Hey guys! Did ya miss me? Yeah, I did this one pretty fast. You see, I’ve been doing a whole lot of nothing in this quarantine, so I’ve picked out a lot of the apps in advance that I want to play, and that’s how we’re running recAPP these days. At least for the coming months, anyway. April was full of some really fun surprises, so I hope you enjoy what I’ve brought to the table for y’all!
If you’re a frequent user of social media, as I am, chances are you’ve seen ads for this game. Maybe you’ve seen ads for games that look very similar. That makes sense, seeing as Spiral Roll isn’t exactly an original concept. However the fun of this mobile game, and others like it, cannot be denied. Spiral Roll follows a simple premise: logs form a track along the screen, and as they come, the player must use a wood-shaving tool to create a large spiral. The bigger the spiral, the more points you’ll receive. The catch is that each spiral can be interrupted by obstacles along the path, such as tree branches above and blocks or gaps below. Creating multiple spirals in a row makes for a beautiful display of the game’s physics engine, and adds to the chaos onscreen. At the end of every level, one giant spiral must be created in a skillful way in order to hit the highest amount of points written on the ground. This adds some depth to the game’s rather mundane gameplay and shakes up each level. If the spiral is too small, it might not get far enough to reach the highest points, but if it’s too big, it could fly too far and miss the points completely. I highly recommend giving this little time-waster a try next time it scrolls through your feed. Or should I say… next time it rolls through your feed. Moving on.
Did you really expect me to write a column about mobile apps in 2020 and not include Zoom? Why this service is singlehandedly saving the human connection through this Coronavirus pandemic. Whether you’re talking to your classmates in a college lecture or video chatting with your grandma who lives down the street, Zoom has had all of our backs during these trying times. That’s not to say there aren’t other services helping with this social distancing issue. FaceTime, Skype, Discord – they all assist in their own ways and I am grateful for every option on offer. But I mention Zoom here because it’s helped me personally in a way I never thought possible: playing video games with my family. You see, my aunt and uncle live a few towns over and they’ve isolated themselves pretty heavily due to health reasons. So my family of four decided to get together with them via Zoom, screen share Jackbox through it, and play together every week! It’s been an absolute blast, being able to interact with them in a new, exciting way. Zoom has given us the ability to have fun in quarantine, and stay connected with our loved ones (not to mention Jackbox has had a huge sale going on, which has given us a lot of games to play!) I’m so thankful for services like Zoom that keep people playing, talking, and getting through this together. I hope all of you have been staying safe and healthy out there.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
After falling in love with New Horizons this month, my girlfriend got me to reluctantly take a chance on Pocket Camp. I say reluctantly because I’d been avoiding this game from the get-go. It just didn’t seem to have the true Animal Crossing feel I’ve loved for so many years; more like a slap in the face from Nintendo. But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by Pocket Camp’s sense of direction. It feels different than the mainline games, that’s for sure. I liken it to how Assassin’s Creed Odyssey didn’t exactly feel like Assassin’s Creed, though it included some of the original characters and plot devices. It works great on its own, and the game is very good, but it doesn’t need the “Assassin’s Creed” moniker. Now going back to Pocket Camp, that way of thinking is very similar. For fans of the franchise, you’ve got a lot of your favorite villagers here. Isabelle is back, Gulliver and Tom Nook are back, even Goldie and Bluebear for you crazed villager-hunters. But the gist is different this time around, as instead of working on a town and watching it grow, you’re tasked with establishing a campsite and making villagers happy enough to visit you. Giving them fruits and fish will raise your friendship level, and once you’ve got a lot of buddies, well, nothing beats watching them tap dance around in your campsite. Throw all that in with some new faces like Giovanni, Carlo, and Beppe, and the ability to plant your own garden with an idle metagame? Pocket Camp may just be the mobile Animal Crossing we didn’t know we wanted so badly.
Ahh, Quibi. What can be said about this fun service that hasn’t been said already in my article about it? Shameless plug. But really, this streaming platform is so fascinating that I went and wrote a whole piece about its allure. If you’re new to the site and my work, let me tell you a bit about Quibi. Created in April by Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks fame, this mobile app brings viewers original content in the form of “quick bites.” These episodes come daily and last no longer than 10 minutes each, delivering cinematic experiences in short bursts. I instantly fell in love with Quibi after seeing ads for a new show starring Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz. This show, Most Dangerous Game, quickly became a mini addiction, and I waited with bated breath for each daily release. What I love most about Quibi is its ability to provide a cliffhanger every time, forcing me to come back for more on the regular. It’s smart, it’s full of diverse content, and I’ve had a ton of fun with it all month long. Unfortunately, Quibi’s reception hasn’t been so hot according to the media, with a lot of people calling it an “instant bomb,” and Katzenberg blaming the Coronavirus for its lack of viewers. Personally, I think a quarantine would make for more users of a mobile application, but what do I know about technology and human nature? I’ll just be over here watching more TMZ if you need me.
Our very own Allan Muir suggested Roundguard to me upon its release. I finally got around to playing it for this month’s recAPP, and after some deliberation, I must say I’ve come away from it quite satisfied. Roundguard is a bit of a slow burn at first, and its true purpose isn’t immediately clear. What looks like a Peggle clone at first glance becomes – over time – a genuine roguelike experience that’s just as refreshing as it is unexpected. You begin your journey by selecting one of three classes: Warrior, Rogue, or Wizard. Each class has its own special power. For example, the Warrior can smash through pots with a tap of the screen’s left side, while the Rogue can double jump, essentially making herself a boomerang for an extra move. These special powers can be swapped out and upgraded, and they cost mana to use. Mana, as well as health, must be picked up along the path of each stage, appearing in the form of… let’s call them “pegs” for you Peggle fans out there. As you move through each dungeon, you’re given various choices in armor, skills, and weaponry to make your hero stronger. By following the procedurally-generated map, you can collect more treasure and higher-level equipment, depending on the paths you take and the battles you choose to fight. This all culminates in a final battle, where not only your skills are tested, but your ability to hold your own against dwindling health, mana, and various status effects. Roundguard delivers a fairly in-depth RPG experience, with fun on-the-fly customization and a story full of humorous characters. I must admit I was initially turned off by its lackluster appearance and redundant gameplay. However, after finally dying, losing all of my collected skills, and starting anew with only the personal lessons I’d learned, I found this Apple Arcade title to be a challenging breath of fresh air that flips the Peggle formula on its head in an unforgettably amusing way.
Just like that, April’s in the books! We’re back to the old ways, showing off some free goodies and showcasing some premium exclusives. I hope you’ve learned about some fun apps to check out in isolation. I also hope you’re all being safe and healthy and not making choices you’ll regret because I want you guys back here next month! Trust me, you won’t want to miss this. I’ve got a sneaky little idea that’ll knock your socks off. I can’t wait. I’ll see you soon!