Does the quality of Android games improve once you start paying money for them? Let’s find out with Amazon’s free app of the day giveaways.
See what lies behind the velvet rope in this installment of Around the Dumpster in 80 Minutes: Premium Edition
10000000 by EightyEight Games: $1.99
This is a tile matching game, but 10000000 has dressed it up a bit. You’re not switching pairs of tiles — you slide entire rows to line up symbols while your character races across the top of the screen. In theory, matching specific symbols helps your character overcome the obstacles he’s facing, but you can just slide tiles around as quickly as possible and things will turn out okay. 10000000 makes a big deal out of building up your “castle” and upgrading your equipment, but you’re just lifting a bunch of artificial restrictions that were placed on your ability to earn a high score.
Should you pay money for this game? You should graciously accept this game if it has been given to you as a gift (thanks, Amazon!). If you paid money for it, you got ripped off.
Arcana Defender by DifferenceGames: $1.99
Having your game skillfully mock genre clichés is tough — doing it wrong makes you look like a clumsy hack making lazy excuses for not being original. Arcana Defender avoids this challenge by intentionally making lazy excuses. You move a wizard from side to side to shoot monsters before they get to the bottom of the screen, and you can unlock spells that can help. It requires the type of frantic button-mashing that used to break my NES controllers, so I’m concerned about the effect that later levels would have on my touchscreen.
Should you pay money for this game? You should do everything in your power to avoid paying money for this game, even if it means feeding dollar bills to a goat.
Bridge Constructor Playground by Headup Games: $1.99
If you liked the original bridge building simulator, you’ll love this game. If you don’t think a 3D modeling tool with fancy graphics and the ability to earn badges should be called a “playground,” then you’ll be kind of pissed.
Should you pay money for this game? No. I’m sure there are modeling tools out there that offer better value for their money. And if you’re looking for a game about horrific bridge disasters, I’m sure there’s some version of SimCity you could be playing.
Continuity 2 by Noodlecake Studios: $0.99
I don’t know if this is supposed to be described as “quirky,” “minimalist,” or “lazy,” but running a stick figure from one point to another isn’t my idea of a good time. According to Amazon, more than 50 people gave this game a 4-star rating or above — but there are 110 people willing to give 5 stars to a tire repair kit, so that’s hardly a badge of quality. I’m sure it’s applying bold, innovative new techniques in the field of “preventing characters from moving in a straight line,” but I’m not interested.
Should you pay money for this game? You should pay money to prevent someone from installing this game on your device.
Crazy Tanks by Bootant: $0.99
It’s a thumbstick game. A thumbstick game with arena battles and upgrade abilities that aren’t tank-specific — this could just as easily have been crazy cars, or crazy bikes, or crazy skateboards, or crazy breakdancing pug dogs. This was entertaining 20 years ago when it was Spectre, but the only thing Crazy Tanks has improved on is the graphics.
Should you pay money for this game? If you’re willing to accept the word “CRAZY” flashing onscreen as a substitute for gameplay that is actually crazy, then go ahead and knock yourself out.
Game Dev Story by Kairosoft: $2.50
I thought it couldn’t be done, but Kairosoft managed to publish an Android game that’s at least as entertaining as something you could find on a Game Boy — that’s like finding a vintage Harley Davidson buried under pile of rusty bicycle wheels. Handheld devices can’t run in-depth simulators very well, but Game Dev Story does a clever job of papering over its shortcomings.
Should you pay money for this game? You should buy this game if you have money left over from an Amazon gift card. You know, after you’ve ordered just enough to qualify for free shipping, but can’t find anything else to round out your order.
Heroes of Kalevela by 10tons Ltd: 2.99
This is a matching game like Bejeweled, with special hero tiles that have different effects when matched, but the twist comes between levels. The points you earn can buy upgrades for your village, and village upgrades help you earn more points while matching. I lost entire days to a vicious feedback loop — the matching sections go quickly enough that you think you can squeeze in just one more round, but then you can’t stop because you’ve almost earned enough to improve the village. It’s surprisingly entertaining.
Should you pay money for this game? There are worse ways to spend $3.
Pudding Monsters HD by ZeptoLab: $0.99
In this puzzle game you slide blobs around so that they stick together. Since they’re slippery, they keep moving until they hit something that makes them stop (see also: Kunundrum). Zepto Labs deserves credit for giving these little guys some character; they shudder, they sway in the wind, and they watch your every move — visibly wincing when your mistakes send one hurtling to its doom. Character aside, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before.
Should you pay money for this game? I used to pay ridiculous amounts of money for games like this. Then I ran up ridiculous amounts of debt. Now I’m stuck playing whatever games Amazon is offering for free. True story.