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…