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Reviewing mobile games

In order to understand the good and bad points of a mobile game, I downloaded several different android games to see which I enjoyed the most, which were the most re-playable and also to see which functions of the mobile device the games utilised in their controls. This will help me to decide what the best aspects of android games are to include in my own game, as well as to see which styles and interfaces are the most well suited to a mobile device.

I will be reviewing games dependant on their usability, design and enjoyment levels, focussing on aspects which directly correlate with the level of enjoyment a player can receive from a game such as rewards and complexity as well as factors that can make the game more replay-able and controls/aesthetic factors which can also affect enjoyment levels.

The following points are the basis for each score of the games I will review;

Rewards / Does the game reward you for playing it?

Rewards should be frequent and easy to obtain, e.g. a well done and a star rating at the end of a level, high scores to compete globally or on social media or an amount of currency to spend on upgrades. A constant accumulation of points and/or level completions will make players feel like they are achieving something from playing, and not wasting time or grinding an unnecessary amount for small rewards that won’t seem worth it in the end. The more frequent and constant the flow of rewards is, the better the game will fare with it’s players.

Replay-ability / Addictiveness / Does it get boring quickly or make you want to play more?

Most mobile gamers are playing games on a regular basis, and it is important that a game is interesting enough to hold their attention; Statistics show that 52% of mobile gamers play for more than 1 hour per day – So as well as having short rounds in which the player can break their concentration to keep track of what is going on around them, the game must make them want to play it for hours on end, even if it means replaying levels they have already completed, it should also reward them for this.

Game complexity / Is it too demanding of new players and players on the go?

Over 30% of mobile game players are on the move, which makes it very important that a successful mobile game has enough leeway for its players to be able to look up from their device and observe their surroundings once in a while, or they will quickly lose patience with the game.

Controls

The controls of a mobile game should be simple and make sense to the action they are replicating within the game, for example, jumping in temple run is a swipe upwards; which makes far more sense than (for example) tilting the screen to one side. The average human attention span is now only 8 seconds, and so, if a game persists with instructions and technicalities too much, players will not persevere with it for long; The more simple and relevant the controls are to the actions on screen, the easier they are to remember for players and gameplay flows much better.

Aesthetic Design

It has become common knowledge that successful mobile games make use of simplistic and brightly coloured aesthetics; this is partially due to the game being easier to see in a variety of different types and levels of lighting (as mobile users tend to be on the go) and also a more minimalistic style can appeal to a broader target audience. Simple aesthetics are particularly important to enjoyment of a mobile game as they determine whether the game is easy enough to see on a small screen.

My score system:

I came up with a score system similar to the one used by IGN and many other reviewers in order to review the mobile games I chose as accurately as possible, I use a kind of “five star rating” method, allocating five points to each of the five areas of usability and then using those scores to come up with a percentage / overall star rating for the game as a whole.

I’m using hearts as opposed to stars for the sake of some kind of originality, and also because it looks a little like a health bar, anyway;

♥♥♥♥♥ Five Hearts score; Brilliant, little to no flaws.

♥♥♥♥_ Four Hearts score; somewhat flawed, but still great.

♥♥♥__ Three Hearts score; Good, but definitely room for improvement.

♥♥___ Two Hearts score; Mediocre to bad, needs improving.

♥____ One Heart score; Terrible, needs complete do-over.

The scores are then added up to a total score out of 25 hearts, which is then divided by five to determine the overall hearts rating for the game. This way the games have individual scores for each point of the games design as well as a balanced final rating that takes into consideration all the important points of enjoyable game play relevant to mobile games, rather than just a one off generalised score by itself.

I did consider using ten hearts for each area rather than five, but decided the simpler the scores were the better (and easier to rate and read).

Games to review:

Angry birds (Freemium)

gadgetsdiary

Rewards………………♥♥♥♥♥
Replay-ability………♥♥♥♥♥
Complexity………….♥♥♥♥♥
Controls.………..….. ♥♥♥♥♥
Aesthetic………….….♥♥♥♥♥

Overall hearts score: ♥♥♥♥♥

5.0

This is a great, Aesthetically pleasing, simple and re playable game.

simple and re-playable mechanics include aiming the slingshot loaded with one of the birds as ammo and firing them out to knock down structures and hit pigs for points.

rewards include progressing to the next level and  a star rating out of three which is simple but satisfying.

Temple Runner 2 (Freemium)

cultofmac

Rewards………………♥♥♥♥♥
Replay-ability………♥♥♥♥♥
Complexity………….♥♥♥♥♥
Controls…….………..♥♥♥♥♥
Aesthetic…………….♥♥♥♥♥

Overall hearts score: ♥♥♥♥_

5.0

Great simple game with varied actions and controls,

the game looks good with simple colourful graphics and rewards continuously with coins and power ups.

My little pony (Freemium)

ponies

Rewards………………♥♥___
Replay-ability………♥♥♥__
Complexity………….♥♥♥♥_
Controls.…..……….. ♥♥♥♥♥
Aesthetic…………….♥♥♥♥♥

Overall hearts score: ♥♥♥__

3.8

This game is fun until you run out of currency, which doesn’t take long without paying for more. Rewards are frequent but not enough for smooth game play.

besides this the game is designed very well with bright colours and a nice amount of customisation, the controls are very well layed-out and it is simple and easy to use

Fruit ninja (free)

appadvice

Rewards………………♥♥___
Replay-ability………♥♥♥♥_
Complexity………….♥♥♥♥♥
Controls………….…..♥♥♥♥♥
Aesthetic…………….♥♥♥♥♥

Overall hearts score: ♥♥♥♥_

4.2

Fun and simple game with more simple mechanics and design,

can get repetitive and doesn’t offer much variety, only rewards are high score.

Color Sheep (£0.61)

tabletpc579

Rewards………………♥♥♥♥_
Replay-ability………♥♥♥♥_
Complexity………….♥♥♥♥_
Controls………….…..♥♥♥♥♥
Aesthetic…………….♥♥♥♥♥

Overall hearts score: ♥♥♥♥_

4.4

A very quirky brightly coloured game, brilliant engaging aesthetic design with very nice character designs and power up effects,  however, there are some unrealistic results from mixing colours (for example; mixing red and green and getting yellow) the game’s difficulty curve is also very steep, introducing new colours and combinations very quickly one after the other which can get confusing and makes it hard to play past a certain point.

Hill climb racing (free)

hillclimb

Rewards………………♥♥♥__
Replay-ability………♥♥♥♥_
Complexity………….♥♥♥♥♥
Controls….…………..♥♥♥♥♥
Aesthetic…………….♥♥♥♥_

Overall hearts score: ♥♥♥♥_

4.2

Generally fun and easy to play, simple aesthetics which look good but aren’t that exciting or interesting

the game can be a little repetitive and there isn’t much much in terms of rewards, but it is still an enjoyable game.

Cut the rope (Freemium)

wmpoweruser

Rewards………………♥♥♥♥♥
Replay-ability………♥♥♥♥♥
Complexity………….♥♥♥♥♥
Controls………….…..♥♥♥♥♥
Aesthetic…………….♥♥♥♥♥

Overall hearts score: ♥♥♥♥_

5.0
A very simple and aesthetically pleasing game with some nice inbuilt physics, very addictive.

this is a sort of puzzle solving game where players cut the ropes and use various other environmental factors to get the candy into the characters mouth, the difficulty curve is mild and so it allows for smooth game play that challenges the player but not so much that they give up.

SWAT: End war (freemium)

androidmoborg

Rewards………………♥♥♥__
Replay-ability………♥♥♥__
Complexity………….♥____
Controls.……….….. ♥♥♥♥_
Aesthetic…………….♥♥♥♥_

Overall hearts score: ♥♥♥__

3.0

Somewhat confusing; while the actual game play and rewards are fun, it is difficult to access them with ease because of poor explanations and interface design.

Angry birds: Space (freemium)

angry_birds_space

Rewards………………♥♥♥♥♥
Replay-ability………♥♥♥♥♥
Complexity………….♥♥♥♥♥
Social…………………..♥♥♥♥♥
Aesthetic…………….♥♥♥♥♥

Overall hearts score: ♥♥♥♥♥

5.0

Like the original Angry Birds, this is an aesthetically pleasing, simple game, Very re-playable.

the gameplahy is slightly different from the original as players use gravitational/magnetic fields to steer their shots around planets and into targets rather than in a straight shot.

Worldcraft (free with ads)

worldcraft

Rewards………………♥♥___
Replay-ability………♥♥♥__
Complexity………….♥♥♥__
Social…………………..♥♥♥♥_
Aesthetic…………….♥♥♥__

Overall hearts score: ♥♥♥__

3.0

This game is a lot like a free version of pocket edition mine craft.

players build and edit their surroundings in a virtual world using tools and materials, the game is in a sense self rewarding, but no rewards are offered other than allowing players to build their own designs.

  Some issues with glitching and crashing, controls not explained but overall quite fun if you can grasp it without instructions.

Conclusion:

According to my rating system, the best mobile games of the list I tested were “Cut the rope”, “Temple runner 2” and “Angry birds”. This makes sense as these are two of the most popular mobile games to date, and I will definitely keep them both in mind while designing my own game.

 [All games played: downloaded from Google play]

Research / bibliography:

See bibliography [Click here]

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