Best mobile games of August 2014

Looking for a new game to play on your mobile device? Here's our pick of the best released in August 2014.

Michelle Starr
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr
1 of 16 TheCodingMonkeys


Rules! is kind of like a memory training game, but not like any memory training game that we've played before. It's described as a cross between Simon Says and Super Hexagon, although to be honest we're not seeing the latter. That said, it is really good fun: you're presented with a screen of cards, numbered and with images. Each screen, you're given a rule: for instance, tap the cards in descending order, or only tap red images. When you move up a level, you'll be expected to remember previous instructions in order: for level four, you'll be instructed, say, to tap odd numbers, then follow rule one, rule two, and rule three -- without the game reminding you what those rules were.

It gets very tricky very quickly, but in a way that you feel that you're always just on the verge of getting it next time -- and, we imagine, is secretly a really great way to train your brain to multi-task.

Platforms: iOS

Price: AU$2.49 | $1.99 | £1.49

2 of 16 Cartoon Network

Time Tangle -- Adventure Time

There have been a few "Adventure Time" games now, with varying degrees of playability. Time Tangle, we would have to say, is one of the better ones, tapping into the tried-and-true endless runner formula (although not really "endless", since levels are finite). The game consists of some pretty basic core elements: dodging, punching, and collecting, with bosses to beat up at the end of every level. Each level also has a series of objectives: collecting specific items, or rescuing Finn's buddies, for instance; and the game comes with three difficulty levels and two control modes. Obviously the biggest draw is the "Adventure Time" licence -- it has a nifty story about Finn collecting time crystals to fix the mess he made of the timestreams -- but it's a pretty tidy game thrown into the bargain.

Platforms: Android | iOS

Price: AU$3.29 | $2.99 | £1.79 (Android)

AU$3.79 | $2.99 | £1.99 (iOS)

3 of 16 Radiangames

Super Crossfighter

Radiangames has made some pretty stunning retro arcade shooters, mainly in the bullet hell style. Although the core mechanics are simple, the one-man studio makes the games into something fresh and visually beautiful. Super Crossfighter is its take on Galaxian/Space Invaders, in beautiful neon style. Gameplay-wise, there are few surprises: your ship auto-fires on your synchronised foes, sliding one thumb left and right to steer. It's the warp that makes it interesting: you can tap with your other thumb to flip across to the top of the screen to shoot your foes from behind; it makes the game a bit more frenetic, since your foes will also switch the direction of the shot. It's an example of how to do mobile games perfectly: simple and intuitive, without hindering gameplay.

Platforms: Android | iOS | Windows Phone

Price: AU$2.14 | $1.99 | £1.49 (Android)

AU$2.49 | $1.99 | £1.49 (iOS)

AU$1.99 | $1.99 | £1.49 (Windows Phone)

4 of 16 Simple Machine

The Outcast

The Outcast is less of a game and more of an experience. You don't actually play anything; in fact, almost as soon as the game opens for the first time, you are asked to close it again, after which nothing will happen for maybe an hour or so. It's more of a procedurally generated story, told to you via push notifications. You are a wanderer, and every hour or so (if you open the app after each notification) something will happen: a chance encounter, a discovery, a danger. When this occurs, you will receive a push notification; sometimes you will get to make a decision, sometimes you won't, but you won't get a new event until you look at your current one.

It's certainly an interesting experience, and we love the idea of turning push notifications into something to look forward to. The game is still updating with the help of users, so we'll be interested to see how it evolves over time.

Platforms: iOS

Price: AU$2.49 | $1.99 | £1.49

5 of 16 Square Enix

Dragon Quest IV

Square Enix is slowly releasing the back catalogue of Dragon Quest games on mobile, and after the release of Dragon Quest VIII in May, it has now released Dragon Quest IV -- the first instalment of the Zenithian Trilogy, originally released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1992 in the US. This particular port is based off the 2007 Nintendo DS port, featuring a nice graphics overhaul, but adding in party chat -- the ability to have conversations with your party members -- which had been removed from the DS version. It's a brilliant blast from the past, even if, bafflingly, the entire game is played in portrait orientation.

Platforms: Android | iOS

Price: AU$15.65 | $14.99 | £10.49 (Android)

AU$18.99 | $14.99 | £10.49 (iOS)

6 of 16 Zotnip


Also delving into the retro fray is developer Zotnip, with its first ever game Bik -- and it's a stellar debut. Inspired by the early work of LucasArts and Sierra (think Maniac Mansion, Space Quest, Monkey Island), it's a pixelly point-and-click adventure about a young boy who gets abducted by aliens and needs to find his way back home to Earth. It's witty, engrossing and a wonderful trip down nostalgia lane.

Platforms: Android | iOS

Price: AU$2.14 | $1.99 | £1.49 (Android)

AU$2.49 | $1.99 | £1.49 (iOS)

7 of 16 Sarah Northway

Deep Under the Sky

Colin and Sarah Northway -- the team behind creepy-crawly leg-puzzler Incredipede -- have tapped into the creature well again for Deep Under the Sky. You're a sort of alien jellyfish, and the aim is to fly about a psychedelic version of the planet Venus, planting your jellyfish spores. It's all, like Incredipede, based on physics, using one-touch controls: you have to shoot your jellyfish through the levels, carefully aligning it with spawn points to grow more jellyfish, in as few taps as possible. It's challenging and rewarding in equal measures, and lovely to look at to boot.

Platforms: Android | iOS

Price: AU$2.94 | $2.99 | £1.99 (Android)

AU$3.79 | $2.99 | £1.99 (iOS)

8 of 16 Capcom

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney -- Dual Destinies

Originally released for Nintendo 3DS, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney -- Dual Destinies has, like the original trilogy, made its way across to iOS. If you're not familiar with the Phoenix Wright MO, it's pretty simple. Gameplay has two parts: the investigation phase (why an ace attorney would be doing the work of a police detective is a question for another day), a point-and-click style mystery where you interview witnesses and search for clues to put together a case; and the trial phase, where you interrogate the witnesses in court, looking for inconsistencies in their stories based on your investigation in order to find the perpetrator.

The games work surprisingly well on iOS, and we love that they include a level for free so that you can give it a try before you buy.

Platforms: iOS

Price: Free (full game unlocked inside)

9 of 16 Scottsgames

Five Nights at Freddy's

Now this is one of the creepiest games we've ever seen on a mobile platform. Originally made for PC, the game sees you take on the role of night guard at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza. Why does a pizzeria -- an increasingly unsuccessful one at that -- need a night guard? Well, it seems the animatronic robots that entertain the children during the day -- Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie the Bunny, Chica the Chicken, and Foxy the Pirate Fox -- become active at night. Active, and murderous. From your base inside the security room, you can monitor them via staticky camera feeds, closing the doors when they draw near -- but you have limited power that you need to conserve, and the longer you work there, the more restless the animals become. Packaged up inside some terrifying gameplay is a mystery: what happened to the bodies of the murdered children? And why do the animatronics walk by themselves?

Platforms: Android

Price: $AU$3.21 | $2.99 | £1.99

10 of 16 Ninja Crime


Calculords might just be the CCG to end all CCGs. It has cards, space battles, and a whole lot of mathematics. You, the last Star Nerd, are tasked with saving the galaxy from the terrible Hate Bit -- by using your skills at cards and maths. The card game bit is pretty standard: you go to battle against your foes (AI, because it's a single-player game) by dealing out cards to attack and defend from your opponent's cards. Each card has a number, denoting the strength of the card; so far, so good. But in order to actually play your card, you have to use the number pad to perform a sum that equals that number.

The big kicker? Once you use a number, it vanishes from the board -- so you have to plan your arithmetic very carefully indeed -- even more because using up every number on the board earns you a free number refill.

Platforms: Android | iOS

Price: AU$3.18 | $2.99 | £1.99 (Android)

AU$3.79 | $2.99 | £1.99 (iOS)

11 of 16 2K Games


Many scoffed at the news 2K was bringing 2007's BioShock to mobile, but we're pleased to report that the port is excellent. Although the graphics have been scaled, they look fantastic on the iPad's high-resolution retina display and, after an initial crash problem (solved by rebooting the device), the game ran as smooth as silk on the iPad Mini 2. The controls are likewise well managed, and pretty par for the course for a touchscreen FPS: floating thumbsticks to move and control the camera, with fixed buttons on the right for actions, such as swinging a weapon.

There's no denying, of course, that it doesn't quite match up to the original; the jaw-dropping opening scene, for instance, where you dive into Rapture for the first time, simply doesn't have the same depth and grandeur. But if BioShock had released for the first time on iOS rather than consoles, it would be hailed as a masterpiece of mobile gaming.

Platforms: iOS

Price: AU$18.99 | $14.99 | £10.49

12 of 16 Bedtime Digital Games

Back to Bed

Originally funded on Kickstarter, Back to Bed -- a game about sleepwalking -- appropriately draws its inspiration from the oneiric sensibilities of Surrealist art (there's a lot of Rene Magritte and MC Escher going on here). As Bob wanders his own dream, you, as his subconscious guardian, Subob, must guide him away from peril towards the safety of his bed by subverting his path -- placing obstacles to turn him from danger. Also, the trailer is an awesome shout-out to Twin Peaks.

Platforms: Android | iOS

Price: AU$4.31 | $4.00 | £2.50 (Android)

AU$4.99 | $3.99 | £2.49 (iOS)

13 of 16 Laser Dog


Thought you were good at space runners? Well, maybe guess again: Laser Dog's Alone is punishingly, brilliantly difficult. The aim is to steer a space craft at high speeds, using one finger on the incredibly responsive screen, through jagged collapsing caves filled with debris, reacting in the blink of an eye and getting as far as you can without crashing. Which you will do. A lot. And then you'll gradually start to get better, and you'll find yourself playing it much longer than you intended for "just one more go".

Platforms: Android | iOS

Price: AU$2.66 | $1.99 | £1.49 (Android)

AU$2.49 | $1.99 | £1.49 (iOS)

14 of 16 Crescent Moon Games

Almightree: The Last Dreamer

Crescent Moon has been busy, as usual, turning out highly polished, high-quality games (and working on a gorgeous-looking title for PC). The latest is Almightree, a game that looks inspired by both Bastion and Legend of Zelda. It takes place on 3D, grid-based stages; your world is crumbling and, as the Last Dream, your job is to restore power to the Almightree saplings, saving the world from destruction around you.

Each level takes the form of puzzles, where you have to explore a fragile stage to find the tree. Part of your power involves moving parts of the world: you can transport blocks to build bridges and steps, and the game gradually amps up the difficulty so that how to place the blocks causes you a little bit more thought every time.

It also has several difficulty modes, so if you're the kind of player who doesn't like timers, you can relax and take your time to enjoy the beautiful world that Crescent Moon has created.

Platforms: iOS

Price: AU$2.49 | $1.99 | £1.49

15 of 16 Amirali Rajan

The Ensign

If you haven't played A Dark Room, you should go do that right now. It's an interesting mix of text-based adventure and RPG, with a fascinating mystery at the core. The man who ported Michael Townsend's browser-based game to iOS, Amirali Rajan, has, with Townsend's blessing, now gone on to expand on the story with a prequel.

The Ensign has taken one part of Townsend's game for The Ensign: the section called A Dusty Path, a region represented in ASCII. You, as the titular ensign, strike out after a battle, moving around the grid to expose areas, finding houses, caves and foes. Your fatality rate is going to be high: the game is a lot more difficult than A Dark Room; but if you persevere, gaining skills along the way, you'll get a little bit more insight into the strange world Townsend created out of punctuation marks on a white screen.

Platforms: iOS

Price: AU$1.29 | $0.99 | £0.69

16 of 16 Kumobius

Out last month for Android

Waiting for a particular game that got an iOS release a while ago? Here are our picks.

Skulls of the Shogun (AU$2.14 | $1.99 | £1.18)

Unpossible (AU$2.11 | $1.99 | £1.17)

Manuganu 2 (Free)

Talisman (AU$7.25 | $6.73 | £4.79)

King of Dragon Pass (AU$10.50 | $9.99 | £5.85)

Oscura: Second Shadow (AU$1.29 | $0.99 | £0.69)

Mountain ($1.00 | £1.00)

Speed Blazers (AU$1.10 | $0.99 | £1.10)

Pac-Man (Free)

Duet (Free)

The Inner World (AU$3.49 | $2.99 | £1.99)

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