Looking for a new game to play on your mobile device? There's a lot more than Plants vs. Zombies 2. Here's our pick of the best released in August 2013.
There have been a lot of games in the Asphalt series on mobile. This means that Gameloft has had plenty of time to perfect its Asphalt MO, and, well, Asphalt 8 is pretty solid. Of course, the biggest new addition is that now you can do giant jumps, it's well executed and the graphics are top notch. There are also 47 cars — most of which are new — licensed from the likes of Bugatti, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Pagani, which you can race across nine different locations. There are also 180 events that you can participate in for career mode, as well as multiplayer for up to eight players.
Think 1984 or Fahrenheit 451: Blackbar is a game about totalitarian oppression and censorship. It takes the form of a series of letters sent to the player, with words expressing forbidden ideas blacked out. Using contextual clues and the number of letters in the word, the player has to fill in the blanks to advance the story. It's thought provoking in a way that we rarely see in games. You can read our full impressions here.
Platform: iPhone and iPad
It doesn't get simpler than drawing a line from one point to another. Throw in a few obstacles and, sure, it's a tiny bit more complicated; but what about if those obstacles turn invisible? OK, trying to remember where those obstacles were is exponentially more difficult. Then add in a few moving obstacles. You see where it's going. The Impossible Line has one trick up its sleeve — but it's a fiendishly clever one. However, bear in mind that as a Chillingo title, you're in for a few pop-up ads and requests to spend money. Also note that this game has not been released for Android, so be wary of copycats on Google Play.
Platform: iPhone and iPad
Little Galaxy is one of those games that has a really simple premise that's executed excellently. There's something of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit Prince about it. Your character is a little boy, flying through space, hopping from planet to planet. A single touch anywhere on the screen launches him to the next planet. Achieving goals as you go lets you advance through the levels, such as collecting the glittering stars or visiting a certain number of planets. Sometimes, a star will affect the gravitational pull, meaning that you have to time your jump differently. It's a game that takes patience and skill, set amid the gorgeousness of the cosmos.
The phone/tablet interface is pretty hard to get right, especially when it comes to racing games. Cloud Spin has come as close to nailing it as we've seen. You play a little bunny with a jetpack who's flyin' high. You're pretty much on rails, with obstacles in your path as you race to the finish line. Using one finger, you can control the bunny — the "tutorial" says to swipe, but we figured out pretty quickly that fine control can be achieved by keeping one finger on the screen and making minute adjustments for precision control, and holding down with two for a speed boost. Score bonuses can be achieved by just missing obstacles, and it is simply beautiful.
We like our spooky point-and-click games as much as the next person, but we've played a lot of disappointing duds. Maniac Manors by French developer Cezure was a welcome surprise. Its story is nothing new; you've bought an old house and, after taking possession, are exploring. There's a gamut of puzzles to solve, but very little in the way of tutorials, so it's not very friendly to point-and-click newbies. Where it shines is atmosphere: the music is spectacular. And if you get stuck, a walkthrough can be found on the developer's website.
There were a few games released in the Minecraft-like sandbox style this month: Junk Jack X and Terraria are the two big 'uns, and a little indie game called CastleMine came along as well. The first two are the same price, but with different focuses. Junk Jack X is more about building, whereas Terraria is more adventure and combat. However, Terraria has been ported from the console version, whereas Junk Jack X has been rebuilt for iOS from the ground up, making it a much more user-friendly experience. If you are only looking for one, the latter is, in our opinion, the way to go. Also CastleMine, because it's free and fun.
Platform: iPhone and iPad
Michael Brough does not make pretty games. He does, however, make very interesting and clever games (see more on his website). 868-Hack is a rogue-like game that takes on hacking. In a 6x6 grid, you have to collect data, navigating carefully to avoid tripping alarms and taking out the foes that track you down. On each level, you need to collect data siphons, your tool for stealing the data, and the data comes in two kinds: currency, which gives you tools for fighting enemies, and score points, which contribute to your overall score. Meanwhile, each enemy behaves in a set way, allowing you to figure out the best way to take it out, because once you have three hits from them, it's game over for you.
Platform: iPhone and iPad
Re-Mission 2 isn't the most graphically brilliant game we've played, but we love the premise. You're a little nanobot, fighting cancerous cells invading a human body. Cancer cells build a scaffolding below you, and you have to fire down on it from above before they have finished — sort of like a reverse space invaders. It's one of six games made by non-profit organisation HopeLab to help cancer patients. "Scientific research shows that playing Re-Mission 2 games can boost positive emotions, increase self-efficacy and shift attitudes about cancer and cancer treatments, which can lead to better adherence to prescribed treatments," HopeLab said. You can play the rest of the games on the web here.
Double Fine's first-ever mobile game arrived for iOS in December last year. Now, Android gamers can get in on the Middle Management action. In this strategy title, it's up to you, our middling hero, to build your base, manage your resources and save the day!
Nun Attack's undead-slayin' nuns have returned in an endless runner. The four nuns each have different strengths and abilities, with different guns to slay skeletons with chainsaws, boulder-throwing werewolves and seductive vampires. Power-ups give you an extra edge as you dodge deadly obstacles and slay your foes. It's not deep, but it looks spiffing, and we love the '60s-style spy thriller music.
Ever wanted to smash your friends up with a tank? We would politely suggest that perhaps you need better friends, but if you want to keep your friends and smash them up with tanks, BattleFriends in Tanks — the new game in the BattleFriends series — is a good way to go about it. Like "with friends"-type games, you take turns moving around the battlefield, depending on how much fuel you have each turn, and firing your cannon at your mates (or strangers, if you can't find a mate to play with). It supports cross-platform play, too. It's a decent idea, although if you have the kind of friends who take forever to play a move, we suggest that you stay away from real tanks. In case you want to really smash them. For real.
Now, we're not entirely sure about this, but if we were hard pressed, we'd have to say that possibly the cutest animal to ever exist is the momonga, a Japanese flying squirrel. Seriously, look at these things. Anyway, we're unsure why that needed to be combined with fighting the forces of evil with pinball, but you know what? It doesn't matter that much. You roll and fly about, taking baddies down with the power of adorable under the guidance of a panda. It's about as charming as it's possible for a game to be.
This little 2D platformer isn't as simple as its graphics would have you believe. It's based on rhythm, where the jumps are times with the beat. Your little guy moves across the screen automatically — all you have to do is tap to jump, with the music providing your cues. And you need them — it's fast paced and, if your timing's just a little off, you fall splat into the spikes. It's a fun, colourful, upbeat and tricksy little time waster.
Musical indie game Fractal: Make Blooms Not War has been ported across to mobile. What you have to do is strategically create "blooms" — a configuration of seven hexagonal tiles — by pushing your tiles outward from the point at which you touch the screen. It starts simple, with a small board and a single colour, but as you move through the levels, it becomes more complex, requiring you to make multiple blooms at once, with other colours blocking your ability to create blooms; and, if you push from the wrong place, your tiles fall off the board. With only a limited number of moves per level, you need to think strategically and have a lot of patience for trial and error.
Delta-V is another racer that has tackled the problem of touchscreen racing. It combines Mario Kart-style combat with a side-scrolling style; you slide your finger up and down anywhere on the screen to steer your craft while it moves forward automatically, with boost pads on the track giving you extra speed. Levels come in a variety of styles — straight-up racing (with chucking weapons at your opponents), speed trials and obstacle trials — to keep things interesting, and you can unlock more vehicles as you go.
Winter Harrison, 14 years old, is a mediator: someone from a perfect society who travels to other, more chaotic worlds to try to fix whatever has gone awry. In Episode 1: Learning to Manage Chaos, she has accompanied her mentor, Cyrus, to the country of Brighton on the world of Sule — a poor nation on the verge of war. The game is a visual novel and uses text to advance the story, so if you like a lot of action, this is not the game for you. While you do get to make choices that advance the story in particular directions, most of your time in Dysfunctional Systems will be spent reading. It's an engrossing story, though, with beautiful art. However, if you're not sure whether it's for you, you can try out the developer's first visual novel, Juniper's Knot, for free here.
Platform: iPhone and iPad
We don't think we're exaggerating to say that Pixel Dungeon is one of the best roguelikes on Google Play — and it doesn't cost a cent. It's fantastically put together. Each dungeon only has a small visible area around your character — warrior, mage or rogue — and you tap anywhere in that area to go there. Tapping enemies engages combat, and tapping loot picks it up. However, the game is quite difficult — the enemies are no slouches, and, while there's plenty of loot to be found, you'll come a cropper pretty quickly if you're not careful. You can also collect gold to spend on upgrades — if you live long enough to reach the shop on level six.