Trivia games often run the risk of being run-of-the-mill. That is anything but the case with You Don’t Know Jack. The game, which is a revival of a series that was popular in the mid-1990s, perfectly blends sarcasm and quirky trivia. And it’s something that will delight both old fans of the series as well as those just being exposed to it. The game is a throwback to the simpler days of gaming, while still remaining relevant to today’s player. And while many titles try (and fail) to be funny, YDKJ is one of those few games that will have you laughing regularly — and loudly. And if you’re not careful, you just might learn something in the process. It’s a must have for even the most casual fans of trivia and party games.
There’s a tendency in role playing games to overcomplicate things. Battleheart takes the opposite path. By lowering the barrier to entry, Mika Mobile has created an imminently accessible title that’s incredibly charming. The cartoon-like appearance of the characters might lead some to believe this is a game only for kids, but there’s actually a fair bit of strategy required — as entering the later stages with the wrong combination of characters will result in certain defeat. Controlling the battle is done with a series of finger swipes, which is easy to pick up and keeps players involved in the game without overwhelming them. The lack of any sort of story is a bit disappointing and at some point among the 30 levels, things do get a bit repetitive, but this is still a must buy for anyone with a remote interest in the genre.
Trenches is a wonderfully designed game that can be a heck of a lot of fun to play. There’s a lot happening on screen, but the developers do a fairly good job of making it accessible to players. The game doesn’t take long to finish on its easy and moderate modes, but does have some replayability — and rewards a player’s victory by unlocking a zombie horde mode, which pits players against a never-ending wave of comedically undead German soldiers. The inclusion of multiplayer is a great addition for adults, giving them a chance to pit their skills against others and give the game a longer lifespan, but it opens up a lot of concerns for children. And some people may find the gameplay a bit too repetitive for their tastes. Still, for its 99-cent asking price, it’s a great option for older teens and adults.
Traveler’s Quest is an oddity in the iOS world — a massively multiplayer single-player game. You compete mainly against yourself (although there is Game Center ranking) to find buried “treasure” (and bury it yourself) in your neighborhood and wherever you might roam. The game makes finding hidden items easy, but if you’re the one burying the treasure, you’ll get gold the longer it remains hidden. While the goods are virtual, the locations are real — and tie in with Google maps in a very innovative fashion. It’s a wonderfully addictive game, but suffers greatly if there aren’t many people in your area playing, since you rely on them to bury items in the first place. (Bots bury treasure occasionally, but it’s much more fun when real people do so.) If you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere that the playing population is thick, though, you can lose hours searching for the virtual goods.
Devoted fans of the show may enjoy Family Guy Time Warped, but casual watchers aren’t likely to have as much fun. The game is a mediocre platform jumper without a lot of diversity. While you pummel enemies and jump from heights, the pacing is slow and the game feels sluggish. Its best moments come from watching short clips from the show — but there’s no reason to suffer through a so-so game to watch those when the program is in constant reruns on cable.
DoodlePhrases, as a concept, seems like a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the game is tripped up by a couple of factors. First and foremost is the inconsistency with how precise you need to be with your answer. If you see a pony wearing sneakers and type “horseshoe,” you’re wrong — but type “horse shoe” and you get the points. It has subjective judging that penalizes you for being slightly imprecise. Also, if you’re a slow typer (or have big fingers and are prone to typos on the iPhone or iPod Touch, you’ll chew up a lot of time inputting your answers, which is never fun in a timed game. If you love thinking creatively with words, it might be worth the risk; otherwise DoodlePhrases is one you can pass.
There’s a reason Plants vs. Zombies is such a popular tower-defense game. It’s goofy, genuinely funny, and the gameplay is rock solid. Whether you play for minutes or hours, you’ll walk away happy. What the Nintendo DS version adds is a collection of new achievements (such as blow up 10 zombies with a single cherry bomb and beat a night level without picking up any sun) and four exclusive mini-games. They’re all enjoyable diversions, but ultimately, it’s the main game that’s the most fun. The DS does, however, add a terrifically entertaining two-player versus mode for players in the same room.
The DS version suffers on two levels, though. Because there’s so much going on onscreen with Plants vs. Zombies, the DS screen size is often overcrowded, which can make it hard to see everything happening at once. Also, with the iPhone version costing just $3.99, the $20 price tag on the DS version seems excessive. That said, the game is just as addictive now as it was when it was first released for the PC in 2009.
WordUs2 (which, as far as we can tell, has a superfluous number at the end) is a love it or hate it game. It’s full of puzzles that can confound, stump, and aggravate you one minute, and fill you with a sense of euphoria the next. With a spartan, efficient design, it’s an easy game to learn to play — and if you’re the type of person who lives for word puzzles, it will delight you. But be warned that if you’re just a casual fan of the word games genre, the in-game dictionary can be full of baffling omissions (despite its claim of containing thousands of words) that can turn fun into frustration. In either case, it’s a great time-killer, potential vocabulary builder, and certainly has the potential to chew up several hours.
Dead Space for iPad isn’t a game for everybody – and certainly isn’t one for children – but as a survival horror game, it’s masterfully done. Rather than retelling a tale from an older game in the series (or cramming the plot of the just-released Dead Space 2, which this is meant to promote, into an app), this is a completely new adventure. The story is a fun ride for those who have the stomach for the gore — well-paced and packed with jump-out-of-your-seat moments. The game is best played with headphones, instead of the iPhone or iPad’s speaker, as they make it a much more immersive experience. Graphically, Dead Space is superb and it’s one of the few iDevice titles that really feels like a console experience.
There’s nothing particularly original in TouchMaster: Connect. All of the games are offshoots of familiar other titles, such as the “Match 3 or more” gameplay of Bejeweled or the “knock the blocks” style of Breakout or “tic tac toe trivia” of Hollywood Squares. That said, they don’t need to be original. This game brings them all together in one cartridge. If one isn’t suited to your tastes, there are plenty of other options. There is, literally, something for everyone. The game is generous with its rewards and achievements, which encourages you to keep playing. And the new social aspects — especially the leader boards — will be a big hit with the series’ avid fan base. This is the fourth game in the Touchmaster series.