GDC 2013: EA Mobile shows off casual games [video]

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softonic GDC iconElectronic Arts’ mobile division showed off some of the games they have lined up for 2013. There are, of course, classic games like Tetris as well as having a few surprises under its sleeve.

The first game we saw was EA Mobile was Tetris, the classic puzzle game. Since the game is almost 30 years old, EA had to do something unique with it and they have. One of the most popular places where people game is on the bus or train, during a person’s commute. That’s where Tetris Blitz comes in. The game has been redesigned for quick gameplay that only lasts two minutes. We asked Executive Producer of Tetris Blitz, Jeff Peters, about how they decided on the two minute mark and he brought up research about how the average length of time between train stations in Japan is two minutes. This time limit makes the game fast and furious and easy to pick up, even when you don’t have a lot of time.

Gameplay has evolved quite a lot from the regular Tetris we all know and love. You will have to drop blocks into place but the game helps you out by silhouetting all of the possible location drops for that block. Tap on a silhouette and the block will instantly drop there. There are also tons of power ups that players can purchase and use in the game. One of the coolest ones is the magnet where it pulls all of the blocks to one side, making it easy to drop a 4×1 piece to clear the blocks. There’s also a hold slot to store different powerups when they appear.

Tetris Blitz is also social, using Facebook Connect to find your friends. There are leaderboards and you can challenge your friends. Although the game is social, Peters stressed that the game can be played completely offline.

Tetris Blitz will be free-to-play and will be available in spring of 2013.

TMi Trivia iPhone

Another game that EA Mobile showed off was TMi Trivia, a social trivia game you can play with strangers or your Facebook friends. There is a wagering system where you can wager in-game currency for topics that you’re more knowledgeable in. There’s also a learning curve involved for the game as you like and dislike questions. The TMi Trivia will offer up questions that are of interest to you. Some of the categories include music, movies, celebrities, style, sports, and more.

To make things a bit easier, TMi Trivia has powerups like pausing the countdown clock and eliminating an answer. Since the game is free-to-play, players can use in-game currency (in the forms of popcorn) to purchase more powerups and abilities. The premium currency, stars, can be bought with real money.

One of thing things that EA Mobile emphasized was how quickly the game’s content is updated. If there’s a major media event, EA will be able to add questions about that event the same night. The company has also paired up with services like Fanhattan to bring up to date content for trivia.

TMi Trivia is already out in Canada and Australia, but will be available worldwide this spring.

Chillingo, the game publisher responsible for Angry Birds and Cut the Rope, was bought by EA back in 2010. They’re still making games under EA’s wing and they showed off some pretty great mobile games.

Tiny Troopers will have a sequel, Tiny Troopers 2, which brings more action-packed fighting. Tiny Troopers 2 will feature stealth and vehicle missions. During the demo, we saw a level where players ride around in a Humvee and shoot enemies along the road. The gameplay is arcade style and fast paced. Currently, there are 3 different “worlds” like desert and jungle, and there are 7 submissions within each world. More worlds and missions will be added after the game is launched. A 4th world will be added in 2 to 3 weeks.

While Tiny Troopers 2 isn’t free-to-play (it costs $0.99), it offers tons of in-app purchases for weapon upgrades and custom character costumes.

Tiny Troopers 2 is out now in the Apple App Store.

The stand out mobile game from EA was Icycle, which features a naked guy riding a tiny bike through ice-themed levels. The game has been available as a Flash-based browser game for a some time but it’s nice to see it played on a tablet. While the gameplay is basic platformer affair, it differentiates itself with a whimsical script and beautiful art. In the demo we saw, one of the levels was based entirely off of Magritte’s painting, The Son of Man. The art is entirely vector based so it will scale easily to different sized screens.

Icycle will feature a star rating system where players will be given a score based on how many ice blocks they collect throughout the level. This gives the game some replay value. There’s also plenty of things to purchase in the app like new hats.

Icycle will be hitting the Apple App Store next month for the price of $0.99. More worlds will be added after the game is released.

Last but not least, we got hands on with a the new Peanuts game, Snoopy Coaster. If you’re a fan of Charles Schultz, you’re going to want to check this game out. It features the characters from the Peanuts comics on a roller coaster. The game is basically an endless-runner type of game, much like Canabalt. Players will collect coins throughout the level, which also serves as the in-game currency. The game itself is $0.99 but there are in-app purchases if you want to buy custom coasters and powerups.

Gameplay is fun and addictive. There’s definitely a nostalgia factor with Snoopy Coaster if you grew up reading the comics or watching the cartoons. The game is available now in the Apple App Store.

EA Mobile’s line up is an impressive with a mix of paid and free-to-play apps, although they all feature in-app purchases. The casual nature and low price point will make all of these games accessible to any smartphone or tablet user.

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