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
Finally, after numerous expansions and spin-offs, we’ve got Angry Birds Space, the first true sequel to Rovio’s 800lb. gorilla Angry Birds. If you haven’t heard of it... well, you’re probably allergic to electronics and can’t read this site. So does the sequel live up to its predecessor?
In a word: Absolutely.
In a genre where I was convinced there was no more ground to cover, Rovio stopped looking for that ground and turned their gaze to the stars. Angry Birds Space, as its title suggests, takes place off-planet, and the game shines because of it. Launching your birds now also has a gravity element tied into it: fling your bird into the halo of gravity surrounding asteroids harboring those pesky pigs, and use that gravitational pull to alter the bird’s trajectory and crush those green piggies. It feels familiar, sure, but it’s also fresh, and that’s no small feat.
There are very few people out there who haven’t experienced Angry Birds at least once, and it’s safe to say most of us using a mobile device will spend some time with Angry Birds Space. If opening weekend downloads are any indication (Rovio reports over 10 million downloads in a scant three days), I think it’s safe to assume this sequel’s already rocketed into the stratosphere... and beyond.
I really dig one-touch endless games as of late, so it’s no surprise how enchanted I am by Madcoaster. This is a fun romp in the world of roller coasters, and it’s a charming title with a lot of entertainment packed in. The concept is similar to Tiny Wings and Jetpack Joyride: a line of roller coaster cars with some thrill-seeking kids jets across the screen on its track, and a single tap causes the cars to hop onto alternate tracks that pop up from time to time. As you fly across the tracks, you’ll be mowing down animals, collecting coins, and completing objectives.
If you’re wondering why you should be completing those objectives, it’s to unlock cooler cars and other goodies (though I’m definitely eager for more unlockables on that front, Chillingo). Madcoaster is easily addicting, and provides tons of replayability for its entry fee. Best of all? Unlike the other games I’ve mentioned, this ride doesn’t end on the first go round; you get three lives instead of a single try each time you play, making it even more compelling to go as far as possible.
Apparently, it’s “endless runner” week on Knuckle Up, and Hunger Games: Girl on Fire is adding to the list. It’s not one of those horribly made games cobbled together for a quick movie tie-in, though;Girl on Fire is actually a lot of fun. There’s something to be said for a developer who’s willing to take a risk, and graphically, GoF isn’t what you’d expect. Instead of a slick, powerhouse game, we’re presented with this really special 16-bit look and feel and simple (yet effective) gameplay.
The story is straightforward: Katniss is on the run from Tracker Jackers, and must shoot her trusty bow and arrow at them to make it back home to District 12. That’s all there is to the game, and the controls are as basic as tapping which direction you want to shoot in and swiping up and down to move from upper to lower platforms while she runs. Overall, the game’s simplicity and replayability won me over, and if you love old school arcade games, you’ll find Hunger Games: Girl on Fire satisfying. Now go, and may the odds be ever in your favor...
There’s a lot to love about a game that challenges and relaxes simultaneously, which is what makes Zen Bound 2 so special. If you’re not familiar with the original, it’s a very popular puzzle game that involves swiping and tilting your phone or tablet to wrap a rope around a wooden object and paint it in the process. The concept is simple, but the game can be hugely challenging in later levels.
The visuals in Zen Bound 2 might be simpler than you’re used to, but they’re incredibly well done, with the wood and stone taking on some impressively lifelike textures. Playing on a phone or smaller device will satisfy you in a pinch, but it’s a crime to miss out on the gorgeous tablet version. One great feature in the sequel is the inclusion of all the levels from the original game, but my favorite thing about Zen Bound 2 is the mellow, atmospheric soundtrack.
I love it when critically acclaimed games come to a new major platform, since it gives me an excuse to rave about them. Temple Run has a huge following on iOS, and this week, Android users now get to experience one of the best mobile games out there. This 3D runner has over 36 million downloads on iOS, and the Android experience is everything the iOS version is.
While you run, you use swipes and taps to jump, slide, and turn corners against an Indiana Jones-style backdrop. Coins scattered around the path can be collected and used to purchase unlockables like new characters, power ups, and extra lives. Android users, I know it was a long time, but it was definitely worth the wait. And iOS users who haven’t played Temple Run? You’re missing out!
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!