After a manic two weeks involving a mammoth 88 hour working week, unwell kids, trying to play games, being dragged shopping and the weekly installment of wedding planning I’m back with your regular episode of free gaming.
Before I begin I have a call to arms for you, the Midlife Gamer Community. If you have spotted something great that costs nothing, think we have missed something or have a recommendation for the Classic Freebie section then why give me your suggestion at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now that is out the way, what a week we have for you this week. We go back to one of my first loves, guess the song in our classic of the week, get tricky and, thanks to Uncle Fista, welcome you to my new crack like addiction. But first up, how about some old-school pinball.
You all remember pinball, no not the flashy stand up units that will have Uncle Fista and Godd Todd waxing lyrical but the old old-school ones. The ones with a spring launcher and 4mm pin nails hammered into them. Thanks to Pinball Kid you can recreate your youth as they bring the digital form of the original pinball machine to iOS.
It’s a simple concept, a set number of balls wait in the queue before dropping down to the launch chute where you ping them into the main gaming “arena” Tap and hold to build up power and release to launch. The goal is simple, launch each ball into one of the cups and build up your score.
Pinball Kid looks and plays like a retro pinball game and with the amazing board titles of Rocktopus, Antroid and Zombeaver it’s hard not to love this game.
Occasionally whilst trawling through the App Store I pick up a game and fall in love with it instantly (see Puzzle Craft for details). Other times people recommend them to me. What I have learned over the last 12 months is if I get an email from Uncle Fista with “recommendation” in the subject field it means we have the latest Tiny Tower-esque crack addiction on our hands.
And indeed we do. Allow me to introduce Candy Crack Saga. Sorry I mean Candy Crush Saga.
There is an abundance of match 3 games on various format all clamouring for your attention but none are more engaging and, at times, infuriating than Candy Crush Saga. It bombards you with cute graphics, its sickly sweet with its colours and characters. But, it is so testing it will keep you entertained and occupied for ages – I even passed up on an evening with Saints Row 3 this week just to attempt to find the solution to the level I was stuck on.
The first few levels are simple enough and help you get used to the various dynamics and powers involved in the game but that is only to lull you into a false sense of security and infuriate you even more when you get stuck, and you will get stuck.
First up you have lives, five of them to be exact and if you fail at a level you lose one. At which point they start regenerating at a rate of one every 30 minutes. So even you get really stuck and lose all your lives another one will be along shortly.
Secondly, the placement of the candies at the start of each level is completely random so you never know if you will be dealt a good board or an absolute nightmare. Match three of the candies and they will explode allowing the screen to fill up with new ones but that’s not all.
Match four to generate a sugary bomb that will detonate a full line either horizontally or vertically, while five will create a sweet with apparent sherbet fizz which zaps all of one selected colour off the board.
Making T-shapes and L-shapes will generate an explosive candy bomb that destroys a three by three grid twice over. Whilst combining these special sweeties will give various massive effects – which is essential to beating some levels.
Levels are arranged into various types, some much harder than others. Simple point scoring levels are mixed nicely with ingredient collecting levels and jelly popping stages. Just to be extra tough each level has its own specific number of moves. Some can be completed with loads of moves spare, which instigates the “Sugar Crush” finale, while later in the game you’ll be wondering why there isn’t one extra move available.
Patience and lots of luck all play a part in Candy Crush Saga, now if you would excuse me I have just gained a life and I’m going to have another go at that level I have been stuck on for three days now.
Godamn stupid sweetie game, ok sorry, I’m back. Where was I? Oh yes.
Tricky Shot is an entertaining but casual game that allows you to go back to a time when you used to play headers and volleys with your mates against a brick wall. More specifically the showboating aspect. Using your finger to flick a virtual soccer ball at specific targets, such as glass bottles, signs, and items hanging from clotheslines you will build up your score before progressing to the next stage and an even trickier shot. Obviously, accuracy is important, but most scenarios allow you to continue kicking and flicking the ball as much as necessary until it comes to a stop. With whacky sound effects and Year of Shamer Jayce Stokes sitting at the top of the High Score table, just waiting to be knocked off, can you really afford to not download this entertaining little game?
When I was looking for a title I had in mind for the Midlife Gamer Guess The Cover Forum Thread I came across an excellent like app for your PC.
C64 Forever has been released for a while but it had never crossed my path, until now. At first glance it looks like a collection of games with an emulator or front end GUI but there is much more to it.
If you are new to the C64 or emulation then C64 Forever is the perfect way to dip your toe into the water. The interface makes getting a game up and running as easy as playing an MP3.
The free “express” edition comes with over 20 games from my childhood such as Split Personalities, Manic Miner, Big Mac and Falcon Pursuit to name but four and if you wish to lay your hard earned cash to the developer they will furnish you with a collection of over 100 games.
If you have held back from emulation in the past due to concerns over copyright issues, you’ll be happy to know that the developer not only has the rights to use the Commodore BIOS files for emulation, but also the permission to distribute all of the included games that come with their software. While the collection of 100+ games and utilities included in C64 Forever are by no means comprehensive, it is large enough to keep you entertained for a long time.
This week’s classic is Song Pop. A simple, multiple choice music quiz game that challenged everyone to prove who had the best song identification skills. Available on iOS, Android and Facebook all three versions are able to compete against each other thanks to Facebook connectivity or the SongPop username system.
When starting a new challenge, players choose a playlist of songs which their questions will be based on, and are then played five song clips during which they must identify either the title or the artist as quickly as possible. Points are scored if the answer was correct, with bonus points being awarded if the player was quick to respond as well as if they correctly answer several questions in a row. As the player scores points, they earn progress towards five “stars” in a playlist, with new songs in the playlist unlocking when each star is filled.
Once the player has answered the five questions, the challenge is then sent to the other player at which point they answer the very same questions with the goal of outscoring their opponent. After all is said and done, the scores are totalled and a winner is declared. The winner is then awarded three coins whilst the loser is given a consolation of a single coin.
These coins can be saved up to purchase “power-up” items such as shuffling their playlist choices or removing two songs. The most popular use of these coins is to purchase new playlists.
Song Pop is a simple idea that is implemented very well. “Name That Tune”-style games are easy enough for anyone to understand, and the musical styles covered in the various playlists provide a wide variety of material suitable for all ages.
That’s it for this week folks, Stay tuned to Midlife Gamer next week for more gratis gaming.
Tags: android, app store, c64, candy crush saga, Commodore 64, emulation, Facebook, forever, iOS, Pinball, pinball kid, puzzle craft, retro, solutions, songpop, tiny tower, tricky shot, wedding planning, year of shame