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Popular Hypercasual Game Mechanics

by Caner Özdemir
Slap Kings

The simplicity of hypercasual games is not always a good thing. This can be a problem when people are trying to come up with a game idea. A solid game mechanic is pretty hard to find since almost every simple game mechanic is implemented already in popular titles. Clones of many hypercasual games and game mechanics are invading the AppStore and Google Play as we speak. However, it doesn’t mean that making a hypercasual game is not possible. After all, hypercasual games are all about turning an idea to a time-killer with good game design.

Hypercasual games are simple to understand. Players can easily master the game mechanic and won’t have any trouble when they try to keep up with the levels. They will learn the game mechanic first, then they will make progress. Frustration will be there to bother them for a moment but this is necessary to keep the gameplay encouraging and exciting. Simplicity should still be the focus of gameplay.  However, simplicity in hypercasual games begs this question: Which game mechanics are intriguing for the players? We will examine these mechanics by referencing the games that used them.

Johnny Trigger

Johnny Trigger

Tap and Timing Game Mechanics

Tap and timing mechanic is probably the most popular game mechanic for the moment. The name says it all. You time your tap in the game. After that, something happens. There are many examples of this particular gameplay. Johnny Trigger is a good example of the implementation of this mechanic.

In Johnny Trigger, the character moves on a certain path and confront his/her enemies. When the character is in the danger zone, time slows down. Player taps and the gun fires. The bullet path is visible, so the player can calculate the movement of the bullet. The player needs to wait for the right moment and shoot the enemies. There are some brutal options like barrels and rocket launchers in the game. It is an entertainment and a great example of tap and timing.

Johnny Trigger

Johnny Trigger

Turn Based Timing Game Mechanics

Slap Kings is also another good example of this gameplay. It was published by Gameguru and became a top charted game in US App Store. You need to defeat your opponent by slapping them. The gameplay is turn-based. When it is your turn, you need to watch the bar above your opponent. That bar will go left and right and you can stop it by tapping on the screen.

When it is stopped, it will stop on a spot. This spot will provide a number and that number will be the power of your slap. Green areas are the best ones. Yellow, orange and red areas will provide lesser numbers. The game provides a good amount of brutality. Depending on your health, your character’s face will go from fine to severely damaged. Animations are well made and character designs are interesting. Another good example to tap and timing.

Slap Kings

Slap Kings

Rising Or Falling Game Mechanic

If you are not afraid of heights, you can try gameplay based on falling. As weird as it may sound, people enjoy fall based gameplay. Stack Ball 3D is a great example of that. The player needs to tap and hold so the ball can fall by smashing the platforms below of it. If the ball hits the black ones, it is a game over. Game is using a level spawning algorithm so it has infinite gameplay. As you progress, you might see some familiar levels because of that. If the player smashed enough platforms at once, the ball will be on fire and it can smash all kinds of platforms without a game over for a limited time. It is safe to say that this game shaped this mechanic in a good way.

Stack Ball 3D

Stack Ball 3D

Enough with the falling. Let’s talk about rising. Jetpack Jump provides satisfactory gameplay that focuses on rising. The game mechanic is all about tapping on the screen when the player jumps and falls to the ground. The player needs to tap at the exact moment when the character is grounded. If the timing is perfect, the player will get a longer and more accurate jump. If it is ok or great, then it will be less accurate and effective. There is no game over. The earnings will be equal to the distance. When the player completes 2 jumps, the jetpack will be activated and the player needs to tap and hold to fly higher. Timing is important, so this game is also a good example of a tap and timing mechanic. Jetpack Jump uses 2 different mechanics but combines them as one. It worked perfectly in the gameplay.

Jetpack Jump

Jetpack Jump

Swerving Game Mechanic

Swerving mechanics became more popular with the release of Color Bump, published by Good Job Games. The purpose of these mechanics is avoiding undesirables by moving an object left and right with our finger. In Color Bump, the ball moves without input but the player needs to command it by swiping it left and right.

The ball needs to avoid the obstacles that have a different color than itself. When the ball hits the obstacle that has a different color, it is a game over. The gameplay is easy and self-explanatory. Therefore, it became a top chart game. Color Bump represents the hypercasual game philosophy well enough.

Color Bump

Color Bump

Aquapark.io is also a good example of a swerve gameplay mechanic. The game sells this mechanic pretty well. The gameplay is based on swiping left and right in a race. The player needs to be the first one to reach the pool. Sometimes cheating is possible by swerving off the track and jump to the further parts of the track. Of course, the game punishes the player by teleporting the opponents right next to the player but it is still a hypercasual game.

Sometimes a parachute can be found when the player swerves off the track. When the player finds it, the character will be able to make a smooth landing to the further parts of the track. It is possible to even land directly to the pool without a need of following the track. If the player hits an opponent when swerving, the opponent can be killed. It will make the race easier for the player.

Aquapark.io

Aquapark.io

What about mixing the gameplay mechanics?

Many hypercasual games manage to create intriguing gameplay by taking an interest in more than one gameplay mechanic. You can use tap and timing when you have a swerving gameplay mechanic. It is highly recommended for hypercasual games to contain more than only one view of the gameplay. However, it is a challenge to accomplish that because hypercasual games only have one mechanic to keep the gameplay simple. When it comes to questioning the approach of combining two different gameplay mechanics, the answer is the input itself.

If a game has more than one mechanic, gameplay should remain simple. The best way to do that is to cancel the input of other game mechanics. In Jetpack Jump, the player only taps when he/she wants to jump. The game does the rest for the player. When jetpack is activated, the player only needs to hold his/her finger on the screen to use the boost. As long as the player is not concerned with the other mechanic, gameplay can remain simple and that is what hypercasual games are trying to accomplish.

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