Non Standard Games (Games Games)

This week Google tried something a little different: they released a Skee-ball  game that can be played with two devices paired through their Chrome operating system/ The game is called Roll It, and it is expected to be played with a computer and a smart phone (though apparently other configurations of tablets and computers and phones are theoretically possible).

The game can be played on Android or iOS, but I have only tried it on Grace, my Samsung Galaxy S3. 

To play, install Chrome on your mobile device and on your desktop (or any variants–tablets, etc.) The mobile Chrome can be found here for Android, and the desktop Chrome can be found here (it is also available for iOS).

Once you have Chrome installed and ready to go, visit the URL on both devices.  Follow the instructions on the desktop (it will take you through a couple of options to confirm you know what to do) and then you’ll receive a code. Enter the code into your mobile device.  Your computer and the mobile device will do a handshake, and then the game will load. 



The first game will be old school Skee-ball, with rings of varying values. Subsequent levels move the rings around and change things. 


On the mobile device (aka the Skee-ball), the following screen will appear. You can use the arrow at the top for aiming, and, as the image shows (and demonstrates), you swing the mobile device at the desktop.

Accidentally letting go of the device is an issue. Being too far away or too close can mess with your aim. Throwing too hard will result in various cool sound effects (but not actual scoring help with the game), from a breaking window to a screeching cat. Don’t be like me: over throw only if you want to hear the noises. If you have auto-landscape/portrait mode on — where if you tilt the device it automatically goes to landscape or portrait — you should disable it as it can affect the mobile device’s ability to be a ball in the game.

Other than not letting go of the ball, its remarkably like Skee-ball (or as close as you can get in your own home without the arcade. Speaking of which, it plays arcade music. Constantly. Its fun at first, but if your significant other is like mine and you intend to play a while, you should probably mute the game. All together, a very fun and interesting experience, much like the first time I used a Wii or Kinect. 

Now that we’ve covered the new school, on to the old school end of the spectrum: I’d like to re-introduce a really old game, by Penn and Teller called Desert Bus. The game was originally made for an unreleased Sega CD game collection of their’s called Smoke and Mirrors. For complicated plot reasons, the company producing the game went out of business, but the game itself never really died.  For other complicated plot reasons, the game has been made available in other formats, and recently been ported to Android by Amateur Pixels. 

For uncomplicated reasons, the game is not incredibly popular because the point of the game is to drive a bus through the desert from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada, in real time. Yes, real time. The bus kind of pulls to the right and can go a maximum speed of 45 miles an hour. The entire game, providing you don’t crash, leave the road, etc. (all of which will get you towed back to Tucson to start over, no matter how close you were to Vegas), takes over 8 hours to play and because of road variations and that fun slight veer to the right, you have to pay somewhat constant attention to the unending road in front of you.


As a fund raiser every year, a group called Loading Ready Run plays the game, all the way through, but with the port to Android (and iOS) you can purchase the game for a mere 99 cents and that money also goes to the charity Child’s Play (as an aside, Child’s Play was created by Penny Arcade to both help kids and improve the images of gamers everywhere; their organization and a lot of the activities that come out of it send a lot of dollars to Child’s Play yearly). 

While the whole retro feel of the thing is pretty cool, unlike many games, I’m going to recommend you don’t download this one. Other than the retro feel and giving money to charity, I see little entertaining in it (which is sort of the point being made by Penn and Teller). I’m not sure how much old school cred you’re looking for, but playing this until your mobile device runs out of power seems, well, pointless, and in some cases mean. Perhaps you could dare someone you don’t like to do it?

That’s it for this week. Enjoy, and, as always, if there’s anything you want me to review, please leave it in the comments! 


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