Today’s post is about two mobile games: AoM and Machinations. Not as a comparison, but because there are a lot of these types of games piling up and both are free. Both have strong points and appeal to certain audiences, and both are vastly different from one another in genre and concept.
AoM first. I understand that a lot of work goes into every game, and with that in mind I will try to be gentle. AoM, in my mind, must stand for Arena of Migraines because I cannot see anyone deriving pleasure from this experience. I also have no idea what the title stands for as I don’t remember that being explained in the game. In AoM you play a robin hood-esque character clad in green with a bow. You proceed through the level, often against your own will, by dragging your finger left and right across the screen while the green archer jumps up and down like Mario with fire ants in his overalls. You then have to avoid enemies and collect coins. I played the first level about 20 times before declaring loudly to the gods that I would be deleting the game from my phone. Although my exact words were more along the lines of “AaAaAURGH! Fuck this shit! I QUIT!”. AoM makes you feel a little better about games that make you unable to jump by making it impossible to stop.
On top of that, the game makes what should be a fun little adventure into a frantic race to the top using my least favorite of all game mechanics: the timer. This is a game where you compare your frantic jumping scores with everyone else’s frantic jumping scores to see who can navigate the levels fastest with the most points from collecting coins and killing monsters. How do you kill monsters when you can’t stop moving during a jump-expressed epileptic fit? With the single most frustrating weapon to use mid-motion. A goddamn BOW and fucking ARROWS! Yes! You just have to tap and the looney leaping pscyho ranger rather slowly launches a poorly aimed arrow. Granted, if I was forced to jump constantly, I would also be taking a sec to get the shot right. But look at that little bastard in the logo! That is him! No, not the one with the axes. The cross-eyed bastard pointing his bow at the sky while a giant goblin with companion boar charges him down. He looks like he can’t even comprehend the concept of steady aim on stable ground. This makes me think his whole strategy is actually intricately designed by him to get his aim perfect. Whatever. I still fucking missed like it was my job.
But perhaps I am just not this game’s audience. I could see a society of people out there somewhere who enjoy games with mechanics design to be as infuriating as popping pimples on your own back with much the same satisfaction. When it is over, you can lay back down and relax with only the slight pain of having finished and knowing how much time it took to achieve this goal. Yes, asia, that means you. Honestly, the only people I could see enjoying this game are asians. Not because I’m racist or anything, but because I have played a few asian games and I just didn’t ‘get it’. I have to imagine that AoM comes from the same place. On the bright side, this leaping journey through platformed levels can be yours on google marketplace for fucking free, so yea. It’s a free game. And the art is also pretty good. Take it for what it is worth: hours of pointless and mindless amusement. It’s worth it to play once. I mean it’s free. You can get it on the Google Play Store or if iOS is your thing, it’s on the iTunes App Store too.
Machinations is a pretty good play. You are the commander of an empire of space robots whose only means of attack is to suicidally slam into their enemies’ bases until the enemy feels bad and concedes control of their bases. Yes, I think at some point you can actually attach weapons.. maybe? But as far as I got, there was some discussion about using lasers instead, which your main advisor/robot general just kind of ignored comically. At the start of each level you control a node, which generates ships. These ships can be launched to attack enemy and neutral nodes. Some nodes level up to house shipyards (which generate ships quickly) or lasers (which zap anyone that gets close). In the story (loosely defined as generalized motivations) you had some kind of space empire, which has collapsed. You are tasked with reestablishing your empire. Now, that is irritating. Now I feel like an intergalactic janitor/asshole going along killing the rebels and subjugating their people. I guess it is a consolation that everyone is a fucking robot and it really doesn’t matter all that much. But that brings the game down to the level of depressing as fuck, since it doesn’t really matter anyway. Ultimately, nothing in this game matters though, so you can just put it down whenever you feel like. Which ultimately, in a Nietszche kinda way, since the meaningless of it all is liberating in an absurd way. Machinations is a strategy game that plays similarly to Eufloria, but less trippy and bizarre. Both still fun, but I would pay for Eufloria. Machinations? Well, glad it’s free. I stopped playing when this game incorporated the most annoying of all challenge features of a game: the fucking time limit. If you want to try the game out for yourself on Google Play, I would fully support the notion. Want to see gameplay footage in action before you play it? I guess everyone has their demands. It’s certainly a game worthy of more time, I just get frustrated by timers easily.
What pisses me off, then? If you can’t fucking guess by now, I hate you. I fucking hate TIME LIMITS, TIMERS and any other time-based game elements. I hate racing games for this, and before you say that there is no time limit, yes there is. The speeds of the other cars are the hardware by which the timing of the matches are determined, and you have to beat their times to get first place. Any game that uses a time LIMIT in the game is basically adding a challenge and LIMITING the way in which you play games by timing you. Some games do this well, and I don’t mind it when it is done well (see also Majora’s Mask). But in a stupid little mobile game? Jesus. Feels more like the time limit was thrown in because they just couldn’t think of how to make it more challenging or even more worthwhile to play. Either way, both games are free. So cut your fucking whining.