Five local game developers hope to launch their mobile games on 1 July to commemorate SG50. These free-to-download games are supposed to help players learn more about Singapore's history and culture.
But as gamers know, the real questions is - are these games fun? Will they suck because of the prejudice many people have of products produced by locals?
At the invitation of the Media Development Authority, I had some hands-on experience playing the games in alpha-phase (meaning they are far from complete). Are they worth your time especially during your MRT rides or when you are slacking off work in the toilet?
Here's my totally subjective ranking of the games - from my favourite to those I think need some polishing up:
1. KAN-CHEONG! Kopitiam Saga (Published by Mojocat)
It dubs itself as the most Singaporean game you will play. If you ever smashed buttons on Bishi-Bashi machines in the arcades, then KAN-CHEONG! will be easy to pick up.
It is a dexterity game that tests your reflexes in the form of three mini-games. In the first mini-game, you play a taxi-uncle enjoying some mee pok in the kopitiam. You're supposed to tap as fast as possible on the mee pok to eat more noodles and score more points.
The twist comes when you spot a saman auntie approaching your taxi in the carpark. You're supposed to swipe upwards to simulate rushing back to your taxi to tear some coupons. Nice.
The game does not support a single-player mode and requires two to four players to play.
This is not a bad thing.
Playing a mobile game with your friends certainly trumps four people sitting around a table playing Candy Crush. I could see how people may whip out their phones to play this with their friends while waiting for their food to arrive.
2. My Singapore City (Published by Ixora Studios)
Memory games are nothing new. Several tiles are laid face down randomly and you match tiles with the same pictures to eliminate them.
My Singapore City has a new spin to this. The board will replenish itself as you clear tiles and you are supposed to rack up as many points as possible before time runs out. The pictures on the tiles are iconic Singapore buildings and structures. Different tiles give you different abilities to help you out in the game.
The game is easy to pick up and offers just enough features to make it interesting without it being to complicated. More importantly, it is short enough for you to squeeze in a couple games while you are on your toilet break at school/work.
3. Building The Lion (Published by Swag Soft)
This game is a mix between Monopoly, Sim City, and Theme Park. The first thing that you notice is that the graphics of this game is well-produced and it makes the game look really polished.
That said, you play by moving your avatar around the board and building things like HDB flats, restaurants or famous landmarks like Changi Airport. You then learn more about Singapore through the things you build.
To win, you earn money when your opponents land on your buildings.
This game would have ranked higher if not for the fact that it resembles Monopoly, and Monopoly is the reason why many childhood friendships were destroyed over a board game.
I'm kidding this game is still fun. Only if you win. All the time.
4. Rickshaw Rush (Published by MojoForest)
You play the role of a rickshaw driver in this Pac-Man-esque game. Swipe to change directions and pick passengers up and drop them off at their destinations. But if you take too long to do so, your stamina bar runs out and it is game over.
One interesting aspect of the game involves picking up passengers who range from Zubir Said, Sir Stamford Raffles, Tan Tock Seng, or even the dude whose face is all over our money. And there is even a dreaded ERP gantry to avoid.
This game is interesting, but I'm not sure how replay value it has if gameplay only involves picking up passengers and dropping them off in maps that get more complex. Perhaps the developers have more in store for this game as the version I got to play only had two levels. Maybe have a TP or LTA officer chase you down in later stages?
5. Satay Club (Published by Afzanizam Zahari)
Satay Club is very similar to Diner Dash, but with a local twist. In this game, you play a satay man named Adi who is supposed to serve up his delicious satay and grow his business.
As your business expands with more seats, more serving stations, and more customers, you have to maneuver Adi in the most optimal way to serve customers as efficiently as possible.
This game came in last not because it is bad, but because I'm not a big fan of worker-placement/resource-management games. But I can foresee how this game will be incredibly addictive for people who do like this genre of games. It is Diner Dash with a very local satay flavour.
Should you download these games come 1 July? I don't see why not. Support the local game development scene and give these developers your feedback. This is the only way we can grow the computer gaming industry in Singapore.
Plus, the five games are free. It would only cost you a bit of data.