Discussion Question: What’s Your Favorite Game on your Phone or Tablet?

This is such a random question, but I’m feeling heckin’ nebby: what is your favorite game on your phone or tablet? What game do you turn to when you’re waiting in line, or looking to relax a bit?

Amanda: I have a few that I play regularly: Gardenscapes (G:Play | iOS), a match 3 game where you earn stars to renovate a garden, and Fairway Solitaire (G:Play | iOS), which is an addicting card game that has daily challenges.

From time to time, I’ll grab a romance phone game like The Arcana (G:Play | iOS) or Mystic Messenger (G:Play | iOS) , but I go through pockets with those.

I usually play in bed at night.

Sarah: What do you like about Gardenscapes or Fairway?

Amanda: The first I’ve been playing for years now and the “customizable” options on how you want to decorate your garden is really what keeps me playing. I like having choices!

Amanda's garden in Gardenscape
Fountains galore! Says Amanda, You can tell how much I play by the fact that I’m over level 3000.

Fairway is a bit more mindless but because I’m a perfectionist, I insist on getting 3 stars on every level and that’s a nice challenge.

Sarah: So it’s like a challenge and a bit of brain candy at the same time? I get that.

Amanda: And with Mystic Messenger, most of the game is played through “texts” and you choose responses. My first “romance” was with an actor named Zen:

Amanda's texts from Zen - I thought I should at least have the character figured out. The original writer is a member of some romance novel organization. It doesn't seem small. And there are quite a lot of talented people in it too. It seems Zen wants to be a writer and is referencing RWA - how funny!
Text messages from “Zen”

Amanda: The game takes place through text messages, emails, and calls with various characters. The way you answer a text from the choices they give you can either increase or decrease your standing with said character.

In this particular scenario, Zen has been cast in a new role and the script was written by a romance author. There’s a ton of replay-ability given the huge cast of characters you can romance.

Sarah: What about you, Carrie?

The icon for Shadowscapes, a green and gold background with an illustration of a woman with sharp features and pointed ears in profile
Shadowscapes Tarot

Carrie: I do have a tarot deck on my phone – it’s Shadowscapes tarot which is gorgeous, and the app is very good (G:Play | iOS).

Sarah: So it’s like dealing a digital tarot deck? That’s so cool!

Carrie: Yes, there are a lot of deck possibilities too!

Sarah: That’s very cool.

As for me, I have two games on my phone that I play daily.

The first, and I must issue a warning that I might nerd out most heavily here, is Dragons: Rise of Berk (G:Play | iOS) which is connected to the DreamWorks How to Train Your Dragon franchise.

I’ve been playing Rise of Berk since the second movie came out in 2014. You have your own Island of Berk, and there are character quests, different challenges at different levels, and rare dragons to find and bring back to the island to hatch. The graphics are also really beautiful:

Screenshot of Meade Hall, the giant hall built into a mountain with two large rock statues of vikings outside and tons of banners and fire torches around it.
Meade Hall – and the door is open a tiny bit. I love the details.

As a storytelling vehicle, it’s kind of fascinating. The movies, of which there are three, have one specific canon that doesn’t really acknowledge much of what happened in the eight seasons of the television shows (Dragons: Riders of Berk, Dragons: Defenders of Berk, and DragonsRace to the Edge). But all of the lore from the television series and the movies is included in the games, with characters, dragons, and story quests overlapping a good bit, too. It’s like an entire third canon.

The game icon of Rise of Berk which currently features Toothless and the Light Fury
Dragons: Rise of Berk

The game also hasn’t reconciled with the story of the third movie, The Hidden World, which released this year. I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it (but I’m like a quivering gelatin mold of unexpressed discussion about this movie so unless you want a massive nerd-sposion, do not engage. I’ve definitely passed ‘My family is tired of hearing about it’ stages). I’m curious to see how the game story navigates the movie story, or if it does so at all.

I like Rise of Berk because it’s got a myriad of different puzzles and quests, and I find it very soothing to play. I do think there are too many currencies, though.

Stardew Valley Icon - a digital 8bit chicken The other game I recently added with MUCH trepidation is Stardew Valley (G:Play | iOS). Chronophage alert! I knew this was going to devour my time, and I happily installed it anyway. I have an Android phone, so I had to wait longer for that version, but when it released, I jumped on it.

There are two features about the phone version that I love. I can zoom out to see an entire area and see if there’s anything I want to forage (Forage Skills FTW!). And, my favorite: when I approach an item that I can do something with, the game automatically switches to the correct tool. Walk up to some wood, tap it: axe. Turn around and tap a boulder: pickaxe. I like this very much!

I do have to be careful, though, because one day in Stardew Valley turns into a whole season and poof! I’ve lost a few hours of my day happily farming blueberries. With Rise of Berk, I can dip in and out and usually play before bed, gathering resources and leveling up different dragons. With Stardew Valley, I give myself a set amount of time to go play, but I really enjoy both games.

I recently read a line of a Mary Oliver poem, “Wild Geese:”

You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Well, apparently the soft animal of my body loves dragons and virtual 8-bit farming, so we’re all pretty happy over here.

What about you? What games on your phone and tablet do you love most? Why do you like them?

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