Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to recAPP!
As stated back in our December App Recap, I’m making some changes around these parts. Adding some new graphics, a new name, a bit of a new format – but at its core, recAPP is the same old monthly column you know and love. Four free mobile apps designed to enrich your boring day-to-day, and one Apple Arcade exclusive for you console-quality-loving iPhone gamers with $5 burning a hole in your pocket each month. I’m quite literally paying to write this now, so… I hope you enjoy it even more *wink*
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s see what’s on offer in 2020!
Icing on the Cake
I’m genuinely thankful that Icing on the Cake came into my life. This is one of those games you can’t help but smile while playing. It’s just such an original concept in the form of a quick time-waster, and it seriously never gets old. What’s the concept, you ask? Put some icing on the cake, of course! Each level presents you with a blank cake, or as one might call it, a canvas. Then it’s up to you to make the cake look like the picture given. Some cakes have lines drawn on them, separating different sections that will get different colors or designs. You must choose the corresponding color at the bottom, and apply the icing as the cake spins. Once the cake is covered in colors, you smooth it all out and compare your product to the guide! What draws me to this little game is the calming aspect of it. Not unlike pottery, it’s so satisfying to watch the cake spin and take on a new look as you carefully add the icing. You can even adjust the speed of the cake, which in turn adjusts the difficulty of being precise. Check this one out if you’re looking for something relaxing.
After seeing too many people’s lists of Star Wars movies ranked from best to worst – now that the “Skywalker Saga” has come to a close – I asked someone how exactly they do this. Enter: Letterboxd. Apparently I’m super late to the party with this one, but I’ve been having a blast all month just experimenting with it. Letterboxd provides a massive movie database where you can get together everything you’ve always wanted to see, and everything you wish you could forget seeing. One of my favorite things is scrolling through a collection of films a la Tinder, and adding ones I’ve never seen to my watchlist. It’s a super fun way to learn about cinema you’ve been missing out on. You can also rate movies you’ve seen with a star system, and you can even review them – which chances are you’ve seen before while scrolling through your Facebook news feed. Everyone’s a critic, right? Well with Letterboxd, you can be one, too! Also, as I mentioned before, you can make lists of movies, from your favorite action films, to your favorites from the 80’s, to your favorite Star Wars movies in the correct order. That means Revenge of the Sith is on top. Just remember to get that right.
Rescue Cut – Rope Puzzle
When you see the words Rescue Cut – Rope Puzzle, chances are you run the other way. It’s always the most ridiculous-sounding apps that give mobile games a bad name. Remember Balls Rotate, or Ball Paint? Nobody takes these guys seriously. But you loved those games, and you’ll love this one too! In Rescue Cut – Rope Puzzle, your goal is to cut the “protagonist” down from their swinging prison and send them through the door at the bottom. Unfortunately, most of the levels are littered with traps which will prevent them from achieving said goal. Secret agents have guns, chainsaws have sharp blades, bears have claws. Nothing is safe in this world, and everything wants to kill this poor “protagonist.” I’m shying away from saying “guy” or “girl,” because the player character can be really anyone. Throughout the levels, you’ll find new skins, which range from Easter bunnies to Homer Simpson, and everything in between. These new character models make for some depressing deaths, should the goal not be reached. But the fun of each level is finding out which ropes to cut in order to protect the innocent man/woman/Easter bunny. Perhaps dropping a secret agent in the path of a cannonball or dropping some spikes on a bear could help? This game is the perfect combination of Cut the Rope and Saw, and I am here for it.
Sand is one of the best things to interact with on a touch screen. It disappears with a swipe of the finger, and if you’re playing Sand Balls, that allows some balls to tumble down into a dump truck at the bottom of the screen. Balls, on a similar note, are one of mobile gaming’s favorite tools, as they are round, bouncy, and fun to watch cascade through sand tunnels. What am I saying, then? That Sand Balls is the perfect mobile game? Perhaps, because in Sand Balls, you do all of the above and then some. Players are given balls at the top of the level and, as they slide through a landscape of sand, these balls encounter multiple obstacles in their path. Fans can separate groups of balls, platforms can only be broken by large quantities of balls, and bombs send balls flying in every direction. Overcoming these obstacles is essential, however, if you want to tri-star the level. “But Graydon,” you may be asking, “don’t you hate games that force you to tri-star each level?” Why yes, I really do. But tri-starring is not the necessary goal in Sand Balls. Doing so just increases your chances of obtaining a new vehicle for the bottom, as the more balls you end the level with, the more the gauge fills, which will present you with a shiny car once it hits the top (and you watch an advertisement). Collecting more balls also earns you more jewels, which you can use to erect structures in the city-builder metagame. Sand Balls is just that fun, though, and it makes all of these pesky mobile tropes worth the pain. Take my word for it.
What the Golf?
One of the first games to come to Apple Arcade – and making quite the splash upon doing so – What the Golf? is a golf game unlike any other. This ain’t your grandpa’s Golf Blitz, no, this is the Surgeon Simulator of golf games. You got that pictured in your mind? Great! Seriously, forget everything you know about golf. Just pull back and release, and maybe things will go the way you want them to. There’s no real way to describe this game without spoiling its craziness. I’ll say I started out playing golf normally, and then everything changed. Soon, I was swinging multiple clubs at a time toward a hole that wouldn’t stop moving. I was punting houses across golf courses. I was completely dropping the club and shooting myself toward the green. This was all great fun for a while; even the boss fights were enticing in their own Breakout-inspired way. But it was after a set of Flappy Bird-esque levels that I encountered the cardinal sin of mobile gaming. Something Sand Balls knew how to perfect with no cost of entry at all, and here I was paying $5 for something so abhorrent: What the Golf? requires you to star a certain amount of levels before you can continue. Yep, you heard that correctly. A console-quality experience makes you replay levels in order to progress in the game. It was then that I thanked What the Golf? for its service, deleted it from my phone, and added it to my Steam wishlist. I can see myself finding time for such antics in the future, on a dedicated gaming machine. But in the realm of mobile games, where the App Store never stops updating… I simply don’t have the patience for you, What the Golf? That being said, if you do have time to spend on perfecting a mobile game, well, you won’t find much better – or more hilarious – than What the Golf?
So now we find ourselves at the end of another month. The cusp of yet another month, and still just barely scratching the surface of a new year. I hope 2020 is going well for you so far. I hope y’all are staying safe and healthy out there. I have a lot of events lined up this year, including PAX East this weekend! But I will always make time for recAPP, whether sooner or later. Who knows? I might even have some sneak peeks at upcoming apps in February, thanks to PAX! Guess you’ll just have to wait and see, and I will catch you next month!