Side-scrolling games are the bread and butter of mobile gaming, and my phone is packed full of them. And so when Vector, a free-running game a la Mirror's Edge on iOS, hit the Google Play Store last week, I got all pumped about it.
But there was a catch. Despite the fact that my Galaxy Nexus isn't close to being obsolete, Google Play informs me that the version of Vector currently available is not compatible with my device, which stops me from downloading this Parkour-inspired game.
This is a tragedy, but I won’t let it bring me down. There are so many other side-scrollers out there supported by the Galaxy Nexus, so I drowned my sorrows in some of them. If you find yourself unable to satisfy your Vector fix, I have some side-scrolling alternatives to share with you.
From the developers of the console and PC sensation Super Meat Boy comes an absolutely punishing platform game that will keep you coming back for more. The objective of Cheeseman is simple: run through the levels as fast as you can. But the execution is more complex, because the game hates you and wants you to suffer. Thankfully, levels are quite short, so it's not super frustrating to have to retry a couple dozen times in a row.
Check out their launch trailer:
The key to Cheeseman is that it is never overwhelming, and it feels as if you're always close to conquering a level. If only you can make that jump just right this time. You can do it, man!
Canabalt HD ($2.99)
This gray-scale game has you run, run, run across buildings as the world ends, and you have to survive as long as you can, which will likely be a relatively short amount of time. Canabalt makes your character go, and your job is merely to make him jump at the appropriate moments by tapping the screen. It's got heart-pounding music to go along with it, making the experience thoroughly adrenaline-fueled. It's simple and fun enough to keep you trying over and over for a high score on the leader board. Canabalt was published by Kittehface Software and developed by Semi Secret Software.
Ski Safari ($0.99)
This is a lot like Canabalt in terms of mechanics, except this time you ride down the mountain on your skis or snowmobile or the back of a yeti. Since you're riding downhill, you are self-propelled, and once again all you have to worry about is jumping. Unlike Canabalt, though, where you need to avoid falling into holes and dying, what you're worried about here is the avalanche sliding down the mountain behind you. You have to go fast if you want to survive, which you won't, because eventually you'll goof up. But the fun is in seeing how long you can last.
Stickman BMX (Free)
In Stickman BMX you are a Stickman biking across a treacherous course, and you must attempt tricks and grind on rails. It's not really that complicated. As the mobile gaming world has proven over and over again, though, simplicity wins hearts over, and Stickman BMX, while I really don't have much to say about it, owns my heart. It's a pleasing experience. This is my personal favorite of the Stickman games, mostly because there aren't enough bike games out there.
Jazz: Trump's Journey (Free)
This jazz-fueled platformer takes you on a journey through some old school clubs and the streets of New Orleans, and while this one won't challenge you the way Cheeseman does, it is really delightful. I like to keep this app open just for the tunes, but I also keep going back to try to find more of the hidden collectibles I missed on earlier runs through the game. Getting through the game is nice, but collecting musical notes is addictive.
Sonic 4 Episode 1 ($3.99)
Although this new version of the original Sonic game from the Genesis days initially had some issues on the Galaxy Nexus, it totally works right these days. Handling a game as fast-paced as Sonic 4 Episode 1 can sometimes be a little bit problematic with touch controls, but, hey, it's Sonic. I'm 25 years old, and Sonic was definitely a big part of my childhood, even though I was primarily a PC gamer growing up. In any case, Sonic 4 Episode 1 is an authentic Sonic experience, and it's guaranteed to help you stop wishing you were still a wee gamer.