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In the last decade, it has been made clear that the thirst for quality gaming in Africa is much larger than most would think. Africa is quickly catching up as talented game developers pop up all over the continent, ready to become part of the international world of gaming. Let’s take a look at what Africa has to offer and see how close the continent is to becoming a true competitor in the world of mobile gaming.
Fleet of One isn’t exactly what I would call original. It follows the same recipe as the ancient classic, Space Invaders. But for those of you who can remember this game, it was quite a winning recipe in its time, and for some it still is. You play as a spaceship armed with five cannons used to blast the fleet of oncoming retro aliens into arcade oblivion. Instead of manoeuvring your ship to dodge these aliens, your ship fills the bottom of the screen. To fire the cannons, you simply tap the one you wish to fire. If an alien manages to get off a shot before you can destroy it, you have the option to shield your cannon by swiping up. But once again, as simple as it is to understand this game, it’s a bloody hard one to play. As you progress through the game aliens act faster and grow increasingly tenacious. But once you start getting into the rhythm of the game, you will end up wasting numerous hours on this rather brilliant action arcade shooter.
The Harvest (Windows 8, Android and iOS “soon”)
The Harvest is a heart-pumping sci-fi shooter developed by one of South Africa’s leading game developers, Luma Arcade. The game takes place a few years after hostile aliens invaded Earth and started wreaking havoc. These aliens are known as Harvesters – so named because they “harvest” human and animal flesh and combine it with machinery to make an army of cyborgs. In the name of mankind’s survival the Global Defence Force (GDF) was created. You play as part of a small group of GDF Mech Warriors, who are ordered to investigate a potential Harvester threat at the ruins of an ancient city. The game has an in-depth narrative with great story progression and there are a variety of customisations at your character’s disposal. You will be facing massive waves of Harvesters as you progress through the game and there are also some epic boss battles in store. The Harvesters follows a much-loved recipe of Alien-exterminating fun combined with a great RPG feel.
Matatu is a popular two-player card game that has its roots in Uganda. It is very simple to understand and, like most card games, can be very addictive. Each player starts with seven cards and the main objective is to get rid of all your cards first. The first player, chosen at random, will throw out a card and you will respond with a card of either the same suit or number. The key is to try and play a number or suit that your opponent doesn’t possess. This way they are forced to pick up a card from the deck, increasing the number of cards they have at hand and ultimately slimming their chances of winning the game. There are three game-play modes: Classic, Joker and Two-Player. In classic the jokers are removed from the deck, in Joker they are added. Two Player is a mode where you compete against other people online. You can also customise the gaming field, choosing one of three unique looks. Matatu is a great game for card-game lovers and one that is easy to pick up.
Snailboy (iOS and Android “soon”)
Snailboy looks remarkable. It has great visual quality and the game play is highly entertaining. You play as a snail that is on a journey to find his shell, which has been stolen by evil creatures. The main objective is to finish levels as fast as you can while collecting as much slime as possible. You will be faced with various obstacles you must overcome by jumping around the stage and bouncing off surfaces. The game has an immersive atmosphere and the game play is extremely addictive. Snailboy is definitely a mobile title to watch out for.
Haki 2: Chaguo Ni Lako (Java)
Haki 2 is a puzzle game aimed at raising awareness of African environmental and civil issues, touching themes such as “Right and Resources” and “Honour, Work and Pride”. The plot continues from the original Haki. In Haki 2 you are given a picture that links to the social issue concerned in the level’s title. Once you start the game this picture is scrambled into eight pieces and your goal is to rearrange the picture until it forms the original. It is a simple concept but Haki 2 is a lot harder than it sounds, promising a challenging experience for lovers of the puzzle genre.
Pocket RPG is an entertaining and very addictive mobile game and still plays like your typical RPG. You have three classes to choose from, each with its own different playing style, and there’s stats progression and various items to equip. You can see there was effort put into the environment and the game play is decent, with classic hack-and-slash combos and exciting boss battles. There is an element of silliness to the game as your characters walk around with overly large heads and the graphical quality doesn’t exactly help its case. Pocket RPG is probably one the best time wasters out there.
Okada Ride (Android)
Hugo Obi, of Maliyo Games, wanted to create a game that allowed “people to get a Nigerian interactive experience”. Okada Ride was the result. It is your typical ride and dodge racer. Okadas are motorcycles found all over West Africa, and are used commercially to transport people. Your objective in Okada Ride is to weave through traffic on your Okada, dodging cars, potholes and other Okadas while collecting money and fuel. Your eventual high score will be based on the amount of money you’ve collected and the distance (miles) you’ve travelled. Okada Ride’s sound design is fair, giving it a nice atmosphere, with environmental sounds taken straight from the streets of Nigeria. As far as visual quality goes it isn’t anything remarkable, but as the game is quite challenging you won’t have the time to look around anyway. Okade Ride won’t be the best game you’ve ever played but it’s sure to keep you busy for some time to come as you transport yourself into the daily lives of their drivers.
Sports and gaming have always been a good combination. The sports nuts are lured into the gaming world and the gamers are just about convinced that they are doing something active. A win-win some would say. Soccer Moves is one of those games. In this mobile game you will complete various levels, each one with its own challenge. It plays somewhat like turn-based games such as X-COM and LOTR: Battle for Middle Earth in that you plan a few moves ahead and then let the game take its course. You will find yourself in variety of scenarios where you will have to come up with a strategy to eventually land a goal. There is no time limit to your decisions so you can be patient when playing. Soccer Moves isn’t the adrenaline-pumping game you would expect, but if you are looking for something more slow-paced and strategic then it is a great bet.
Dig! is a fun and eccentric adventure game. The combination of upbeat music and fast-paced play makes for an exciting and adrenaline-filled game. You play as Douglas, an archaeologist on a mission to save his job and help the local museum. The game play takes place at various dig sites, where you uncover treasures while avoiding enemies such as Nigel the Mummy and unpleasantly aggressive moles. One of the most important aspects of the game is the range of hats to be found. This might seem mundane but each of these hats is imbued with specific skill-enhancing powers that will come in handy throughout the game. Dig! is a well-polished and great-looking game and will provide you with hours of absorbing game play.
Neon Shadow is a game I’m very excited about. It’s a first-person shooter (FPS) much in the spirit of Unreal Tournament and Quake, two games I’ve always held in high regard. You are put in the position of a commander. This game is your typical action-laden shooter with tons of weapons at your disposal to eradicate the constant enemy threat. The controls are easy to pick up, even if you’re not used to the FPS genre. It works like most mobile FPS games, with your movement button on the left, your directional button at the right and then one button to fire. Although the concept of this FPS isn’t something new it does have a sense of originality. This retro-punk FPS game will have a decent amount of nostalgia for old-school gamers but it’s sure to put a satisfying grin on the face of anyone. The trailer alone put one on mine.
Dark Project (Android)