Hey guys and gals. Sorry again for my tardiness with this recAPP. Things have been a bit crazy lately in terms of keeping life together. Hopefully, we’ve been keeping y’all entertained during this worldwide quarantine. We’ve been trying to produce as much content as possible, and we’ve got some exciting new stuff coming down the pipeline at VGU, so definitely stay tuned!

As for right now, as mentioned back in February, I’m showcasing the very best apps I saw at PAX East 2020! Remember that show? Remember those days? It seems like so long ago now, but I can still remember these standout games in my brain vividly. I hope this introduces you to some cool new stuff made by some very talented small developers. Go give them some love after checking them out below!

Also, just so you’re aware, two of these games are Apple Arcade exclusives. I feel I should be upfront about that because it changes up my usual style, but it’ll be back to normal next month!

Election Year Knockout

Have you ever wanted to punch Donald Trump in the face? No, why would anyone want to do that? Well considering you do want to, Election Year Knockout is here to provide you with a fistful of dreams come true! This mobile-exclusive was on display right next to a VR game, and while my buddy played that, I watched on in horror as the likes of cartoon Barack Obama, Jeb Bush, and Bernie Sanders got their asses handed to them in a boxing ring. The game is actually super detailed, with a large variety of opponents and missions to keep you entertained for quite some time. Every boxer has their own signature style, making every match more complicated than the last. For example, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez utilizes a disturbing dance to confuse her opponents, twirling about the dance floor, er, boxing ring, and dodging punches wildly. You’re given an array of attacks and evasive maneuvers – including a super punch – to take each enemy down, ensuring the combat never gets old. My only hope is that this game comes to consoles, as the gameplay isn’t best suited to mobile. With its surprising wealth of content and intelligent topical humor, I’d happily pay $10 for an Xbox port of this free mobile game.

Cell to Singularity

I didn’t see much gameplay of Cell to Singularity at PAX East. It was more like the developer took us aside and explained its premise, but that being said, I was instantly hooked. Another freebie, this game has you starting with absolutely nothing in the universe, and bringing the world to life. You may remember my mention of BlipBlop from last year, a game that revolved around doing nothing but tapping multiple times and unlocking achievements. Cell to Singularity takes that tapping gameplay and gives it a skillful makeover. Tapping the screen repeatedly leads to new unlockables like air, volcanoes, and microscopic organisms. Over time, you unlock the ability to evolve creatures and add bodily functions like muscle and respiratory systems. The branching paths allow the player to choose where they want to spend their accrued points (through tapping) and with each unlocks the point multiplier increases. Cell to Singularity can be frustrating at times, especially if you’re not a big fan of mindless tapping. But with the ability to earn points even when the app is closed, you can easily leave the game for a while and come back to unlock new routes. This will ultimately have you creating the world piece by piece, and that makes for a pretty rad game if I do say so myself.

Apple Knight

Okay, you caught me. This one is a bit of a cheat, but allow me to explain. I originally planned on playing the Shovel Knight mobile game for this list, but unfortunately, it hasn’t been released yet. So I switched focus to a game called Honkai Impact 3rd, a gorgeous-looking Japanese fighting game, out now on PC and mobile. My buddy told me it’s fun, so I tried downloading it. After deleting three gigabytes of storage from my phone, it still wasn’t enough to install the game. So naturally, I said “f–k this, I’m gonna find a Shovel Knight knockoff.” Enter: Apple Knight, a free mobile game that is absolutely nothing like Shovel Knight. You play as a young boy who fights people with swords… and throws apples. It’s a Renaissance-era Metroidvania, so there are tunics and witches and magic. And apple throwing. The game ended up being surprisingly fun, and it’s got a lot of unlockable content on offer. By collecting coins in each level, you can unlock new weapons and spells. Levels are fairly short, but the range of platforming makes it feel like a console-level experience. I could see this being a bit more fleshed out and turned into a legitimate handheld game. Just… maybe change the name.

Skate City

Skate City is an Apple Arcade title from the makers of Alto’s Adventure. The Alto games are a series of paid mobile titles, following a little dude as he skis across various landscapes. Alto’s Adventure was a staple of my iPod Touch days, so I was very excited when I came across Skate City along the outskirts of the PAX floor. This game plays kind of similarly, being a side-scroller and all, but the gameplay focuses more on nailing tricks than collecting things and taking in the scenery. Think of the Skate series of console games, but on a horizontal playing field. A wide variety of missions are on offer here to master, and these are required to not only progress in terms of the venue but also to unlock new clothing items and accessories. Missions are played out on a never-ending plane, allowing you to make countless mistakes until you nail each trick. The greatest blessing is that Skate City is absolutely gorgeous. From stunning lighting and shadow effects to the living, breathing world around you, each environment feels like a genuine populated area where skaters would roam. I highly recommend giving this one a look, especially if the recent Tony Hawk news excited you.

Dodo Peak

Dodo Peak takes the fun of Crossy Road and does with it what Star Fox did to on-rails shooters. Do I have your attention now? Great! As most mobile fans know, Crossy Road tasks players with tapping forward, backward, and side-to-side to get their pixelated animal through traffic and to the end goal. It’s like Frogger, but a lot more frantic. Dodo Peak – a new Apple Arcade game on display at PAX East – has players moving in a similar fashion… all across a Q*bert-esque landscape full of deadly traps and enemies. As you move the dodo around the board, dodging snakes and spikes, you must collect all the eggs scattered around and subsequently lead the baby dodos back to the start. The bigger the chain, however, the harder it is to navigate, especially when traps move around you. Nothing hurts more than getting all but one dodo across a deadly spike trap and essentially killing one of your cute little bird children accidentally. You monster. Dodo Peak is colorful, fast-paced, and exciting in short bursts. It’s certainly up there on the list of Apple Arcade system sellers. I’d even say it’s better than the actual Frogger title made for the service! Though the Apple Arcade-exclusive Crossy Road remains to be experienced… at a later date.

Better late than never, I always say! I do say that a lot… Anyway, this was fun, reliving PAX East 2020 so many weeks later! Reminds me how many cool games are on the horizon during this tough time we’re in. But it also serves as a reminder for you of how many awesome games are out there right now. So go check these out, and I’ll see y’all real soon for April’s best apps! Stay safe.

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