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 are our top five games this week:
GAME OF THE WEEK
At first glance, Super Crate Box is one of those mobile games that’s the equivalent of a one-night stand. You get your arcade fix, and move on to the next... right? Wrong. SCB quickly sucks you in, and you find yourself coming back to it over and over for new play sessions. It evokes memories of the original Mario Bros. with its single-screen levels, and throws in crate collecting that reminds me of Muffin Knight.
As mentioned, our hero hops around the screen to collect boxes. Each crate holds different weapons that auto-equip when you pick one up, and you’ll have to grab as many crates as possible before dying to the monsters pouring out of the pipe at the top of the level. Those weapons help you out, though; from flamethrowers to revolvers, you’ll have a great time blowing bad guys to smithereens.
Super Crate Box is a shining example of what mobile gaming is all about: simple, minimalist design, solid yet simple controls, and super-addictive gameplay all melted into a singularly amazing experience on your iOS device. It’s retro without being gimmicky or stale, and that’s a pretty impressive accomplishment.
Oh my galaxy, Blot is gorgeous! Check out the trailer, because words can’t describe how lovely the parallax, 2D-sketched background looks while your adorable little ink blot sails through the sky. This is a side-scrolling, never-ending “distance” game that takes a lot of cues from Halfbrick’s Jetpack Joyride (a favorite iOS title of mine). Fortunately, the game never feels like a cheap copy of its similar brethren, and breathes fresh, artistic life into an already fun category of mobile games.
Touch the screen to make your inky hero rise, and release to let him descend. Avoid pencils, tacks, and other hazards while collecting coins and power-up blots and go as far as you can before being splattered. Sure, that formula’s been done before, but never so beautifully. Blot also works in the same way Jetpack Joyride does in that you can use coins you collect to purchase power-ups and other goodies like costumes (and those coins can be purchased with real money via IAP).
Quell Reflect invokes a feeling of tranquility and sereneness even in its title. Those emotions carry easily into the game, which is an achingly lovely game that reminds us how peaceful solving puzzles can be. The reason Quell Reflect really shines is due largely in part to its acute attention to seemingly inconsequential details: the levels are named instead of numbered; each section of puzzles is part of a vintage year in the overall game; and the soundtrack is haunting yet subtle.
Each puzzle consists of a drop (or drops) of dew. Your task is to swipe them around the board to collect all of the glowing dots littered about while avoiding various hazards (spikes, poison drops, etc). Gates that only allow you to pass by once are a nice twist, and you’re awarded hints (stacked cumulatively throughout the game) if you complete a level in the minimum moves. There’s a lot to love about Quell Reflect, especially for anyone who loves the puzzle genre. Did we also mention it’s available on webOS (score one for the HP TouchPad!)
I’ll fully admit I’ve seen Triple Town on a lot of social media sites, but never felt any urgent need to try it. You can blame my general lack of enthusiasm for games that become gated in their middle levels and require huge time sinks between play sessions to regenerate “currency.” Luckily, Triple Town came to iOS, and now I’m hooked. It’s not your run-of-the-mill simulation game (plant crops, grow crops, harvest crops, and so on); on the contrary, it’s actually anchored in a match three format.
You start with a simple play area and must match three of the same kind of plant to create larger objects: match three patches of grass, create a bush; match three bushes, get a tree; three trees make a house. No game is complete (in my opinion, anyway) without evil bears, so they’ve thrown them in to terrorize your town’s denizens. If you can trap them into a single space, they become tombstones (three tombstones become a church). Triple Town is much simpler to play than it is to explain, I promise, and you’ll love the challenge of placing items strategically and building a town.
Off the Leash will be the kind of game you keep on your iPhone to whip out when in need of instant cheering up. If you hadn’t guessed from the title, you’ll be hanging out with dogs quite a bit: a lovable labrador learns dogs have been banned in his city, and makes a run for it. OtL is almost completely controlled by tilting your iPhone left and right to steer the lab towards food, power-ups, and other pooches. Running into other dogs while you make a dash for it adds them to your pack, which racks up bonuses when you hit checkpoints.
The only time you’ll ever use touch to control your canine hero is when you want your dog pack to slow down and form a single file line. This comes in handy when navigating the more treacherous parts of each zone; however, you have to cross the checkpoint line before time runs out, so you must use that ability wisely. Off the Leash is silly, fun, and filled with a lot of (very infectious) joy.
Ashley Esqueda is a 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!