It does feel like a trip down memory lane to an App Store before the race to the bottom and in-app purchases. I’ve tried about a dozen games since launch. The problem is while there was nothing wrong with most of the dozen games I played, it did feel like I wasn’t really seeing anything new because I was an avid player back when the ecosystem wasn’t ruined. Rayman Mini, for instance, doesn’t really hold much value when Rayman Jungle Run existed years ago, and Super Mario Run exists right now. Sega Hardlight’s Chu Chu Rocket Universe was solid but not really any better than the game Sega developed years ago for iPad.
I’ve spent the most time with:
Frogger: I was surprised to find this was developed by Q-Games, Konami certainly picks its development partners wisely (Hexadrive did Bomberman R). This one has an emphasis on physics due to its toybox-theme, though it is visually drab. The 30fps cap, presumably to save battery, makes it feel as sluggish as it plays.
Sayonara Wild Hearts: Another well executed game from Simogo. It’s basically an action game with a pop album theme, and while it’s certainly very slick it’s also disappointingly derivative when compared with the developer’s pedigree. There isn’t really anything in here, mechanically, that I haven’t seen in other games, and the mechanics are rather shallow anyway. It’s a high score-chasing music game that doesn’t quite offer enough to make me want to replay its levels for gold ranks.
Shinsekai: Capcom have done well making a side-scrolling exploratory title where you’ve got to fight against the dangers of deep-sea traversal. The physics are slow but satisfying to overcome (you can use your suit’s thrusters to increase your manoeuvrability at the cost of oxygen) and it’s pretty relaxing when there aren’t creatures trying to kill you! It’s the perfect setup for touch controls as well, given the slower, less responsive underwater movement. Your left thumb moves your character and your right thumb can aim harpoons, smash the ground (with a downward swipe) or get you jumping (upward swipe). You can tell the team designed this one from the ground-up for phones.
Hot Lava: New game from Klei, who are probably best known for Don’t Starve and Mark of the Ninja. I had a lot of fun with it, but it also reminded me how it would be perfect for the Switch. Basically, it’s a first person platformer where you run through sandbox environments from checkpoint to checkpoint, trying not to touch the floor (the floor is lava). Because of the fast paced nature of the game and the need to look in front and below you while jumping, it’s only really playable with gyro controls, but using your left thumb to move is annoying finicky.
Super Impossible Road: Basically a more bloated version of the excellent original game. But the online multiplayer races are good fun. I think this released first on PS4 a few years ago.
I also tried Grindstone (new puzzler from Capybara which is solid), Shantae 5 (honestly thought this was very dull) and Rayman Mini along with Sonic Racing and ChuChu Rocket.