This week’s free video game summer was preempted by the Fourth of July—Happy Fourth of July, guys—so I played a lot of simple free games this week. Without further ado, let’s get to it.
Puzzle games aren’t for everyone and Squaredance is tough even by puzzle game standards, but when you solve one of its puzzles, it’s a rewarding experience. Like most good puzzle games, the game play is simple to learn but difficult to master.
This is a typical level in Squaredance. The top graphic is how the puzzle looks at the beginning of the level.
You merge like color balls stuck inside containers of various shapes and sizes by shaking the containers (swiping left, right, up, or down). If you can merge all like color balls together, you clear the level. Simple, right? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Squaredance plays like a sliding tile puzzle game, except that you can get the puzzle into an unwinnable state and that’s what breeds frustration.
Sliding tile puzzle games allow you to play your way out of bad situations, while Squaredance stops you dead in your tracks. Fortunately, the game lets you know when you’ve played yourself into a corner. Unfortunately, this happens more often than not. I enjoyed Squaredance in small doses. I’m not sure if it’s worthy of non-stop play, but hey, if you like puzzle games (sliding tile puzzle games in particular), Squaredance is solid.
Give It Up! 2
Give It Up! 2 is another simple concept game with an addictive quality. You play as an inkblot bouncing on a series of trampolines, avoiding obstacles. Your inkblot will jump from one trampoline to the next without you doing anything, but you need to tap your screen at the right time if you want it to make a bigger leap over spikes or up an incline. Like I said, it’s a simple concept but like Squaredance, it’s not easy.
I don’t know if my reaction time wasn’t good enough or you have to slap your screen (I missed several jumps when I could see the obstacles far in advance), but Give It Up! 2 has some issues with its controls. It doesn’t screw up often but it’s enough for me to mention it; some controls will be wonky. It deploys endless play, which is fine, but checkpoints can be difficult to reach and most games, as you try to find the right timing, you’ll find yourself starting at the beginning of the same track, so the game play can get repetitive fast. If you stick with it long enough and learn the timing, Give It Up! 2 gets interesting and it’s well worth it.
I enjoyed Give It Up! 2. It reminds me of a bare bones Patapon. I’m not sure if it stays in my collection, but it’s good for a quick play.
I like soccer. I played soccer when I was younger. Heck, I’m named after a former United States national soccer team player: Kyle Rote Jr.. I wanted to like Soccer Hit, but it’s not soccer, not even on a cursory level.
Your only strategy—yes, only strategy—is to avoid controlling the ball. You want your opponent to have the ball and slide tackle them. Players don’t get up after you slide tackle them, so you have a clear path to the goal if you manage to slide tackle everyone on the opposing team. Perhaps I’m biased, but it’s insulting to the athletes who play the game to make a video game that insinuates that soccer players never get up after they get hit. Sure, soccer players have a reputation of being floppers but it’s a difficult game and the players are tough.
Okay. My rant’s over. Let’s get to Soccer Hit’s gameplay. In a word it’s unintuitive. Dribbling is either impossible or too difficult; yet another reason to not control the ball. You can’t position your players, or at least not well, when you have ball control. Instead, you pass or shoot the ball by sliding your finger in the opposite direction of where you want to kick. Like I said, unintuitive.
Half the time my shots or passes fly the opposite way I want them to go. Even when you can commit the controls to memory—and that’s hard to train your brain to think that way—you’re still playing hot potato with the ball because slide tackles always take down a player.
Soccer Hit is borderline unplayable. I won almost all the games I played (once I figured out the controls) but those victories were hollow. The only thing positive I can say about Soccer Hit is that the name’s spot on. You’re playing a soccer-inspired game and you hit people. For me this game’s a hard pass.
I’m not as into tennis as I am soccer, but it’s Wimbledon time and it makes sense to review Tennis Bits. It’s an easy to learn, casual tennis game. If you’re looking for an in-depth tennis simulator (there are plenty of them out there), look elsewhere. But for what it is Tennis Bits is surprisingly strong.
Yes. It has the trappings of a free-to-play game. You earn in-game currency to purchase character upgrades, new players, and apparel. But Tennis Bits is fun and oddly rewarding when you finish a long rally: win or lose. Unlike Soccer Hit, Tennis Bits boils down what makes tennis a sport and turns it into something accessible for a wider audience.
The cute characters don’t hurt either. I chuckled when I unlocked a headband and played this game a lot longer than I care to admit. The controls are solid, but I had a few issues figuring out how to return a serve and volley. Positioning accounts for a lot in tennis and Tennis Bits doesn’t have the best tutorial. Still, it’s an easy game to pick up with some skills you can master to take your game to a higher level and it’s a lot of fun.
I’m not sure if Tennis Bits will remain in my permanent collection but it earns some play time if you’re a tennis fan who wants to play a quick match or if you have a Wimbledon itch that needs scratching.
That’s another week of free video games. I hope you enjoyed it, and until next we meet, thanks for reading.