Aussie Indies Are Turning Me Into A Mobile Gamer

Aussie Indies Are Turning Me Into A Mobile Gamer

I don’t play mobile games. I avoid them, and have the same reaction to the term as some behind-the-times people who stick their noses up at videogames in general. But the latest few releases have me spending a lot more time than I’d like on the Tiny Screen.

It’s not so much that I avoid mobile games in a PC Gaming Master Race elitist way. There’s a little bit of that — why waste time on this little thing when there are cooler, more in-depth games on PC? But it’s more that when I’m on the bus, train, or ferry, that’s my quiet time. Time to sort out my thoughts. And when there are people in the room, I’m making a conscious effort to actually talk to them. Mostly.

But now my precious, sacred meditative moments are being invaded by thoughts of games that are in my pocket. Games that can be played anytime, with one unlock swipe and a tap. And for some reason, they’re all Aussie made. This isn’t me just blatantly preferring the home team, I swear — I’ve been giving the latest Cut The Rope and Angry Birds versions a go, too. But it’s the Aussie ones that stick in my head like a barbed spear tipped with dopamine, and I think it’s because the focus is on the fun and not by-the-numbers progression systems.

Pac-Man 256

This one comes from the makers of Crossy Road, who’ve taken a similar approach — though instead of making an endless Frogger, it’s now an endless Pac-Man. Let’s ignore the temptation to compare it to its predecessor, because nothing was going to match the addictiveness or quality of Crossy Road, with its 100 million downloads. But Pac-Man 256 is super enjoyable and addictive anyway.

Like Crossy Road, the back of the screen is constantly chasing you, this time represented as the 256 glitch from the old Pac-Man. Levels go on indefinitely, and each ghost has more distinctive behaviours. The black ghost will wake up when you’re near, and chase you until it sleeps again. Pinkies will always be moving downwards, but will always turn towards you. Reds will just chase you until you or they die.

If I have one gripe, it’s that one could argue that Pac-Man 256 is slightly pay-to-win. Kinda-sorta. Game credits spawn every 10 minutes, or you can buy them. Playing with a game credit (as opposed to the normal Free Mode) means there will be power-ups which aren’t normally there. These vary according to your build, and when you’ve munched a power pellet, they turn into more power pellets.

That’s kind of a big deal, because the game is all about munching multipliers and chain-biting ghosts. It’s a lot easier to chain together those items with extra power pellets here and there. That makes it less competitive for folks like me who care about high scores, but it hasn’t stopped me from doing score battles with workmates.

Sling Kong

This one’s pretty simple. Drag the character down to create tension, and then sling them upwards to the next point they can grab. Avoid the buzz saws, of course. Easier said than done.

It’s another game that’s inspired score battles between my workmates and I, but we’ve agreed to not “revive” when we die, because the opportunities to do so seemed too random.

One More Dash

This one is a bit of a spin-off game, inheriting most of its style from One More Line. The trouble is, One More Line was really damn hard. I was lucky to get a score of over 100.

One More Dash is a little easier, but still very fun. It’s a fantastic toilet game. Not too mentally demanding, and very quick. If I’m to criticise, it probably could ramp up the difficulty a little more as you go along, but I wouldn’t change much. It’s a good, simple game.

Skiing Yeti Mountain

This is another one that’s managed to stay on my phone, which is quite the feat, considering I like to keep my phone very lean and, if possible, devoid of games.

We’ve talked about Skiing Yeti Mountain before. It’s a reboot of the old Ski Free game, complete with a Yeti and everything, but the gameplay is a lot more interesting. Keeping your thumb on the screen, you turn by moving it around to one side or the other, while trying to clear the flags and get the shortest time.

This is made a lot more difficult and interesting, however, by the fact that momentum is decided by how vertical your skis are. Turn from one side to the other, and there’s a brief moment when you’re facing directly downwards — which means there’s a brief moment when you’re going a lot faster than you expect.

It’s a free game with a ridiculous amount of levels and worth your time, both because it’s fun and because almost half its money goes to support those affected by the earthquakes in Nepal.

Hopefully I’ve passed on all the obsession and procrastination that comes with these titles, and pleased the Dark Gods of mobile gaming. You hear me, Shadow Lords? I’ve spread your message, now release me!

Top Image via Shutterstock


  • This whole thing about identifying yourself around what platform you play games on confuses me. I love playing great games, whatever form they come in. Are people that enjoy movies endlessly labelling themselves as certain types of movie-enjoyers depending on what size screen they watch them on?

    • Probably not, since the screen size doesn’t make a difference to what movies you can watch on it. Might want to get a better analogy there 😛

      I identify as a Nintendo gamer, because I collect Nintendo consoles and enjoy games on their platforms the most. Even when I wander through the Xbox and PlayStation aisles at the shops to see what’s around, there isn’t really much there that interests me, especially not enough to warrant purchasing either machine.

      And mobile games have little appeal to me since even if you exclude the fact that I don’t own a device that can play any of them, they’re all based around capacitive touchscreen input which often doesn’t work very well for me. I’d rather stick to my 3DS.

    • I think you’ll find that movie-buffs do tend to categorize themselves a little by what type of film they enjoy. Gaming is a little peculiar in that the size of the screen is actually directly tied to the type of game. Mobile gaming really does deserve to be its own genre, with the heavy focus on ‘freemium’ aspects (evolved to compete in the attention-starved marketplace), short-duration sessions, and heavy asset restrictions affecting depth.

      And tribalism shouldn’t be confusing in general, anyway. It’s the default state of humanity. It should be pretty simple to not only recognize it, but recognize its attraction.

      There are benefits, there are negatives, but it’s here to stay.

      I’d say the only recent development requiring some adjustment might be with the steady increase of population and the specificity of categorization. Thanks to the continued expansion of the sum total of human knowledge and fields of expertise and entertainment, we are increasingly specialized in proficiencies and interests. With so much to learn, it’s becoming harder (and more pointless) to be a polymath.

      The effect of the Dunbar number means that it’s more and more common to narrow your preferred identity to keep the ‘community’ associations to a manageable level.

      Identity IS all about what makes you separate from the whole – I expect as our hobbies gain depth and variety, we’ll continue to see more specific, narrower self-identification for the purposes of shrinking the pool for grouping with those having similar interests.

      I’m sure this is fascinating stuff to anthropologists, who may even have already written theses and research papers on hobby demographics and self-identification.

      • Great post 🙂

        Yes gaming is an odd one, there really is nothing particular analogous to it! And yes its exceptionally tribal within its factions and thats totally natural, but surely Kotaku could be looking out for the whole nation of gaming and the undertone of this article didn’t convey that to me even though its message was positive. Could just be my reading of it, I’m overly defensive when it comes to mobile gaming because I see it as such a fantastic gateway to introduce people to deeper game experiences.

        • Thanks.
          There’s probably all sorts of study to be done on the overlap of hobbies and identities (console peasant/PC master race! …while owning multiple of each) emergent in gaming.

          I don’t think it’s just your reading of it – I’d say it’s fair to note that the article starts from a position of setting a tone of general skepticism or negativity.
          I don’t play mobile games. I avoid them, and have the same reaction to the term as some behind-the-times people who stick their noses up at videogames in general.
          The first lines are an up-front acknowledgement that there’s some prejudice there. But also, an explanation:
          It’s not so much that I avoid mobile games in a PC Gaming Master Race elitist way. There’s a little bit of that — why waste time on this little thing when there are cooler, more in-depth games on PC? But it’s more that when I’m on the bus, train, or ferry, that’s my quiet time.

          Gateways to deeper experiences are great, but not especially sought-after from those who are already connoisseurs of the more involved and nuanced experience. And, on a gaming blog/news site, that’s probably the target audience.

          Forgive the evocative language:
          ‘Mobile gaming’ has the unfortunate circumstance of its gems being buried in a viscous slurry of cheap, exploitative, often outright-illegal copyright-violation unimaginative knock-offs; a rank jumble of nasty, worthless knick-knacks peddled by desperate publishing urchins who paw insistently at anyone within range in the hope that you’ll give them some money out of curiosity or annoyance or deception before they disappear back into the crowd.

          It takes hardened, veteran pearl-divers to salvage anything useful out of that muck, and even then, their results may or may not be appreciated depending on just how deep an experience the buyer’s looking for.
          When trying to hawk those wares to those already turned off by the raw reality of app marketplaces, I don’t think it hurts to note that the offerings here haven’t been too heavily stained by the taint of where they were fished out from.

  • All so good. Where are you at on 256 Jung? I don’t think it’s quite Pay-to-Win. I haven’t bought anything, and I’m averaging 25K or so now, with a top score of 45K.

    • 45k now? That’s ridiculous haha. I haven’t played it much since but my top is still around 14k. I mainly use the Free Mode though, even when the free credits are there.

      I think there’s a strong pay-to-win argument. Using credits gives an advantage, and sure, credits appear every 10 minutes, but if you pay you’re in a better position. Every go is a potential high score.

      • Fair enough, but regardless of how many plays you take, you have to have the skill/luck to take advantage. I have it on three devices, so could rotate around and play as much as someone who paid for unlimited credits anyway. You can’t pay to obtain an in-game advantage, so if it is pay-to-win, it is definitely on the mild end of the spectrum.

        A friend that I introduced the game to racked up a 62K+ score back when I thought my 35K top was super awesome.

        • For me, the main questions is if two people of equal skill and luck played, would one have an advantage if they had unlimited credits? And the answer is yes, but I hadn’t considered the idea of rotating between devices to effectively have unlimited credits anyway.

          Guess I’m taking three phones into the toilet from now on.

  • I love mobile games…but to date I have not actually kept a mobile game installed for more than 2-3 days.

    It seems like while I love the convenience and the mindlessness of gaming on a mobile platform, the memorable gaming moments (take into account I’m a gamer who doesn’t care for high scores or achievements…) is still something I have only found on console or PC games, where the games in question demand a greater recognition of lore, story and character interaction.

  • I would play mobile games… if I didn’t have at least 2 Vitas and a 3DS XL in my backpack at all times. When I go loaded for bear, I have 3 Vitas, a 3DS XL, a 2DS and an Android Tablet in my backpack, plus a Samsung Galaxy and iPhone in my pockets. Add in 2 pairs of earphones (one pair with noise canceling) and I’m sweet. I just don’t find mobile games compelling next to portable games. Maybe that will change, but for the moment portable consoles scratch my every every itch 🙂

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