For as long as I’ve been the Editor of Kotaku Australia the narrative surrounding the local industry has been one of survival, struggle and – if you’re lucky – overcoming that struggle. But the truth is that most of my favourite mobile games were actually developed in Australia. So in celebration of that, I thought I’d take the time to highlight, in no particular order, five of my personal favourite Australian-made mobile games.
As opposed to shoe-horning traditional control methods into a touch interface, I’ve always felt that the best mobile games work with touch controls, not against them. Nowhere is that better exemplified than Duet.
As a result of those controls, Duet is one of those games that just clicked instantly with me. Touch left to rotate left, touch right to rotate right. Simple. But that simple idea, layered in multiple different situations alongside the ability to exploit multiple different strategies and timing, results in one of the most engaging mobile experiences I’ve ever had.
The key, I think, is this: Duet’s unique control method allows players to have the precise, in-depth controls method you’d normally require a controller for. That allows for a rewarding experience that is never frustrating. When you fail, it’s your own fault. You’re never fighting against the controls.
It’s evolved and changed so much that it’s barely the same game as it was when I started playing all those years ago, but the core idea remains compelling and tactile: slash the shit out of some fruit with your finger.
Fruit Ninja is one of those true originals. One of those early rip roaring successes that’s close to impossible to replicate – although Halfbrick has done better than most when it comes to making lightning strike twice.
Strangely, Fruit Ninja has taken on a new lease of life. It was the first video game I ever introduced to my now 20 month old son. He loves it. Or at least I think he does. How can you tell with these things? He just sort of paws at the phone and stuff happens. That's good enough for me.
I am constantly recommending this game to family and friends and I’ve yet to hear of an unsatisfied customer. My wife, my brother-in-law, Lifehacker Australia Editor Angus Kidman – they’re all converts to one of the most intuitive and devious puzzle games on iOS/Android.
It’s also extremely compelling, to the point where it’s extremely difficult to not buy the bloody expansion packs.
Yes. I have bought them all.
I remember one Friday night I had my entire family racing to be the first to complete all the game’s increasingly difficult levels. Make no mistake: Puzzle Retreat is sublime and accessible. A dangerous combination.
Stickets isn’t as intuitive as Puzzle Retreat. In fact, in many ways it’s deliberately counter-intuitive. In the best possible sense. On a superficial level it looks like any other ‘plus 3’ puzzler you could choose to name, but if you try and play it like your bog-standard ‘plus 3’? You’re gonna have a bad time.
Because despite having a similar aesthetic, Stickets has its own unique set of rules – that’s what’s so special about it. It doesn’t give a damn about your expectations and actively punishes you for applying those expectations to the game. It’s special for that, and a game that requires a different, unique approach.
In that sense it's an anomaly: a puzzle game that actually requires thought.
Jetpack Joyride is dumber than a bag of (half)bricks, but it also has that whole pick up and play, endlessly fun, 'just one more go' thing going on. It's a staple. In that sense it approaches that Fruit Ninja/Angry Birds level of ubiquity amongst mobile players. Everyone knows what it is, everyone knows what to expect.
Jetpack Joyride is also a game that does free-to-play correctly, in that it isn't some weird obnoxious presence hovering over you with a begging bowl, it's just there, if you want to spend money you can. If you don't, you can continue having fun with one of the most polished games on the iOS store.
Also — those challenges.
The weird thing about Machine Gun Jetpack is that it is completely unpretentious. It makes no attempt to be consistent, or be a game where high scores matter. Machine Gun Jetpack is what it is, and it's extremely good at being that thing. I love it.
What did I miss? Flight Control? I guess that's the big one. Oh, and Real Racing! What else? What Australian-made iOS games do you play on your mobile phones? Let us know!