iOS

Pokémon: Magikarp Jump doesn't do enough with its fun premise

Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it’s difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into. With Freemium Field Test, we’ll take a recent free-to-play iOS game, put it through its paces, and let you know if it’s really worth your time (and money).

Of all the many hundreds of Pokémon available in the monster-catching franchise today, the lowly Magikarp remains one of the least appreciated. The dopey-looking orange fish have bulging eyes and slacked jaws, and really can’t do a whole lot. But they can jump, apparently, and it’s enough to earn the creatures their very own iOS game.

Pokémon: Magikarp Jump is in on the joke, clearly acknowledging how goofy it is that such a useless monster would have its own competitive game—but the competition isn’t very active. You’ll train the fish to jump and then watch the proceedings unfold after a tap, but even training requires zero interaction. It’s like a super-streamlined version of a “clicker” game, but even as a Pokémon fan, I found it overly simplified to the point of tedium. 

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iOS

Injustice 2 does right by DC's heroes with its frenzied comic brawls

Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it’s difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into. With Freemium Field Test, we’ll take a recent free-to-play iOS game, put it through its paces, and let you know if it’s really worth your time (and money).

DC Comics is on an impressive stretch of adaptations of its top heroes: Wonder Woman is the best part of the current DC cinematic universe to date, while Injustice 2 for consoles is even better than the excellent original. The glossy, heroes-and-villains fighting game builds off of NetherRealm Studios’ Mortal Kombat game engine with even bigger special moves than before and an even more fascinating story mode. 

And just like with the first game, Injustice 2 has also made a big splash on the App Store. The free-to-play mobile version of Injustice 2 isn’t exactly like its $60 console counterpart, but it maintains quite a lot of the experience while delivering some seriously impressive graphics and quite of bit of gameplay to enjoy.

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iOS

Puzzle Droids proves Candy Crush is better with a sweet Star Wars coating

Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it’s difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into. With Freemium Field Test, we’ll take a recent free-to-play iOS game, put it through its paces, and let you know if it’s really worth your time (and money).

With past games like Angry Birds: Star Wars and the Tiny Tower-based Tiny Death Star, we’ve seen the beloved sci-fi franchise merged with proven iOS game experiences—and the results were pretty positive in both of those cases. Star Wars: Puzzle Droids is the latest such amalgamation, and while it’s not legally Candy Crush Saga: Star Wars, that’s exactly what you get. 

This “tribute” to the mobile puzzle phenomenon doesn’t deviate much from King’s money-printing design, but it does implement the Star Wars license in entertaining ways, plus the challenge rises at a more reasonable and predictable rate. The result, while not original in any way, is an enjoyable, on-the-go diversion that you shouldn’t feel pressured to spend money for.

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iOS

Build and battle deadly machines in C.A.T.S.: Crash Arena Test Stars

Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it’s difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into. With Freemium Field Test, we’ll take a recent free-to-play iOS game, put it through its paces, and let you know if it’s really worth your time (and money).

Cats are often cuddly and adorable, but C.A.T.S.—that is, Crash Arena Test Stars—is destructive and intense. And yet it still stars cute, cartoonish felines.

fft cats screen Macworld

Each ride has its own unique shape and combination of components. Good luck out there.

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iOS

MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2017 isn't worth big-league time or money

Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it’s difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into. With Freemium Field Test, we’ll take a recent free-to-play iOS game, put it through its paces, and let you know if it’s really worth your time (and money).

Baseball has been a lot more exciting for me since the Cubs won the World Series. I was there outside Wrigley Field last November when they won it all, surrounded by raucous revelers, and then I attended the home opener to see the championship flag unveiled. It’s energized me, and now I’m even watching more games on TV than I have over the past few years. It’s been a nice shot in the arm for my flagging MLB fandom.

Likewise, that old itch to play baseball video games has returned, although I no longer have the kind of free time that allowed me to pour hours into MVP Baseball in college. So I was certainly intrigued when I saw Glu’s MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2017 pop up in the App Store, promising all of the official teams and players with a streamlined, on-the-go sensibility. However, this freemium affair is just too dull, repetitive, and obnoxiously monetized to satisfy.

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iOS

Bit City lets you mold a metropolis from your iPhone

Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it’s difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into. With Freemium Field Test, we’ll take a recent free-to-play iOS game, put it through its paces, and let you know if it’s really worth your time (and money).

If the original Tiny Tower was NimbleBit’s homage to the classic SimTower, then the new Bit City is clearly its take on the better-known SimCity. In both cases, the mobile “tribute” offers a significantly streamlined version of the same core premise, and this time around, you’ll gradually build up your city simply by tapping menus and amassing coins. 

fft bitcity largecity NimbleBit

Bit by bit, you’ll bring your city to life.

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iOS

WarFriends seems friendly enough, but it's loaded with paid perks

Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it’s difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into. With Freemium Field Test, we’ll take a recent free-to-play iOS game, put it through its paces, and let you know if it’s really worth your time (and money).

There’s something slightly unsettling about the name “WarFriends”—like, warfare isn’t a thing you do with pals for kicks. And this is very much a game about killing people, even if doused in a cartoonish, big-headed style. The title itself just sends a slight chill down my spine; it feels ill-considered.

And yet the actual game itself is absolutely inviting from the start: WarFriends is lightweight but decently strategic, and it’s tactical without being complex or overbearing. This is an entertaining combat game that you can play in three-minute spurts, which makes it perfect for mobile. Yet WarFriends is also a game in which spending real money brings immediate and significant benefits, and it doesn’t do much to hide that obvious advantage.

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