Jillian’s Backlog 01: A Journey Through the Games We’ve Missed

One of my favorite things about writing for Gamezebo is that we’re encouraged to suggest and share games that we’re passionate about and would like to cover, no matter how obscure the selection might seem. I’ve written about a number of games that I loved too much to keep to myself—Cat Moped, Drylands, and Mobs & Potions are just a few—with the hope that at least one new player would be introduced to a title they might otherwise never know about. (Plus, those articles gave me a “working” excuse to play the games in question way more than is probably healthy.)

The problem is that there are so many new games added to the App Store and Google Play every week (day!) that it’s impossible to give a full write-up to each deserving release. We try to share the most promising titles we can find with our weekly new games lists, but dozens of fun and unique titles will inevitably sneak out unnoticed.

I’ve been trying to catch up on these under-the-radar games in recent months by playing through my monstrous backlog of 1,000+ wishlisted titles. I’ve been slowly whittling it down week-by-week, game-by-game, racing the inevitable App Store doomsday that will remove any non-64-bit apps when 32-bit support ends. Thanks to fairly indiscriminate bookmarking, plenty of not-so-great or broken games have been installed and quickly deleted from my device. But there have also been a lot of wonderful, clever, surprising, and truly fun experiences that deserve to be played and shared.

Each week, I’d like to share some of those latter games here at Gamezebo. They will be games we haven’t reviewed in the past, and ones which I enjoyed and think you might as well. That’s it! Without further ado…


Pie in the Sky almost ended this feature prematurely by being so engaging that I had trouble putting it down to write. It’s a brilliantly stylized take on Paperboy, swapping suburban newspaper tossing for intergalactic pizza delivery. You use tilt controls to guide your delivery car back and forth, dodging asteroids and other ships on your way to space colony neighborhoods where you have to toss pizzas so they hit their targets. The travel portion is a space shoot-em-up-slash-dodger while the pizza delivery is all Paperboy. You use the income you earn to upgrade your car—with items like shields and rockets—and you unlock new pizza toppings that provide bonuses, like a higher chance of tips or temporary invincibility after taking damage. All of this is wrapped in an amazing ‘80s neon cyberpunk style that is the perfect setting for “electric mutton and equations pizza.”


OPUS: The Day We Found Earth is a difficult game to describe. It’s a story-based adventure whose primary gameplay takes place through the lens of a telescope as you track down Earth-like planets. You follow the experience of strong-willed robot Emeth as he tries to finish his creator’s work onboard their deteriorating spaceship, attempting to find the original Earth and the origin of humanity. The search for Earth takes place on an expansive star map and with hints from OPUS, the ship’s navigational radar, which narrows down your search radius to specific zones. It’s up to you to scour those zones and scan any unusual stars that might be the one you’re looking for. Each time you find a promising planet, you’ll receive a bit more dialogue from Emeth and story aboard the ship, which is slowly revitalized through your efforts. This is a wonderful reward for your efforts as Emeth is a lovable, sincere character and the history of his mission is fascinating and touching.


Push Heroes is an interesting puzzler that combines turn-based battles with a grid-sliding mechanic reminiscent of Threes! or You Must Build A Boat but used for its own unique ends. It takes a few levels to really show off its complexity, but as you unlock different skills, party members, and environmental hazards, the game opens up and becomes both strategic and challenging. The goal is simply to finish off each wave of enemies on each level without dying, but the difficulty arises from monsters’ different ranges of attack and starting positions, as well as the fact that when you slide your character, enemies in the same row or column will also move. This means you sometimes have to take a roundabout way of reaching your target, but you can also slide them into health-draining obstacles like pools of poison—and even trap them there with properly-pushed blocks.


Mini Tale – Dark Maze is a textless choose your own adventure game that gives you obstacles and options entirely in simple black-and-brown illustrations. Each trip through the maze begins at a set of three doors—one featuring a monster, one an alien, and one a human—and almost always ends in some sort of horrible fate. The events are ridiculous and their drawings hilarious, with some actions harder to decipher than others—is the game really asking if you want to stab the woman, shake hands, or inject her with poison? Absolutely, yes: in our multiple playthroughs we’ve had an awkwardly long hug with a monster and then decided to stab him in the back (literally), been devoured by a gelatinous blob, and somehow got lost in a clown’s gullet. And these are only a few paths out of the 50+ endings available.


Mystic Miracles should appeal to players who have been enjoying the recent board game craze on mobile. It’s made extremely clear in the game’s subtitle which tabletop game Mystic Miracles is attempting to emulate: 7 Wonders. While an official 7 Wonders app was in development by its creators, it entered beta in mid-2015 and nothing has come of it since. For those of us still waiting on that version, Mystic Miracles does a great job of filling the time and bringing very 7 Wonders-esque gameplay to mobile. It has the same synchronous gameplay focused on building resources and structures from those resources, including different types like army and technology cards. The scoring system is slightly different, awarding more points for coins than its inspiration, and there are no free builds off previous cards, but the overall experience is very familiar and should immediately click with fans of 7 Wonders and similar board games.

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