Well, March flew right by, didn’t it? As you can see, I’m a bit late with this month’s App Recap. April’s kicked my ass in more ways than one, but never fear! App Recap is here, again! This month brought some really fun time-wasters to my attention, and if you’re a fan – as I am – of those basic little apps you can play on a long airplane ride or a long ride on the toilet, then you’re in luck! Let’s get to it.
Hit the Light
Definitely my favorite of this month’s app selections, I had to mention this one first. Hit the Light seems like a standard Breakout clone, with every level presenting the player with a new colorful design (made entirely out of neon lights) which you are tasked with destroying in order to move on. Using an array of projectiles and a keen knowledge of physics, players must bounce the aforementioned projectiles off the walls in an effort to smash every light onscreen. The trick, however, comes in the form of the random items used to clear the board. Sure, you’ve got your triple balls that spread out and fly all over the place in a destructive manner. But in Hit the Light, the ninja star (which shoots straight forward and clears everything in its path) and the bomb (self-explanatory. BOOM) are just as important. With power-ups that multiply your onscreen ammo or shut off certain-colored lights, there’s always something new with each level. Clearing levels earns you jewels, which seem to do nothing but let you purchase more balls if you’re struggling on a stage. I’d like to see these jewels be used to buy more projectiles, as I know handguns are offered to players who pay for the game, but for now, the entertainment value is just as high even without a real incentive to keep going. The game is simply stunning, with the lighting and glass shattering effects still blowing me away after 97 levels, and the puzzles keep me coming back for more. Hit the Light is definitely worth a shot if you’ve got the rather demanding 287.4 MB of storage for it.
Another fairly large app, clocking in at 414.7 MB (though this number does include my own personal data), BMX 2 was a completely random find for me. I’ve never played a particularly goodbike game on a phone. Most of them are those side-scrolling “gas is on the right, balance your bike with the controls on the left” things. They’re fine, but none of these Trials clones really catch my interest for very long. Enter BMX 2, which I found while scrolling through the App Store. I can’t speak on BMX 1, as I’ve never played it, but I really enjoy the controls in this visually pleasing game. Your middle finger goes on the handlebars while your index finger goes on the seat, and as the BMX bike rolls downhill, you must steer it along the path using this unique control scheme. It may feel awkward at first, but surprisingly you become accustomed to it fairly quickly. Soon you’ll be flipping the bike all around in midair, which is necessary to progress in the game. Pulling tricks earns you experience which allows you to level up and receive new upgrades to customize your bike with. Discovering new tricks also checks them off in your journal, which acts as a sort of objective list. Completing every objective unlocks the next course, and the game continues in this way. I’ve yet to see any reason for micro-transactions, though they do exist in the form of loot boxes you can buy for more bike parts, and you can also unlock later courses by paying for them. But at surface value, BMX 2 is an incredibly entertaining mobile game coupled with realistic visuals and sounds to keep your mind occupied for quite some time.
I didn’t expect to like Steppy Pants as much as I have. Seemingly the most basic game you’ll ever play, you control a man with wobbly legs as he attempts to walk down the street, avoiding every crack in the pavement. The concept is far from original – with games like QWOP obviously serving as an inspiration – but the gameplay still finds a way to feel fresh and entertaining. I attribute this to the multiple hazards thrown at the player, ranging from explosives along the path to crosswalks that must be timed properly to avoid reckless vehicles. Another feature that keeps me coming back is the Crossy Road-style vending machine, powered by coins earned in-game, over time. This vending machine gives out many different kinds of prizes, from new hats to new “steppy pants.” I’m still trying to uncover everything this game has on offer. I have seen NPC’s along the route that mention quests, but I can’t figure out how to access them. If there were a quest system, or simply various goals to strive for in every run, the longevity of Steppy Pants would skyrocket. It’s a super fun little time-waster that involves perfect timing and just the right amount of pressure to keep the wobbly walker upright for a good period of time. Why go outside and take a walk when you can help this little guy take one instead?
Wall Kickers was the first great app I found this month. You play as a monkey who likes to jump from tree to tree. You will never forget he is a monkey, for he yells every time he jumps, and turning the sound off is impossible. But I digress. The monkey is controlled by a simple tap of the screen, and while his main goal is to jump left, then right, then left again one tree at a time, he is gifted with the ability to jump left andright in a single bound. This creates a sort of boomerang effect which allows him to overshoot jumps, only to swing right back to where he needs to be. It’s a fascinating mechanic, as it makes this vertical jumping game a lot more strategic. Coupled with the fact that holding the jump makes the monkey jump farther, and he can only grip to a surface for about two seconds before slipping, Wall Kickers is truly a hodgepodge of skill-based platforming that makes for one super fun mobile game. Coins collected in-game or as timed gifts can be used to unlock new outfits or new stages, which I must say is the most satisfying loot box system I’ve yet to find. These prizes aren’t just cosmetic, they extend the gameplay by letting you earn new levels entirely. I do kind of wish the game was procedurally-generated, but in a way, it’s nice to have a goal to strive for in each world, and getting to know the layout on each run adds more to the replayability. Wall Kickers isn’t mindless, and that’s a huge part of its charm. While it may look cutesy and simple on the surface, at its core there’s a fairly difficult puzzle game waiting patiently to shine through.
I said earlier that Hit the Light was “definitely my favorite of this month,” but Coin Rush is definitely my favorite of April so far, and considering I’ve gone late with this App Recap, why not give you a little sneak peek as to what I’ve been playing most recently? Coin Rush is without a doubt the easiest to grasp on this list (not to mention, one of the most visually striking). You control a coin – rolling on its side through a dangerous obstacle course – with nothing but your index finger. Got it? Good. Now get out there and good luck. Coin Rush will blow your mind with how addictive and insanely unforgiving it can be. Every single trap, from spikes to pistons to oncoming coins, wants to see you dead and they will not rest until their dream comes true. But if it’s so hard, then why can’t I stop playing it? Maybe it’s the winner mentality in me that won’t back down from a challenge… or perhaps it’s the overwhelming calmness I feel when I play the game. Somehow this anxiety-inducing mobile game gives me a rush of serenity whenever I get my hands on it. I find myself wanting to play it when I’m stressed, as replaying the same level attempting to be better each time brings me a sense of comfort and pride. This game, just like Wall Kickers and Hit the Light, does not have any star system at the level’s completion; nothing is waiting at the end to tell you you’re not good enough. I love these kinds of games, and I feel they deserve some recognition for once. It’s okay to have a game that’s just dumb fun. All of these games require strategy in their own way, but in the end, they’re just an exciting method of wasting time. You don’t have to kill yourself over the game because you didn’t get all the stars, and furthermore, you don’t have to be perfect to unlock everything the game has to offer. You just have to play. You just have to have fun.
That’s why I bring you App Recap each month. I want to show the world just how harmless mobile games can be, and better yet, how impactful and motivating they can be when done correctly. Sure, there are some people out there who like to have a star system to strive for. Others like full-length experiences – like a console game – without any worry of “wasting time.” More power to these folks, and that’s really the beauty of mobile games in general. Personally, though, I love the little games that can bring me joy in short bursts while leaving a lasting impression on me. If you like those too, then stick around, and I’ll see y’all next month! Thanks for reading.