MIGS15 is now in the books, and oh my, it was great. It was my first time at MIGS, and it ended up being a lot less formal than I expected, with a lot of games to play . The convention was a lot less crowded than others I had attended, which was quite pleasant! Most of the companies present seemed as interested in hiring the testers as they were in showing off their games. That said, I spent most of my time there playing games and while I was impressed by a ton of them, I chose to focus on two in particular for this article. Let’s get this show on the road!
Grumz – Picnic Game Labs
Grumz is the first game by Toronto based studio Picnic Game Labs. I spent a lot of time playing it during MIGS. I first went to their booth on Sunday, where I spent probably close to half an hour playing the game. I was obsessed, and I really wanted to beat the high score (which was around 105 at the time). Catherine Ashley had to come get me, otherwise I would have played even more. As soon as I left MIGS I downloaded the game on my phone.
Grumz is a very simple game. You ‘control’ a ball that is moving on its own on a vertical axis. I put control in quotes because you don’t truly control it, you can only stop the ball from moving temporarily by touching the screen. Hold on too long and the ball starts moving again, and can’t be stopped again for a few seconds. This is a big no-no as the whole game is based around being able to stop the ball to avoid incoming cubes or other shapes. Thus if you can’t stop the ball, you can’t avoid the murderous shapes.
If you’ve noticed, I said something interesting there. You have to stop the ball to ‘avoid’ enemies. That’s where the game differentiates itself from a lot of its contemporaries, since usually in most games you tend to avoid obstacles with movement, but not in Grumz. Here it’s all about stopping yourself from moving. It’s no wonder that Picnic themselves have been marketing the game around this feature, as they are calling it “The world’s first infinite stopper”. Points are scored every time the ball touches the top or bottom of the screen, which means that the more you stop the ball, the less points you end up scoring. And the amount of enemies scales up extremely quickly, so the longer you wait to score points the harder it becomes to do so. It’s quite the system!
You can also catch special ‘donuts’ that give your ball some powers. The half-donut gives you a small shield that can absorb one impact, while the three quarters donut makes you invincible for a while, so you can smash into every shape on the way (and get a lot points for your troubles). At the end of the invincibility period you explode in a flash of glory, destroying every shape currently on the screen. You can also do some nifty combos, for example something very interesting happens if you first grab a half-donut, and then while still under its effect you get a three-quarters one. Try it!
Truth be told, the game has some bugs right now (at least on the Android version), and when I went back to MIGS on Tuesday I told the team about them. A few patches have been released since then but from what I’ve noticed some of the bugs are still present. But this is a free game (ad-supported) and it’s only 2$ to remove the ads. And it’s super addictive. I highly recommend it!
UPDATE (11/25/2015): The team at Picnic has been working hard on fixing the bugs, and I can happily say that pretty much all of em have been squashed as of today! Great job guys!
Shop Heroes – Cloudcade
I’m not much of a mobile gamer. Most of the mobile games that I play tend to be in the vein of Grumz; small, simple, and can be played in 20 second increments. If I want to play something with more depth, I would probably turn on my console or PC, not my mobile phone. That’s why I was fascinated by Shop Heroes, a game developed by Cloudcade on the south shore of Montreal.
The game looks like it has a surprising amount of depth; you are a shopkeeper and your goal is to keep your clients (who are heroes) satisfied. They come in, they want specific items and it’s up to you to either give them what they want, or try and sell them something else (which often makes them quite unhappy). To be able to do that though you need to have the necessary material, equipment and employees. So you hire personel, you buy equipment, and you build things. That’s the basic setup of the game, but you can also invest in the local town. Each building in it has unique characteristics, and your clients might request specific items that you don’t have in stock so you can hire heroes to go and get the necessary material to build those items. You can also equip the heroes with equipment so that they’re better able to survive quests. It’s an interesting idea; you sell things to your clients and you then use those same clients to get you things to sell them. Full circle eh?
The game combines elements from titles such as Simcity, various RPGs, The Sims, and even Civilization. The team at Cloudcade is also working on a PvP component. Yes, that’s right, they’re working on a City vs City PvP component for Shop Heroes. I talked to the devs about it, and it honestly sounds like they’re building a completely new game, but they’re not. At least not yet!
The more they explained Shop Heroes to me, the more I realized how large it is and how much potential it has. It’s absolutely gorgeous as well. At first you might have a slight tendency to sell as many items as possible in the shortest amount of time, but then you realize that you don’t need to do that, you can relax, outfit your shop, invest in town buildings etc. The race to sell items is only really necessary if you’re short on money.
It is possible that I am viewing it as being deeper than it really is, but the only way to know is to play it! It is free-to-play on both Android and iOS, so you have no reason to not check it out! The game is made for tablets, so depending on the size of your phone you might find the text to be too small to read comfortably. I have a 5.5 inch screen on mine, which is generally considered on the bigger side, and I found the text to be small but readable. Your mileage may vary. You can also play it on Facebook, if you prefer. Have fun!