Looking for a new game to play on your mobile device? Here's our pick of the best released in April 2013.
Batman may be the hero of this Lego adventure for iOS, but there's a lot more about it to love — aside from the familiar and wonderful dichotomy of something as cheerful as Lego set in the gritty streets of Gotham. DC supervillains such as Lex Luthor and the Joker are attempting to take down Gotham — and it's up to Batman, Robin and a whole cast of 80 unlockable, playable DC characters to stop him. You can also build your own heroic minifigs, with different costumes giving you different powers.
The game works surprisingly well on a touchscreen (probably better on an iPad than an iPhone), in spite of a few niggling control issues, and with an original story, it has plenty to offer DC and Lego fans alike.
We love Robot Unicorn Attack, and wondered how on earth a sequel could hope to improve upon it. Everything about Robot Unicorn Attack 2 is magnificent, with the possible exception of load times. From the glorious new art, the expanded soundtrack choices, the new quests and the levelling up system — even the refined controls — everything conspired to make the new game even more humungous than its predecessor.
If you were stuck on an alien world, you'd be well and truly lost. You wouldn't know the language, the customs, even what was safe to eat and drink. Independent developer Devine Lu Linvega, aka Aliceffekt, wanted to create this feeling of helplessness, of complete mystery and, in turn, of discovery and accomplishment. His point-and-click adventure Hiversaires is a deeply atmospheric wonder — think of a more cryptic Year Walk. Without words, without tutorials, you're placed in a strange world to find, for yourself, the way home.
Mobile devices are uniquely placed for a different kind of gameplay purely based on audio cues, thanks to its small size, touchscreen interface and binaural feedback capabilities; yet strangely, very few games have done anything with it. There is, of course, the brilliant Papa Sangre that sees you searching the underworld. Now it's joined by Nightjar, a sci-fi adventure that sees you trying to escape a ruined ship. The actual interfaces are very similar: two pads to step on to measure your pace and a compass to guide you; but Nightjar has the added bonus of Benedict Cumberbatch narrating your journey.
If there are two things the iPad is great at, they are replicating a board game experience and strategy. Put them together and you have something good — like Carcassonne. Hex-based Eclipse: New Dawn for the Galaxy is likewise a physical board game ported over to a digital interface, and like Carcassonne, sees you locked in a battle to claim the most territory — in space. As you explore, you have to gather resources, expand your territory and conquer your foes in a game that supports up to six players, either human or AI.
This little physics-based 2D side-scroller is a little bit different to what you might be used to. As a soot-sprite-like inhabitant of a gorgeous forest, you have to make your way through to find out where all these dangerous, spiky machines are coming from: what's happened and why is it here? Aside from some quite stunning art — beautifully painted backdrops with silhouetted levels in front — it has some really interesting mechanics. For example, your little dude can grow or shrink by attracting orbs, which can help through tricky places — but can also lead to getting stuck if you don't quite collect enough.
2011's point-and-click sci-fi noir Gemini Rue for PC was a strange game — bleak and brutal, following former assassin Azriel Odin as he seeks his lost brother on the rain-drenched planet Barracus. Now it has brought its magnificent storytelling across to iOS.
There are so many endless runners on the market that it is difficult for any one to stand out. Run Sheldon! did, for us at least. Based on the fable of the hare and the tortoise, it stars a little tortoise by the name of Sheldon running to escape the mean hares that are trying to trip him up. It has one-touch controls — just a jump button — and special power-ups and upgrades that you can buy as you make your way through the challenges and thus, the levels. It's nothing spectacularly unique, but it's so polished that it's almost impossible to put down.
As the goblin crew of the good ship Rigo, you have a big challenge ahead: everyone wants you brought to heel and ground to dust. Luckily, you have a variety of tools at our disposal to turn your ship into the ultimate war machine. Each foe requires a specific strategy, with new terrains requiring new adjustments to your transport. It's like a cross between Meccano and some sort of crazy pirate ship cannon shoot-out.
No, no ... not the plumbers. These are the other brothers. You know — the mechanics, Joe and Jim. When a beautiful damsel gets kidnapped by thugs right outside their garage, Joe and Jim set off on a rescue mission. No turtles or toadstools on this side-scrolling platformer; just guard dogs, the mafia, pouring rain, the homeless and street refuse. In spite of its humour, it has a sly subversion about it, exposing some of the flaws about retro gaming, while remaining an affectionate homage.
Thirty years after the release of fantasy board game Talisman, a version has made its way across to mobile. Talisman, which saw you adventuring to claim the Crown of Command before your opponents could, was a big deal to nerds of the 80s and 90s, like a cross between Magic: The Gathering and ... well, a board game. The single-player mobile version still has the board and 10 character cards to choose from, and sees you fighting battles on your journey around the board. Right now, the game's purpose is to acquaint players with the story — multiplayer will be coming later, but it's a great piece of nostalgia in the meantime.
The Legend of Holy Archer is, as you might expect, a game about shooting arrows at monsters. It does it in a very interesting way, though. As the Holy Archer, you have to destroy the beasts that threaten the land using your bow and a quiver of arrows. First, you have to aim; then, as the arrow flies through the air, you use your magic power to guide it, since the monster is invariably behind a twisting array of obstacles. Each level, you can also shoot treasure chests to upgrade your weapon more quickly, but it doesn't pay to be too profligate with your arrows: your quiver is limited. There's not a lot of substance to it, but it's a boat load of fun.
There's something decidedly perverse about They Need to be Fed. It's your job to safely guide your cute little critters around an omni-gravitational environment, leaping from block to hazardous block, collecting diamonds and achievements along the way — into the waiting maw of a carnivorous plant. The clean, colourful style, precarious puzzles and simple controls make it one of the best puzzle platformers we've seen this year.
Puzzle Craft first came to our attention in August of last year because it seemed to be something mobile gaming most definitely needed: a town-building sim that included puzzle elements. Specifically, matching puzzles. In order to build your town, you need to gather resources: crops, livestock, wood, stone and metal. When you enter the mine or the farm, you collect supplies by drawing connecting lines between matching resources — the longer the line, the higher the multiplier, leading to better resources. But pests dog the farm, and dangerous gas pockets the mines, meaning gameplay is anything but boring. And now it's come to Android.
Sometimes, you just want to play a fun action platformer. Nothing wrong with that. You could do a lot worse than the very well made Manuganu, which sees you guiding your guy over and under obstacles, collecting coins along the way. It's solidly build, looks great (it reminds us a lot of LostWinds, visually) and — most importantly — plays an absolute treat.
After six months of exclusive iOS love, the revamp of Acclaim's 1999 remote-control-themed racing game Re-Volt has finally made its way over to Android, including 14 tracks, 42 cars, 12 racing modes and updated Dreamcast graphics.
Adventure RPG Arranger, from composer-developer Arman Bohn, is one of the strangest games we've ever played. With its retro visuals, crazy mini-games, quests, really weird monsters, amazing soundtrack and a plethora of musical instruments for the purpose of combat, it really has to be experienced to be understood. You play the titular "arranger" — the musical hero who is going to save the land of Musica and become the best composer of all.
Okay, so technically this game debuted for Android in March as part of the Humble Bundle, but since it didn't hit the Play store until April, we're counting it. If you have an iOS device and haven't played it yet, we can only ask "Why the heck not?" It's a puzzle-box game that sees you exploring in 3D a series of chests, boxes and cabinets that are scrawled with arcane symbols and scratchings, and filled with clockworks and cryptic notes. You have to figure out how to open various hidden compartments, fix broken mechanical features to solve the box, collect the story clues and move on to the next box. It can be really tricky, but the marvellous thing is that it's never frustrating, with gentle clues that you can read (or ignore) to nudge you in the right direction — and we found ourselves, with each successful solution, feeling that excited "a-ha!" accompanied by a warm satisfaction that has us gleefully returning for more.