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12 September 2011 @ 03:28 pm
I've invented Toast and the Ghostbusters!  
I'm being rather slow on the uptake of mobile gaming on the Android platform, despite having a very capable handset. Partly it's because I'm focused on other game-playing media and partly it's because I see the phone's touchscreen interface as a rather limited sort of DS that has no alternative control options like buttons and only the one screen. I've yet to make that paradigm shift into games designed specifically for the screen types and sizes of modern smartphones (and no, Angry Birds does not interest me). Sudoku and the like notwithstanding.

With all this in mind, I've generally avoided games on my droid.

It was only the result of lunchtime surfing on friday that I happened across a mention of a game for the Android named Alchemy. The concept is very simple: starting with the 4 Classical elements of Fire, Water, Air and Earth the aim is to combine up pairs of elements in order to create more. Air + Air = Wind, for example, and Wind + Stone = Sand. Eventually you end up with things like Time, Zombie, Sex, Quetzacoatl, Toast and the Ghostbusters.
Alchemy logo
As of writing this, there are 380 different 'elements' to discover. Elements being items you can make and then use to make other things with, rather than elements in any classical sense. Not everything can then in turn make something else, and these top-of-tree items are called Terminal Elements. Examples of such things include Transformer (of the robots in disguise variety), Explosion, Island and Lichen. There is frequently more than one way to produce an item and if you have the option to ignore previously discovered combinations enabled, it will still trigger production of previously discovered items if you're going about it in a different way. An example of this is Ash which can be made in many different ways including Dragon + Man, Vampire + Light, Tobacco + Fire and Dust + Dust.

As you can tell, there is a degree of internal logic as well as phrases, proverbs and pop culture references. Sometimes it can seem rather incongruous, however, and if an extremely obvious combination seems to be missing then chances are it will exist but require an item you hadn't thought of and will then become blindingly obvious once you've found it. There's a slew of guides floating about as apps, as webpages, as Facebook discussion groups and so on. Personally I'm avoiding those as it spoils the fun of accidentally combining things and getting unexpected surprises.

It's surprisingly addictive. I play it when bored and away from home, or on public transport, or waiting for the kettle to boil... Up to 210 elements so far. I might look at other alchemy games once I'm done but it would mostly be for comparison, given that they all seem to share a large chunk of the combinations and after you've done it the first time the novelty wears off.

Alchemy screenies
Old screenshot is old, unfortunately.

And now the parts I don't like:
  • The fact that the game doesn't suspend unless you quit to Home, chewing up battery at an enormous rate even if the screen is off and locked.
  • The free version of the app has an adbar at the top which displaces the whole screen down, meaning that items which end up at the bottom fall off the screen or superimpose over the add/trash button and thus you can't do anything with them. That's just poor design IMO.
  • There's an option to shake your phone to mix up the items on screen in order to discover new combinations. This has never once worked for me, no matter whether I leave combining to dragging one on top of the other (default) or switch to tap 1st then tap 2nd.

There's a number of similar games floating around, both using Flash and on various smartphone and tablet platforms. Doodle God is a rather chill attempt for the PC, and Alchemy Classic which exists for a variety of phone and tablet types.
quilluckquilluck on September 13th, 2011 11:51 am (UTC)
It should be mentioned that Doodle God is available for both Android and iOS at least :) And I prefer it to Alchemy personally, mostly because of its interface making it less cluttered. But we've already had that discussion previously so I shall leave it at that ^^

There really aren't that many good free games for the android that I have found. They tend to be quite limiting, handle awkwardly or be slabbed with ads or a combination of all of those. But I do muck around with Robo Defense Free and X Construct from time to time. The Zenonia series is supposedly quite good, but never tried them. RPGs with no D-Pad or proper buttons, brr...
I game, therefore I... er, game?achtungexplosiv on September 13th, 2011 12:04 pm (UTC)
Does the Doodle God 'droid app have the music from the PC flash version? If so then it'd be most interested ;)

So what are Robo Defense and X Construct about? Much as I love RPGs I don't have the time to devote to anything else long and grindy.
quilluckquilluck on September 13th, 2011 12:15 pm (UTC)
Robo Defense (Free) is, as the name implies, tower defenseness. Fairly limited in the free version, but can have some quick fun with it.

X Construct is about creating bridges for silly trains to get over.

And I do believe the Doodle God droid app has the music, yes. But again, 'tis a paid app and do you really want to pay for a silly little game like that? :]
I game, therefore I... er, game?achtungexplosiv on September 13th, 2011 12:33 pm (UTC)
Ahh I've mucked about with various bridge building/load bearing apps. Come of them are very silly in all the right ways (neutronium monkeys crush your puny bridge!)

Doodle God is paid-only? Aw, not sure I'd get enough longevity for that...
quilluckquilluck on September 13th, 2011 12:34 pm (UTC)
Indeed. But then it is a more professionally made app, so I guess it's only natural for it to be paid.