CROSSY ROAD / Hipster Whale / Android
There's a certain sentiment that's not uncommon on gaming forums; the idea that when you review a game, you should score it in accordance with how well it accomplished the goals the designers appeared to have set for it. Like many gaming forum sentiments, it's a stupid one on its face, because clearly many games set out to be nothing more than cheap crap to dig in people's pockets. We'd have to turn the All-Time Best and All-Time Worst lists upside down at Metacritic and Gamerankings if we adopted this as a general criteria, at the very least!

So clearly I hold no truck with this idea, but I'm going to make something of a small exception for Crossy Road. Mobile games are in a unique place right now, one that we haven't really seen before in gaming history. Games on handhelds up until now have been meant to be played like console games, in fairly long unbroken stretches. But the proliferation of smartphones has created a demand for "five minute games" that you can play while standing on line, on a short bus commute, etc. As to whether it's actually necessary to play a game for such a short time instead of, say, gathering your thoughts or evaluating your recent life decisions, well ... we're selling game advertising in the sidebar here, so of course playing a game for five minutes is absolutely and totally the best possible thing you can do with any free five minutes you might have.

Anyway, Crossy Road. It's basically just an update / mutation of Frogger, but one that's well-adapted to mobile limitations. You pick from a lineup of characters that reminded me greatly of all the NPCs in Katamari Damacy (and a lineup that will eventually become fantastically huge), then off you go on an endless, semi-procedurally-generated quest across various roads and rivers attempting to simply get as far as you can without getting killed. That, and picking up coins that appear en route, which are used to gradually unlock the aforementioned gigantic roster of playable characters. Some characters are also hidden in the environment and require you to jump on a certain space or press against something to add them to the roster.

Honestly, the "five minute game" doesn't do much for me personally no matter how well executed, nor does score-attacking to compare with your friends (you can arrange to have the high scores of friends who play the game displayed across the roads as you progress). But the game is cute and fun and I respect that it seems to scratch those two itches almost perfectly if ya got 'em. Not only that, it's free, and the microtransaction scheme is non-pushy and comfortably in the background. Crossy will be a tough one to top in this particular realm.
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