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I play shitty mobile games... and I like it.
Oh hey, here's another writing thing since Baroness hasn't deleted me from the site yet :D

The eventual sad fact that we all face as we grow into responsible adults is gaming time is more precious and far, far less available. Hell, it's usually a small miracle when I can get more than 90 minutes to play Fallout 4 uninterrupted by errands or sleep. So it's little surprise that I spend more time gaming on my smartphone than on anything else. It's always with me, it doesn't demand more than a few minutes of my time on any given occasion, and there's little to no barrier to entry.

The games I choose to play, however, aren't exactly the ones that mobile gamers seem to prefer. I'm not into the high-score endless-runners like Pac-Man 256 or Jetpack Joyride that the gaming press talk about, nor the life-point limited puzzlers like TwoDots or Candy Crush Saga that constantly top the sales charts. Nope, what gets me interested are generally the games where you collect stuff (like cards or heroes) and use them solve puzzles or complete RPG-style quests.

Spirit Stones was the first game of this type that I really got into, and my wife plays it as well. It's a unique variation of the Puzzle Quest and Puzzle & Dragons formulae that have you matching up gems to deal damage to and defeat onscreen enemies. The heroes you collect through various means increase the power of your gem matches, allowing you to defeat more and more powerful monsters. Speaking of the heroes, most of them happen to be well-drawn and well-proportioned warrior women in skimpy armor. Quite frankly, it adds to the game's charm for me.

The only thing that's as good as collecting half-naked heroines is collecting Marvel superheroes, and that's how I got into Marvel Puzzle Quest. This plays just like all the other Puzzle Quest games out there on whatever platform, with the added bonus of using superhero attacks to shake up the board and deal damage to an opposing hero or villain. There's even a story mode which follows the Dark Reign plot line from Marvel canon. I don't play this any more though because progression and obtaining new "covers" requires an insane amount of time, a near-impossible commitment for someone who has to both work and maintain a social circle.

Eventually I got to the point that I wanted to move away from the puzzle genre; I dunno if anyone's ever coined the term "Match-3 fatigue" before, but that's pretty much what I had. So I decided to try out a new game from the Marvel Universe, namely Marvel: Future Fight. This game still has you collecting heroes, but instead of matching gems you're actually beating down enemies and supervillians in Streets-of-Rage-style action combat. Unfortunately I got bored of this one pretty quickly. The combat is pretty repetitive, and the game devs know this since they added in an option to automatically replay any stage you've already completed. Yup, you could spend entire play sessions just watching the computer AI take out Doctor Doom for you. That's so much fun.

Moving into another genre entirely is a slot machine game, MyVegas Slots. Slot machine games are generally not my thing, but this one does have an added bonus: play enough and you can collect Loyalty Points redeemable for real-world rewards at tons of casinos in Las Vegas and elsewhere. My wife and I got a little over a hundred bucks worth of freebies on our last trip there, and we'll likely clean up again on our next visit, whenever that is. Also, I gotta admit that I like the shiny sparkles from winning a shit ton of virtual coins.

My current time-wasters are a pair of games from Silicon Studio, who you've probably never heard of unless you've played the hit 3DS RPG Bravely Default (they're the developers). Age of Ishtaria and Grand Sphere are both more traditional turn-based RPGs where you collect heroes, level them up, and directly attack groups of enemies. Both games even have a fully-voiced story mode. Also, in both games we're back to the girls with skimpy outfits thing. These games I value more right now because they put so few demands on my time. After the log-in-every-two-hours-or-lose madness of Marvel Puzzle Quest, it's a refreshing change of pace.

So, why did I refer to all of the games mentioned previously as shitty? They're not technically bad for the most part, but they all contain the one attribute people seem to hate the most about app-store games: they're free-to-play with in-app purchases. How far you can go in each game without paying varies; the Marvel games seem to be the best about not limiting free players, and I haven't spent a dime on the slot game either. Spirit Stones, on the other hand... god knows how much cash I've wasted chasing time-limited cards that are only available if you spend a ton of gems (in-game currency). Age of Ishtaria and Grand Sphere use the same impulse tactics to encourage spending, but I've managed to restrain myself from falling for the same trick twice. Besides, if I do want to spend a little coin, I'm making enough from the Google survey app to fund those decisions.

In the end, I think I'm doing things right, regardless of popular opinion. I play these games as long as I'm enjoying myself, and when I stop having fun, the game gets deleted and I never have to worry about it again. There's no attachment, no investment, no stress. And I'm enjoying myself, five or ten minutes at a time. That's what gaming's really about, right?

Here's to more shitty mobile games in the future.
Comments
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Personally, I've always liked puzzle games, and you mentioned a few here that I hadn't seen before. So, good job! Also, screw anyone who looks down on the mobile games. As you said, games are meant to be entertaining, and so long as the user is having fun, let them.

Also, I don't know why you'd think I want to kick you out! If anything, I'm glad the Writing thing keeps you connected to RCM :)

That said, if you don't accept my Words With Friends request, I will end you.*





(*kidding, kidding. But I do love scrabbling from afar)