What I’m playing, four small games that pack a punch

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While you’re busy throwing fireballs in Diablo 3, some of us are casually saving the world from robots and wizards of a different type.

It’s funny how having a baby impacts your game playing time. What was previously hours of uninterrupted gameplay turns into 30-minute chunks, which means you have to find games that fit the time you have. Although to be honest, most of the games I enjoy are arcade-style games that are best played in small bursts anyway, so maybe I’m lucky. Nonetheless, as we sweat our way into summer, here’s a few of the games I’ve been playing a lot lately, all of which I highly recommend checking out.

Robotek – Android/iPhone

Robotek is the game I’ve been playing most lately, due not only to the fact that it’s on my phone and with me all the time, but because it’s a lot of fun despite not having much action. In Robotek you’re given the task of ridding the world from evil robot mainframes. To fight the good fight, you’re given three robots and a slot machine full of offensive and defensive tactics…and when I say slot machine, I’m not kidding.

Roboteks

Roboteks - robots, lasers and slot machines, how can you go wrong?

Robotek is part luck and part strategy. Every battle is your team versus an AI team. Every turn consists of spinning a slot machine and hoping you get a good set of cards. You can choose between adding robots to your team, using quasi-defensive techniques like shields and hacking, or you can use your powerful mainframe and go on a full offensive with ultramega lasers and EMPs. Robotek isn’t a game you sit and play for hours (although I have) but it’s great when you have 10 minutes to kill and need something that isn’t Angry Birds or Something with Friends. Robotek is well produced, well thought out and a real joy to play and watch. It’s free to download but you’ll probably pony up at least $2 for in-game power-ups very quickly…it’s worth it.

Check out Robotek for Android or iPhone

Might & Magic Clash of Heroes – Xbox Live Arcade

Might & Magic Clash of Heroes is my latest acquisition to my XBLA collection and one that I’ve been waiting on for a while, and thankfully it went on sale this past week. Clash of Heroes is a turn-based battle game that is mixes just the right amount of RPG elements, puzzles and tactical action that sucks me right in. I’ve paid little attention to the story but from what I gather you’re trying to save your kingdom from some evil ruler while also trying to rescue your family…? I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter and thankfully Clash of Heroes gets you to the action quickly after a few wonderful tutorials.

Clash of Heroes

Tactical wizards and warriors, that I can do.

In short, both you and your opponent must use the pieces you have available to create 3-of-a-kind sets that then attack or defend…kind of like battle rummy. You of course have different type of characters in your deck that you can mix-and-match to fit your style and the current encounter. Some characters, like archers, make weak attacks but do so more frequently. Or you can use more powerful pieces that pack more of a punch but take longer to charge up and attack. Of course, your opponent is doing the same thing so placement and timing is crucial to success. Even though the concept is simple, Clash of Heroes has some depth that will keep you mindful of resources, quests and equipment. I’m looking forward to a game that I can come back to over time until I’ve saved the world.

Check out Might & Magic Clash of Heroes in the Xbox Marketplace

Super Crate Box – PC/iPhone

Super Crate Box is an older game that I discovered on the PC a couple of years ago that recently made its way to the iPhone. As a fan of the game I bought the mobile version only to be incredibly disappointed by the poor controls that make the game somewhat unplayable. However, the iPhone version did re-wet by appetite for the game so I’ve returned to it on the PC where it belongs. Actually, it belongs on the console and I’d love to see a port for XBLA and PSN. I’d happily pay $10 for it but the best you can do is the Xbox indie title Insane Zombie Carnage, but it’s just not the same.

Super Crate Box is a return to what video games are really about – high scores. Your goal is simply collect as many boxes (or crates, if you prefer) in each level. Trying to stop you is an endless stream of green meanies. To help you stop the onslaught, you’ll find a new weapon in each crate you collect, and this is where the real fun begins.

You’ll find everything from dual pistols to shotguns to flamethrowers and katanas. As you level up you’ll receive new weapons and outfits for your disgustingly cute 8-bit self. But SCB isn’t without its strategy. It’s easy enough to run around and collect the boxes but the more baddies you let pass you by the stronger they become so you have to find a balance between laying down suppressing fire and running for the gold. If ever there was a game that deserved to be ported to every platform possible (including the arcades), it’s Super Crate Box. Well worth the price of free.

Check out Super Crate Box for PC and iPhone

MegaCity – Xbox Live Indie Games

The indie game marketplace on the Xbox can be a mixed bag. Sometimes you’ll pull out a gem but most of the time you’ll find coal. MegaCity is a rare ruby in a pile of cheap quartz. MegaCity is a puzzle game that challenges you to make the biggest city possible, only you don’t get to select what buildings you have to use. The game is laid out in a grid and to succeed you have to match or beat the number of points for each column. To do this you lay down buildings, some of which increase real estate values, some that decreased and some that do both. The fun is figuring out how to arrange your real estate so that you can not only complete the first column but the last column so you can continue.

MegaCity

MegaCity is twice the puzzle SimCity ever was

It takes a few tries to really get the hang of things but MegaCity is very addicting and had me playing for quite a while before I decided to take a break. The chaining mechanic in the game adds a great challenge that is necessary to rack up the points. You’ll also unlock new buildings as you progress and reach certain milestones. Like Clash of Heroes, you can pick up and play MegaCity for 10 minutes and be done but don’t be surprised if you end up playing all afternoon. I can’t think of a better way to spend a dollar.

Check out MegaCity in the Xbox Marketplace

Filling in the blanks

Those are the four games I’m playing the most right now but it’s not all that I’ve been playing. If you’re looking for some platform fun, check out Fez on the Xbox Arcade. It’s wonderfully produced and incredibly challenging. Dungeon Raid is a great “go to” game on the iPhone that combines RPG and Bejeweled in a wonderful way, and I’m happy to say that I’m returning to some of my gaming roots with the Metal Gear HD Collection that includes the first two Metal Gear titles from the pre-Metal Gear Solid days, a must for any Metal Gear fan.

It’s going to be a long hot summer and there are hundreds of games out there to help pass the time. There will no doubt be a slew of big budget titles trying to grab $60 from your pocket but remember there are a lot of games out there that only want a few dollars and provide endless challenge and fun. And just to prove a point, you can buy every game I talked about here for less than $60.

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About Author

Brian is a staff writer at TMA. He races Hot Wheels at RedlineDerby.com while watching cartoons with his kid. You can follow @morningtoast on Twitter.

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