My favourite Google Cardboard Apps
Something happened last week. Overnight, I've become addicted to games. The cause was this:
It arrived the next day after I ordered it from Google. This is very surprising as I am in Canada.
I now have nearly a hundred games on my old Samsung S5. Here are a few of my favourites.
First, Some Cardboard BasicsIt took me a few hours to figure out how to navigate in various games. I'll save you the trouble. There are three methods of control.
Stare-to-clickThe most frequently used is the stare. Stare at a button on the screen, and a circular indicator will count down for a second or so. Keep looking until it runs out to click.
Stare and clickAn alternative method of control is a button on the cardboard unit itself. The original Cardboard has a slider on the left side that moves a magnet. However, the newly redesigned units have a button on the top right that you can press. It moves a lever that taps the top of the screen. (As a side effect, if somebody sends you a Facebook message while you are playing, it will send them a thumbs up.)
Walk in placeA minority of games require you to walk in place to move. Simply bounce your head up and down slightly and you will travel in the direction that you are looking.
Other control methodsYou don't need any other controller. Only a couple of games require a Bluetooth or USB gamepad to move. One game studio uses the device's camera and a large QR code that you point in front of you to move around. However, it falls back to the point-and-stare method.
How to sitIt is best to play in a darkened room on a swivel chair. This lets you look around without getting too tired or bumping into things. Also, my phone tends to drift slowly to the right, so I can keep spinning to keep up.
Don't forget to wear headphones. The sound is 3D too, so your ears will tell you where things are happening.
Terrifying experiencesQuite a few games consist of wandering around a haunted house. However, the act of walking makes gameplay difficult. That's why I like these two games. You sit in one place and stuff happens around you. Remember to keep looking around, because the ghouls will patiently wait for you to look away before terrorizing you from behind.
In Chair in a room you can select from two stories. They each take about 15 minutes to play. You are fixed in one spot, sitting on a chair in the dark. You must gradually piece together the story from what is happening around you.
Sisters includes two experiences as well. In the Blair Witch trailer, you are standing outside an abandoned house in the forest and stuff happens. When you have completed it, play Sisters. You are sitting on a couch during a storm, and two creepy dolls sit on the mantlepiece. The power goes out. You're on your own.
Wandering aroundAlien Apartment sets itself apart by its remarkable attention to detail. Using a unique control method -- tilt your head to walk, and tilt again to stop -- wander around a neat, modern apartment. The massive living room windows overlook an alien world. The textures, subtle lighting, and spacy soundtrack make for a visual feast.
Alien Apartment only one scene of a larger work, Whispering Eons, but I've not tried it yet.
Sit and watchIn A Time in Space 2, a cute robot leads you on a short space adventure. For some reason, the stereoscopic image is full-screen rather than tailored for cardboard, so it makes me a little nauseous. But the experience is worth it.
VR Cave stands out because of its incredible detail and lends itself well to 3D. You float through a cave on a predefined track. It is stunning to see the crystals whiz by inches from your face while looking down vast bottomless caverns of rock. Sit on a swivel chair and slowly spin while you are doing it, so that you can trick yourself into feeling your feet drag on the rock as you go.
I tried a few roller coasters. VR Roller Coaster is reasonable.
Need to chill out? Install Android Dreams and sit back while your driver serenely lands your craft in a futuristic city at night. Gaze out the window as you cruise between giant billboards and skyscrapers.
Within has a few dozen VR movies to choose from. My favourites are the two science documentaries on gravity waves and the robots of Boston Dynamics. You can experience several VR music videos, or sit in the audience during a taping of Saturday Night Live.
The Youtube Virtual Reality Channel includes many short videos in VR. You can try them without cardboard by dragging the screen around, but the headset makes them shine.
The Veer app has a curated selection of videos that were much better than the Youtube ones.
PuzzleI feel like I'm in the movie Tron when I'm playing Gravity Pull. Solve puzzles by putting boxes onto weight sensitive pads, unlocking each door to the next room.
ActionSorry, you're going to have to part with some cash, because the best action games cost a couple of bucks.
Proton Pulse is brickbreaker. Move your head to bounce the ball off the glass prism and destroy all of the floating bricks.
Install Minos Starfighter. In your swivel chair, you'll feel like you're in an X-Wing. Make sure you look up and down as you spin because the attacking ships are coming at you from all directions. They explode with a satisfying fireball under the wrath of your cannons.
WTFYou have to to see this to believe it. For someone completely uninitiated to Japanese anime, Nagomi's Earcleaning VR is a constant stream of WTF moments. In the game, you are visiting your young, attractive cousin, and in dialog laced with innuendo, she beckons you to lean on her lap. Then you hear audible scratching as she proceeds to clean your ears. She looks hurt and mortified if you try to escape. Better lay down and ponder the quirkiness of Japanese culture.
What my kids likeDo you have small kids? At ages five and seven, Mine like these apps: