The best mobile video games can be hard to find, simply because of the sheer number 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
There’s nothing better than recapturing some of that old nostalgia from a beloved gaming mascot, and Sonic CD is doing just that. For those of you old enough to remember the original, you’ll recall Sonic CD was one of the most critically acclaimed Sonic games ever. Sega’s now brought this classic over to iOS (and many other platforms) with some enhanced features and the same exuberance we’ve come to love from the Sonic franchise.
As always, Sonic’s got to stop Dr. Robotnik (“Dr. Eggman”) from acquiring items that will allow him to take over the world. It’s been ported beautifully to iOS, with the same killer time travel mechanic (which allows you to play past, present, and future versions of each level), alongside some nice touch optimizations and enhancements to the original game. In addition, the original Japanese soundtrack is in this version of Sonic CD, making this a must-buy for any old school gamer looking to relive the glory days of 16-bit, especially if you missed it the first time around.
Shine Runner takes us into the deep, deep South and the world of airboating and illegal smuggling... but don’t take this game too seriously, as it’s a funny and entertaining race game with some buy/sell elements to it. You get 10 trips from one stop to another, and between those landmarks, you’ll be racing down the bayou, avoiding cops, crashing into everything that moves (and doesn’t move), and collecting bags of cash.
The best part about Shine Runner is that even the gameplay doesn’t take itself too seriously. You can’t destroy your boat or fail a run; on the contrary, you destroy everything you crash into, and the runs are time based, so you’ll only lose a cash bonus if you can’t make it to the checkpoint in time. When you arrive at your stop, you buy and sell items at the best prices in order to rack up as much dough as possible before your 10 run tour ends. The bluegrass soundtrack and hilarious voiceover adds loads to the game’s charm, too (props for using the Wilhelm scream, guys).
iOS (Universal) $1.99
Game developers continue to impress with some really cool titles that put a twist on their retro ancestors, and Box Cat exemplifies this super cool 8-bit revolution. The streets can be a violent place for a frog, or a chicken, or whatever else might be crossing; now, it’s time for those oft-run over animals to get their revenge. Instead of hoping you don’t get hit by a car, your entire goal in Box Cat is the opposite: to take to the streets with your oversized feline and cause car wrecks. Think Burnout’s crash modes, but in 8-bit and with a cat.
It’s a simple concept that brings crazy amounts of joy and provides a new and interesting way to play the “road-crossing” genre. Unlockable cats and combos make for a great pick in the App Store if you’re seeking something that looks retro but feels fresh. Frogger never got payback like this!
iOS (Universal) $4.99
Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer actually came out in July of this year, but someone suggested I check it out, since it just got a sizeable expansion. This is a really cool card game for those out there who enjoy tabletop card gaming (or want to get into it). Instead of being a deck-building game that favors long time players, Ascension works on a per-game deck building basis. This method is a welcome one, especially if you’re tentative about getting into card games and fear being trounced by an expert.
Every game, you and your opponent(s) begin with the same deck, and must build a powerful deck as you play to collect honor points. The game ends when the pool of honor points all get distributed. If you’re not a card game junkie, and this sounds terribly confusing, fear not: Ascension includes a very well done tutorial to help you learn the ropes in record time. The just-released expansion, “Return of the Fallen,” is available via IAP and offers either a new standalone 2-player game, or an addon pack of cards to the original Ascension’s center deck.
iOS (Universal) FREE
Egg Punch is a cute little title that combines mini-golf and physics, and then presents in in a very adorable package. As a little chicken, mischievous rabbits have snatched your feathers. He can’t go walking around naked, so the chick hops into an egg and gets ready to reclaim his feathery outerwear from those pesky rabbit jerks.
The game has the same pull-back-and-launch mechanic you see in a lot of other games, but it’s framed in miniature golf courses. Collect feathers, and when you complete the course, use earned coins and spend ‘em in the shop. Coins can buy you different eggs to roll around in, or power-ups to help you get your feathers back, while feathers accumulate to unlock new areas. The courses start off easy, but you’ll be challenged by later levels. Egg Punch is a sweet title with a lot of charm, and if you have kids, it’s a great choice for both of you to enjoy.
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 or circle her on Google+ and send it over!