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
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is the stuff iOS masterpieces are made of: an excellent story, unique gameplay mechanics, and double helpings of style. The game opens on the cold, dead body of Sissal (that’s you). Being murdered is usually pretty terrible news to the recently deceased, so you’ll have to use Sissal’s newfound ability to navigate between the realm of the living and the dead to discover who you are, how you died, and who killed you. I hesitate to give away any of the plot, since it’s a great murder mystery with some really cool twists and funny turns throughout.
Sissal’s soul is able to transfer to inanimate objects, which can then be manipulated in some way (a “ghost trick,” the title’s namesake) to help alter the course of time. A lot of the puzzles have a time limit on them, so it can definitely be a challenge in certain chapters to figure out just what to do before the timer runs out. Fortunately, you can restart chapters as often as you like if you mess up. And it’s so much fun to figure out each puzzle.
I thought a lot about how to write this review: to serve the people who love text-heavy, linear titles like Ghost Trick and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, or to serve mobile gamers as a whole. If you’re the former, this is a perfect game; if you’re the latter, it might not be for you (but you should give the first two chapters a try, since they’re free). It hits every note its target audience is looking for, and doesn’t apologize or compromise for it.
The first Reckless Racing was a lot of fun (and wildly popular); its country themes and excellent controls made it a great choice for any iPad or iPhone owner looking for a racing game to satisfy their need for speed. So when it seemed Pixelbite Games made some serious changes to the sequel, I was hesitant. Would it feel the same? Well, it doesn’t feel the same, folks -- it feels better. The changes made only enhance the already amazing gameplay, and Reckless Racing 2 is an awesome racing game on iOS for any racing fan.
The centerpiece of Reckless Racing 2 is its sprawling Career Mode, in which you’ll take one driver from the bowels of the racing world to the pinnacle. Career Mode really showcases the fantastic design of the maps, and you’ll find yourself admiring the physics of the cars (and the environments you drive them in) stunning. With a dynamic difficulty level that adjusts to the number of races you win or lose, and great additions and tweaks to Arcade Mode and Single Event modes, you’ll love slamming down the gas in Reckless Racing 2.
Anomaly Warzone Earth HD just recently hit the Android Market, and because of that, I get to sneak it into Knuckle Up and tell you how oh-so-good it is. Sure, we’ve seen tower defense games with a post-apocalyptic look and alien enemies before... but have you ever played on the side of the creeps? I didn’t think so!
AWEHD is a really cool twist on the traditional tower defense genre: your units must traverse the various maps and shoot down the alien towers along the path (or complete other objectives you’re called on to complete). You must then use a pre-action strategy map to trace your chosen path through the zone, making each level customizable and highly replayable. The game’s weakest link is definitely it its story/writing; however, even though the writing is pretty awful in spots, it does its duty to shuttle you to the next map, and each setup is a blast to strategize and execute.
Being able to cut your own, custom paths through the towers makes AWE a fun strategy title to pick up. It’s also presented in a very lovely top-down fashion with some good art and design to each area.
I often feel there’s a dearth of really good point-and-click adventure games on mobile. I yearn for the days of yore, when titles like Grim Fandango, Myst, and other games in that ilk reigned supreme. Fire Maple Games delivered The Secret of Grisly Manor to satisfy our adventure needs last year, and now they’ve delivered The Lost City, yet another wonderful point-and-click (or is that touch?) title for us to enjoy.
This is a great Myst-style adventure with some additions that enhance your experience, like a map with thumbnails of each scene. This particular feature is a godsend, especially since you’ll be returning to scenes often to solve the beautifully crafted puzzles sprinkled throughout the game. Another added tweak is the manual changing of seasons, which changes the environment and lets you solve certain puzzles: for example, in Spring, you can’t descend a well filled with water, but in Summer, the well dries out, and you can climb down into it. Touches like these make The Lost City well worth the price tag. It doesn’t currently support tablet resolutions, but scaling it up on the iPad 2 didn’t look all that terrible; in fact, it actually reminded me of those old adventure games even more and added to my nostalgia.
It takes a lot for standard, match-three puzzle games to really grab me, and Gem Spinner II did just that. This is a cool take on the genre, with some fun new mechanics to mess around with. It’s a standard match-three game, in that you’ll be swapping gems to match up and pop colored gems; however, those gems are placed in tiles of varying shapes and sizes, and you can rotate those tiles and move them around the screen to help in your quest. Matching gems darkens the squares they rest on, and if you darken all of the squares in a tile, it pops, too.
GSII has a cute archaeological story that serves the themes of each level well, and you’ll find yourself quickly drawn into the game and using every ounce of brainpower to make those tiles disappear. Puzzle enthusiasts will love poring over each round and attempting to perfect them, while casual gamers will have something quick and easy to play when they’ve got a few minutes of downtime.
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!