It's not often that we see an Android game released just for Android TV, aside from the various exclusives that NVIDIA has acquired for its SHIELD set-top box. Hotlap Heroes eschews smartphones and tablets and insists that players experience its old-fashioned racing action on a full-sized television. The 3D racing game, a rookie effort on the Play Store from developer Team Pea, is $3.99 with no in-app purchases.
There's a new paradigm in strategy games. Whereas the old guard in real-time titles like Starcraft, Age of Empires, and Command & Conquer tended to get more complex with each release, the point of Auralux and its imitators is to boil strategy down to its purest components. It does so by making offense, defense, and resource gathering all more or less the same game mechanic, in the tradition of Galactic Conquest (AKA Galcon). Now the sequel to Auralux is out, and it's looking pretty great.
Welcome to the latest entry in our Bonus Round series, wherein we tell you all about the new Android games of the day that we couldn't get to during our regular news rounds. Consider this a quick update for the dedicated gamers who can't wait for our bi-weekly roundups, and don't want to wade through a whole day's worth of news just to get their pixelated fix. Today we have a sci-fi local party game, no less than three platformers, and a game about a samurai bear. Without further ado:
While the likes of Activision and EA keep spinning their wheels with endless iterations and only a few modest twists on age-old genres, indie developers continue to outclass them with a fraction of the resources. For example: Ultimate Chicken Horse. Not only does this Kickstarter-funded platformer embrace local multiplayer (something that seems completely alien to AAA publishers these days), it tasks players with building the stage itself before the action begins, combining elements of Minecraft and Mario.
Baseball games tend to veer on the side of "simulator" sports titles - they've been getting progressively more complex, and more technically taxing, since the 16-bit days when players stopped looking like a collection of squares. The latest high-profile game to hit NVIDIA's SHIELD Android TV device bucks that trend with a setup tuned for quick play that emphasizes fun over everything else. Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings combines cartoony visuals and an unlicensed feel with surprisingly deep physics and a ton of options. It's available on the Play Store now for the high price of $20, and unfortunately, it's only compatible with the SHIELD TV.
Remember when we used to play games with people who were actually in the same room? Rookie Play Store developer Seabaa does. They've created DUAL!, an Android game that positively demands you play it with friends. DUAL is basically a top-down space shooter in the style of Galaga, but the structure has been modified to allow two people to play across two Wi-Fi connected devices, either competitively or cooperatively.
The primary game mode pits two players against each other. Once you're connected (and you figure out which way the screens are supposed to be oriented), tilt to move your pixelated ship around the field, tap to fire short shots, or tap and release to charge a larger shot.
Air Hockey would be a lot more fun if it had multiple players. And crazy Tron-inspired colors. And guns. That seems to be the basic idea behind Futu Hoki (Future Hockey, if that was too subtle), a new game from the developer of the popular Glow Hockey 3D. The new game is essentially Air Hockey squared, or perhaps Hungry Hungry Hippos in reverse: as the super-glowy guns at all four corners of the board shoot out rolling balls, you have to defend your side in Pong fashion.
Of course the other three players will be doing the same, whether they're controlled by humans or AI.
One-touch games work great on mobile platforms - it's part of the formula that makes endless runners and Angry Birds incredibly popular. Adapting that simplicity to racing takes a little finesse, but developer Crescent Moon Games (creators of the popular Paper Monsters and Aralon games) seems to have managed it. In Slingshot Racing, all the powered sleds go at the same speed and have no steering, so to get ahead, you fire a grappling hook at a corner fulcrum to make the best line through the icy tracks. It's a lot like slot car racing, for you old timers.
The unique approach definitely takes a little getting used to.