Favorite Finds: Spaceteam and Little Inferno

These days, most of my gaming time is taken up by World of Warcraft.  However, in recent months I’ve been introduced to a few games on my iPad that I loved pretty much instantly.  Even better, these are low-committment games; one is the kind you can pick up at any time, even months from now, and the other is a short game that was devoured in a few hours.  And best of all, they’re considerably cheaper than shelling out $50 for a new console game.  Naturally I had to share. 

Spaceteam

This is, by definition, a party game – one where the other players are sitting in the same room.  It’s intended for 2-4 players, and trust me when I say the experience is significantly different at the two ends of the spectrum.  The concept is simple: you’re part of a crew on a spaceship.  As the game assures you, “the ship flies itself.   Just follow the instructions.  And remember to work together… as a spaceteam.”  Each of you has part of a dashboard, with unique buttons, toggle switches and meters.  The names range from complicated technobabble to the downright silly.

Now each player receives commands, like “Turn on M-valve.”  Only thing is, each person has a different command, and the command is probably not for something on your chunk of the dashboard.  So here’s where the “working together” part comes in – or rather, frantically yelling and giggling, as more frequently happens.

Naturally, the game gets harder with each level – you’re wiping away slime to read your console, or you’re shaking the iPad violently to avoid an asteroid.  In my personal favorite “challenge,” the words are actually replaced with symbols, so you’re left shouting things like: “Engage… baby in an ultrasound! ENGAGE BABY! NOW ACTIVATE GUY PUKING!”

I was introduced to Spaceteam by a friend at a get-together, and we had all brought our iPads specifically to try it out.  With four people playing at once, it’s pretty much madness, and we didn’t make it past the first few levels (though it was certainly fun).  With only two players, however, it’s a different animal; communication is easier, and you find yourself striving to do better, get further.

Yesterday I turned it on and discovered there’s now a world of upgrades.  I do mean to check them out eventually, but actually I don’t yet feel the need – the game is still fun just on its own.

Little Inferno

Made by the minds behind World of Goo, another favorite, this game consumed my entire evening a few weeks ago.  I honestly don’t want to give too much away, and am tempted to leave it at “Just try it!” as that’s what I’ve been telling my friends.

The concept is incredibly simple: You’ve been given a “Little Inferno,” a fireplace.  Burn objects, get coins, “buy” more objects and burn them.  It clearly satirizes time-sink games, among other things – the game is laden with jokes and references, gently poking fun at itself, others, even you.

But while all that is cute and clever, it’s actually the underlying story that drew me in and kept me from going to sleep at a decent hour.  This is the part that I don’t want to give away, but suffice it to say that there’s more going on than just burning things and I needed to know what happened next.

The emotional involvement is helped in no small part by the soundtrack.  It’s available for free on their official website, and again, it ranges from cute and whimsical to epic and soaring.  Put it together with the creepy beauty of the art (familiar to those who have played World of Goo) and the whole thing is really just gorgeous.  Oh, PS – it’s available on Windows (Steam) and WiiU as well, if Apple isn’t your thing.

The only downside is that it is a short game.  Since so much of the draw, for me, was narrative, I’m not even sure an expansion of the current game would scratch that itch – more stuff to burn is not the issue.  A sequel, on the other hand… or actually just another game from these people – absolutely.

So those are my top two favorite finds of late!  What about you?  What are some of your favorite apps/games?  And if you’ve tried either Spaceteam or Little Inferno, share your thoughts below!  

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