Currently Playing: Jak’s Top Mobile Games

Long time, no blog! Let’s be real here for a minute. My disappearance is mostly due to the fact that I haven’t been playing video games lately. Truth be told, I’ve been too damn busy the last couple of months to really sink my teeth into anything. Which is unfortunate because three of the games I’ve been most excited for (Mass Effect: Andromeda, Persona 5, and Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy) have already been released and I haven’t even touched a PS4 controller. I’ve even had to abandon Twitch for a while. Sad days.

In the interim, I have been obsessively playing mobile games between meetings and during my trips away. Sure, I kind of feel kind of guilty. Going on my out-of-town business trips and leaving my poor PS4 behind to carry on my secret affair. But mobile games are just so handy. All I’ve got to do is pull my phone out of my pocket and I’m instantly entertained.

So, time to fess up. Here are the games I’ve been spending my time with:

 

Covet Fashion

Covet Fashion Header

Back in the day (think early 00’s), I was a major fiend for those Flash dress-up games. Hell, I even went so far as to dress up “pixel dolls” using MS Paint. Which I then used to errr…. decorate… my shop on Neopets. At the time, I thought they’d go nicely with my Blingee-esque graphics and the “Butterfly” by Crazy Town midi.

But I digress. Covet Fashion, by Crowdstar Inc, is an up-scale version of one of my favorite childhood pastimes. Fashion lovers dress their models in high-end brands and go head-to-head in challenges that other players vote on. The voting system is in the vein of “Who Wore It Better?” And to enter, players must meet specific requirements for each challenge. One current challenge, for example, requires you to use a beaded Terani Couture cocktail dress.

 Covet Fashion Preview  Covet Fashion Preview  Covet Fashion Preview
Covet Fashion preview – click to enlarge

There are so many different facets of Covet and I could probably go into way too much detail. But here are my highlights:

  • There are literally THOUSANDS of different items that you can use to create Vogue-worthy looks.
  • The game celebrates diversity by including six different skin tones from very light porcelain to dark espresso, different eye shapes, and natural ethnic hair styles.
  • You’d be hard-pressed to find a mobile game that doesn’t have play-to-win elements or in-app purchases, and this one is no different. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve spent real money on it, but honestly there are plenty of different ways to win in-game prizes and coin.
  • If you can’t find or afford the perfect item, you can borrow clothes from friends or join a fashion house and borrow clothes from the house’s shared closet.
  • I mean… not that I could afford them or anything, but it’s pretty cool that you can actually buy the real-life version of items featured in the game, links included in-app.
  • Each challenge has a story behind it, which makes it all the more interesting to put together looks that best fit the situation!

To conclude, allow me to be prideful for a moment and share with you my favorite looks by yours truly:

 

Design Home

This is the game that started my downward spiral into mobile game Hell. I saw my mom playing it one day and I downloaded that bad boy almost immediately. For just a moment I thought “Great. Another game I can spend all my money on,” but I quickly brushed it off telling myself that I’d be good and not give into the temptations as I so often did with other games in the past. But, of course, I was only fooling myself because that very day my hand slipped and the next thing I knew, I was throwing what little money I had into the game.

Design Home is from the makers of Covet Fashion, Crowdstar, Inc and it has a similar basis. Players complete challenges with a set of requirements and submit it for peer review, essentially. Only this game, your challenge is to design the most beautiful room. Like Covet, Design Home works with high-end designers for the items in-game and most of them are gorgeous!

 Design Home Preview Design Home Preview
Design Home preview – click to enlarge

I still enjoy this game, but it’s kind of lost its glimmer for me after I started playing Covet and realized that Design Home has some major flaws, which, unfortunately, takes away from the experience. For example, you are not able to keep the items that you win and buy indefinitely. After five uses, they disappear from your inventory. If you want to be able to use that item again, you’ll have to buy it. It’s frustrating when you find an item you really like, save up for it, and before you know it, you’ve used up your last one.

Another issue I have with Design Home is that the voting system seems off. I’ve noticed that the majority of winning rooms are mostly- or all-white. I like monochromatic color schemes myself, but I’ve seen some beautiful colorful designs. I’m not sure how Crowdstar could remedy this, but it’s kind of a downer.

Overall, though, I really do enjoy Design Home. I find that, while it could use some tweaks, it has a lot to offer.

  • In my opinion, it’s more fun than most interior decorating games because the items and rooms are realistic-looking.
  • I love all the different styles. From modern industrial to Parisian flair. There are so many routes you can take to make a room uniquely yours.
  • Like Covet, Design Home provides a background story for each room. A young woman who moved to the big city and wants a stylish and feminine living room or a large family who wants to have a tropical-themed patio for get-togethers. Each story is different!
  • Every day there is a daily challenge with no requirements – anything goes! And it doles out a big cash prize to boot!
  • You can borrow furniture from Facebook friends.

And now, to tout my design prowess:

 

Cooking Fever

Cooking Fever

Ah, another money pit. What am I going to do with myself? Ashley, my sister and Artemis guest blogger, was the menace that encouraged me to download this game. And it is super addictive. My love for time management games stems from my sophomore year in high school. The graphic design course I was taking at the time was a total bore. Not to brag (I’m totally bragging), but I had been doing graphic design since I was a kid (thanks again to Neopets and special shout out to Livejournal). So, long story short, I was quick to get my work done, which left me plenty of time to play online games. That is when I found Hot Dog Bush, a game where George W. Bush prepared and sold hot dogs and hamburgers from his very own stand. Years later, Hot Dog Bush expanded into a mobile game, which I was stoked to find. But it soon got repetitive and I ended up uninstalling it.

 
Cooking Fever preview – click to enlarge

Which is why I was delighted to find Cooking Fever by Nordcurrent. I never thought I’d find a time management game that could even rival Hot Dog Bush, but I actually enjoy this one even more! It’s certainly not perfect. It is costly, as you have to buy gems in order to upgrade your kitchen devices and restaurant, but it’s so much fun, I’m willing to shell out the cash.

My favorite aspects of the game are as follows:

  • The difficulty increases with each level. Each venue has 40 levels. As you progress from one level to another, different foods are introduced. You may start out just baking up vanilla cakes, for example, but by the end, you’ll be serving lemon cakes with blueberries and a coffee to go.
  • Each venue is different. The first location is a hamburger and hot dog business. But as you move forward, you open up different types of restaurants. After you beat the first venue with all stars, you move on to a sports arena, selling merchandise and a rather strange assortment of foods at a sporting event. I’m talking sausages with beans or mushrooms, almond milk, and a janky antipasto which includes American cheese on a lunch tray. Speaking of which, am I missing something? Is this common sporting event fare? Anyway, the other locations include a bakery, a pizzeria, a Chinese restaurant, and a sushi joint. This is the main reason why I’m addicted to this game. I want to explore all the different restaurants and unlock new foods.
  • Nordcurrent is always adding new restaurants where you can serve all different kinds of treats. In the most recent update, they added a Hawaiian luau-inspired bistro, complete with Hawaiian shaved ice and pineapple-packed entrees.
  • My boy Mo Rocca makes a cameo. Okay, I don’t think it’s intentional that he shows up as a customer. But I like to pretend that the host of My Grandmother’s Ravioli is a fan of my cooking.

Mo Rocca Cameo

 

Elevate

Elevate Header

I’ve saved the best for last! Elevate is one of my all-time favorite apps. Similar to Lumosity, Elevate provides games meant to train your brain! Elevate is backed by research from California State University, which states that 69% of Elevate users improved their performance across four key skill groups versus non-users. As a sucker for learning, I’ve tried the premium version of both Lumosity and Elevate, and personally, I’ve found that Elevate is more helpful out of the two.

 Elevate Preview  Elevate Preview
Elevate preview – click to enlarge

Using elevate, I’ve definitely seen progress in each focus area: writing, reading, speaking, listening, and math. I’ll admit that I enjoy the reading, writing, and speaking games the best, because those are my strong suits. But, as much as I hate math, I’ve made a lot of progress in that area. I’m just not a numbers person. I never have been. But since using Elevate, I’m able to quickly calculate math problems. Just last night, I wowed my sister with how quickly I could figure out percentages without having to use a calculator. It’s really helpful when I’m bargain hunting or when I want to leave a solid tip. Elevate explains math in a way that makes more sense than any math class I’ve taken.

The best parts of Elevate:

  • I really enjoy the games that the app offers — there are over 40 games to play that focus on either writing, reading, speaking, listening, and math and I honestly find them all very enjoyable.
  • Attractive design! I find this app to be really aesthetically pleasing. I love the bright colors against a simple white and grey layout.
  • Your daily training is customized to you, using algorithms meant to enhance your skills quickly and more effectively.
  • You can check your progress and compare yourself against other Elevate users — if that’s your thing.
  • They do offer a “pro” version, but in order to get the basics, it’s completely free! I personally really enjoy having the pro subscription though – you are offered more games and while your daily training gives you five personalized games to play, versus the three provided in the basic version, you can play any game you want.

 

Concluding Thoughts

Okay, full disclosure: after writing this article, I ended up having to delete all the apps mentioned, with the exception of Elevate, because I have no chill and ended up spending way too much money on them. I ended up downloading Solitaire instead for times that I need to keep my hands busy. Ashley, who has more restraint than I do, still enjoys these games without spending every last cent. But if you’re anything like me, you’ve been warned.

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