How’s it going, everyone?

This has been… a month. I hope all of you are staying safe, healthy, inside! I’ve been struggling with work and personal crises for the past few weeks, so it’s been hard to keep my head on straight regarding, well, anything else. Writing has fallen to the wayside for me, but I’m not happy about it. So I decided to forgo anything else today, and commit to getting things done! So here we are. Back to recAPP! Quarantine edition! Let’s take a look at what’s been keeping me busy lately.

Cube Blast 3D

Some of you young folks might be familiar with a Snapchat game called Pizza Cat. My sister actually brought it to my attention this month, shortly after I had found Cube Blast 3D and already decided I’d be writing about it. Surprisingly, Pizza Cat and Cube Blast 3D are one and the same, albeit with different premises and visual styles. Pizza Cat‘s about throwing a pizza into a cat’s mouth, while Cube Blast 3D is more of a demolition game, focusing on knocking down houses and other structures with a giant ball. The gameplay is identical, however, with both games asking the player to curve the projectile’s trajectory in a certain way, in order to avoid obstacles in the playing field and reach its goal. Obstacles range from moving pillars to roaming dogs, depending on which game you’re playing. At its core, though, Cube Blast 3D/Pizza Cat is a satisfying physics-based app that calls for an accurate sense of timing, speed, and geometrical know-how. That, and the games are just dumb fun. Trust me, whether you’re a 15-year-old girl playing Pizza Cat against her friends, or a 22-year-old dude screwing around, knocking towers over just to watch them fall into a beautifully-pixelated mess, these games will bring you joy all the same.

Color Fill 3D

If you’re a fan of video games at all, Color Fill 3D (no relation to Cube Blast 3D) should look familiar. While I can’t quite place my finger on where I’ve seen it before, the foundation of this game is an extremely unoriginal concept that’s beautifully demonstrated on mobile – which earns it a spot on this list. Color Fill 3D tasks players with guiding a cube around a playing field, venturing into dangerous territory full of deadly moving blocks, and taking control of this territory to destroy said blocks. The risk here is that should the line created by the player’s cube not make its way back to either its own block or one of the surrounding walls, all progress will be erased and the level lost once the enemy block interferes. Now, this may sound like a lot to understand when put into words, but I assure you the gameplay is a lot more straightforward once observed. That isn’t to say it’s easy, by any means. In fact, the levels get harder and harder as things progress, with enemy blocks getting larger and the playing field twisting into complicated designs. Color Fill 3D is easy to learn and difficult to master, making it a terrific mobile game, and one I will find myself returning to again and again.

Pokey Ball

Now we move from captivating puzzle games to one that is more of a colorful time waster: Pokey Ball. As one can tell by its name, this game doesn’t take itself too seriously, and its overall simplicity helps it to do so. Allow me to elaborate. In Pokey Ball, players are faced with the challenge of helping a small red ball climb a vertical tower. By tapping the screen, a small pole extends from the ball, allowing it to grab onto the tower. The player then drags down, bending the pole, and upon release the ball shoots ever higher up the tower. Sounds simple, right? It is, until obstacles such as metal bars that cannot be grabbed come into play. To make things even more complicated, targets appear at various intervals along the tower, and extending the pole to hit a bullseye grants extra points and speed for the ball. Coins collected at the end of each level – depending on where the ball ends up along the tower – can be turned in for new skins based on things like animals and sports. There’s not a whole lot to Pokey Ball, but the game left an impact on me for its enjoyable gameplay and aesthetically pleasing backgrounds. I’ve deemed it my “Time-Waster of the Month.”

LastPass Password Manager

Remember when I said recAPP isn’t always about games? The world of mobile applications is so diverse that a lot of them are meant to make your life easier, streamlining productivity on top of bringing amusement. So this month, while I was looking for a neat way to keep all my passwords in one place, as well as an app that wouldn’t take up too much space and force me to pay through the teeth, I heard about LastPass from my buddy, Jeremiah. LastPass allows you to save an unlimited amount of passwords at no cost, and do so in a clean, alphabetical manner. Other password managers will offer you free trials of their unlimited service – sometimes without even openly stating you’ve been “upgraded to premium” – and then hold your passwords captive behind a monthly fee. LastPass does offer a premium subscription, but this is for heftier services regarding protection and privacy. If all you’re looking for is an app to hold your passwords in, and even connect them to autofill in other apps? Well look no further than LastPass. My favorite feature is being able to tap on an account name and select “show password,” and it’ll just pop right up, no questions asked. It’s fluid, efficient, and helpful as all get-out. Streamlined productivity; that’s what it’s all about, right?

Ultimate Rivals: The Rink

Finally, we come to the moment you’ve all been waiting for! The Apple Arcade Game of the Month! This time, I’ve got something special. This here’s a little overflow-turned-sneak-peek of next month’s PAX East spectacular! As you know, I attended PAX East at the end of February, and surprisingly, there were quite a few mobile games there. So next month I’m going to be looking at five big standouts. Ultimate Rivals: The Rink, however, was the biggest standout of them all. Why? Well, the game had quite a large booth on the outskirts of the convention. They had at least four iPads set up, and it was always crowded. I chose to check the game out at home, but I sure am glad I did! Ultimate Rivals has set itself up as a versatile sports franchise for years to come. Beginning with hockey, the game enlists multiple athletes from multiple sports – including LeBron James, Wayne Gretzky, and Jose Altuve – as they battle it out on the titular rink. Every character has their own special power, transforming the court to their needs. For example, LeBron can turn the goal into a three-point field goal, allowing for extra points, while hockey players can slam the Stanley Cup into the ice, freezing surrounding opponents. The game is fast-paced and addictive, and every win earns you a new character, making unlockables enticing and satisfying. Every character has their own attributes in different positions, making team customization critical. I just wish there was more progression. A story mode would’ve been fun. The lack of rinks is a bit disappointing, and matchmaking is always difficult. I look forward to seeing the Ultimate Rivals series hopefully expand into new sports, with more players and more avenues of progression. The Rink is a superb first outing with a unique concept and spectacular presentation. It’s definitely a “system seller” for Apple Arcade as a service.

So there we have it! February’s in the bag. Feels good to write again, and I thank all of your for your patience in these trying times. I will hopefully have March out soon enough. I’m really looking forward to this one. Shining a spotlight on the mobile games of PAX East 2020! Not all of them are new to the world, but they’re all new to me, and I’m excited to showcase these developers who work hard on their games for the mobile-loving public. Spoilers! There may be more than one Apple Arcade game next month, too. I’ll see you then! Wash those hands!

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