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
Never have we seen a game weirder or more adorably twisted than Band Together. For aficionados of the short film (and movie) 9, this game will be right up your alley. The story comes together like this: Midge, a kid who’s been bullied recently, discovers little cardboard figures in his attic that come to life when they come into contact with light. Being the inquisitive kid we’ve all been at that age, Midge builds cardboard mazes for the “Bandies” (so named because they seem to -- what else? -- band together) and observes them attempting to discover the exit in each labyrinth.
You’re put in control of the Bandies, and you’ll swipe and drag across each screen to guide the group (or an individual). Each level looks gorgeous on the Retina iPad, and each level is introduced by a sketch and some thoughts from Midge. He’s a bit of an evil genius, and soon, your Bandies will have to avoid some seriously terrifying contraptions made of objects like thumbtacks and sharpened pencils. There’s a lot of fun to be found in such a strange, twisted game. In addition, it’s currently being offered for free on the App Store, so we couldn’t pass it up.
iOS | Android
When you’re dealing with the 7th game in a franchise, everyone wonders how you could possibly improve on an already-done formula. Asphalt 7: Heat is the newest installment of the uber-popular Asphalt games from Gameloft, and it doesn’t disappoint, bringing the same great gameplay and feature set racers have come to love in the series while still managing to infuse more life into it. The game truly shines in its level of detail (especially when we’re customizing the hell out of our racecars), and any arcade racing game fan will love just about everything offered in Asphalt 7: Heat.
Heat offers 15 tracks and 60 cars, all rooted in real-world locations and brands, and the formula is generally the same as other arcade racers: start with a car, win races, get better cars, win harder races. The cars look gorgeous as they speed through cities like London, Moscow, and Los Angeles. The controls are fluid and easy to pick up though your reflexes better be sharp for some of the maps. The only downside to Asphalt 7: Heat is the slightly annoying social sharing prompts at the end of every race, which we wish we could decline permanently, but overall, it’s a minor issue that doesn’t affect actual gameplay, which is superb.
I’m not sure how they do it (voodoo magic, probably), but Adult Swim is flat out killing it right now in mobile gaming. Just about every title they release is brilliant, fun, and funny, so it’s no surprise their newest game Velocirapture is another homerun. First off, everyone loves raptors: from their genius turn in the Jurassic Park franchise to the neverending romance the internet at large has with them, we’ve never met someone who doesn’t adore a raptor. Alas, they were wiped off the face of the Earth far too soon for us to enjoy (or for them to enjoy us... as dinner), so we’re left with creating content to speculate (as creatively as possible) to just how exactly raptors became extinct.
You’re a fair and decent Raptor God, but it’s time for the final act of the species’ existence to come to an end, and you must choose which raptors shall be saved, and which shall be smote. If this sounds awesome, it’s because it is. Green and red raptors in costumes will cross the path below, and you’ll swipe the green raptors up into the hand of Raptor God, and swipe down to send a deadly bolt of lightning towards the red ones. Velocirapture is deceptively simple yet addicting, and you’ll find yourself looking up after what you thought was a 10-minute session, wondering where the last hour went.
Even though it feels like we just saw a Spider-Man trilogy (because we did), there’s a new Spidey in town, and a mobile game to go with it. The Amazing Spider-Man takes us into an open world setting with lots of web slinging and crime fighting as you swing through New York City, with GTA-like exploration and side missions to keep you busy between story checkpoints. While we’re not a huge fan of the sometimes-laughable voiceovers in The Amazing Spider-Man, keep in mind that this iteration of the franchise is centered around a teenage Peter Parker with a punny sense of humor. This is a younger, dorkier Peter, and you’ll either love or hate him accordingly.
Your time in NYC is spent web slinging between skyscrapers, completing missions, and using your Spidey Sense to find sidequests. Any time you complete a mission or sidequest, you’ll get XP and points for upgrading your Spider-Man skills. Flying through the streets is a blast here, the controls are fluid enough, and combat is fairly easy to execute. You’ll never find yourself wandering aimlessly (unless it’s by choice) in The Amazing Spider-Man, and when the comic book feel merges with good gameplay and a lighthearted personality, it’s incredibly likable... not unlike a certain teenage boy named Peter.
Full disclosure: I have never once in my life played Magic: The Gathering until this past week, when I was introduced to Magic 2013. This iOS version of Duels of the Planeswalkers is a vibrant entryway into the world of M:TG, and from its opening, you’re presented a nicely custom experience based on how much Magic you’ve played in your life. And even if, like me, you’ve never played a game of Magic in your entire existence, Magic 2013 makes learning and enjoying the card game fun. Simply put, the tutorial is spectacular and informative, teaching even a total noob the nuances of M:TG and how it’s played.
Magic 2013 is incredibly intuitive on the iPad. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s the best way to play the game outside of a PAX convention. Swiping and zooming in on your cards is incredibly fluid, and playing is enhanced by tips and other notifications that help you understand rule nuances and any persistent effects in play. The IAP system is nicely handled, allowing you to purchase the full game ($9.99) only after you’ve decided you really want to get into Magic, and includes decks, a full single player campaign, and other goodies. Oh, and the best part about Magic 2013 is you never have to wait to challenge an opponent in person: The multiplayer supports 2 players, and is almost always a short wait until a challenger arrives.
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!