Last week’s three-day Casual Connect conference brought together game creators both big and small from all over the world to show off their wares and listen to industry experts talk about the newest technologies and promotional tools for games.  Being based in the Bay Area, I had the chance to take a break from my day job marketing apps to cover the conference for Gamezebo, and to get a glimpse at some of the latest and greatest mobile casual games.

I must admit, there were not as many games that caught my eye as I would have liked. Many developers are sticking to tried and true models of revenue generating mutliplayer games similar to Clash of Clans and Boom Beach. A number of the titles were in no way new, but the same developers showing off the same titles we have seen at multiple events in the past.

That being said, there were definitely some diamonds in the rough. Here are some of my favorite titles I managed to sit down with.

SNOT!

The Game We Hope Gets Made

What do you get when you mix Badlands artistic wonder with  Cut the Rope’s cuteness,  drop it into a platformer game, and then give it a pretty bad case of the flu?  You get SNOT!, an “In-Development-But-Needs-Investment-To-Be-Finished” game from House on Fire, the studio behind the sci-fi point and click adventures Silent Age and Silent Age 2. In SNOT!, you play what must be the most adorable booger ever to squish its way past any number of obstacles, dangers and puzzles. This mad science platformer was born back in 2012, but put under quarantine as the developers focused on their other games. Now the developers have more time on their hands, but need more funds to complete the project. I would definitely be willing to back this on Kickstarter if it came up!

Craft the World

The Update You Were Waiting For 

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Craft the World is a Terraria-esque open-world game where you control a group of dwarves doing what dwarves do best: Protecting apple loving princesses with narcolepsy from fire breathing she-dragons.

No wait…. Those are different dwarves.

These dwarves spend their days mining the earth, looking for treasure, and fending off the hordes of baddies that are constantly being thrown at them.  While the game obviously takes cues from Terraria, added features like skills advancement and spells round out the game and help it stand on it’s own. The stream of attacking monsters feels almost base-defense like in its frequent onslaughts — but you might already know this since the game has been out since 2014 on Steam and mobile devices (and has generated over $1M in revenue to boot).

So how do you follow up a million dollars of success? We have it straight from the horse’s, dragon’s, developer’s mouth that a multiplayer version is currently in beta, and is around two months from hitting the shelves. While a playable demo was not available at the conference, we’re hoping that soon we will be playing Craft the World along with six of our happiest, sneeziest, dopiest and most bashful friends.

D33P THOUGHT ROBOT

The Indie Highlight

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Sometimes you meet an indie game developer that you really just want to see succeed — and Sunshine Game Studio’s Steve Hinan is like the fun brother we all wish we had. Steve’s pedigree includes applying his artistic talents to well-known titles from some tiny companies you might have heard of like EA and Microsoft, where he was the lead environmental artist on Shadowrun, Train Simulator 2, and NHL 2006. Since then, he has left the world of big brand game development and is now a one man show working on his second title.

In D33P THOUGHT ROBOT you are ball of energy traveling through the circuitry of a sometimes moody robot who, while claiming to be “just a calculator,” grows in intelligence as you progress through the game. It feels in some ways like a three dimensional game of PAC-MAN, as you collect target spheres and avoid dangers to complete each level. Getting hit by a virus in the system sends you to “punishment,” which may or may not lead to a critical failure and the end of your game play.

The game has a good foundation, and hopefully will continue to grow as new updates are released including more complex 3D puzzles. Download it now and show your support for the indie gaming community!

Magic Flute

Best in Show

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The Best in Show easily goes to a game we covered previously, yet is definitely deserving of another mention. Magic Flute is a stylistically beautiful puzzle game that takes it’s inpiration from Mozart’s Opera of the same name – incorporating both the music and the story from the musican’s famous last opera. We were finally able to sit down and take the actual gameplay for a spin, and this 2015 game seems to do the 1791 masterpeice justice.  The game plays much like Monument Valley; your goal is to get your character (or multiple characters depending on the level) to an endpoint without getting stranded.

While it starts out rather simple, before you know it Magic Flute has ratcheted up the difficulty higher than a soprano that was kicked where the sun don’t shine. With 32 levels in Act I, which we now know will be launching worldwide on September 24th, the game is easily worth the $3.99 price tag. Be sure to mark your calendars, too — the developers have hinted at a launch sale when the game drops.

Flying Empire

Honorable Mention

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While it’s increasingly difficult to get excited about the many resource/battlefield management games that have hit the market in the wake of successes like Game of War, Boom Beach and Clash of Clans – Flying Empire by Realore Studios stood out to me as one worth knowing. The game places you into a world of floating islands where you stake your claim and build up your empire. Travel between islands requires the use of airships which can carry your ground forces, but also have attacking abilities in their own right. Alliances are a must in this game – some of the bigger islands cannot be attacked by single players, meaning the best loot must be retrieved by a team effort.

Perhaps it’s appeal is the steampunk-esque art work, or the large number of items and artifacts that make the game feel like it will not get repetitive quickly. Each realm of players has been limited to 10,000 participants – which should create an interesting dynamic as teams form and vie for battlefield domination.  The game is expected to launch in the next three months along side a few other new titles by Realore.