Airport City is the most boring episode of the Twilight Zone
To say something is “like The Twilight Zone” is to usually be making a reference to the best elements of the classic ’60s science-fiction show: high-concept stories with big plot twists and less-than-subtle social commentary thrown in. But Airport City feels like one of the The Twilight Zone‘s awful episodes, where the character encounters wide spaces devoid of all life and purpose and the plot twist wasn’t even worth it.
In this case, the wide space is Airport City, another town-building simulation such as Megapolis, 2020: My Country, etc. Airport City’s entire economy runs through (unsurprisingly) its airport. This eventually leads — as you tap and wait a few dozen times for various buildings to pop up and timer bars to complete — to a population made entirely of tutorial character art and tap-able suitcase icons eating at generic family restaurants in between constant mass trips to Not Airport City. After a short while, you will have a densely populated stretch of land filled with sad digital people living out a life of perpetual commute to nameless places off screen.
The big plot twist here is that you — a sentient human being — have wasted time and energy on creating this realm of pointless, constant transit.
Best played on: your worst night of insomnia.
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Peek not into the void of Solitaire Stars, lest it look back
Nothing can be quite as unintentionally disarming as a complete lack of sound. I don’t think the designers of Solitaire Stars, a tournament-based affair that centers on a card game that derives its name from a synonym for “alone,” intended to make the most unnerving take on solitaire possible. It doesn’t have a single sound effect or musical cue, so the icon boxes of your opponent (reportedly playing the same deck as you simultaneously) seem to loom at you, ready to pounce. As if they are keeping you occupied as they clean their torture room of the residue of the hapless player before.
The core of the game is about as basic an approximation of the Saddest Card Game Ever as you can find. Stack the bland-looking cards in order from Kings to 2s, flipping through the deck when you run out of options on the table. The game will even automatically file cards on the stacks at the top of screen for you, and at such a speed as to make the joy of discovering those long-hidden cards almost moot.
The most accurate comparison that I can draw to Solitaire Stars is to those “screamer” videos that used to be all over Youtube. Because after five minutes of staring intently at tiny cards in a dull, soundless landscape, I was nearly flung from my chair by the blaring audio of the ad interruption.
Best played on: the elevator ride into Purgatory.
Crossy Road offers little, but served on the best possible platter
Too few free-to-play mobile titles seem to actually appreciate video games as much as Crossy Road does. The simple crossing-the-frantic-highway simulator wears its arcade era-inspirations proudly. Most obviously, Road’s blocky art style approximates an old school pixelated look relatively well, updated with modern lighting effects and bouncy animations. The effect is not dissimilar to From Software’s 3D Dot Game Heroes, the studio’s 2009 tribute to classic entries in The Legend of Zelda franchise.
But Crossy Road walks the arcade walk as well, demanding the player perform a simple task with precision despite escalating challenge. Crossing this neverending highway demands increasingly precise timing, with an increasing amount of obstacles of varying speeds looking to flatten you into adorable mush. The goal never really fluctuates, at least in the hour’s worth of attempts I made, but the game nevertheless retains a “one more try” feel thanks to an immediate restart and a throng of different characters to work toward unlocking.
Crossy Road is also one of the few games I have ever encountered with a Pac-Man gameplay variant, complete with power pellets to pick up and blitz your way through now-vulnerable ghosts. More games should make include such an option.
Best played on: the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus.
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