Looking for a new game to play on your mobile device? Here's our pick of the best released in June 2013.
Hero of Many follows the style of games like Glowfish and Spirits — you, the zygote-like hero, have to lead a swarm of sperm-like beings through danger-infested waters (we don't know if that was an intentional design choice). You thwart obstacles, flee giant predators and fight battles against competitors in a dark, deeply atmospheric world. But although you're the hero, and your friends could not survive without you, neither could you survive without them.
Tower defense is a massively popular genre, so it takes a lot to stand out. We believe Crescent Moon has hit on something great: the sequel to its RTS game Siegecraft has turned to TD and opened up the multiplayer. Of course, there is a lot of single-player love, with a 10-hour, 20-level campaign and endless maps. But it's multiplayer where it really shines: up to four players can join in a turn-based battle, both defending their home territory, then attacking other players, giving the game endless replay value.
Although The Legend of Zelda is never going to make it to mobile, adventures inspired by the classic series are certainly welcome. We've been waiting a long time for Oceanhorn, but Anodyne Mobile, which reminds us of nothing so much as A Link to the Past, has us tremendously excited. However, although the art and gameplay look very Zelda like, it would be wrong to call it a rip-off or a clone. You play Young, who is journeying though his own subconscious, and the result is an RPG adventure through the strangeness of the human psyche.
The second of Wizards of the Coast's digital TCGs, Magic 2014 sees you exploring the Planeswalkers in what is perhaps the most accessible Magic the Gathering title yet. If you want to learn the game, this free-to-play title gives you all the tools to jump in, have a good time and figure out the rules in a pressure-free environment; and, if you're having a good time, an extra AU$10.49 will unlock the full game.
An MMOG like no other, Puzzle Pirates has you pillaging the seven seas — by puzzling. It's a truly addictive take on the massively multiplayer genre, and you can read our full take here. Note: the lag issues mentioned in that article have since been resolved.
Codemasters has given 2001's Colin McRae Rally 2.0 a bit of iOS spit and shine, and the game looks set to bring some down and dirty rally racing to iOS. With updated graphics, optional tilt controls and over 130 kilometres of track over 30 stages, the game looks set to bring a decent and fresh racing experience to the platform.
Professor Layton wouldn't be coming to mobile. That would be silly. This is his son, Inspector Layton, of Scotland Yard's Mystery Room. Alfendi Layton has a new assistant, Lucy Baker, who's learning the mystery-solving ropes. As you examine crime scenes and interrogate suspects (more in the manner of Ace Attorney than Professor Layton, to be honest), you have to sniff out the inconsistencies to deduce who the culprit is. The game is familiarly puzzling, and every bit as engrossing as its Layton predecessors — well worth putting down some extra dollars to unlock the full game.
Joining Swampy the crocodile and Perry the platypus, Mickey Mouse is the latest in Disney's series of "Where's My..." games. Mickey needs water to make lemonade on a hot day, so, as you can probably guess, he has to solve physics-based water puzzles to get it. It's the familiar gameplay from its predecessors, but it adds a couple of new elements to the mix: Mickey Mouse, animated cut-scenes to develop the story and new weather-based elements to give the puzzles a bit of a facelift.
So, uh ... hrm. Well. You're an alpaca that's developed a mutation that allows you to clobber and absorb other alpacas, levelling up to become ... something. There's not a lot of challenge to it; gameplay consists of said clobbering and absorption, with nothing really to hinder your progression. We like to play it in increments — do some clobbering, put the device to sleep and return for more clobbering later, when you have a screen full of alpacas, rather than waiting for them to slowly wander into view. We don't really understand the point of it. All we know is that we keep coming back, even though every fibre of our beings are screaming, "Why?"
Sparkle by 10tons was a really well-made addition to the match shooter sub-genre, and we were pretty excited to see the sequel finally arrive. It's pretty much more of the same, which is absolutely fine. You have the slingshot in the middle, with convoluted rails on which strings of coloured marbles shoot toward the hole. You have to clear them out by shooting more coloured marbles to make matches, with power-ups to give you an edge. It's really smoothly designed, gorgeous to look at and listen to, with an appropriately irrelevant storyline.
One caveat is that we finished it really quickly — and then couldn't figure out how to replay, which was a bit of a let-down for the price point.
We're not sure what it is about Color Zen. It just works, in a way that is really relaxing. There's very little pressure applied — you can take as long as you like to solve a level, and there are no penalties for having to try again. Each level consists of shapes on a field in different bright colours, with a border. When two shapes of the same colour touch, it washes the screen with that colour, cancelling any shapes of that colour out. The aim is to make the entire screen the same colour as the border, and it can get quite tricky — but never frustrating.
We hadn't heard of Large Animal Games before now — its portfolio seems to consist mostly of gambling games and titles licensing popular TV shows. If this is what the studio can do when it cracks out the creativity, it has a bright future ahead.
Don't be fooled by the pixel art; Home is insidiously creepy. The game begins with the protagonist being woken up by an incoming storm in a house he's never seen before and no memory of how he got there, with a leg injury he doesn't remember getting. It's only by exploring the house from top to bottom that he can escape — but, as you play through the point-and-click game, your decisions subtly influence the narrative, twisting you to a conclusion. We think we'll be playing it again and again, just to see what other stories it has to offer.
Quadropus Rampage is one of those games where story doesn't really matter a whole lot, because its brilliance lies in its brawling, beat-em-up fun. You're a quadropus (because you only have four tentacles) and you're on a rampage, taking out the armies of the sea. In true rogue-like fashion, it consists of level after level of foes — and, if you get taken out, you have to start again from the top. It's frenzied, colourful and brings a whole cornucopia of boosts and power-ups to get you just that little bit farther.
Popular tower defence title Kingdom Rush has a sequel. To be honest, there's not a lot that's new — some revamped tower upgrades, some tweaks to the enemy abilities and a different setting — less medieval, more fantasy — but it's still very much the Kingdom Rush we know and love. Hey, if you're onto a good thing, more of that thing can't be too bad. Just take a look at Angry Birds. Jokes aside, if you liked Kingdom Rush, its sequel will be right up your alley.
You may have heard of Ron Gilbert. He wrote and directed a little thing called Maniac Mansion, and another little thing called The Secret of Monkey Island. Beep Games is where he works on side projects, and this one was in collaboration with DeathSpank co-creator Clayton Kauzlaric. Yes, it's a match-three, but it's not like other match-three games you may have played. Instead, it has a story: your customisable pirate (clothing gives you stat boosts) is starring in a theatrical production about pirates, and you have to perform in the play by fighting monsters and running errands for the greedy theatre director.
This is all done on the game board. As you collect loot by matching items in gameplay (similar to Bejewelled), special items and enemies appear on the board. The trick lies in moving the pieces around, and getting the special items closer to you so you can grab them while avoiding the enemies until you have collected enough power pieces to be strong enough to defeat them. These new elements make the game fresh and exciting — as does the relative absence of IAP. For real money, you can only buy a coin doubler; and, if your pirate dies and you don't have enough gold to resurrect it, you have the option to purchase gold, the only time you can ever buy gold in the game. Well done, chaps.
So Ultima Forever, which was due out for iOS in June, didn't make it. If you're looking for an Ultima-style fix, though, you could do a lot worse than 9th Dawn, a top-down, open-world adventure RPG. Playing a knight, an archer or a mage, you are on a quest for heroism and glory — but, more than that, the game seems to be about visiting the clunky old RPGs of yesteryear, with slightly cumbersome controls, a quest log that you have to read and other such throwbacks. These are a feature of the game, not a bug — bringing along with a massively detailed world and adventure a delightfully nostalgic trip down memory lane.
You're just a quiet, unassuming janitor in the '70s, doing your thing — until one day, a mysterious dying man appears with a message that the world is ending and gives you a device that transports you 40 years into the future, where humanity has become extinct. Using your time-travel device, you have to unravel the mystery to try to prevent whatever catastrophe led to the devastation of all human life.