I have a limited amount of tolerance for freemium money grubbing (Hi there, Dungeon Keeper!), and after scraping clean through the bottom of the barrel for free android games, I swore off them completely.
…until I remembered that I can’t actually afford the games that real people get to play, so here we are.
Some of these reviews have been brought to you courtesy of Amazon’s “Free App of the Day.” Deciding whether that’s a good thing is an exercise for the reader.
Bag It! Free by Hidden Variable Studios: Hooray for unusual puzzle games with a consistent theme! Boo for constant reminders that this game has a “full version” they want me to pay for. Bag It! Free has a handful of levels where you need to fill up a grocery bag without destroying anything, a handful of levels where you’re given a grocery bag and you’re supposed to destroy everything, and some irritating puzzle levels where you’re supposed to guess how the game wants the items stacked to earn extra points. It’s good for a quick distraction, but not good enough to pay for.
Happy Street by Godzilab: I spent an embarrassing amount of time on this tap ‘n’ wait game where you build houses and shops along a street full of talking animals. It’s cartoonishly cute, and the writing includes self-aware jokes that don’t cross the line into lazy self-mockery. By focusing on a single, 2D “street,” Happy Street feels manageable — placing and upgrading properties is clean and easy. It’s a refreshing change of pace from sprawling titles with isometric views that are cluttered and frustrating.
Eventually you get to a point where there’s much less tapping and much more waiting unless you’re willing to pay for in-game upgrades, and that’s a good time to stop playing and start complaining about it on the internet.
Hotel Story by Happy Labs: The touch controls for this derivative tap ‘n’ wait game are unresponsive and awful, while the isometric view used to manage your hotel is cluttered and frustrating. You’ve seen games like this before. Income-producing assets (here, things like spas and vending machines along with hotel beds) take huge amounts of time to cough up tiny amounts of money. In a few days, you’ve collected enough to buy another asset. What you should really be investing in is your own self-esteem. You deserve better than this.
Magic Farm by Big Fish Games: This is the sample version of time management game set on a farm. Magic Farm’s substandard graphics and garbled storyline that are kind of embarrassing, even by Big Fish Game standards. There’s an action element as you fend off hungry slugs and garden snails, but by the time you get to the end of the demo, you’ll be pretty sure that you don’t need the full version.
Papa Pear Saga by King: Papa Pear is a greasy hippy who lives in a world full of garish colors where everything is sweating. Gameplay consists of bouncing him off fruits and vegetables on his way to the bottom of the screen. But the important thing you should know about Papa Pear Saga is that it Papa Pear Sucks. (Now tell me whether those 54 words were more or less informative than this 430-word meander in The Telegraph.) If you’ve heard of Peggle, I guess that’s what you’d compare this to.
The Howler by Antanas Marcelionis ($0.99): This game goes to great lengths to set the scene with a striking and unique visual style. If half as much effort had gone into actually making an entertaining game, the results would be mindblowing. Touch to rise, release to fall, and try not to think about how much you’d rather be playing Jetpack Joyride. I mean, this game doesn’t even have a Crazy Freaking Teleporter. You can use “voice controls” instead of touching the screen, but I do enough shouting at my device already.
King Oddball by 10Tons ($2.99): King Oddball is (wait for it…) oddly addicting. I’m not a fan of physics-based tossing games (read: Angry Birds), but King Oddball has boulders and explosions along with tanks and helicopters. I give this game points for style, with graphics that give it a unique atmosphere and a stage selection screen that makes it feel like you’re actually progressing step by step towards total world domination. 10Tons has earned the right to expect money in exchange for this game. It is simple, explosive, and fun.
SimpleRockets by Jundroo ($1.99) : This game may have realistic physics, but you have to slog through several tutorial missions before you even come close to putting a rocket in orbit. Doing things right is hard and boring, while doing things wrong is easy and often ends violently. If simple rocketry is this tedious, then complex rocketry has to be more coma-inducing than a seminar on avoiding estate tax penalties by restructuring defective grantor trusts to — hey, where are you going?!Tweet