Mar 30 AT 7:37 PM Clark Wimberly 12 Comments

Staff picks: Free time-wasting games, aGibbets, Mathematiles Demo, Roller Lite, FatBooth

Let me preface today’s game-centric episode of Staff Picks by saying: I know these aren’t the most technically impressive specimens and they won’t be pushing your phone to its absolute dual-core-powered goodness, but that’s OK. More often than not, I find myself playing with silly little games or lightweight time-wasters over the old-school gaming epic. I just don’t have time for that mess.

Saving people being hanged with a bow and arrow, though, or doing some simple math? Bring that on! A quick game of Skeeball? Making my friends fat in a matter of seconds? I’m there. Today we’re focusing on a handful of my favorite light-weight, low-investment games that have lately been taking more of my time than I’d like to admit.

Clark’s Pick

aGibbets probably wins the title for most uncomfortable game on today’s list, because in it you must race to save people being hanged. With your bow and arrow. That’s right, on each level there are a number of guys hanging at various points around the level and you must skillfully (or not so skillfully) shoot them down, to safety.

Aim wrong though, and your arrow will miss the rope and stick into the person you’re trying to save, shortening the timer above the character’s head. Yep, each character has a timer above their head displaying the amount of time they’ve got left to live, as they slowly turn blue hanging there.

Shoot down and save all the people being hanged before all the timers run out to complete the level and score points- just try not to think too hard about what kind of game you are actually playing.


Clark’s Pick

I’ve always had a thing for puzzle games. On top of which, I was named Math Student of the Year back in 8th grade. The fact I would even mention that here should paint a proper picture of my level of absolute nerditude, which I think goes a long way to explain why I like number games so much.

Enter Mathematiles, a game in which you are presented a target number which you must find by combining two tiles (by adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing the tiles) from the grid below. As you combine tiles, the colors change and points increase, giving you more points each time you can manage to reuse a tile to find a new target number.

You’re left with your eyes racing around a screen in panic trying to figure out how to find a number like “4″ amongst a screen of numbers like “5, 8, 1, 10, etc.” It’s an extremely simple concept- until you’re playing.

Mathematiles is currently in demo release and includes all levels for free. There is a new version around the corner that plans to add global high scores so you can share your triumphs of the mind with all the other players around you.


Clark’s Pick
Roller Lite

Since I’m randomly handing out titles and trying to decide why I’m picking each of today’s games, I’ll go ahead and name Roller Lite as the game I most wish I’d never installed on my phone. And that’s not to knock it, I enjoy and play the game a lot. I just can’t figure out how many finger flicking games one can possibly need on his phone.

Honestly, had it not been from Camel Games (who has an excellent track record), I probably wouldn’t have downloaded it. But now that I have, I’ve found a pretty awesome 3D skeeball game that has some nice arcade scoring and tracks my games on a chart over time. I wasn’t sure how many interesting ways were left to gamify dragging a finger across the screen, but Roller Lite found a way.

And you’ll notice a handful of bad reviews in the Market claiming the touch controls are too difficult or that they feel random. I call that a challenge. But maybe I’m crazy.


Clark’s Pick

I’m not sure that this counts as a game. What else would you call it? A utility? A camera? One thing I’m sure we can agree on, though: this is surely a complete waste of time.

FatBooth lets you take a picture (or import one) and automatically adds a bit of stretch (specifically around the chin/neck area) to create a silly and exaggeratedly chubby version of any face. Well, not any face. The detection engine is a bit touchy and needs a well-lit, front-facing head in a portrait photo to work- importing landscape or poorly-lit photos led to errors.

But that’s beside the point. The real win here is you create silly pictures of you and your friends. Or show it to your parents. We showed it to my soon-to-be mother-in-law and she ran through just about every picture in her phone.

The developers say they’re also working on BaldBooth and AgingBooth, both of which I can’t wait to try.


In conclusion

I hope you enjoyed my list of time-wasting games. If they waste half as much time for you as they have for me… I really owe you an apology.

In all seriousness though, these lightweight and fun games are one of my favorite things to download in the Market. I play with them while I’m waiting in a line, or when I’m laying in bed but not tired yet. I like having a stable of simple time killers. What are your favorites?

Clark is a developer living in Austin, Texas. He runs ClarkLab, a small web firm with his wife, Angie. He's a big fan of usability, standards, and clean design.

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