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[Welcome to Indie Week at gameinformer.com. We’ve got a full seven days of indie game coverage leading up to the 2011 Independent Games Festival Awards. Check back daily for coverage of the top independent games of the year.]The Mobile sector is becoming a bigger piece of the gaming pie every day, and it's quite possibly the easiest way for indie developers to publish a project. I had fun with all five nominated titles, and am happy to report that they're all publicly available, unlike most other games in the IGF competition.
Jurists for this category include Colin Anderson (co-founder of Denki), Eddy Boxerman (Osmos), Kevin Cancienne (Area/Code), Ramiro Corbetta (Powerhead Games), Omar Cornut (PixelJunk Shooter), Phil Hassey (Galcon), David Kalina (Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor), Oliver Lejade (Soul Bubbles), Adam Saltsman (Canabalt), and Nathan Vella (co-founder and president of Capy).
A WORD FROM THE IGF JUDGES: "In the Mobile category, jurists gave Nonverbal's Colorbind high marks for giving what appears to be a simple game 'surprisingly deep complexity.' and for blending its 'original mechanic' with 'lovely, lovely presentation,' while Stfj's 'smart, abstract, enjoyable, friendly and meditative' Halcyon was praised for its 'beautiful' mix of procedural/interactive music, well-executed minimalism and addictive play, particularly in cooperative mode."Ratloop's 'line of sight' puzzler Helsing's Fire was called out for being 'a very polished game with an unusual game mechanic that emphasizes deduction with a pinch of action,' that was a 'perfect fit for the iPhone,' while Mikengreg's Solipskier was praised as 'independent gaming at its best' for 'balancing coarse controls for beginners with detailed controls for expert players,' and giving off 'drama, feel, and life in spades.'"Finally, Erik Svedang's original multiplayer iPad design Shot Shot Shoot was called 'possibly the most elegantly-designed multiplayer game I've ever played' and 'something brand new, and very old at the same time.' Added one jurist: 'It's the stripped-down vision of one guy, with all the superfluous stuff left out in order to allow a simple, pure concept to shine in a way that only games can.'"
COLORBINDDeveloper: NonverbalPlatform: iOSRelease Date: Out NowPrice: $1.99
The most important thing you should note about this game is that it's not Colorb"L"ind. That will take you to a totally different game on the app store. Colorbind tasks players with weaving ribbons over dots. You draw and retract the ribbons with your finger and can reset the stage easily by shaking your mobile device. Over time, dot patterns get more complex and more colored ribbons enter the mix. As you can see, ribbons can intersect perpendicularly but they can't run over top of each other in parallel. Watch the video below or download the free "lite" version to test it out yourself.
Halcyon is iPad only, but once you see it in action it all makes sense. Colored triangles creep in from the sides on top of several horizontal lines. You draw lines between matching triangles and they connect up and clear out. A relaxing harp strum plays as the triangles transfer between lines. If two mismatched colors connect, it's game over. Things start out simple enough, but once more triangles and lines join in it gets very hectic. The level is over when the horizontal lines change from black to white. An endless mode also lets you test your mettle and see how high you can jack up your score.
Helsing's Fire is the only game in this category that I had already played before the IGF nominations went out. The clever title casts players in the role of Dr. Helsing with the assistance of his pal Raffton to rid the world of vile creatures. You control and try to manipulate its light to hit as many monsters as possible. Once you've got the right shot, you touch a potion at the bottom of the screen to kill them. Monsters come in three different colors (red, blue, and green) and your limited supply of potions must match them. Later on, monsters will gain multiple forcefields and you'll have to strip them away in the proper order. Occasional boss battles shake things up significantly and force you to think quickly rather than using the slower deliberate pace of the normal levels.
Shot Shot Shoot is made to be played by two people on one iPad. Each player starts off with five blocks to protect, and, in turn, must shoot the other player's blocks. While the concept seems simple, plenty of strategies exist. Do you bombard your opponent with shots right out of the gate or do you play it more conservatively with more of a focus on defense. Skilled players will manipulate fired shots to different planes in order to mess with their opponent.
Solipskier is the only other game that competes with Helsing's Fire in terms of popularity. Here you draw out the ski hill ahead of your skier to build speed and create jumps. You also need to line up with gates to add to your score multiplier and dodge the dreaded X gates that will end your run immediately. The multipliers not only increase your score to ridiculous heights, they also add a rainbow trail behind you that gets longer over time. Competition on the online leaderboard is staggering to keep up with, but sometimes beating your friends is all that matters. Try out the free flash version of the game at the official site if you're curious.
Best Mobile Game Honorable Mentions: Flick Kick Football (PikPok), Shibuya (Nevercenter), Spirits (Spaces Of Play), Tentacles (Press Play), Trainyard (Matt Rix)
Email the author Bryan Vore, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.