Windows Phone Central Roundup: Indie Games
While some may see things differently, the Windows Phone Store has plenty of quality games on the shelves from major software developers such as Gameloft, EA Sports, Disney, Ubisoft and Microsoft Studios. Along with the major studios, the Store has a fantastic collection of games from independent studios.
While these gaming titles may be from the little guy on the block, they often can hold their own up against the major releases. These games are addictive, entertaining, challenging and are highlighted in the Indie Game Spotlight Collection in the Store. The Collection features forty gaming titles and for this week's roundup, we've plucked four games that should appeal to most.
All of the games are great time wasters, have nice (if not super) graphics and animations, and are challenging enough to avoid growing stale too quick. Oh and they all are available for low-memory devices.
TidyUp is a fast paced, mildly addictive Windows Phone game that isn't very complicated to play but challenging to master. You are tasked with gathering up various animals and placing them in their respective pens as they scurry across the screen.
Place the wrong animal in the wrong pen and the game is over. You also have dangers that pop up throughout game play such as a fox and shark that will eat your animals and booby-traps that will ruin your day as well.
TidyUp has three gaming modes and twenty four levels of play that begins with you herding pigs and cows. As you play the game, you will earn gold that can be used to unlock the additional levels which involves animals such as turtles and lobsters, penguins and polar bears and monkeys and lizards.
What do I like about TidyUp? The graphics and animations are well done and the game mechanics are simple. You tap/hold on an animal then slide them into the appropriate pen. The pace picks up as you progress through the game, so you will need to stay sharp.
What I don't like about TidyUp is the lack of a trial version. The full version is priced at $.99, which won't necessarily break the bank but it would be nice to have a trial version available to let customers get a taste of things before they buy.
Regardless, TidyUp is a fun Windows Phone title to have in your gaming library. The game will test your powers of observation, your reaction time and overall it is a fun time waster of a game. The only thing missing is a trial version.
- TidyUp – Windows Phone 8.x – 32MB - $.99 – Store Link
Last Hope: Zombie Sniper 3D
Last Hope: Zombie Sniper 3D is a visually stunning arcade shooter that takes you on a journey through a desert wasteland, picking off the walking dead from a distance. Last Hope is a game of survival with upgradable weapons, three gaming modes and a ton of Zombies to pick off.
The main gaming mode is the Story Mode that has you traveling through various locations with one goal in mind, kill the Zombies. The Challenge Mode has sixteen mission oriented levels to tackle with the Survival Mode simply calling on you to outlast the Zombie hordes who want to eat your brains.
Settings can be found off the main menu and allow you to not only adjust the sound and music levels but also the graphic quality and weapon control responsiveness.
As you would guess, you are armed with a sniper rifle and most of the game is played looking through your rifle scope. You do have a handgun for emergency use should the Zombies get too close for comfort. Coins are earned through game play to upgrade your weapons and pick up bonus items to help you survive.
What do I like about Last Hope: Zombie Sniper 3D? The graphics are really nice with this game. From the Zombies as their heads explode to the dust that is kicked up in the background as a shot misses its target and hits the ground, this is a really nicely drawn up game. I'm also a little partial to sniper games in that they test your skills at lining up your shot just right and patience to wait for a target to come into view.
I did find that it takes a few adjustments to get the movement sensitivity down just right. If you are in the middle of a game and need to fine-tune things, just hit the pause button and the sensitivity setting will appear at the bottom of the screen.
What don't I like about Last Hope? It would have to be the ad banners. While they don't appear during game play, they do pop-up everywhere else and often block parts of the screen that have key information. The banners need to be dialed back in size or frequency of appearance.
If you are in the market for a nicely animated, challenging arcade shooter or are just in the mood to take out a few Zombies, Last Hope: Zombie Sniper 3D is worth checking out. It is also available for Windows 8 devices and isn't a bad tablet gaming title either.
- Last Hope: Zombie Sniper 3D – Windows Phone 8.x – 34MB – Free – Store Link
- Last Hope: Zombie Sniper 3D - Windows 8 - 35.7MB - Free - Store Link
Basketball Superstar is a Windows Phone game that will test your basketball shooting skills and at times your creativity in sinking a basket. It is a fun arcade styled game that has decent graphics and animations, challenging levels and three gaming modes to keep things interesting.
You have a Classic Mode that includes 120 levels of play, an Endless Mode where you continue to play until you miss ten shots and a Timed Mode where you have one minute to make as many baskets as possible. The Classic Mode requires you to sink at least three out of five shots before progressing to the next level.
Game play is simple in that you tap/hold anywhere on the screen and slide your finger back to set the power of your shot and slide it around to line up the trajectory of the shot. A red dotted line will appear to help aim your shot.
Keep in mind that not every shot is straight-on. You'll have baskets set up with a wide assortment of obstacles that you'll have to shoot around or bounce your shot off of.
What do I like about Basketball Superstar? Game play is flexible with Basketball Superstar. If you need a game to help you pass short bits of time or are in the mood for a longer gaming session, Basketball Superstar should fit either need.
What I'm not keen on is that the game relies on energy points to play the game. On the plus side, if you're successful at a level of play you won't lose the energy point. On the downside, if you run of energy you'll have to wait to restore those points over a period of time. I'm just not a big fan of having game play regulated by an energy point system. It does moderate the amount of time you spend gaming but it can also spoil the gaming experience as well.
Another nit about Basketball Superstar is that load times for the game seemed a touch on the long side. From the initial loading to the transition from level to level, it felt as if the game took an extra few seconds to get everything in place. Could be the graphics level causing the delay or the software needs a little fine-tuning.
All in all, I liked Basketball Superstar. Graphics, animations and even sound effects are nicely done and game play is challenging enough to keep things interesting. The game nails down a rating of 4.5 Stars in the Windows Phone Store, which isn't too far from the mark.
- Basketball Superstar – Windows Phone 8 – 24MB – Free – Store Link
Wings of Fire
Wings of Fire may be one of (if not the) best flight simulation games in the Windows Phone Store. From a gaming aspect that is. The game is part obstacle course, part air combat and includes four difficulty levels to take on.
Flight controls are handle either through on-screen joysticks, your Windows Phone tilt controls or a combination of the two. I will say that the tilt controls are the best option and are extremely responsive.
There are five different planes to fly, each upgradable using the coins you earn during game play. You'll also have fuel cells to collect on your flight (to stay a flight) and you'll need to avoid red tokens that will hinder your progress.
Each mission will earn you experience points to carry you up through the pilot ranks and there are several side missions that will help earn you points and coins as well (e.g. fly a certain distance without damage, collect a certain amount of coins, etc.).
What do I like about Wings of Fire? It has to be the graphics and controls. The graphics are good but when combined with the responsiveness of the tilt controls, you will find yourself leaning in your chair as you steer your plane. The developer has done a really good job programming this aspect of the game.
What I don't care too much for is the combat sequences. You tap the left side of the screen to fire your plane's weapons, which isn't terrible but I couldn't help but think an on-screen "fire" button would have been better. You also have full screen ads that appear during transition periods that I could live without.
Luckily, neither are detrimental to the game and overall I found Wings of Fire to be a great game to pass the time with. The only thing missing is the ability to fly stunts.
- Wings of Fire – Windows Phone 8.x – 26MB – Free – Store Link
Best of the Bunch?
It is a tough call as to which game is the best. All four are fun to play and it may simply boil down to personal tastes.
TidyUp and Basketball Superstar are likely the better options for those times you only have a few minutes to waste. These two arcade games are challenging enough to prevent things from growing stale and aren't overly complicated with power-ups, missions and story lines.
Last Hope: Zombie Sniper and Wings of Fire also share the arcade style but have more depth with the power-ups, missions and weapons/plane choices. These games will likely hold up better to longer gaming sessions than TidyUp or Basketball Superstar.
Regardless of the choice, all four have quality graphics, simple game mechanics and challenging game play.
All of which leads us to the question, "What is your favorite independent game title?" Let us know in the comments below and if you've tried any of the games in this week's roundup, let us know what you think of them.
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George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.