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  1. #1

    Guilty pleasure: mobile games

    Let's see if I can get this thread off the ground and avoid hitting "don't save" after writing 80% of the post...

    Mobile games. Some love them, some hate them, some don't consider them games. I've never been interested in them until Nintendo announced Fire Emblem Heroes. I was interested in Mario Run, but it arrived on Android after Heroes and I've never touched it after completing the free portion of the game. I still continue to play Fire Emblem Heroes, although my interactions with it are mostly logging in to receive the daily bonus and do a summon round once I get 20 orbs.
    Nintendo recently unveiled the release date for their third...I think? (Miitomo doesn't count)...mobile game, Dragalia Lost, in collaboration with CyGames. After discovering that Azur Lane was getting an official English version I've decided to dive deeper into phone games starting with Granblue Fantasy.

    Granblue Fantasy is developed by CyGames and I thought it could give me a better idea on what to expect from Dragalia Lost. Granblue Fantasy has an official English release but there is one problem: it's not available on the European Play Store, you have to use QooApp to get it.
    QooApp isn't available on the Play Store too, you need to go to their website, download the APK, and install it manually. QooApp bypass Google's location restrictions giving you access to all kinds of apps, and from there I was able to pick other games to try out.
    One thing I quickly noticed is that these games drain the battery rather quickly, so I've also dwelved into Android VMs and emulators. After several unsuccessful attempts with Android 8.1 on VmWare, I've settled on Nox.
    But let's get to the games. I didn't really want to flood the forum with one-post threads about mobile games, so I'm grouping everything in here.

    Granblue Fantasy
    CyGames' goal with Granblue Fantasy was to bring console JRPGs to mobiles and they succeded. There are several characters you can arrange into multiple 4-man parties, everything has an elemental affinity, equipabble weapons, skills and spells to master, a class system right out of Final Fantasy, several sidequests related to characters you unlock, shops where to buy restorative items, and everything else you'd expect from a classic JRPG.
    This is one of the very few mobile games you can play in a browser (Chrome only) and of course being account-based, progress is shared between all devices. The art style is lovely and every major character is voiced, at times by very well known actors and actresses. Granblue Fantasy proved so popular to spawn an anime series and an action game spin-off developed by Platinum (currently scheduled for 2019).
    There's a lot of strategy involved in tailoring your party against the elemental affinities of enemies found in a chapter: for example chapter one has mostly wind/water bad guys while the second focuses more on earth and fire. Your character can become any class available, there's a subclass system, and several secondary characters gain passive and active party skills for the more intense battles. You can also use FF-like summons after they've charged, and those too have an elemental affinity and can bestow several buffs or debuffs.
    It is a complex game, but I've stopped playing during the second chapter. For a few days I logged in for the bonuses but did no battle. My party had one character per element and while perfectly capable of clearing standard missions, it did struggle a bit. I wanted to rearrange the party but I also didn't want to go through the worst thing in Granblue Fantasy: the interface. I find the interface simply atrocious. To modify the party you have to through three different screens and every single one requires the game to load. Some of the most useful commands are only accessible by scrolling the page, and it might sound like a very stupid complaint, but for first-timers it's very disorienting going through an endless number of menus and submenus. Even the gacha page has multiple buttons leading to different draws, using different tokens, giving different results. I'm pretty sure if Granblue Fantasy was on a console I'd play it, but on a mobile...well, the interface killed it for me.

    Girls' Frontline
    This is available in English through QooApp. You can create an account at the developer or link other services (Google+, Facebook) to share progress between devices.
    Kantai Collection proved that ships turned into girls can be massively popular and its system very lucrative, so a Chinese developer decided to copy almost verbatim the monetization system while swapping ships with guns.
    Gungirls here are called T-Dolls and are sort-of personifications of real firearms. The game itself is a turn-based strategy game in which you have to capture the enemy's command post.
    Parties are called Echelons and are formed by 5 T-Dolls. T-Dolls are arranged on a 3x3 grid, with each T-Doll giving a buff to one or more tiles. T-Dolls are divided into classes based on the firearm they represent: handguns, submachineguns, assault rifles, rifles (which include bolt-action and sniper rifles), machineguns, and shotguns. T-Dolls have six stats and while handguns are the weakest of all, they are also those with the best and most numerous buffs, and there's a lot of work involved in selecting and placing T-Dolls to maximize battle effectivness. It's a rather well-though system that forces you to think about which firearm class to include, where to place them based on overall stats, special skills, and buffs.
    Good things don't stop there as maps include several types of tiles, from heliports you can use to deploy or extract damaged Echelons, to random events where to gain resources or even new T-Dolls. Map tiles sorrounded by enemy territories are considered ancircled and captured at the end of a turn, so even movement has to be planned out as mistakenly having an heliport captured might result in unforeseen reinforcements. I'm actually amazed on how well the system plays, and of the three games here, Girls' Frontline is easily my favourite; it'd go so far to say I prefer this over Fire Emblem Heroes too.
    It is, however, one game that greatly entices you to pay. It's absolutely not necessary, but for example T-Dolls require time to be repaired and you only have four repair slots without any enhacement. Girls' Frontline also has plenty of hours-long tasks you can send Echelons to accomplish on their, so you never really feel your resources are idling and your playing moments are spend towards endless grinding.

    Azur Lane
    Of the games mentione here, this is the only one available through the Play Store without third-party apps.
    Let's go back to shipgirls, but this time it's a shoot'em'up! The worst kind of shump, the one with bad controls. OK, they are not terrible but it's still a virtual joystick to dodge bullets, and the situation is only marginally better with a mouse. Connecting with a bullet might still result in a miss as every girl has an "evasion" stat to compensate for inaccurate controls though.
    Before heading into battle you must first assemble a fleet of up to six ships. A fleet is composed by a vanguard (destroyers, cruisers, heavy cruisers), and the main fleet (battlecruisers, aircraft carriers). You control the vanguard, with the main fleet providing long-range support.
    Missions are played on boards of various shapes and sizes. You can deploy up to two fleets (at least up till I've played) and move them on the map towards detected enemies. When you touch an enemy fleet you get into the action part of the game where you shoot stuff. Shooting and targeting are automatic, while special skills (torpedo launches, airstrikes, artillery barrages) are under your control. Action stages have mob enemies ("normal" ships), mid-bosses (other shipgirls, that will spawn mobs), and end-bosses (the flagships). The goal of a mission is to find the enemy's main fleet and destroy it.
    It's an engaging game, though very grindy: even completing a mission might require playing it twice, more if you want to complete all side objectives (and those will unlock hard difficulty).
    Beating a stage requires a mix of skill, luck, and party composition. Destroyers are powerful but can't really shoot down incoming planes, and airstrikes deal a lot of damage to your main fleet. All shipgirls start with one, maybe two, basic guns; you can add more guns and equipment, and improve installed parts provided you have enough money and upgrade manuals.
    Monetization comes from...well, every single aspect of the game, although it's possible to go through it without paying. Most transactions are paid in gems, and gems build up rather slowly, hampering the use of the dormitory (extra experience), lootboxes (random equipment and basic resources), and skins. They are not vital, but Azur Lane is one game where you feel the need to grind right from the beginning.
    Graphics are colourful and cute, although some buttons might be a tad too small for smartphones. There's no account from the developers themselves (at least not in the English version) and if you want to share progress between devices you have to link your Twitter or Facebook account.

  2. #2
    Only mobile games Iíve found that are worth playing though are the Banner Saga series. Fantastic full fledged games that suit the platform perfectly.

    Otherwise all dross.

  3. #3
    I can't see what you've written after "thread off", @briareos_kerensky

    Typo?

  4. #4
    A great deal of the anime-style games I suspect @briareos_kerensky aren't available in the EU on iOS. Android users don't have that problem as they can easily get around their store.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by QualityChimp View Post
    I can't see what you've written after "thread off", @briareos_kerensky

    Typo?
    Nope, everything's there.

  6. #6
    (I was just joshing, BK! )

    OK, so I play Marvel Puzzle Quest every day.
    I'm not sure how many hours that is, but I don't want to know!
    It's nice because mobile gaming is with you, all the time, and you can dip in whenever.
    I can play for seconds or an hour. I can hide upstairs and complete a round, but I can't surreptitiously do some gaming on the projector!

    Marvel Puzzle Quest is really good. I nearly quit when they made some changes that made it harder, but then they've made loads of improvements to make it better and it's really good now. I wish they would do more stories as it can get a bit repetitive, but they mix up the powered characters so your whole roster gets a look in.

    There are some cool events and I'm in a nice team and I'm enjoying seeing my characters improve over time.

    I will say that it's a free to play game and there's plenty of ways to make money from you, but I'm aware of that and only spend when I want. If I lose a cover, then so be it. There'll be another chance. Now I'm happy with that, I don't feel the need to spend.

    The only other games I play are full-price complete games and usually mobile counterparts of boardgames like Potion Explosion.

    Obviously, I've got a ton of other games I've not played after buying them in a sale!
    Castles of Burgandy
    Ticket To Ride
    Jaipur
    Pandemic
    Roll For It!
    Splendour


    I also like a few word games like WordzUp!, Wordament and Letter Rip!.

  7. #7
    Horizon Chase



    Is it me or is the PS4 struggling in this video? I don't get any frame drops on my phone.
    Last edited by dataDave; 13-09-2018 at 11:40 AM.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Asura View Post
    A great deal of the anime-style games I suspect @briareos_kerensky aren't available in the EU on iOS. Android users don't have that problem as they can easily get around their store.
    Yeah, QooApp is a bottomless pit for this kind of games. When I was in Japan last April everyone was playing with their phones, I thought I'd see a lot of Kantai Collection and Fate Grand Order and instead everyone was playing something different every single time I peeked.

  9. #9
    Erm, this site is called Bordersdown, not Filthy Unwashed Casual Gamer N00b Club. Ban request.

  10. #10
    Thinking about it Those Horizon Chase guys should rip-off OutRun for their next game. They should have named that Horizon Chase, rather than this lap-based Top Gear racer.

    But no, if you're a fan of 16-bit racers definitely give Horizon Chase a shot. It's easily up there with the best.

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