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
I have a feeling Circadia is going to be a very controversial choice, but after playing it non-stop and marveling at how its simplicity and beauty. I feel it’s more than earned its spot this week as the top mobile title in my eyes. Circadia is unlike any music or rhythm game you’ve ever played. At first, it seems too basic, too simplistic. Progress a few levels, and the game opens up like a fine wine or rare flower.
Each level consists of colored dots that, when touched, play a note and send a ripple across the screen. In every level, the goal is the same: get every note ripple to intersect at the same time on top of a single white dot, playing a chord and completing the objective. It starts so simply it’s easy to write off; however, as the levels unfold, their increasing complexity becomes so beautiful and so challenging, it’s hard to remember why you ever had doubts about the game. You’ll find yourself lost in Circadia’s every note, and that’s a wonderful thing.
I’m really digging Clockwork Brain in the same way I love the Brain Age series on Nintendo DS. It’s a beautifully designed game intending to train your mind and make it sharper via a variety of brain-busting mini-games. And bust your brain, they will: the games consist of visual, logic, and other types of challenges that are timed. Performing exceedingly well in a particular mini-game opens a sort of “bonus round” in which you keep playing without a timer, but the game ends if you make one mistake.
The mini-games offered in the initial download are more than enough to whet your mind-building whistle, but if that’s not enough, there are additional packs available via in-app purchase. You’ll quickly find yourself replaying the mini-games and attempting to best your own scores, and the cool Victorian-inspired steampunk aesthetic only adds to the enjoyment of the game. For free, it’s (pardon the pun) a no-brainer.
Full disclosure: my brother and I played the original Final Fantasy Tactics for PlayStation until our eyes dried out and shriveled into eye-raisins. That being said, I was really bummed to see Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions get released on the iPhone with no launch date for the iPad in sight. Fortunately, that day has come, and us Tactics-obsessed geeks can finally go crazy on the iPad’s larger screen and get our Ivalice on.
The game is a pretty straight port of the PSP remake (that was a port of the original Final Fantasy Tactics). While that means it’s still an excellent game filled with great AI, a compelling story, and deep strategy gameplay, it also means Square Enix didn’t really optimize the title for touch. Because of this omission, you’re going to be tapping the screen a lot to get your turns completed properly (and you’ll have some difficulty with the option selector, too). At such a high price point ($15.99), it’s tough to recommend to casual iOS gamers; then again, if you’re a diehard fan, you’re probably already playing it without my stamp of approval.
Midway Arcade joins the Atari arcade on the App Store as a really cool, retro throwback to titles we fondly remember in ye olden days of leaving the house to play video games. This is a super fun title with some great features and unlockables. At initial purchase, you get access to 10 arcade games including Joust, Rampage, Spy Hunter, and Root Beer Tapper. The cabinets have some great old school artwork, and the feel is truly nostalgic.
Some of the arcade games are simple classics like skeeball and air hockey; playing any game in the arcade gives you the opportunity to win tickets, which can be cashed in at the redemption booth for stuffed animals and other prizes. You can also purchase more cabinets like Gauntlet, NARC, and more in packs (and they’re very reasonably priced). There’s nothing quite like the nostalgia for arcade gaming, and Midway Arcade nails it perfectly. The only thing missing is iCade support so we could really get that authentic experience.
Grow is an odd little game. Starting off as a tiny fish egg, you’ll swim around habitats chomping up fish smaller than you to... well, grow. As you progress, you’ll encounter other, often larger fish with powers (vacuum and puffers, for starters) that eat you, so you’ll have to utilize a variety of power-ups and avoidance skills to survive.
While the level objectives don’t offer a ton of variety, there are plenty of upgrades to purchase in the shop with coins you pick up after eating fish. There’s a bit of strategy involving the larger fish and learning how to maneuver yourself around the tank without getting eaten up (especially in the timed survival missions), but it’s never too hard or so frustrating you want to walk away. Get out there and feed that fishy!
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!