This is twin-stick bullet hell distilled to its purest form: nothing but shapes firing on each other across a field, beautiful in its utilitarianism and the rain of destruction; nothing but you and the foe, firing on each other across the void. For an added challenge, there are seven different difficulty levels and configurations -- you can turn off autofire aiming, for instance -- and various challenges can switch it up a bit, but at its core, it's all about pure, glorious explodo.
Price: AU$2.19 | US$1.99 | £1.49 (Android)
AU$2.49 | US$1.99 | £1.49 (iOS)
AU$1.99 | US$1.99 | £1.49 (Windows Phone)
The next best thing to a game of table tennis is Table Tennis Touch. For one, you don't have to worry about where to store the table. But it's also very well executed. Your bat hangs in the air, and you swipe to hit the ball, with the speed and direction of your swipe determining the speed and direction of the ball. It's very simple to play, and the controls are excellently responsive, but playing well takes practise -- spinning the ball, for instance, is a little more complicated. There are also several game modes -- career, quick play and arcade -- and its photorealistic graphics give it that final bit of spit and polish.
Price: AU$4.99 | US$3.99 | £2.49
BAFTA-winning indie puzzle platformer Thomas Was Alone by Mike Bithell is just perfect for porting to a touch interface (courtesy of Bossa Studios). It follows the adventures of Thomas, a small red rectangle who is good at jumping, as he travels through mysterious environments collecting companions (with whom he cannot communicate), trying to remember who he is and why he is there. As the companions, each with their own special abilities, traverse the strange hazards, they must learn to rely on each other for support.
Price: AU$10.99 | US$8.99 | £5.99
Kickstarter-funded Knock-Knock, its creators say, is less a game and more of a meditative experience, but we're not 100 percent convinced that it's as restful as that implies. You take the role of a cantankerous person known only as the Lodger, living alone in a creaky house in the woods. Every night, mystery visitors knock on the door -- and every night begins a game of hide and seek, where the aim is to stay away from them until dawn, flitting from room to room to avoid encountering one and going insane. It's tremendously good, creepy, survival horror fun.
Price: AU$4.24 | US$3.99 | £2.34
There aren't many mobile games we would recommend that have real-world elements (except maybe Spaceteam), but Bounden is a really clever piece of mobile design. It's a game that aims to teach you and a partner to dance, choreographed by the Dutch National Ballet. You and a partner place a thumb each on the screen. It then uses your iOS device's gyroscope to have you twist and turn the device in tandem to place markers on a rotating sphere -- and, once you get over figuring out how you're meant to do that, you find yourself moving together in a twirling dance. It's kind of difficult to convey in text -- watch a trailer of it in action here.
Price: AU$4.99 | US$3.99 | £2.49
OK, first things first: this is about as expensive a mobile game as we've seen, so if you're not willing to lay down the cash, it probably won't be for you. That said, Dragon Quest VIII is widely regarded as the best in the series, and, when it launched for PS2 10 years ago, it rapidly became the fastest-selling Japanese PS2 game at the time, and is still the biggest-selling PS2 title in Japan. It features art by Dragon Ball artist Akira Toriyama, the Square Enix staple of random turn-based encounters, a small cast of characters (keeping gameplay relatively simple) and an appropriately epic story.
Price: AU$29.19 | US$19.99 | £13.99 (Android)
AU$24.99 | US$19.99 | £13.99 (iOS)
Battleheart Legacy isn't exactly a sequel to 2011's Battleheart. Rather, like the name implies, it seems to have taken a bunch of stuff the developers learned from Battleheart and tweaked it to make a better game; hence, it's Battleheart's, well, legacy. The new RTS RPG has thrown out the party system in favour of developing a single player character, collecting a wide range of abilities and highly customisable. You can also choose your play style; many NPCs can be talked to, meaning that, instead of fighting them -- you can try talking to them instead, opening up a whole new world of stories and quests.
It's certainly one of the deeper RPG experiences available on mobile, and well worth a play for RPG fans.
Price: AU$6.49 | US$4.99 | £2.99
Fancy yourself something of a construction master? Think you could take on the most delicately balanced structures? Bridge Constructor now has a sequel, albeit one that goes back in time: Bridge Constructor Medieval. You have five contemporaneous materials from which you have to construct your bridges, across 40 levels, each with its own objectives, and new modes bring new challenges. You may find yourself having to fortify your bridge against siege engines, for example, or deliberately build bridges that are designed to collapse under the weight of enemy troops.
Price: AU$2.39 | US$1.99 | £1.49 (Android)
AU$2.49 | US$1.99 | £1.49 (iOS)
Dots -- the game launched by Betaworks, the company that redesigned the ailing Digg -- was a runaway hit, garnering over five million downloads. There's not, however, a lot of scope to it. It's pretty much just a one-thing game, which is perfectly fine, but doesn't really engage the player with progression. Cue TwoDots -- the game's sequel. It has taken the core of Dots -- joining same-coloured dots via horizontal or vertical lines -- and added levels to it, each with its own specific goal. These can be connecting a certain number of red and blue dots, for instance, within a set time frame, and you can user power ups and collect stars based on how well you beat the level. It's a pretty simple addition at the end of the day -- but it's amazing just how much difference a sense of purpose makes.
Kiwanuka is a variation on the theme of lemmings, a "save the swarm" game of sorts. Unlike others along these veins, though, the swarm is actually useful as opposed to dead weight you can only protect. The game is set in a strange universe, where polygonal crystals float in space. Tucked away in hard-to-reach locations are people trapped in prisms, and the aim is to reach them and free them. You do this with your magical lightning staff. Dragging along in a horizontal direction moves your swarm of colourful tiny people in that direction, but dragging straight upwards builds them into a tower, which you can gently swing downwards to create a bridge. However, not all surfaces can be built on to, leading to quite a bit of planning, experimentation and very careful timing.
Price: AU$2.49 | US$1.99 | £1.49
You've probably seen this type of puzzle game before: you have a grid, and some coloured squares on the grid with numbers inside. The number pertains to how many squares on the grid you can fill with that colour. It can be pretty tricky, and it's a nice way to engage your mind. Bicolor does away with the grid. Well, it's still there, but it's invisible. You also only have two colours; the idea is to fill the screen with the background colour, erasing the intruding colour.
Price: AU$1.99 | US$0.99 | £0.99
Developer Game Stew likes taking two seemingly disparate concepts and mashing them together to create something brilliant. Tower of Fortune takes the RPG adventure and uses a casino slots-style wheel for combat. The developer's latest game, Davil Shard, does something similar -- only instead of slots, it's match-three gameplay, where you match swords, for example, to land a blow and hearts to regain health. It isn't the first time we've seen something like this, but Game Stew's particular style lends it the feel of a retro adventure game.
Price: AU$1.29 | $0.99 | £0.69
If you like your tower defense over-the-top, well, it's right there in the name: Over-the-Top Tower Defense. It has giant flying undead sharks. And spiders made of skulls. And a Sarlacc. And fields of the bones of your enemies. By this point, gameplay probably wouldn't even matter very much, but there's good news: it's tops. At its core, it's tower defense, but adds in some upgradeable hero classes, some RTS elements and more than 40 upgradeable weapons. Put this one on your must-buy list.
Price: AU$3.18 | US$2.99 | £1.99 (Android)
AU$3.79 | US$2.99 | £1.99 (iOS)
Don't be put off by Conquest of Elysium 3's old-school graphics: this is a deeply engaging game that is old-school from go to whoa. It has one purpose: slay your enemies; but with 18 character classes all with highly idiosyncratic abilities, random events that can change the course of a game in a second, customisable gameplay (enemy classes, map size, AI levels and alliances), magic items and weapons, an extensive spell system, and PDL-style gameplay… well, it's a whole giant rabbit-hole of brilliant strategy gaming.
Price: AU$10.69 | US$9.90 | £5.85
Originally released in 2007 for the Nintendo DS, hex-map strategy game Panzer Tactics has had an HD upgrade for PC and iPad. The game takes place in 1939, with the world on the brink of World War II. You can join the Soviet army, the German army or the Western Allies, using over 150 units (land, sea and air) across 33 missions based on real-world battles.
AU$6.49 | US$4.99 | £2.99