by Jen Schiller1
Kindle Round-Up May 5th 2014
Best App of the Day 4/27 to 5/3
We are certain that our Kindle-toting brothers and sisters are sometimes neglected, and in need of some extra game review love. To remedy this, Hardcore Droid has engaged the Kindle Featured Apps, especially the Free App of the Day. Our resident Kindle expert par excellence, Jen Schiller, is downloading the free feature every day as well as at least one game from among the Featured games. Jen will train a hardcore gamer’s eye on each and every one of them and report back to you with which of their number are worth your time. For the Kindle owners whose e-Reader sees more games than books, this will be the weekly roundup not to be missed.
As most Kindle owners know, every day Amazon’s Kindle store features a handful of apps including a highlighted app for free download. To meet the challenge of assessing each and every one and report back to HD readers as to which ones were worthy of their time, I checked in every day, downloaded the free game, and then chose another featured app or two to try. At the end of the week, the best games were determined by which I hadn’t deleted yet (pretty simple qualification). I determined which ones to keep based on a few different criteria, which were decided on after I played each of the games for multiple hours and through most of their “main” game modes. The first of the criteria is simple: none of the games require in-app purchases at any time. Moreover, the games had to have some unique element to their gameplay, a variety in their levels, and excellent replay value at the very least.
See last week’s Kindle Review here.
App of the Week overall:
Ichi (normally $1.60): Ichi is a directions game. The graphics are fun because they look like doodles. The game mechanic is simple: there’s one or more movable triangles on the screen and you have to twist them to make the little ball of light go from one dot to the other. Sometimes there’s a spike on the edge of your screen. Don’t hit the spike. Sometimes there are other obstacles, too. You can also play user-designed levels, which are rated on their difficulty when they are created. These levels do not cost anything extra to play or design! You can design three separate levels at a time or earn more design slots by posting to Facebook about Ichi.There are 60 levels built into the game, but at the time of writing this, there were an additional 17844 levels created by players. What I like most is that every level so far is different, and that you might have to twist the triangle multiple times in one game to hit all the dots. It tests your problem solving skills as well as the speed at which you can put them to work. Pinball mechanics add a dose of nostalgia and Ichi gets my vote for best game of the week.
Featured Free App of the week:
Just Seven Words (normally $.99): This game is meant for one player, but in my opinion it is more fun, and challenging enough to remain interesting, when played by two. I played first by myself, but then with my ten year old cousin, and she and I agree that “Just Seven Words” is fun for all ages. In a great new twist on the classic crossword puzzle, Just Seven Words gives you a bank of letter blocks that you must combine to form the answers to seven different clues. There are six categories, each with thirty different puzzles in them, which makes it a long-living game on my Kindle. If you get stuck at any time, you earn coins to purchase clues (two per level) and if that isn’t helpful enough you also have the option to shuffle the letter blocks around to see new possible combinations. While you buy hints with coins, those coins are earned by beating levels, and the game prides itself on “no pesky in-app purchases here”!
Featured App of the Week:
Sonic Jump ($2.99): Sonic is my Mario, because we never had a Nintendo in my house and by the time I did own a Gameboy color and I was too far gone. That being said, I have also had at least one sonic game on every tablet, MP3 player and handheld game system since it became possible (iPod video, 2006). Sonic Jump, then, was a shoe-in for favorite feature of the week. It’s low on the list because it was not discounted from full price and Sonic Jump allows you to buy your way through the game. Don’t get greedy, my little blue friend. There’s nothing about the game that requires further payment, but it does take every opportunity possible to remind you the store is there, and rings don’t come cheap. Sonic Jump is a fun new twist on the jumping platform genre, made popular on iOS with Doodle Jump several years ago. Sonic’s version lets you change characters, each of whom has their own abilities, and the levels mirror the classic Sonic titles starting with Green Hills. This game is also ripe with opportunity for achievement whores such as myself. So far, this is the game I find myself returning to the most from the week, but I can’t tell whether it’s genuinely that good of a game, or a strong wave of nostalgia for the simpler times of a Sega Genesis and a fridge full of Mondo.
Best Free Game:
Tap Black: Tap Black is a lot of fun—when it works. I don’t know if it was my Kindle or the game, but I had a few complete system crashes this week while trying to play Tap Black. It’s worth noting, however, that I kept coming back and wishing against wish that the game would work. Because when it works, it’s one of the best games I’ve downloaded in a while. The screen scrolls a-la Tap Tap or Guitar Hero, and you have to tap the black key only to play a beautiful solo on a piano. I like playing with both my left and right thumbs for better success rates. If this game was not the problem and my Kindle was simply throwing a fit, then the only negative I see is that “arcade” and “relax” are essentially the same mode, though relax is slightly slower. One wrong move and the game is over. I’d program “relax” to only end when the player is good and ready. Isn’t that kind of the idea behind relaxing in the first place? I also wish there were separate levels in the game rather than random songs that play for a predetermined period of time.
Let Down of the Week:
Terra Forma (normally $1.99): Terra Forma plays with my emotions. It looks like a Minecraft rip-off, of which I have played many, but it plays like a strategy game. The problem is it has little to no learning time, leaving me clicking away and guessing at my success rate. Each level is a mix of topography blocks that will change based on both your clicks and their surroundings. Click a water block, it turns to stone (most of the time). Click a stone block, it turns to lava (most of the time). Your goal is to terraform every block until you have cleared the board. The problem is that there are rules to the game, and exceptions to every rule, and new blocks with new rules and exceptions are introduced without explanation. Once I had cleared a level with 30 something moves (my average was 35-40), I had no interest in going back and figuring out how to economize the map. What’s more, certain elements (such as “online levels”) are only accessible with an online account. Having subscribed to more online accounts than I can even remember at this point, that is not an appealing idea for a Kindle game I’m likely to delete in a month (if it even makes it that long). With some more tutorial and a leaner slope in the learning curve, Terra Forma could have been highly enjoyable, and had tons of replay value. But alas, the challenges come flying at you from every angle way too early on.