Editorial: When School Is Out

Don't believe their innocent faces.
Children. Always ready to steal your controller.

As a proud parent of two wonderful children, I try to spend as much time with them as I can. During the school holiday though, they take up so much of time it leaves little for my to actually sit down and play games. That is what happened this past fortnight. In the UK, schools break up for two weeks over the Easter holiday. The result? Much of my free time has been spent pretending my daughter is an airplane while my son hogs the PlayStation 3.

Obviously I cannot go completely without games for two weeks, so I have been relying heavily on my iPhone. Some days I even had to fully charge it several times because the battery drained so fast.
So, what games consume such vast quantities of power? I prepared a few summaries of the games I have been playing recently. Enjoy!

Book of Heroes

I enjoy playing playing World of Warcraft, and when the time allows I enjoy a spot of raiding as well. This game replicates the content found in most MMOs without needing to create a 3D environment. This is the most recent game I have downloaded, so I am not that far into it yet, but already it has me hooked. Like a lot of internet games, energy is used as a resource to keep playing from playing non-stop. This is not a major issue on a mobile platform, as it is easy to switch to another app while it recharges.

The bulk of the game revolves around completing various kill and fetch quests. The rewards are used to buy new gear and gems to place in them. There are three colours of gem, each increasing one of three possible stats. Add to this a talent system and gear enchanting, the game becomes as addictive as Warcraft. There is always a goal in this game. Earn money for gear, unlock gem slots for it, buy gems to place in it then level up and begin the cycle again. Once raiding is possible, another currency can be earned to buy better than average equipment. Quite a lot of content for a free game, but yes, money can be spent to speed up the process. Why spoil the fun though?

Pixel People

This a game that can can be picked up for five minutes at a time.The aim here is to discover all the jobs in the game. This can take a while, as there are currently over 200 to find. Jobs are discovered by splicing together two existing jobs to create a new one. Each job has a ‘recipe’ used to create it, and can then be placed into a building. Once staffed, building produce cins for a set amount of time, with the player tapping a building have it start producing coins again. Coins are used to buy more land on which houses and buildings can be placed. New houses are required to continue generating new people to assign jobs to. A player has to decide between discovering new jobs, or duplicating existing jobs to fill buildings and maximise coin income.

Or sitting on it.
Not the kind of people I would expect to find in my phone

This game plays very quickly for the first hour or so, then the arrival times of residents and the construction of buildings start to take a while to happen. Late game, it becomes very time consuming to get enough coins to buy extra land again. This is solved by more efficient residences being unlocked which cost premium currency. This currency is implemented well and is fairly easy to acquire during normal play, but helps to keep the player from progressing too quickly. A fun distraction when time is short.

Tiny Zoo

I picked this one up for my son, but ended up playing it myself as well. Very simple mechanics, buy an animal to earn money, use money to buy more animals, buy more land as required to place extra animals. There is a large emphasis on premium currency in this game, though it can be earned by completing quests. Some animals can generate it, but they usually cost a fair bit to buy in the first place. If it was not for the fact that I earned enough to buy one these creatures, I probably would not play the game any more. Now that I can generate premium currency each day I feel like I need to log in at least once to collect it, then spend much more time in the game than I originally intended. Not one I would recommend for people just starting out, though it is fun for children (turn off those in-app purchases though).

So there it is, the games that took up most of my time recently. Now the kids are back to school, the console is mine again! What would you have played if all you had was a mobile device? Can you recommend something new for the next time my kids are off? Tell your friends to come make suggestions as well because if they mention that you brought them to the site, you could win a free game!


  1. The missions in Pixel People piss me off. Waiting to draw one specific random animal just so I can continue getting new jobs is bullshit.

  2. I find the Utopium cost a bit more obnoxious myself, but I know that both are solved by playing the game.

  3. Oh dear. Pixel People looks like the type of game that devours life and free time…I’ll have to look that one up.

    …if I only had access to my Kindle to game with, I suppose my hours would be currently lost in the Jurassic Park mobile game. Not that it’s a good game, mind. The thing that keeps me going is the horrendous dialogue written by someone who had the characters described to them by a seven year old who’d never seen the movie or read the book- which is an entertainment level unto its own.

  4. Imitanis, you don’t have a 3DS? Plenty on there to game with, and more if you count the original DS back catalog.

  5. @Mel – I do, but there is nothing I want to play on it right now. Still waiting for Fire Emblem and Etrian Odyssey 4. I need to be in the right mood to replay something I’ve already completed.

  6. Utopium was a bitch in the beginning, but I kept planting trees so I find it easy to hit the 25 cap each day.

  7. @Imitanis: Doesn’t Fire Emblem come out on the 19th in Europe? You don’t have long to wait, then.

    @Lusi: Indeed! A great deal of good news came from Nintendo today, but I’m sure SN will report on it in short order. Also, I’m honored to have been quoted in one of the site headers.

  8. @Mel Indeed, I will be picking it up tomorrow. Shame it wasn’t around two weeks earlier.

  9. Hopefully don’t have to wait too much longer for Etrian Odyssey IV after that. I MUCH prefer it to Fire Emblem. Then again, I don’t like turn-based strategy RPGs much. Still, it’s the game that keeps on giving. I’m not playing it as often, but when I do play it, it is with the same vigour. Not many games can retain my enthusiasm to that extent when I take extended breaks.

  10. Force your kids to play Xenogears. They’ll LOVE it!

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