There’s this mobile game ad I see all the time on social media. It shows a number of vials filled with differently colored liquid. The goal is to combine matching colors until all vials have one single, solid color contained in them. If you’ve never seen this before, one version of it looks like this:
I love watching this ad – it’s extremely soothing. But if I look through a mobile storyfront to play the actual game it depicts, almost all the versions of that game are either so full of ads and microtransactions they’re agonizing to play, or they’re outright scams. And it’s not the only game like this. “Color Water Sort” (for lack of a better title) is part of a larger genre of mobile games with similar premises. It has catchy ads depicting players fumbling very easy puzzles that the viewer immediately thinks they could solve, but when you go to play the game, it’s heavily monetized, full of ads, or a different game entirely. Other variations include a man trapped in a weird tomb puzzle trying to get to treasure, and a game about choosing the correct path through a series of battles that will make your character strong enough to reach the end.
For years, I’ve wanted to play “those games.” And now, thanks to the developers of Katamari Damacy Reroll, I can.
Last month, developer Monkeycraft Co. and publisher D3Publisher surprise released a new game for PC via Steam and Nintendo Switch aptly titled: “YEAH! YOU WANT “THOSE GAMES,” RIGHT? SO HERE YOU GO! NOW, LET’S SEE YOU CLEAR THEM!” This game, which I’m simply going to call “Those Games” for brevity, is a minigame collection filled with challenges based on those same inscrutable mobile game ads.
Don’t support these ads, guys – just get this game on Steam instead, courtesy of MonkeyCraft and D3Publisher:https://t.co/cmTVriKezv
— Ben Walker, AKA Infinite Fury (he/him/his) (@Infinite_Fury2K) July 30, 2023
It has Pin Pull, which is the guy trying to get the treasure in the tomb; Color Lab, the color water vials; Number Tower,choosing a path to become powerful enough to reach the end, and a few others. All the games star the same Game & Watch-like stick man, and have a number of levels with increasing difficulty as you progress. But best of all, it’s $10 for the whole thing – no ads, no microtransactions, and no fake-outs.
I keep seeing that “Yeah, you want THOSE GAMES” game floating around and I really love the typography of the game, so I had to check out the Japanese version to see how they did it and… wow. That’s a lotta detail. #あのゲー pic.twitter.com/NfTFQPNXWB
— Professional Vtuber simp (beach bum arc) (@0hourSuperpower) August 3, 2023
Speaking to IGN, producer Maya Ito tells me that Monkeycraft decided to make this collection for the same reason I wanted to play it: “I see these mini-games on a daily basis and thought to myself, I want to play them; thoroughly and to my heart’s content!”
Those Games was a relatively fast turnaround for Monkeycraft, only taking about eight months between a primary group of 15 to 20 staff members, though more than 50 people contributed in various ways. Ito tells me that balancing these games was a particularly challenging part of this process, but was necessary to making the games “truly become the collection of games that I originally wanted to play.”
YEAH! YOU WANT “THOSE GAMES,” RIGHT? SO HERE YOU GO! NOW, LET’S SEE YOU CLEAR THEM! Screenshots
Though it was quickly swallowed up by Baldur’s Gate’s launch last week, the collection’s mid-July shadow drop caught the attention of content creators and saw a surge of positive attention in its first few weeks on social media. The vast, vast majority of reactions to the trailer and release were appreciative of the joke and curious how closely the content mirrored their fantasies of what these illusive ads might actually look like in game form. So while Those Games didn’t have massive staying power the way a 100+ hour, AAA RPG surely will, its brief surge of virality was impressive for a joke game that no one saw coming.
Ito says that seeing people enjoy the game so much “makes me really happy” but added that watching others play “has shown me that there are so many different ways to play these games, making me realize that I could’ve done some things a little differently. It’s been quite a learning experience.”
It’s unclear for now if this means more additions to the Those Games collection in the future. But with games like the Katamari rerolls and Klonoa under its belt, Monkeycraft’s penchant for lighthearted silliness doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. And if Monkeycraft does decide to revisit the concept, there’s certainly no shortage of ridiculous, unplayable mobile game ads for inspiration.
Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. Got a story tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.