If you picked up Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch this week or plan on getting it this weekend, then I’m guessing you won’t have much time for any of the games I’m going to talk about here. In fact, I’m guessing you won’t have much time for anything given that 1) it’s a JRPG, and 2) it’s from Level-5, a studio definitely not known for brevity.
If you’re out and about, though, then it probably couldn’t hurt to snag Wave Trip for iOS or Tokyo Crash Mobs for 3DS. Miasmata, on the other hand, is going to take both a lot of concentration and a PC, so maybe save that for when you’re trying to figure out what you want to do Saturday night. Then, two hours later and several whiskeys later, you’ll know.
Wave Trip is an endless runner chopped up into discrete levels, all of which are based on musical beats and collecting coins. There are orange coins and blue coins, but only the orange ones can help you progress while the blue ones are collectibles you’re likely to miss on your first play. Much like the little glow balls in Sound Shapes, they also progressively build a beat, the same beat that matches your flowing journey through the level.
It’s controls simply (touch the right side to bobble upwards, touch the left side to activate a shield) and is a soothing sort of fun. You can’t ever really die—touching bad things only resets your multiplier which only affects your ending score—so it’s a pleasant sort of trip to just soar through this musical landscape even if you don’t care about collecting everything. And spend enough time in the level editor and you swear you could make a platinum-selling record.
I’m a little late to the party, but late is better than never, especially in Miasmata‘s case. This is a game made entirely from the ground up by just two brothers. From the engine to the sound to the art, it’s just these two dudes. And you can definitely tell; it reeks of auteurism, but the design is so incredibly subtle and fascinating and complex that I can’t believe it actually all works as a game. You play the role of a guy who wakes up on an island with only one goal: concoct a cure for the plague that afflicts you.
Everything critical to a survival experience is programmatically systemized in the game. I mean, your right-click brings up a watch and a compass for goodness sake. If that is your secondary action, you know this is going to be a crazy experience. Your map is blank and has to be filled in by manually triangulating your position within unknown territory by sighting known landmarks. You have to fight off dehydration and starvation regularly while you search for new plant life. Walking itself is a dangerous activity as everything is physically realized; walking uphill is slowing and laborious while going downhill brings in a very real danger of stumbling out of control and falling.
You are never told explicitly what to do outside of the opening 10 to 15 minutes of explicit tutorial, but I think that’s part of the joy of Miasmata. You are building your own narrative and play style and it’s all supported by the game. Spelunking, herbology, and rampant cartography is all in there and whatever you choose best facilitates your goal of curing yourself is how the game wants you to play.
Also, there is a horror side to the survival stuff, so um…be prepared.
Tokyo Crash Mobs
Well, uh, Tokyo Crash Mobs is a game. I guess? I don’t know. I mean, it definitely plays like a game. It most certainly hearkens back to things like Zuma and Magnetica, but it’s all wrapped up in a tortilla of crazy. Made by Mitchell Corporation, this 3DS eShop…thing is so strangely low-rent. I mean, it’s not hard to see the green screen reflecting off of the real life, poorly animated FMV’d actors, but it’s also so incredibly emotionally charged at the weirdest times. You deal with depression and joy and ennui, and then you fall out of outer space and into a theatre queue. And then you’re subjected to interpretive dance.
And then magic.
The premise is that you play as one of several characters (sometimes at the same time) and you throw people (yes, people) at other people standing in various lines. Sometimes you want to get to the front of a line from the back and other times you want to prevent lines from reaching you. And then other times you are being attacked by ninjas and have to destroy magical, ninja-conjuring bosses in a weird match-three, turret-sequence mashup. The mechanics switch up often enough to where you probably won’t get bored very quickly (rolling, throwing, line-cutters, item usage, etc.), but the true highlight here is the spectacle. It’s a bit pricey at $6.99 for what it is, but seriously, that spectacle.