The best mobile video games can be hard to find, simply because of the sheer amount of titles out there. But, worry not! Welcome to G4's Knuckle Up, where we bring you a byte-sized view of our five favorite mobile games every week. The mobile space is filled with incredible games that will keep you busy for minutes, hours, or even days -- we'll let you know what we're playing and why we're playing it. Here's our top five games this week.
Just when the rising shouts of handheld gamers screaming “mobile will never look as good as console or dedicated handhelds” hit its peak, Shadowgun came blazing in and shot everyone down. This game looks incredible, and plays better. This third person shooter is everything you want a mobile game to be: there’s a good story, a compelling protagonist, and a flat-out fun time shooting down anyone that gets in your way.
You play as John Slade, a ruthless bounty hunter who happens to look scarily similar to Bruce Willis. You’ve been tasked to bring in (or hunt down) Dr. Edgar Simon, a geneticist with an underground fortress filled with experiments gone bad. Make no mistake, Shadowgun really delivers on its single-player experience; going through the game on normal difficulty took around 6 hours for me, and I found it challenging, yet never frustratingly hard. It also translates well to iOS’s smaller screens, which was a welcome surprise.
If it’s any indication, the Unity platform (what Shadowgun is built on) has a bright future ahead in terms of game graphics and development. If you don’t believe me, check out their next titleBladeslinger. And those of you on Android, longing for some gorgeous TPS action? You won’t have long to wait, as it looks like we’ll see Shadowgun on Android in October.
I’m fairly certain Pollushot is the first game I’ve seen that combines pirate mechs, pollution, and slingshot-style gameplay -- but that’s not a bad thing; in fact, it’s precisely that recipe that makes Pollushot so fun and compelling. You’ve got to shoot those polluting sky pirates down with your trusty slingshot, which you can move around the screen at will. Your ammo comes from catching bits of machinery in your sling as you chip away at the filthy metal machines. It’s a fantastic application of multitouch, and I greatly enjoyed evading and firing my slingshot around the screen.
There are three different levels to unlock based on point totals, and a ton of achievements to gain whilst popping those pesky pirate polluters out of the sky. In addition, the designs in Pollushot have a really cool steampunk feel to them, as do the animations of the machines and the soundtrack. You’re getting some high replay value and classic arcade enjoyment wrapped in a unique package for only a buck, so definitely check it out.
I love spaghetti westerns, and Cowboy Guns is right up that alley: a dual stick shooter with a decent story in it and some goofy character models that make for a fun little adventure. You’re “The Kid,” a bad-guy-turned good who’s got to protect his town when his old “friends” show up to cause trouble. You’re the law in these parts, and the town’s counting on you to run these yellow-bellied curs out of town.
Even though Cowboy Guns is a shooter, it’s not particularly fast-paced; in fact, you’ll often find yourself strategically planning reload times and ammo rations in later parts of the game. There are also sheriff stars scattered all over the game for you to pick up that unlock upgrades you can purchase. Money’s scarce, though (at least I felt like it was), so choose upgrades wisely.
Adventure mode is a lot of fun, but if you’re not the narrative type (or if you get annoyed with the story), you can unlock quick play mode pretty quickly. If this sounds like your spittoon of... well, spit (gross), give Cowboy Guns a whirl.
If you’re a gamer of a certain age, you remember a time when handheld gaming consisted of one device: the Nintendo Gameboy. Ah, I recall the days of Paperboy and Tetris like they were yesterday... There’s a certain nostalgia in the look, sound, and feel of Gameboy titles, and Stardash for iOS and Android hits that note perfectly.
Your standard Gameboy controls (directional and A/B buttons) translate nicely to multitouch, and the gameplay is very simple and straightforward, just like you’d expect. It’s a side-scrolling run and jump game with coins to collect and bad guys to stomp on -- a true nod to classic titles like Super Mario Bros., but never a blatant copy.
As for Stardash’s difficulty level, It definitely walks a fine line between being fairly difficult and downright infuriating in some places, but I consider that a choice by developer Orangepixel to give it that old school feel. Now get off my lawn, sonny, I’ve got some gaming to do. *shakes cane*
This one’s a bit obscure, but I’ve been enjoying the heck out of it all week. If you’re a fan of games like Fruit Ninja, then you’ll definitely get a kick out of Squid Shoots Skeets! It's a tap-to-shoot skeet game with flying fruit and bombs. Like I said, it’s very reminiscent of Fruit Ninja, but it’s no less addicting (not to mention I enjoy the adorableness and dynamism of the artwork far more in SSS!)
You have three lives to shoot as much as you can - no special modes, just one simple and straightforward arcade play. Every now and then special planes and boats will cross the screen with extra points or lives, and there’s a reload mechanic to keep things interesting. Tap the bullets to reload (there’s no penalty for reloading early, and you have unlimited ammo), but make sure you find the right time to do so, especially when things start getting crazy and you’ve got 4-5 objects flying across the screen at once.
Do yourself a favor and spend a buck on SSS!,especially if you’re a fan of pick-up-and-play games with lots of replay value and fun, cheerful artwork.
Ashley Esqueda is a semi-notable tech enthusiast, blogger, and all around mobile junkie who currently covers mobile technology and hosts shows and podcasts for sites including Android Central, Techfoolery, and Tecca. She's thrilled to be booting up the Mobile Games Roundup here on G4TV.com, since mobile games are proving to be compelling, fun, and constantly evolving. Every week, she rounds up her five favorite mobile games in every genre, and she's always on the lookout for the next big thing.
If you've got a game you think should be considered for the roundup, hit her up on Twitter @ashleyesqueda!