Rich Gallup is Executive Producer at Disruptor Beam. He is not John Drake. He regrets not speaking up when he heard somebody say, “We’ll be fine. Those are smoke detectors, this is just fog.” You can find him on Twitter.
My 2015 free time was consumed by a new addition to our family (Hi Miles!), playing as many mobile games as possible, and watching approximately 23 days worth of Star Trek. The latter two were research for my duties as Executive Producer on the forthcoming mobile game Star Trek Timelines. You may think the former is related as well, but my wife says I can’t claim we named our son after the hardest working man in Starfleet.
So allow me to summarize 79 episodes of the original series, 176 episodes of The Next Generation, 176 episodes of Deep Space Nine, 172 episodes of Voyager, 98 episodes of Enterprise, 10 movies, and hundreds of pulls from the App Store via this list of my favorite random Star Trek cameos and mobile games of 2015.
Random Star Trek Cameo #5: Mark Rolston
In the TNG episode “Eye of the Beholder,” Mark Rolston plays Lieutenant Pierce, a part-Betazoid whose empathic traces almost convince Deanna Troi to kill herself by jumping into a nacelle’s plasma stream. You know, Star Trek stuff. Rolston’s appearance captures what’s fun about a good cameo, for as soon as I realized he also played Drake in Aliens I spent the rest of the episode recasting that movie with Star Trek characters. There’s the obvious choices like Data as Bishop, Janeway as Ripley, Quark as Burke, etc. But who to provide comic relief as Hudson? Or is badass enough to be Hicks? These are the questions that you ask yourself while feeding a baby and watching Star Trek at 3AM.
Mobile Game of 2015 #5: Party Gods (iOS)
Party Gods is a game worthy of turning your phone’s sound on. Does anybody else almost never do that? The look is great and the gameplay is so quick and fun you won’t mind how often you die. You play a raving rhino, bear or bull who, like your ancestors before you, is defending the best spot on the dance floor from a near-endless stream of bunnies. This is accomplished by tapping on the bunnies to original EDM beats. Pro tip - tap with two fingers at once!
Random Star Trek Cameo #4: Padma Lakshmi
My wife and I are fans of Top Chef, and it was surprising to see host Padma Lakshmi appear in an episode of Enterprise. That said, unless you super-love Top Chef or find Trip Tucker as dreamy as Enterprise hopes you do, you can totally skip this episode, called “Precious Cargo.” To quote Padma, it’s a little under.
Mobile Game of 2015 #4: Evel Knievel (iOS)
If you like Trials HD but wish it had more America in it, check out this stylized version that lets you unlock 40 star-spangled helmets, bikes, and outfits while reliving Evel Knievel’s storied career as our country’s greatest daredevil, back when every stunt ever wasn’t sponsored by Red Bull. Bonus: This is a great game if you’re in Paris and looking to fill time until 2113.
Random Star Trek Cameo #3: Gabriel Damon
A popular internet theory that I’m making up just now believes that after Jeremy Aster’s mother died on an away mission in TNG episode “The Bonding,” the orphaned boy played by Gabriel Damon slipped through a wormhole back to 21st century Detroit, changed his name to Hob and started dealing Nuke. The latter half of this theory is depicted in the documentary RoboCop 2.
Mobile Game(s) of 2015 #3: Lifeline 1 and 2 (iOS)
As amazing as it was to find a game that drove me to turn on my phone’s sound, the Lifeline series went even further, with its well-crafted, real-time storytelling convincing me to accept that notification pop-up so many of us dismiss out of habit. Both games are basically Choose Your Own Adventure stories, the first about a stranded astronaut and the second a magical quest for revenge near present day Portland, Oregon. Each story is framed as if your phone is a communication device linked to the protagonist, and your role is to chat, cajole, and help him or her decide what to do next. As each short and well-written conversation reaches a resolution, the game will pause for a few minutes or several hours while the characters “go away” to act upon your choice. Frequently I found myself worriedly staring at my phone, impatient for a notification to pop, telling me my new friend had survived their latest trial.
Random Star Trek Cameo #2: Gabrielle Union
This award is an example of a guest appearance from somebody before they got famous. It’s also my opportunity to pat myself on the back for recognizing Gabrielle Union through her Klingon makeup. When I was a video store clerk one could name up to ten people who could rent for free on their employee account, and 20-year-old me thought it was a baller move to list Gabrielle (alongside one-time Romulan commander Dina Meyer, another great Star Trek cameo!), just in case she she was ever in Keene, New Hampshire and needed to rent a VHS tape.
Mobile Game(s) of 2015 #2: Score Hero (iOS)
Score Hero is the best mobile sports game I have ever played. The first time I looped a long, curling pass upfield directly onto the foot of a teammate I felt a sense of joy similar to playing NHL 07, when new analog stick controls gave unprecedented touch to a sports game. I tore through scenario after scenario in my virtual soccer career, pausing only to text some friends to insist they play it... and then the monetization design kicked in. Based around limiting how a level is retried, it’s one of the most frustrating such systems I have ever experienced. Free-to-play “buyer” beware, you may hate this game as much as you will love it.
Random Star Trek Cameo #1: John Beck
Like your friend and mine Dave Snider, I hold Norman Jewison’s 1975 epic film Rollerball in very high esteem. It’s maybe my favorite movie? And when John Beck, AKA Jonathan E.’s BFF Moonpie, showed up on Deep Space Nine as a surgically altered Cardassian spy in “Tribunal,” complete with his familiar mustache, I was ecstatic. It was the perfect excuse to watch Rollerball again. Hey Dave, want to go halfsies on his jacket?
Mobile Game(s) of 2015 #1: Need for Speed: No Limits (iOS)
Firemonkeys Studios, you maniacs. As I basically converted my console to a Netflix box this year, I had a constant itch for some console-esque gameplay, and Need for Speed: No Limits showed up to scratch it. The graphics are top rate, and the controls allow you to steer (tap anywhere on either side), boost (swipe up) and drift (swipe down) without making you struggle to press tiny virtual buttons or fake analog sticks, as seen in many other mobile racing titles. I played Need for Speed: No Limits constantly, levelling up my garage, racing to the top… and then Firemonkeys did something ridiculous. Their second-ever event brought back 2005’s Need for Speed: Most Wanted antagonist Razor Callahan as the main opponent. When I was at GameSpot we may have gone too far with our love of Razor and his cutscenes, and I never thought I would see him again. The fun gameplay easily grants Need for Speed: No Limits a place on my top games of 2015, but letting me take one last crack at that bolt-on wonderboy earns it the #1 slot.
Thanks for reading! Below I’ve included some honorable mentions, I heartily endorse all of them as fun gameplay experiences or brief “Hey I know that person!” moments.