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EDGE - - KNOWLEDGE APPLE WATCH -

Ap­ple coined “There’s an app for that!”, but some­times the only ap­pro­pri­ate re­sponse is: “Yes, but should there be?” Ap­ple Watch had 4,000 apps within a fort­night of launch, in­clud­ing hun­dreds of items la­belled ‘games’. Yet on closer in­spec­tion, some of th­ese ti­tles aren’t games at all – merely com­pan­ions to their iPhone par­ents. Mostly, such prod­ucts are su­per­flu­ous and likely to ir­ri­tate any­one auto-in­stalling new Ap­ple Watch apps. For ex­am­ple, Gameloft’s racer

only lists events and pro­mo­tions on Ap­ple Watch, while shooter

en­ables you to change class se­lec­tion and load­out from your wrist. Some ti­tles go a lit­tle fur­ther, no­tably IAPin­fused MMO

which gives you a pet to raise, Ta­m­agotchi style. Evolve it to ‘max’ and the iPhone game gives you a free gift, although the lack of no­ti­fi­ca­tions means you’ll prob­a­bly in­stead end up with a tiny dig­i­tal corpse plonked atop your wrist. cham­pi­onships take place within min­utes. Fast-paced word games de­mand you un­tan­gle ana­grams. “No lev­els, no candy, no birds, and no nin­jas,” yells Let­ter Zap’s App Store de­scrip­tion, “just 30 sec­onds, a mix of let­ters and your mind”. For puz­zle fans, BoxPop has you pop ev­ery box in a grid by mak­ing L-shaped leaps, and loses lit­tle on its tran­si­tion to this plat­form.

This en­forced ra­zor-sharp fo­cus some­times takes a while to warm to. Rules! was big on iPhone, Ap­ple award­ing it ‘Best of 2014’. It’s a sweet­na­tured mem­ory test in which you tap cards ac­cord­ing to rules (‘high­est first’, ‘mon­sters fac­ing left’) dished out ev­ery round. The game gets tough when a dozen or more rules are float­ing around your head. On Ap­ple Watch it’s reimag­ined as a com­pact, stream­lined daily chal­lenge – a suc­cinct slice of brain train­ing. At first it disappoints, but over a few days its sim­ple charms win you over. Brevity en­cour­ages habit, and the orig­i­nal con­cept re­mains strong enough to counter its less so­phis­ti­cated con­tainer.

Cu­ri­ously, one genre on Ap­ple Watch al­most seeks to do the op­po­site, so-called ‘idle’ games be­ing dressed up as fuller ad­ven­tures. Runeblade finds you fac­ing off against an end­less ar­ray of snakes, wolves, bears and other crea­tures, and con­tin­ues to play in the back­ground when you don’t fancy tap­ping at your wrist. Sim­i­larly, Cup­cake Dun­geon has you smack lit­tle blobby car­toon crit­ters with a stick, grad­u­ally amass­ing coins for up­grad­ing your weaponry. Such ti­tles are true time-wasters, and lack gen­uine en­ter­tain­ment value un­less you’re an ob­ses­sive type, but they nonethe­less hit on a theme that has much to of­fer on Ap­ple Watch: games where things hap­pen when you’re not play­ing. Re­skinned cookie-cut­ter knock­offs lack the depth to truly in­no­vate in this area, but two early Ap­ple Watch ti­tles reimag­ine idle games as con­ver­sa­tions, ef­fec­tively turn­ing your de­vice into a sci-fi wrist com­mu­ni­ca­tor from a 1980s TV show.

In Spy_Watch, you’re in­formed that your fa­ther has died, and you’ve in­her­ited a spy agency that was pre­vi­ously un­der his com­mand. Your Ap­ple Watch be­comes a tiny win­dow into a world of es­pi­onage as the agent un­der your guid­ance darts off on mis­sions. Now and again, they’ll ask for in­struc­tions, and you fire off or­ders by tap­ping an ac­tion but­ton. The con con­cept is sound, but the ex­e­cu­tion is lack lack­ing. There’s scant con­text for de­ci­sions de­ci­sions, so ev­ery­thing feels a bit ran­dom, and the writ­ing can be soul­less. Time is de dealt with oddly, with lengthy se­quences hap hap­pen­ing in very lit­tle real time. The spy also does what­ever they feel like if you’re to too busy to deal with them, adding a dash of re­al­ity, but also frus­tra­tion.

How­ever, a few days spent w with Spy_Watch is enough to recog­nis recog­nise that the prob­lem isn’t with the ba­sic co con­cept,

Such ti­tles are true time-wasters, and lack gen­uine en­ter­tain­ment value un­less you’re an ob­ses­sive type

Spy_Watch (£1.49, Bossa Stu­dios Ltd) has you di­rect a spy from your wrist. Just like real spies…

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