Those Games turns crappy mobile game ads into actually good puzzles
Enlarge / Can you master the ornate physics and inscrutable game theory necessary to overcome this challenge?


You’ve seen them. If you’ve tried to read almost anything on the Internet, especially on a social media site, you know these mobile game advertisements.

“Many failed before! Think you can do better?” one reads, positioned over an auto-playing video of a simple puzzle played by an unseen, incredibly stupid hand. It pulls the wrong pin, melting the gold and drowning the king. Or it can’t do elementary math, so it sends a “10” fighter to its death against a “13” creature, ignoring the “8” it could have picked to add up to 18. Sometimes, there are colored liquids in tubes to be poured, and they are selected with an almost elegant idiocy.

They’re infuriating, but you know they work, because these ads keep showing up. If you actually downloaded these games, you’d discover they were stuffed with pop-up ads, relentlessly barking micro-transactions, or they’re some unrelated and cynically monetized game entirely. What if you could actually play the original bait games, for a reasonable one-time fee, crafted by a developer who was in on the joke?

The stage select music gets to be a bit much, but nobody will sue you if you play with the sound off.

That’s exactly what Those Games are. Their full title is Yeah! You Want “Those Games,” Right? So Here You Go! Now, Let’s See You Clear Them!, originally in all caps. Developer Monkeycraft, makers of the Katamari Damacy Reroll titles, has now made many of the games that don’t seem to exist. They’ve just arrived for the PlayStation, having already provided their public service on Nintendo Switch and Windows on Steam. The package is $10 on all platforms.

Some people will find that price a bargain, given the chance to prove how much better they’d be at these kinds of puzzles than the psychological dark patterns that taunt them. Some people might wait for a sale, given that you are, in fact, getting some very free-to-play-esque puzzles. But having spent more time than I expected tackling them, I can vouch that once you get past the first few patronizing levels and adjust to some slightly muddy controls in a couple of titles, each set of games starts giving you real, thoughtfully constructed challenges.

Three of the games in Those Games were instantly familiar to me, a person who owns a smartphone and reads things on it. Surprisingly, I had never seen the last two in the list here:

  • Pin Pull, removing barriers between you, monsters, traps, and treasure in the right order.
  • Number Tower, sending your number-ranked fighter to tackle numbered monsters, potions, power-ups, and rebuffs in the right order
  • Color Lab, combining similar colors from vials in the right order
  • Parking Lot, moving cars facing different directions out of a lot with a circular drive, in the right order
  • Cash Run, clicking on an auto-walking man to have him pile up money to avoid obstacles, finishing with enough to not be “poor” and disappoint his spouse.

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