Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Shall We Do It? (Dandy Dungeon, Forget-Me-Not and Heart Star)

Now that I've finally put the Dragon Quest VII 3DS remake to bed, I have tons of time and energy to play other games--a fact that should be obvious by the number of titles discussed in this post as well as my next one.

I know what some of you are thinking: no Vita games? Nope, sorry. I keep meaning to boot up that system and play some Dragon Quest Builders or Mystery Chronicle: One Way Heroics or Yomawari, but I'm so wrapped up in the iOS games mentioned here (and the 3DS games that'll be highlighted in the write-up I'll publish in just a couple of days) that those plans inevitably fall by the wayside.

Who knows, though? Maybe I'll turn my attention to the Vita once I'm done with these titles. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the impressions that follow.

Dandy Dungeon--I first downloaded this free-to-play mobile game because I heard Yoshiro Kimura had a hand in it. That was a big deal to me, as his past credits include Chulip, Little King's Story and Moon: Remix RPG Adventure. I also was pleased to discover Kazuyuki Kurashima acted as this title's art director, as he previously crafted the character designs for games like Freshly-Pickled Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland and UFO: A Day in the Life.

Dandy Dungeon
As you might imagine given its pedigree, Dandy Dungeon shares the bizarre quirkiness that's front and center in basically all of the aforementioned games. It plays nothing like them, though. Instead, Dandy Dungeon is one part roguelike and one part puzzler.

That likely won't make much sense to you until you experience the game for yourself, but the gist is that you're regularly sent into dungeons made up of five-square-by-five-square rooms and then tasked with drawing a single line that'll take the digital representation of the game's protagonist, Yamada-kun, from its entrance to its exit. As he wanders along that route, he'll grab any items in his path and fight any enemies in his way. (Your involvement in those battles is more or less limited to healing or reviving Yamada-kun or casting the occasional spell.)

Dandy Dungeon is a lot more engaging and interesting than that description likely makes it sound, so don't be shy about downloading it if you have a device that's capable of running it.

Forget-Me-Not--What timing! Just a week after I published a post about my five favorite Pac-Man clones, my friend Jess introduced me to another one. Will I be updating the write-up I just mentioned to include this 2011 release? Perhaps in the future, but not right now. Still, I'd be lying if I implied Forget-Me-Not failed to impress me during the handful of minutes I devoted to it over the last few days.

The thing I like about it most so far is that it turns the Pac-Man formula on its head just enough to feel fresh. For starters, Forget-Me-Not's maze-like stages are decidedly asymmetrical. Also, its Qbby-esque protagonist (if it can even be called that) automatically shoots lasers or bullets or some other sort of projectile in whichever direction it happens to be facing.

Oh, and to move from one level to the next, you first have to collect all of the current board's "flowers" (this game's version of the pac-dots that fill Namco's arcade classic) and then you have to unlock the door that appears in their wake using a key.

Beyond that, Forget-Me-Not sports an appealing aesthetic that makes it look like a minimalist Pac-Man Championship Edition. Also, destroying any of the enemy creatures that slither about each stage produces a plethora of yummy-looking food items that can be picked up for bonus points--and anyone who knows me knows I love games with nabbable noshies.

Unfortunately, this Nyarlu Labs creation lacks the kind of thumping soundtrack most would expect from such a game, but the bleeps and bloops that accompany the action on hand still do a good job of setting the right mood, so don't let that keep you from giving Forget-Me-Not a try.

Heart Star--I became aware of this mobile game while casually perusing Twitter a few days ago. A chap named Peter Willington praised its retro aesthetic and called it a "top puzzle platformer" while passing along a smattering of screenshots. That's all I needed to jump in with both feet. And guess what? Peter was right to applaud this Jussi Simpanen-made title. First, it looks like something Taito would've released back in its heyday (think Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands--or, better yet, Parasol Stars). Second, its gameplay hook is brilliantly unique.

Regarding the latter, your goal while playing Heart Star is to guide two characters--a red-headed girl and a blue-haired boy--through 60 single-screen stages. The catch: she can only stand on red platforms, while he can only stand on blue ones. So, to successfully complete a level you have to
switch between the two--don't worry, it can be done with the press of a button--while also carefully and creatively positioning them. (Sometimes one will have to carry the other, for example. Or one will have to serve as a temporary platform for the other.)

Anyway, it's a lot of fun, it's free--as long as you don't mind an ad popping up every few levels (and if you do mind it, forking over $1.99 will remove them)--and it's highly recommended by moi.

Have you played any mobile games that really left an impression on you? If so, let me and others know about them in this post's comments section.

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