Island War

The Game

Island War by Fastone Games HK is a mobile first take on the familiar mechanics popularised by games like Bad North. The game is built around collecting an army of various units, upgrading repeat versions and using that army to destroy other player’s bases. That’s essentially the core game play loop and it’s available in several different leagues and challenge modes, all designed to put your army to the test. You will also have to set up a base to defend your own island.

The game rewards you frequently in terms of giving you new units and coins. Premium currency is also fairly easy to obtain, although spending it doesn’t always guarantee a great reward. There are some gatcha elements like a battle pass for extra rewards, but the game is still ok without them.

Worth it?

If you’d like to play something similar to Bad North, but can’t afford to buy it, then Island War is a good option to check out. There’s plenty of cards to collect and upgrade. It also looks like the game is still being worked on with new updates and features ahead. The core gameplay loop does get a bit repetitive but the frequent awards, level ups and challenges keeps it quite varied. The gatcha elements are plenty, but generally you can get on quite nicely without having to use any of them. There are few ads and the challenge modes can be quite tough to crack.

Overall I’d say it’s worth a play, it will keep you busy from a few minutes to an hour a day, limited only by how many levels you unlock – if you exceed the level limit, once the new level limits are unlocked you will receive any backdated rewards. There are some lag issues with big armies on bigger islands, but other than that it’s a solid and simple take on a good game mechanic.

Tips

  • When attacking other player’s islands try and put your rafts down in such a way so as to hit the three core buildings fastest (Army Camp, Gold Mine, City Hall)
  • Use paratroopers to your advantage once you’ve lured away defending armies
  • Combine troops to upgrade as soon as you can – you can also look into specialising each raft for a specific purpose
  • Upgrade your City Hall and Army Camp asap to allow you more rafts and higher army upgrades

Useful Links

The Bonfire 2: Uncharted Shores

The Game

The Bonfire 2: Uncharted Islands by Xigma Games is a sequel to the quite compelling The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands. If you’ve played the original you will be familiar with the general concept of managing your settlers and expanding your settlement around the ever-burning bonfire. The first game showed a lot of potential and could get quite challenging, it was also presented as a 2D “side-scrolling” game. In this epic sequel the game developer has moved from a 2D world into a full 3D one for something of a paper-cut out aesthetic.

The game will challenge you to grow and expand your settlement while ensuring you manage your resources and workers in such a way so as to maintain optimal food and resource supplies. Where The Bonfire games differentiate from some other city builders is the nightly attacks. Every evening various beasts – ranging from wolves to spiders and other quite scary monsters will swarm your village and attack your settlers. You will need to ensure you’ve always got enough guards on patrol and that they are all well equipped. The sequel adds even more depth to what was already a quite deep mobile game. There are a good variety of buildings and production chains which will challenge you to expand your settlement even further than before. You also keep unlocking more buildings with practically every building you construct.

Be weary though – some of your settlers may decide to steal from you or leave you! All settlers have unique characteristics and special skills. The skills combined with suitable tools will allow you to specialise your people for the role they were born to do, be it farmer or guard. The settlers will share their thoughts with you regularly and won’t hesitate to let you know when they are unhappy – something you really want to avoid.

Worth it?

A free version of the game is available, but you are only limited to 10 nights. Personally I didn’t really like this method of getting me to buy the full version for £4.49 on mobile and £9.29 on PC. I would have preferred limiting the number or types of buildings that can be created in the free version, because 10 days are up quite quick and you are essentially forced into the full version.

Free version aside, the paid version is – generally-speaking – worth buying. There are some slight issues, like some performance issues with bigger settlements, not being able to remove trees, some minor visual bugs and it can be quite battery intensive. As a mobile game this is definitely a great choice as there are no gatcha elements and you will find yourself thinking – just one more night for quite a while until you realise you’ve spent the last 3 hours on the game. The expeditions allow you to discover new islands and continue scaling up your resource production. I am unsure if I can justify the full price for PC, although I would also expect less performance issues. The game is also still being worked on and developed further so there will hopefully be future updates with even more amazing things to do with your settlement.

Overall definitely worth checking out, you can always play the demo/free version and if you decide it’s something you like, you will have to purchase the full version to play any further.

Tips

  • You can’t remove or move trees/rocks – plan accordingly
  • Make sure you can equip your workers with carts and appropriate tools (especially builders) – this will greatly speed up their work
  • Match settlers to their jobs based on their special skills
  • Always ensure you have more guards than you think you need – sometimes waves of monsters may attack from different sides
  • Build homes to house your settlers – they are less vulnerable to attacking beasts than if they sleep by the bonfire
  • You need a trading dock to be able to send your ships on expeditions

Useful Links

Top 5+ PC Games You Can Play on Your Phone

With second lockdowns already happening and more on the horizon we’re going to need some pretty solid games to get through this. Not all of us have the convenience of a gaming PC at home or even a console – sometimes we just have to settle for our trusty smartphones. But don’t think that just because you’ve got a smartphone you can’t get a proper gaming experience as you would on a console or even PC.

This is a list of 5 games (with some honourable mentions) that have a PC or console counterpart and that will keep you playing for hours. Some are paid, some are free, some have free modes.

RollerCoaster Tycoon

RollerCoaster Tycoon is an all time classic PC game and while the original is over 20 years old, the gameplay and graphics are truly timeless. This mobile port combines the best of RCT1 and 2 into tens of scenarios that will keep you playing for hours. It will set you back £5.99, but it’s definitely worth it.

Check out my full review:

Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is an incredible RPG and life/farm simulator game that will give you many many hours of entertainment. Again this is a paid title, but for £7.99 it’s absolutely worth it and will provide you with countless hours of gameplay. The game is also often on sale so definitely worth the purchase if you see it reduced.

Check out my full review:

Genshin Impact

Genshin Impact is a recent free to play open-world RPG game available on various platforms and even includes PC/mobile cross-saving. The game is quickly becoming a new household name in the world of gaming as it offers an immense and beautiful open world – for free. New content is constantly being added to it and there are big plans for it in the future.

Check out my full review:

Mini Metro

A minimalist game for the more casual player – mini metro will challenge you to create the most efficient metro system in cities across the globe (perfect for a time when we can’t travel). The game is available for £0.99 for Android and a touch more for iOS, but definitely worth a play as it has regular daily challenges and the occasional new map released.

Check out my full review:

Exiled Kingdoms

This RPG will keep you playing for hours on end. There is a free but limited version that will still offer you about 30hours of gameplay, but I recommend upgrading to the full version for only £3.99 as it will give you a lot of convenient bonuses, new classes and even more game play.

Check out my full review:

Honourable Mentions:

These are some well known games that are worth checking out, again a mix of free, freemium and paid:

  • Game Dev Tycoon – a paid tycoon game, all about running your own game dev studio. Check out my review: https://random-games.com/2020/07/18/game-dev-tycoon/
  • Mindustry – a free sandbox, factory-like tower defense game: https://mindustrygame.github.io/
  • Auto Chess – while I would regard Auto Chess as more of a genre than a specific game this is a good choice for those who enjoy PvP and some strategy – there’s Dota Underlords, Auto Chess or Teamfight Tactics. All options are free to play. Game length can sometimes take a while and being an online PvP game you can’t really pause.
  • Don’t Starve: Pocket Edition – one of the most challenging and relentless survival games is available on mobile for £3.99, however there’s some criticism in terms of bugs and game controls. It’s available for both iOS and Android.
  • Hearthstone – not sure if this one needs any introduction, Blizzard’s iconic card game. A freemium game which sadly over the years has become a bit of a pay to win and is difficult to get back into after a break.
  • Gwent – If you’ve played Witcher you will know all about Gwent – a bit of a half-way house between Hearthstone and Magic the Gathering. Available on Android/iOS: https://www.playgwent.com/en/play-mobile

Really Bad Chess

The Game

Bored of the conventional chess format? Really Bad Chess is a game by Zach Gage that will make you rethink everything you know about this all time classic.

There’s not a lot to it, but essentially it’s chess with randomised figures – you can play a game where you have 3 queens or your pawns are on the back row, the possibilities are endless. The game features several game modes:

  • Daily Board
  • Weekly Challenge
  • Ranked Mode
  • Freeplay
  • 1v1

Most of those are pretty self explanatory. One of my personal favourites is 1v1 as it allows you to play with a friend in the same physical space – it will simply flip the board whenever it’s their turn. The game also has ‘undos’ which allow you to go back one turn – these can be useful in the ranked mode when you are close to beating an enemy, however often times you’ll find you need a lot more than one undo to get it right. The undos can be purchased or gained through watching videos.

Worth it?

A great time killer, especially when there’s 2 of you together. The game also allows you to customise and change the colour palette allowing for a more personalised experience. The undos aren’t really worth it, but can be a nice way to support the developer of the game.

Overall it’s a fun twist on an all time classic, very lightweight and a great time killer or way to have fun with a friend.

Tips

  • Think ahead
  • Know how to play chess

Useful Links

TAP! DIG! MY MUSEUM!

The Game

Tap! Dig! My Museum! by Oridio Inc is a simple but addictive game in which you dig up and collect dinosaur skeletons. Manage your museum by putting anything you find on display. The game has a very simple core gameplay loop in which you excavate bones on a hexagonal grid. Your pickaxe starts out fairly weak and you only have a limited number of taps to uncover all bones on the level. Once you start making money you will be able to upgrade your digging abilities. Upgrades are limited at first, but y There are also some premium boost items that can be used to help both in your excavations and in the museum, a little bit more on those later.

The are three tiers of dinos to excavate, various species and types ranging form marine life to therapods or pterosauria. You will gradually turn your dusty old museum into the most dino-packed building imaginable. Upgrade rooms, shuffle exhibits around, change the lighting and much more. The game offers a decent range of customisation for the rooms and you can group or theme your rooms as you please.

Worth it?

Overall this is a very addictive game, the completionist in me just wants to keep digging for more and more dinos. The game can be a bit repetetive, but that’s to be expected given the simplicity. When running low on cash or digs you may resort to video watching, and that can become quite a big part of the early game. I’m not against video watching as a whole, but the occasional free power up or an ad free version would be nice options. A few less videos to watch or a ad-free version could help.

I also feel this is a bit of a missed opportunity on an educational front, even just some bullet points with facts in the dinosaur book in-game. Overall though I would say a very fun, addictive and quite rewarding game – digging those massive dinosaurs out bone by bone and piecing them together really keeps you coming back.

Tips

  • Upgrade your digging ability as much as possible at first
  • Sell old exhibits or redo them when you can clear the level quite easily
  • For the secret fossils you can keep digging or reset as specific dinosaur until you collect all secret fossils from the specific location – check the wiki for more details on that.

Useful Links

Wiki: https://tap-dig-my-museum-wiki.fandom.com/wiki/Tap!_Dig!_My_Museum!_Wiki

Apple Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/tap-dig-my-museum/id1460645640

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.oridio.museum&hl=en_GB

Game Dev Tycoon

The Game

Game Dev Tycoon was released in 2012 by Greenheart games and was an instant hit amongst Tycoon-game players. The game lets you create and manage your very own Game Dev Studio (the clue is in the title). You start out as most start-ups in a dingy garage, coding away on your own, smashing out new titles every few months. You will be able to choose your platform and game genre and theme. Then you will need to manage your time spent on the various elements of the game – get all of these combinations and balances right and you might just land yourself a smash-hit success that gets 10s across the board. However, if you get something like the theme and genre combination wrong, you could be facing a serious loss that may even put you out of business.

The game allows you to research better game engines, features and themes. You will eventually be able to make AAA games, have a maturity rating and release on multiple platforms simultaneously. You will also grow your office and recruit new members of staff to help you build better games (and to keep you from overworking yourself – don’t forget that occasional holiday). In the late game you will be able to fund an R&D lab and give them special projects, as well as your very own Hardware lab, which will allow you to make and sell your very own console (and of course put games onto it).

Worth it?

The game costs £4.99 for iOS or Android and it is available for £6.99 on Steam (with the added benefit of mod support). Is it worth it? Absolutely. The game offers a good deal of replay value, especially as your first few companies may tank – all part of business, as long as you learn from your mistakes.

Having a PC experience on mobile for a 5er is money well spent, my only criticism would be that once you do get to the end-game and you’ve got your own hardware, there really isn’t that much more to do – you can train your staff and do all the research, but at this stage the game cycle is already a bit repetitive. However I would say there’s a good few days, possibly even weeks of play before getting to that point. Not only that but if you have the PC version you will be able to mod it to your hearts content.

Overall a great tycoon and management sim, reinvigorating the genre and a great PC-like experience available on your phone, should you opt for that version.

Tips

  • Don’t rush into upgrading your offices or hiring new staff – the bills can add up very quick and sink you before you know it
  • Train your employees – late game you will want specialists for each of the major game components, also don’t forget to send them away when they are overworked
  • Know what makes good game/genre combinations – use a bit of common sense and real life experience here
  • You can turn tips on/off for second playthroughs – can be very useful in knowing what’s needed to deliver a hit game as often as possible, it is based on your previous attempts and the analysis of what has worked and what not

Useful Links

Wiki: https://gamedevtycoon.fandom.com/wiki/Main_Page

Developer’s Site: https://www.greenheartgames.com/app/game-dev-tycoon/

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/239820/Game_Dev_Tycoon/

Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.greenheartgames.gdt&hl=en_GB

App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/game-dev-tycoon/id1162580001

Infinitinode 2

The Game

Infinitinode 2 by Prineside takes tower defence games to a whole new level. The game is a follow up on the quite successful Infinitinode, taking a lot of what made that game great and improving on it. Amongst some of its most notable features are the mind-boggling research tree, the custom map creator and editor, regular updates, daily quests and seasonal leader-boards.

In total the game has 15 unique towers, each with it’s own set of in-game upgrades which allow you to specialise that specific instance of the tower. From Tesla coils to flamethrowers, cannons to lasers – this game has them all. The game also features 9 regular enemies and several bosses – each enemy has specific tower’s it’s weak against, so it’s up to you to place the right towers in the right places.

If all the defending wasn’t enough the game also has mineable resources on each map. You can build special excavation units on these positions in order to harvest said resources. You will need these to upgrade your towers.

The game offers a series of pre-made maps as a campaign – especially challenging towards the end. If you complete the campaign you will unlock endless mode, which serves as the “endgame” – offering better prizes, infinite waves, harder enemies and even more research.

Worth it?

The game has an option to watch videos to increase a level’s winnings by 25%, it also has a chest decryption element that will give you prizes over time, once your chest has been decrypted. Other than these two “gatcha” elements, the game does a very good job of keeping you in without bombarding you with ads or crappy micro transactions. It offers you daily missions with rewards, I even missed a day and it saved my progress allowing me to resume from the last day I completed. There are some purchase options around double gains, personally I haven’t purchased any of these but if you’d like to support the developer this is probably a good way to do so (and reduce your grind time).

Overall this is an amazing tower defence game with excellent RPG elements – the skill/research tree is a really addictive element, wanting to constantly upgrade and improve your towers, buying global perks or improving your resource mining capabilities. The custom map editor, daily challenges and endless mode give the game insane replay value and will keep you coming back for more and more. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves a good tower defence game.

Tips

  • Set up a custom farming map on which you can grind papers and resources
  • Make sure you progress the story branch of the research tree in order to unlock levels
  • Get the BOUNTY modifier tile as soon as you can, this will help you massively when grinding coins in game
  • Use the wiki and reddit for more advanced tips

Useful Links

Pocket City

The Game

Ever wanted to play a city builder on the go? But you can’t deal with all the gatchas and pay to wins? Pocket City by Codebrew Games is exactly that. Its aesthetically pleasing isometric cartoon art style and the smooth delivery of classic city building mechanics make this a great choice for anyone looking to build some amazing cityscapes.

The game relies on familiar city building requirements such as zoning for residential/commercial/industrial, as well as maintaining services and resources for your citizens. Keep your city pretty with parks and various types of special buildings, make use of the sky rail, bus or airport to transport people around your city. The game does a nice job of providing a wide variety of specialist buildings from animal pastures to banks and some neat landmarks as well. You can also invest in various policies that will make your life easier. But watch out for the disasters (which you can inflict on yourself if you are so inclined).

The game also has an awesome quest system with objectives you can work towards. And once you have built up your amazing city you can start a new one in the same region and gain income from your neighbouring cities.

Worth it?

There are both a free and a paid version available, it’s £2.99 for the full version and it’s absolutely worth it giving you full access to all buildings and sandbox mode. There are no transactions in the game, no wait times, no BS.

The game plays great in both portrait and landscape, has a huge variety of buildings, models, events and quests. Grow multiple cities within the region. Overall it’s a solid city builder with nice graphics and good controls. The game has a lot to offer and for that price it’s a no-brainer.

Useful Links

  • Use events to gain decent chunks of XP.
  • Monitor your income and expenses through the stats tab – make sure you’re making more than you’re spending.
  • Keep an eye on your goods tab, because if certain goods can’t be sourced locally they will be imported, which can get quite expensive.
  • Having excess goods is a good thing as you will export any extra and help boost your income.
  • Complete quests for good chunks of XP or cash, some involve finding things on the map – so zoom in and look around, you’ll be amazed at the details.

Tips

Wiki: https://pocketcity.fandom.com/wiki/PocketCity_Wiki

Pocket City Free Google Play:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.codebrewgames.pocketcity&hl=en_GB

Pocket City Full Version Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.codebrewgames.pocketcitygame&hl=en_GB

Pocket City Full Version Apple Store:
https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/pocket-city/id1330451888

Developer Site: https://pocketcitygame.com/

Mini Metro

The Game

Mini Metro by Dinosaur Polo Club released in 2014 was an instant classic. With its clean minimalist design and simple gameplay it’s a great game for either a casual 5 minutes to kill or a longer more in depth session.

The game is a Metro (or Subway) system simulation game. The aim of the game is to set up and maintain your public transport network in the most efficient and effective way. You control the Metro lines and can manage the amount of trains and carriages each of them carries. The game features 4 modes: Normal, Extreme, Endless and Creative and also features a Daily challenge on a random map in a random mode.

The game is easy to pick up, but hard to master. Your network will quickly grow from 3-4 stops to a sprawling metropolis. Normal and Extreme mode will both end when you overcrowd any one of your stations. The difference being that in Extreme you can’t move tracks or trains. Endless allows you to tinker and aim for the most efficient set up possible, while Creative just lets you do whatever you want.

Huge selection of levels, game modes and a daily challenge.

Worth it?

Put simply – absolutely. However it’s worth noting the price differences between platforms – the cheapest you can get it is on Android, currently that will set you back around £1, whereas iOS is charging £3.99 and on Steam you are looking at £6.99. However, the game is frequently on sale as well so that’s probably your best bet.

For that price on Android/Mobile the game is absolutely worth it – a great time killer, works offline too – perfect for a flight. It can be played in short sessions or you can keep tinkering on your endless map to get it to the optimal efficiency, up to you.

Tips

  • Don’t have too many of the same type of station in a consecutive order
  • Try to vary the types of station present on a single line as much as possible
  • Try to keep lines short or doing very specific routes that cover a good variety of stops
  • Using circular lines can be very helpful in certain situations, but in those cases it’s probably good to have 2 trains running in opposite directions

Useful Links

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/287980/Mini_Metro/

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nz.co.codepoint.minimetro&hl=en_GB

Apple Store: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/mini-metro/id837860959

Developer Website: https://dinopoloclub.com/careers/

RollerCoaster Tycoon® Classic (Mobile)

The Game

An all time Atari Classic is now available on your phone! One of the first games I ever played and absolutely favourite of mine the RollerCoaster Tycoon series has had it’s ups and downs over the years, but this version takes you back to the golden age.

The game offers 95 classic scenarios to play through from RollerCoaster Tycoon 1 and 2. Fully functioning custom rider builder, hundreds of ride designs, shops, stalls and of course most importantly Roller coasters.

For those new or who have somehow managed to miss RCT this is THE theme park simulation game. You manage your finances, your visitors demands and the maintenance of your park. Some scenarios are time constrained, others pose different challenges. Flex your design skills, make your parks look pretty an master the running of a successful theme park.

95 scenarios from the RCT 1 and 2, and additional DLC maps as well.

Worth it?

The amount of levels you get are 100% worth the money. At £5.99 it is a deal you cannot pass up, it’s cheaper than it is on Steam. The one tiny downside is there is no sandbox mode, however there are several maps that could function as such once the objectives have been met.

The expansion packs offer 14 and 17 new scenarios respectively. These scenarios are on massive maps, some of which heavily themed already – if you are still itching for a few extra scenarios they are worth checking out, although it would be nice to get something a little extra with the purchase.

Overall, this is a great mobile version of a classic and absolutely worth buying.

Tips

  • Pause the game to understand what’s required to win the scenario
  • Focus on small reliable rides before moving on to building roller-coasters – you want to ensure you’ve got a good cash flow and money in the bank
  • For attendance objectives make sure you are using advertising campaigns
  • Map out routes for your handymen in order to maintain a clean park, although also worth having 1-2 free roaming to pick up any missed areas

Useful Links

Wiki/Walkthroughs/Guides: https://rct.fandom.com/wiki/RollerCoaster_Tycoon_Classic

Google Play Store:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.atari.mobile.rctclassic&hl=en_GB

App Store:
https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/rollercoaster-tycoon-classic/id1113736426