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.
GAME OF THE WEEK
iOS (Universal): $4.99
Truth be told, I was skeptical of Aquaria at first. At first glance, it seemed like a silly, cutesy underwater adventure for girls; however, after sitting down and playing it, I’m happy to jam my foot in my mouth, as Aquaria is an incredible title worth the accolades it’s raking in. Imagine parts from classic franchises and old 16- and 32- bit games like Metroid, Castlevania, and Ecco the Dolphin stitched together to create a game that’s one of the loveliest and deepest games I’ve played yet on the iPad.
You control Naija, a beautiful sea creature who’s suddenly rocked by the notion that she’s all alone in the world after encountering a strange being. She sets out to discover a world (named “The Verse”), and quickly learns it’s not all filled with peaceful denizens. The game’s controls are excellently ported from PC to touchscreen, and there is a mechanic that allows Naija to use the Verse by singing various songs.
It’s easily apparent how much love and care went into crafting this game, from the lonely yet rich expanse of the ocean, to the soundtrack, to Naija’s voiceovers. Beautiful to its core, Aquaria will remind you why you love the adventure genre.
iOS (Universal): $6.99
If you’re having a bad day, or need a break from all the shiny, happy, weird titles I post here on Knuckle Up, Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation is here to provide relief. This is a straight up military shooter in the vein of CoD, and it doesn’t disappoint. Its predecessor, Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus was good in its own right, but MC3 pretty much ups the ante, making it a must-buy for the FPS lover.
There’s an excellent 13-mission campaign mode, dropping you into the middle of a plot to destroy North America. Of course, you’re tapped to foil the plot by (what else?) shooting terrorists in the freakin’ face and doing everything in your power to stop the plan to detonate nukes in your favorite major cities.
Not only do you get the single player campaign, there’s also an excellently done multiplayer, offering 12-player games with 7 types of modes and a handful of maps. MC3 is, without a doubt, currently the best FPS in mobile. And don’t fret, Android fans: MC3 will be hitting the Android Market ASAP!
iOS (Universal): $0.99
For a company that only has a few games out, Mika Mobile sure knows how to grow with the mobile market. They’ve completely revamped the hit sequel to the original Zombieville USA, and make no mistake, it’s a bucket full of win. The screen is now a 2.5D playing field instead of the original’s 2D, and missions are time-based as opposed to making it to the end of a level.
It’s certainly a transition if you really love the first Zombieville, but ZU2 provides the ability to actually upgrade your weapon cache as you take down the undead and collect cash. You can’t hide out in houses anymore, but you’re also allowed a lot more freedom regarding how you complete a level: sometimes I chose to stand my ground, sometimes I tried to go as far as possible, and other times I tried other things that quickly got me killed.
The addition of bluetooth and GameCenter co-op is a great addition, though often I get stingy and want all the killing for myself. Oh, and unlocking levels is numbers-based now, meaning you’ll have to take out a specific number of zombies before unlocking new levels. Overall, Zombieville USA 2 is a more than worthy sequel to an already excellent original.
BURN THE CITY (iOS, Android)
Since you’re probably already playing Angry Birds (half a billion downloads, anyone?), allow me to offer an alternative: Burn the City, a cute aim-and-shoot game in which your sole objective is to destroy various cityscapes with your fireballs. You’re an adorable little Godzilla-like monster who’s pretty pissed off, and you’ve got a lot of blazing hot projectiles to shoot at the cities in each level.
BtC keeps itself from becoming a straight, boring clone of Angry Birds by doing two things: removing the limit on how many fireballs you get to shoot in a level (instead scoring by time and various bonuses); and providing clever ways to destroy cities like nuclear plants and airplanes carrying explosives. The music does get a bit repetitive in longer play sessions, but this isn’t a game made for marathon mobile gaming, so it’s a minor shortcoming. The cel-shaded levels are lovely to behold, and the game itself provides a lot of fun and some strategy beyond what your status quo, birds-vs-pigs game might offer. It’s worth a spin, but beware: you’ll likely find yourself attached to the game’s cute harbinger of destruction before you know it.
If someone asked me when I was a kid how to improve the oft-boring game of rock-paper-scissors, I’m not sure I would have had an answer for them; fortunately, Jeff Matsuda (the man responsible for the super slick animated series The Batman) does have the answer. He’s put forth his artistic efforts into Age of Monsters - Rock Paper Scissors,an ubercool R-P-S game in which you face off against deviously drawn monster foes and iOS friends alike.
You’re probably wondering why you should download this title, if it’s “just” a slick R-P-S game. I’m telling you right now, this is probably the most fun way to settle a disagreement (unless you have those weird sumo suits and a ring to wrestle in). My favorite part of AoM is definitely the asynchronous multiplayer, allowing you to play against a friend without being online at the same time. Seriously, who doesn’t love a little bit of RoShamBo, especially when insane-looking monsters and tongue-in-cheek bios are involved? It’s free, so there’s no excuse not to have this on your iPhone -- speaking of which, where’s my high-res iPad version?
Ashley Esqueda is a semi-notable tech enthusiast, blogger, and all around mobile junkie who contributes to Mobile Nations, Techfoolery, and Tecca. If you're playing a game you think should be in Knuckle Up, follow her on Twitter