Commuter Gamer #7: Passing the Time on Tokyo Trains (REVIEW)

Commuter Gamer #7: Passing the Time on Tokyo Trains (REVIEW)

These mobile games are a blend of the surreal and the obscure - like a busy weekend in Harajuku, spend some time in strange company. Beat deadlines and werewolves, deal with random celebrities, master mathematics with livestock or fight your way through a horde of aliens. With this selection of diversions, other commuters might have a valid reason to sit somewhere else.

Note: 
Here we present our 7th installment of Adam Bolton’s Commuter Gamer, a monthly column syndicated from Japan Today. 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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Let’s jump right in:

#1 - “You're late with the quarterly earnings report! Didn’t you get the memo?”

  • Title: The Executive
  • Price & Dev: ¥600, Riverman Media
  • Platform: iOS

Riverman Media has a growing track record for the entertaining, yet absurd. They made waves with Pizza vs Skeletons back in February 2012, and their next installment is anything but tame.

You play as the executive, a sharply dressed salaryman with impeccable hair and a mean round-house kick (amongst other things). The office workers—and much of the world's population—has been taken over by all manner of mythological creatures, from werewolves to pig-men and rapier wielding frogs.

Trying to come up with something that makes this game sound even slightly comprehensible is a difficult thing, but that's where the fun in this title lies. It's unabashedly bizarre, but at the same time, the platform hopping and combat mechanics are absolutely spot-on. Regardless of how the title may sound, the level of enjoyment in fighting with a werewolf clad in riot gear brandishing a cattle prod is overwhelming.

On top of the fighting mechanics, there's also business to be done. As you earn money for completing each of the 120 hand-crafted levels, you can have your company invest in skills that will unlock stronger attacks and defenses and allow you to hire workers from other industries to add income to a steady, real-time ticker that racks up even when you're not playing. This business simulator could have been a game in it's own right, but adds a neat, complementary mini-game to something that is already flush with features and originality.

The Executive is, for all of its oddity, a break from the norm that can suffocate the gaming industry at times. There's very little to think about, but a lot to enjoy. The levels are perfect for short bursts of play, as most take a maximum of 3 minutes to get through. If your boss ever gives you grief, then perhaps The Executive can help. It's way better than any team building

Trailer:

#2 - Too much celebrity gossip lately? They're all aliens but don’t worry - Tcherno’s got your back!

  • Title: Shooting Stars
  • Price & Dev: ¥360, Noodle Cake Studios
  • Platforms: iOS; Android

Shooting Stars is the first game from Vienna-based Blood Irony, an independent three-man team of game designers who pretty much tried to fit the whole internet into one brilliant little action-shooter.

You play as Tcherno, a guy with the right stuff to take on a horde of aliens, disguised as both internet and international celebrities. Oh, and when I say “the right stuff”? I mean a hover-board and a white cat that shoots lasers out of it's mouth. Still with me so far?

Shooting Stars is straight-up arcade fun, coupled with some neat pixelated design, challenging levels and some of the most unique attacks seen on a vertically scrolling arcade game. Touting 50 unique special attacks and 50 upgrade collectibles, the overlapping combinations of these, provides some compounding and interesting ways to deliver justice to the invading aliens. Need more lasers? There's a cupcake for that. Want to vengefully replenish your health after being hit by the enemy? There's something for that, too. How about a disco ball that shoots blue beams of death? Maybe an aerial bombardment of “Likes”? Shooting Stars has got you covered.

Trailer:

...and for some quick plays between stations:

#3 - Divide By Sheep

  • Price & Dev: ¥360, Tiny Build
  • Platforms: iOS; Android

Divide by Sheep is a fun, yet deceptively challenging puzzle game, that quickly has you regretting doing so badly in math class back in high-school.

Death (as in its personification) is kind of lonely, and there's only one solution: cuddly sheep. The sheep know Death is coming for them, and the only way to survive is to leap from their isolated little islands and onto a raft to safety. Each island you hop to can only hold so many, however, so sacrifices must be made to save the flock. Expect gruesome traps and obstacles later on to add greater challenge.

Trailer:

#4 - Xenowerk

  • Price & Dev: ¥360, PixelBite
  • Platforms: iOS; Android

A no-frills, alien blasting, isometric action adventure brought to you by the creators of the excellent Space Marshalls. Xenowerk is a game especially designed for those brief, distracting moments until the very next station.

Fend off waves of mutated enemies in a locked down science facility as you gradually sweep and clear each area, floor by floor. With a healthy selection of upgradable firearms, increasing grades of armor and a satisfying amount of environment destruction, Xenowerk is a great diversion while you wait at the station platform.

Trailer:

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