Once upon a time, when mobile games were played on two-inch screens controlled with a number pad, there was a breed of gamer that sought out so-called 'one-thumb games.'
These were the pinnacle of mobile game design, because they weren't hampered by control difficulties and offered fast, addictive gameplay regardless of the woefully underpowered and unsuitable platform.
Controls have changed significantly in the Age of the Smartphone, but we old timers still can't help but feel a rush of nostalgic intrigue when a one-thumb game comes along. A game like Beyond Gravity, for instance.
Planet hopping power
With your spaceship destroyed, your only means of making it through the vastness of the cosmos is by jumping from planetoid to planetoid. These spherical stellar bodies are all rotating in place, and their gravity wells have caught all the nuts and bolts needed to put your ship back together.
Jumping around in this mish-mash of infinite vacuum, micro-planets, and gravity wakes isn't easy, of course. As you stand motionless on the planets, spinning in space as it rotates in place, timing is everything. You don't have any way to walk around these rocks, and must leap to the next one with crackerjack timing as the orbit brings you around.
This is achieved with a single tap on the screen, which ideally propels you in a trajectory that collects up as many floating nuts and bolts as possible while landing you safely on the next planet, and the next, and the next.
And since space goes on forever, so can you, as you attempt to rack up the high scores by keeping on jumping without inadvertently leaping into space and being lost in infinity.
Spinning in space
As with all great one-thumb games, Beyond Gravity makes as much use out of its single control as possible. While a single tap sets you off jumping, you can also tap and hold.
This temporarily locks the planet in place as you prepare to leap, which is a useful mechanic for avoiding the occasional comet, or for allowing you to prevent a bad jump by waiting for the planet to start spinning again, and attempting your jump the next time around.
While falling through space you can still salvage a badly timed leap with the game's double-jump mechanic, which adds one quick boost to your trajectory. Often this can get you to the next planetoid safely, but it isn't a tactic you'd want to trust your life with more often than is absolutely necessary.
A whole bunch of achievements are embedded in Beyond Gravity, but your real motivation is just to keep on jumping as far as possible, shoring up the nuts and bolts that can be used to buy upgrades for the next game.
And that's great motivation, since a triple-jump power up, or a faster leap between planets make all the difference in beating your previous scores.
In all likelihood you won't still be playing Beyond Gravity this time next year, but anyone looking for a fast and frustratingly fun game for the commute will find a lot to like here, especially given that you can play it with just one hand, and one thumb.