Welcome to G4's Knuckle Up, where we bring you a byte-sized view of our five favorite mobile games every week. The phone and tablet 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
Jeff Matsuda creates some seriously wicked art in Escape from Age of Monsters. If you’ve never heard of Matsuda, you might have seen his work in The Batman animated series. Now, he’s once again bringing his talent to iOS with Escape from Age of Monsters, an endless runner with incredibly slick visuals and some crazy fun gameplay. The game takes place in the Age of Monsters, where denizens of the darker side of the universe (aliens, zombies, demons, and the like) have taken over. You play as Gizzard, a guy who’s just acquired some pretty epic gloves and a handful of orphans to protect.
Gizzard must strap on the gloves and run for his life while protecting said orphans from the evil creatures in hot pursuit. While they run, walls in either red or blue block their path, and you’ll need to tap the matching left or right glove to punch the wall down and keep moving. As endless runners go, this one’s a bit different: instead of getting one solitary life per run or a “x3” somewhere on the screen, each life is represented by an on-screen person (Gizzard being your final life). Get caught up on a door... and well, little orphan Suzie just got devoured. Mistime a punch, and tiny parentless Mike is now an appetizer. It’s devilish, dark, and freaking awesome.
Unlockables and an undeniably epic rock soundtrack provided by Los Angeles based band The Binges elevate Escape From Age of Monsters to another level. This game flat out bleeds cool.
I don’t know how I missed Dreamy Goat for so long; in fact, it’s been woefully neglected since I downloaded it the day it came out. Fortunately, after realizing what a putz I was, I experienced the joy that is Dreamy Goat and never want to live in a world without it. I’m not quite sure how to describe the game, as it’s unlike just about everything out there on iOS; however, I can say the MS Paint-like artwork is filled with wonder and delight, and the gameplay is cheerful and solid.
The premise of the game rests in the dreams of a little goat. As he sleeps, you’ll navigate his psychedelic dreamscapes, collecting hand-drawn items and tapping the screen to bounce higher. There are no high scores to achieve, no items to unlock, and no challenges to complete in Dreamy Goat. While that sounds like a complete drag, in this game it totally works, offering a joyous, artistic, and creative game to simply enjoy stress-free.
If I were a minion of the underworld, I would want Zombro to be my zombie boyfriend. I’m quite taken with this fun little puzzler, and it incorporates some unique gameplay mechanics that make it stand out amongst a very crowded genre. Zombro finds you in control of its title character, and you must get from one side of each level to the other. Sounds simple enough... but then you realize Zombro can’t jump with a full, heavy body. He can’t duck, either. And what about those oil cans strewn about? How will he collect them?
This is where Zombro shines creatively: instead of relying on slingshots or other similarly implemented items, you’ll take apart Zombro and use his body parts to climb, hop, crawl, and otherwise best each level. It’s macabre, but in a saccharine shell; indeed, it’s positively adorable to wander around with Zombro’s legs while his torso and brain wait to be reunited with them. The levels start easy, but quickly become clever and fun to solve, making for a fun time-waster that’s one part dark, and four parts sweet.
To truly appreciate Ski Safari, you will have to know where this image comes from:
If you don’t know what that image is from... well, we forgive you. Anyone with two thumbs will still really enjoy Ski Safari, however, there’s an extra special nostalgia that comes with understanding that image and what it means to you as a gamer. Ski Safari is an “endless skiier” game that evokes all the fun of SkiFree from your 386 PC days, but with gorgeously updated graphics and more fun than you can shake a stick at.
You’ll spend your time in Ski Safari skiing like a bat out of Hell down snow-covered hills, all the while hitching rides on yetis, penguins, and other fun stuff like snowmobiles. Tapping the screen makes you jump, and if you long press, you’ll backflip. Miss your jumps or land wrong, and you’ll get stuck in the powder (tapping furiously gets your skiier back up quickly and on his way again). Take too long to get up, and you’ll quickly be gobbled up by the monstrous avalanche happening behind you. That’s all there is to Ski Safari, but it’s certainly a lot of fun to play, and I predict future updates will only enhance the already-stellar gameplay with all manner of goodies.
And hey, at least the yeti doesn’t come out of nowhere and eat you this time around.
AbraWORDabra is definitely one of the stranger word games I’ve encountered on mobile, but it’s also an excellent family game that can help teach younger kids and entertain us adults. It’s an arcade-style puzzle game that uses wordplay as its main draw. There are “character blocks” with names and personalities (take a look at the game’s official website). If you can get them to a magic book, they’ll convert to letters you can then use to solve the word puzzles you’re presented with.
The game features four modes: Mizz Spell, requiring you to use new letters to correct the incorrect word displayed; Fill the Gap, where you drop in letters to solve word puzzles; U Genius, a variation on the previous modes that allows you to spell any word with available letters; and Float On, a minigame involving tilting your device to float balloons carrying letters toward the magic book. Each game mode is backed up by solid gameplay, and provides a seemingly fun way to teach kids spelling. One thing I’m sorely missing is Retina Display support for the new iPad, which seems like a missed opportunity considering AbraWORDabra’s antique-cool art style.
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!