creed story to, it has this nifty little game that is all about controlling a shark as he, well, eats.

There is some other elements to this game that I haven’t quite worked out yet. For instance, I can’t quite understand what a Gold Rush is, and I suspect that there is different kinds of sharks to purchase or upgrade into. There were a few times I tried to eat things, in this instance a turtle as well as an eel, at which the screen popped up a notice that I needed a particular kind of shark.

I wonder if the same rules apply to five year old fussy eating humans as well. Do I need to upgrade to one that eats his vegetables?

Graphically, the game isn’t bad considering it is running on a mobile. The issues I saw were largely to do with frame-rate rather than textures, which is probably a conscious decision by Ubisoft to sustain visual fidelity over performance. It’s not necessarily distracting but it is noticeable, and while I’d like to be able to blame my hardware (I’m playing on an iPhone XR), I suspect that the results would be similar on most devices.

As it turns out, I picked up this game during what was an update to coincide with the Discovery Channel’s ‘Shark Week’. If there was something special to do with that, then I completely missed it, but long-time players of the game might have a better idea what is and isn’t part of the update as opposed to the regular game.

All-in-all, a solid little time waster.

3/5 Stars

The Missing Lord (Xander)

I try and make a point of firing up Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms once every one or two weeks just to make sure I’m not missing a special event and, more importantly, an opportunity to unlock a special event character. While cross-save would still make this easier, I’ve increasingly become comfortable making my Xbox instance my Idle Champs home.

I’ll admit, Xbox achievements got me through the door, and my time investment in the console version has kept me there.

I enjoyed this latest event because I didn’t feel like it took itself too seriously. While most special events are achievable, some of them make more work than they need to, and this one just simply did not. It had a fun layout for the characters, and a good progress cadence that focussed on getting through it rather than punishing you for the sake of punishing you.

And what’s great about it? I have another character to collect this season! I’ve already sent Brunor back out again, and so with another day of grind, I should be adding another character to my collection.

It’s the little things in life.

The Kreator

I don’t know whether this game is supposed to be called The Kreator or simply Kreator. There is some marketing inconsistency going on with this title, but in any event, I think it’s fairly clear that this is a whimsical take on the word ‘Creator.’

From what I can gather, the actual creation in this game comes from manipulating your small, yellow orb about an ever-rotating world, at which point any pre-existing flora on the surface ‘grows’ a bit when you touch it. Voila! ‘Look what I have created!’ It’s actually not quite as exciting as that, but I think that, in terms of connection between the title and the actions goes? Well, this is it.

While growing plants is nice and all, the substance of this game comes in the form of taking the aforementioned dot and collecting more yellow dots. Repeat ad nauseam. From time to time there’ll be a missed dot which turns evil, or you’ll collect some white guardian angel dots which help save the day, but there’s no huge narrative to explore here. No compelling protagonist. You collect dots.

Do I love it? No. Do I hate it? No. It is what it is. The reviews on the App Store tout this game as the perfect way to end the day or any one of a number of cathartic environments that need a quick mobile fix.