Commuter Gamer: Passing the Time on Tokyo Trains (REVIEW)

Commuter Gamer: Passing the Time on Tokyo Trains (REVIEW)

Are your commutes exciting enough?
If not, this month’s selection of games offers chilled out rides, crazy all-out racing, and some peculiarities in between just to keep your train time interesting.

Today we’re thrilled to introduce our first installment of Adam Bolton’s Commuter Gamer, a monthly column we’ll be syndicating from Japan Today’s TOKYO INSIGHT digital magazine (the article has been slightly reformatted to match our control freak Editor’s guidelines). Let us know what you think down below!

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And so, let’s jump right in:

#1 - Chasing llamas across serene snowscapes

  • Title: Alto’s Adventure
  • Price & Dev: ¥200, Snowman
  • Platform: iOS
  • Download

Alto’s Adventure is one of those titles at which you can’t help but marvel. Set atop an endless mountain, you play as Alto (among others), a young herder and snowboarding aficionado. Alto must traverse the craggy range as he searches for his missing flock of llamas while avoiding ravines, poorly timed back flips and angry elders that “just don’t get kids these days.” While there are many similarities that Alto’s Adventure has with other “endless runners,” it’s the atmosphere and pure visual appeal that makes this title stand out amongst its compatriots.

From the flow of powder from under Alto’s board, to the foggy haze of a crisp sunrise on the horizon, the weather patterns themselves are one of the most impressive features of the game - offering a sense of immersion and serenity as each sun passes gradually from one side of the screen to the other, only to change to a cool, winter moon as night scrolls by. Each weather type - from blizzards to fog to thunderstorms - grants a small measure of diversionary challenge as rock outcrops become obscured or a flash of lightning forces an ill-timed jump.

There are a steady stream of objectives to complete with each rank increasing the challenge of play and certain milestones offer additional characters to unlock, each with their own set of play styles. The content may be minimal in Alto’s Adventure, but the pick-up-and-play factor of the experience makes this an excellent contender for one of the more satisfying “commuter titles” that can be played in short bursts.

Winter may be over, but this is one title that’s guaranteed to cool you down come the harsh summer heat.


#2 - Breakneck-speeds and impossible loops in this slick racer

  • Title: AG Drive
  • Price/Dev: ¥400, Zorg
  • Platforms: iOS, Android
  • Download

AG Drive is a callback to early ’90s hyper-fast, futuristic racers done right. There have been a few titles on both Android and iOS that have tried to cash in on the Wipeout or F-Zero racing games, though these have been bogged down with excessive and greedy pay-schemes. AG Drive returns to the heart-pounding, supersonic roots by delivering a well-designed love letter to blisteringly fast racing games, their corkscrewing, looping tracks and thumping, electronic beats.

Set in a time where gravitational technology has propelled humans into a technologically advanced world of intergalactic travel and commerce with other alien life, AG Drive puts you in the seat of one of many vehicles attempting to speed their way to fame and fortune in the prestigious new motor sport of the same name.

AG Drive is pure exhilaration offering a complete package that should certainly satisfy thrill seekers looking for quick bursts of high speed racing, and a game experience that’s finally suited to the iPhone's motion controls. Just try not to bump the person sitting next to you as you take on the tight corners, eh?


#3 - Quick plays between stations

  • Title: Sunburn!
  • Price/Dev: ¥300, Secret Crush Corporation
  • Platform: iOS
  • Download

This puzzle game puts you in charge of the last moments of a crew of astronauts, alone and with no ship or way to get home. The only option remaining? Aim for the Sun, with crew in tow.

While the theme itself might be bleak, the humor and ingenuity in this title is evident. Each stage plays out with you, the anonymous captain, linking up with each crew member floating about aimlessly or occupying an asteroid, before jet-packing into the toasty embrace of the nearby star. Like if you could play Gravity - only opposite.


#4 - Solitare of a Sort

  • Title: Card Crawl
  • Price/Dev: ¥200, Arnold Rauers
  • Platform: iOS
  • Download

Card Crawl is the perfect companion for those particularly brief trips on the train. A solitaire-style dungeon crawler, the game plays out with the utilization of a slightly modified deck of playing cards - where each suit and number means the difference between victory or certain defeat.

Much like the classic Solitaire, winning the game is never certain and the odds are sometimes stacked against you, but with added support cards unlocked through play, those chances become more manageable. For what it is, this little game packs a lot of charm that offers some quirky art-styles, beautiful vector animation, and endless replayability.


Thanks to Jeff from Japan Today’s TOKYO INSIGHT digital magazine - download this month’s version and get an inside look at Japanese culture and the goings on in Tokyo and beyond by clicking the image below or the link in the sentence before this sentence right here!

Gaming at AkihabaraNews