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
Simply put, Plague Inc. makes wiping out humanity fun. This is a game where you’ll feel the exhilaration of creating your own deadly designer disease... and the horror that comes with watching the entire globe get wiped out by it. Destroying the human race has never been so personal.
As mentioned, you’ll be tasked with making a disease, and then choosing its country of origin. As it spreads, you get points to spend in three categories: transmission, symptoms, and abilities. Level up each area to increase the lethality and strength of your biological terror upon the masses, and watch the global map turn red to reflect the infected.
When your disease causes enough of a problem, scientists will start researching a cure, and you’ll have to either build up your disease’s immunity or choose symptoms that are highly lethal (and spread quickly) in order to take out the cure. The simulation is wildly engrossing, and for a first time developer outing in the App Store, Plague, Inc. truly delivers an incredibly fun experience.
It was so close this week, choosing between Plague, Inc. and Mutant Storm. And if you’re a fan of shooters as opposed to strategy, Mutant Storm will be your Game of the Week. Crescent Moon Games is no stranger to excellence; in fact, Slingshot Racer was recently another top pick of ours. Mutant Storm keeps that tradition alive, with a fast-paced shooter that’s sure to keep you up at night. There’s something beautiful in the simplicity of Mutant Storm: you’re a ship, you shoot the bad guys coming at you. Ah, but if it were only that easy...
Each difficulty mode has 89 levels for you to master, and they get tougher as you go. The controls feel a bit odd upon your first playthrough, but by the second go-round, I felt like they were smooth and complimented the ship’s physics well. The game itself is stunning, lending a Tron-esque feel with 3D arenas and visualizations. It’s easy to lose yourself as you shoot your way through each level, so don’t be surprised if you give up way more than a couple hours to Mutant Storm.
If you’ve ever wanted Portal to have a 2D platforming cousin, then look no further. Magic Portals offers the teleporting madness without the time commitment, and does it with magical visuals and solid gameplay. You’re a wizard who can conjure up teleportation portals, and each level requires you to get to the gate at the end of the level. Your score depends on how few portals it takes you to get there, though, so you’ll want to be sure you’re creating portals carefully.
Along the way, the wizard won’t just contend with creating portals, though: you’ll also need to find ways around blockades, use giant boulders and other items to create new paths, and contend with no-portal zones. Visually, the game is a treat to behold, and it looks gorgeous on my new HTC EVO LTE’s screen. There’s only one game mode in Magic Portals, which is a bummer, but overall, it’s worth giving a spin.
Our last two games both feature our favorite kind of undead (zombies), but they couldn’t be any more different in terms of tone and gameplay. Zombie Carnaval offers a whimsical, silly endless runner overflowing with charm. Yes, we know there are a lot of really good endless games on iOS, but this one deserves a look -- if only for its completely aggressive approach to keeping you in the game.
Your adorable little zombie must (what else?) eat brains to keep on shuffling forward. As you bite people, they convert to a part of your horde, and they continue to run behind you while the game goes on. The larger your horde, the bigger the obstacles you’ll be able to take down. As you chew up brains, a card gets stamped; collect 10 and you’ll be eligible to win prizes in a lottery. If you’re a fan of endless runners, don’t miss out on Zombie Carnaval, because it’s one of the best ones we’ve seen in a while.
Z0MB1ES (on teh ph0ne) is actually three games bundled into one: I MAED A GAEM W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!1, Time Viking, and Endless Zombies. For the sake of time, I’ll focus on the first game. If you haven’t played it, I MAED A GAEM W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!1 is an Xbox Live title that’s a pretty decent dual stick shooter. It’s now been ported over to WP7, and it brings with it the same fun gameplay and strangely funny soundtrack. The premise is simple: use the controls to dodge and shoot zombies as they descend upon you. Powerups abound, giving you a straightforward little mobile game... until you turn the volume up.
The oddest (and most polarizing) part of Z0MB1ES is the soundtrack, created (and sang) by the game’s maker. The zombies come at you in waves synced with the music, and if you actually really listen to the lyrics, they’re pretty entertaining. If you don’t enjoy the music, though, you’ll definitely find the entire experience a nonstarter (since the music is a large part of the game’s appeal, at least for me). Couple I MAED A GAEM W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!1 with two other solid games for a buck apiece, and it’s a welcome addition to the Marketplace.
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