Although this is week five of my ongoing backlog playthrough, I think I’ve actually ended up with more games on my to-play list somehow. For every new game I try and enjoy, I want to check out anything else that developer has created, or search for titles with similar mechanics. Last month introduced me to multiple fling-fighting games, which led to a lot of time with Angry Birds Evolution. This week I was sucked into the catalogue of Happy Elements and reminded that I still need to play Jussi Simpanen’s Super Dangerous Dungeons and Duke Dashington. I’m beginning to think I may never actually get through this backlog, but that doesn’t seem like such a bad thing.
Here are five more games selected from this week’s downloads that I especially enjoyed and hope you will, too.
iSlash Heroes is part of the mobile resurgence of JezzBall-style arcade games, which challenge players to slowly shrink the game board by cutting off sections of the area without hitting obstacles bouncing around within its walls. Scale is one of the more popular recent entries in the genre and is a fantastic twist on the classic formula of choosing a point and waiting for a line to extend out from that point. iSlash Heroes is one of the other variations, which utilizes actual slashing motions acted out by the player, making it a perfect adaptation for mobile touchscreens. Floating Islands Crasher uses the same mechanics within an adorable alien-abducting-animals theme, but its sharp increase in difficulty early in the game makes it a tougher recommendation.
iSlash has just the right balance of challenge and leeway, with no timer to race against and slow-down bonuses that randomly pop up after cutting off large sections. But there are also plenty of tightly-packed boards with metal, non-breakable sides and even the occasional boss battle that adds in a unique obstacle, like a vision-obscuring cloud. The level-based map offers a concrete progression for players who aren’t drawn in to simply high score chasing like in Scale, with tons of stages to conquer. The slashing gameplay is smooth and responsive, allowing split-second slices very near obstacles, with both the ninja/wood motif and even the slicing motion itself feeling very reminiscent of Fruit Ninja. If you like JezzBall or Fruit Ninja—or especially both!—this is a great combination of the two that feels simply perfect on mobile.
Mr. Right is by developer Happy Elements, who are prominently represented on my list of backlog games. They make really cute, polished, short-burst experiences that are often overlooked at launch, but are highly deserving of a download. I played a few of their titles this week and enjoyed them all: Tiny Hero is a fast-paced voxel left-and-right tapper that pits your swordsman (or swordscow) against an endless line of enemies that can be slayed only by magic (left tap) or sword (right tap) depending on their monster type. Solar Trek is a beautiful vertical hockey dodger, where your only goal is to travel from the sun to the stars and back—over and over—without running into any planets or other orbiting celestial bodies. These are both great, but Mr. Right earned the spot on this week’s list for its fiendishly challenging auto-running puzzles featuring a romantic hero who can only turn right.
Your seemingly simple goal of getting Mr. Right to the end of each short stage is made exceptionally harder by the road’s twists, turns, blockades, and other obstacles that he can only reach or avoid through roundabout rights. Although the only control is tapping to make Mr. Right turn, since he’s constantly moving forward, you have to scout ahead and plan out your actions early, preparing for quick taps when he needs to navigate short corridors and always thinking from his point of view instead of your own. The generous checkpoint and extra life system, as well as the many different Mr. Rights you can unlock—by earning stars on levels—provide even more player-friendly features beyond the already engaging—if sometimes infuriating—level-based challenges.
Super Happy Fun Block is a charming puzzle platformer that takes place in a world where an alien apocalyptic event has left cities in ruin and people terrified of the invading anthropomorphic block monsters. Your hero has the ability to control the visibility of red and blue blocks, allowing him to bypass walls of blocks by turning them see-through or using his power to outsmart patrolling cube creatures by luring them onto bridges and then removing the path they’re standing on.
There are a lot of clever solutions to levels, ranging from simple block-on-button pushing to jumping between nonexistent blocks and making them appear beneath your airborne feet, but the game is also simply hilarious and ridiculous as well. All of the characters and creatures are highly animated, with responsive facial expressions—blocks frown at you while you’re pushing them—and swinging, dangly limbs. The main village hub is populated by citizens you can have random conversations with, including an old man standing on his lawn in his underwear, adding a bit of bizarre world-building to the otherwise standalone levels. It’s a great puzzle platformer made fantastic by its polish and character—the stars you save in each level have thankful quips like, “Watch out, I’m gassy!”—that is a must-play for fans of the genre.
Heart Star feels like the perfect companion to include alongside Super Happy Fun Block. Although it doesn’t have the same sense of humor as the silly block-bashing platformer, it uses a similar mechanic to bring two characters together in a sweet meet-up with its own charm. You control both the blue boy and pink girl, who exist in separate dimensions. The blue platforms of the boy’s world do not exist for the girl and vice versa, allowing them to walk through walls made up of the others’ color. This also means that they will fall through platforms of the opposing color, creating challenges where one character must hold up the other to prevent them from tumbling off the stage.
The goal of each level is to get both the boy and girl to the golden platform, which often requires a lot of transitions between characters as they help each other reach higher ledges and traverse would-be gaps. The stages are fairly short and self-contained, but developer Jussi Simpanen has managed to pack a lot of thoughtful teamwork-based challenges into each one.
Chain Quest is a lovely line-drawing match-3 puzzler that forgoes any sort of story for quick to jump into matches entirely focused on one-on-one battles. The game board is split into two distinct halves, with the player and AI (or human, in local multiplayer matches) each designated a side where they alone will make matches. The poker chip-like tokens that can be matched in touching lines of three or more represent physical attack and defense, magic attack and defense, and monsters that can be summoned to your side.
Much of the matches are a challenging tug-of-war as you and your opponent collect defensive points to block incoming damage and trade blows that whittle away the other’s health. Since you each have your own board that is visible at all times, you can’t actively steal a match as in a game like Puzzle Quest, but you can prepare for the next most likely attack: if your opponent’s board is full of sword chips, you should probably start collecting shields. This tug-of-war aspect is also used literally as hitting your opponent also pushes the wall between your boards closer to their side, reducing the size of their board while extending your own. Between this added obstacle—or bonus—the three character classes you can choose from, the spells and monster pets you can unlock, and the simply engaging art and effects present in every aspect of the game, Chain Quest is a treat for match battle fans.