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
Before I get into Pocket Planes, there were a lot of amazing games this week. But if there’s one game that captured my attention a little too much this past week, it was Pocket Planes. It’s from Nimblebit, the same two-man team that brought you Tiny Tower, one of our favorite mobile games of 2011, and they don’t disappoint with their follow up. In Pocket Planes, you’ll be honing your management skills with your very own airline... and while that might sound mundane, let’s all recall how addicting Tiny Tower is, in spite of its seemingly vanilla premise.
The true beauty of Pocket Planes is its depth and wide gameplay options. There’s gameplay here for everyone, from super casual to the deep micromanagement players, and the game really pulls you in because of it. You start off with smaller planes, and choose which region around the globe you want to start your airline. From there, you’ll ferry bitizens (Nimblebit’s iconic and adorable denizens) and cargo from location to location. It’s very simple, but when you begin really digging into building airplanes from parts, organizing flights for maximum income, and expanding your air empire; the game transcends into a truly immersive experience.
There’s so much to love and discover about Pocket Planes: Global Events (more gold and prizes for shuttling bitizens to a specific location); Flight Crews (start your own with friends, or join a larger gaming site’s crew to rank higher during global events); and Plane Management (build your own new planes with found/purchased parts). The beloved “BitBook” (a knockoff Facebook for your bitizens) remains in place, and there’s a familiarity there that immediately puts you at ease. Lastly, Pocket Planes is free with IAP available. So if you’ve got an iOS device, there’s no excuse to skip giving it a try. For you Android users, Nimblebit says they’re working on a port of Pocket Planes, so keep your eyes peeled for it in the coming months!
Pendulo Studios is famous for its selection of adventure games (most notably the Runaway franchise), and Yesterday is a winning crown jewel by iOS standards, and also outstanding on Mac and PC if you don’t have an iOS device laying around. I don’t want to spoil too much of the story for you, but it has to do with dead hobos, a satanic cult, and a Memento-esque storyline that had me guessing until the very end. Speaking of the end of the game, you can decide how to play it out, choosing from multiple characters and POVs. It’s a detail that makes the game truly satisfying, no matter how you want Yesterday to end.
It’s a true point-and-click adventure game, with various items scattered along your journey to help solve puzzles and progress further. There’s a lot of jumping around in the story, but your main character is John Yesterday, a man with amnesia and a recent suicide attempt seeking to figure out who he was the day before. It’s a very good story, but be warned: this isn’t a game for kids, as there are some well-placed f-bombs and some gritty imagery. One particular scene with a toothpick and an eyeball left me wincing for hours. Keep this one to yourself, turn down the lights, and enjoy the graphic novel look and feel of Yesterday.
I was blown away by the preview I got to see of The Act at E3 this year, and I’m happy to report the game is just as charming as the initial impression I got a couple weeks back. This is a love letter to games like Dragon’s Lair, but with an added inteactivity we’ve never really seen before in an iOS game. If you missed the E3 preview column, you play as a guy named Edgar who, via a series of events, must save his brother from a lobotomy, keep both of them employed, and win the heart of the beautiful nurse working in the hospital where the game takes place.
Each cutscene ends (or begins?) an interactive gameplay moment where you’ll need to slide your finger to the left or right to control Edgar’s actions. Slide too harshly or too far, and you’ll probably overdo whatever you’re intending to, failing the moment. It’s such a cool experiment -- the merging of narrative and interactive gameplay -- and you’ll find yourself enjoying how each scenario has to be played. If there’s one thing “wrong” with The Act, it’s that it’s far too short, with the game’s total completion time around a couple hours. Let’s hope Chillingo has plans to greatly expand Edgar’s story via more chapters, because The Act is well worth the price of admission.
LevelUp Studio is fairly well known within the Android community; they’re known for their killer apps, and they’re about to be known for their first great game, Peti. For their first foray into mobile gaming, Peti is an incredibly well-designed and thought-out puzzle game. Peti stands for “People for Ethical Treatment of Invaders,” and there’s a nice little story attached to the game: A mother alien has lost her babies to the lure of Earth, and now, your job is to help them return to her loving, uh, tentacles.
To do that, you’ll need to match 4 or more blocks of the same color as they fall. If a matching set has an alien of the same color in it, he gets sent back to his mother. The goal is to “pop” every alien in a level so it can return home. You won’t be without help, though, as Peti has a bucketful of powerups (12 at launch) to make rescuing aliens that much easier. It’s worth mentioning that while puzzle games like this can be an exercise in frustration on a touchscreen, Peti’s controls are obscenely well-executed, and translate perfectly to a smaller screen as well as tablets. It’s a simple yet beautifully designed game -- though we don’t expect any less from the same folks who created Plume, the best Twitter app ever for Android. If Peti is any indication, LevelUp Studios has a very bright future in mobile gaming ahead of them.
If you’re old like me, you remember the first time you played Centipede in an arcade. You might also remember having absolutely no clue that the hero in Centipede was a garden gnome shooting bugs as they snaked through a forest of mushrooms. Yes, this whole time we’ve been fighting off actual centipedes in a tiny garden war, and now, with the help of Atari, a whole new generation gets to experience Centipede on iOS and Android devices. And even though it returns to its roots, this isn’t your (or maybe your dad’s) Centipede...
Origins plays similarly to the original: slide your finger to position your gnome and shoot the centipedes winding towards the bottom of the screen. The visuals have been brought up to date with some lovely renders and environments, and an IAP system is in place that offers weapons and upgrades that assist your assault on the insect invaders. Updating classics can often be difficult, toeing the line between too many changes and not enough. Atari rebooted this the right way and managed to find a good balance of old and new. While older gamers might balk at the visual updates and yearn for another 8-bit throwback, Centipede®: Origins is a revamp that will surely captivate young gamers the same way the original did for us.
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!