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
iOS ($0.99 Launch Special Ends 8/19/2012)
We’ve been conditioned our whole lives to love trees. To protect them. To make sure nobody rips em outta the ground... until now. We’re talking about Jack Lumber, the newest game from Owlchemy Labs. You’ll be cutting down a bunch of lumber in this game, but we promise those trees totally deserved it. Jack’s a lumberjack -- shocker, we know -- and he’s out for revenge. You see, trees came around and crushed his granny, and now, Jack’s on a mission to take down those pine-jerks.
Jack Lumber offers an interesting twist on the swipe-to-cut formula we’ve seen in titles like Fruit Ninja: instead of objects in fluid motion challenging you to cut them before they leave the screen, Jack Lumber goes into slow motion to let you cut wood when you touch the screen. You only get one shot at creating a trail through each piece, it has to be a continuous trail (meaning lifting your finger off the screen ends the cut each round), and you can only slice the logs lengthwise.
At first, it’s a pretty simple task, but as the levels grow in difficulty, you’ll have to manage single-direction cuts, logs that require multiple passes, bombs, and avoiding innocent woodland creatures. Add in a funny (and solid!) story, hilarious power-ups, and non-intrusive IAP, and Jack Lumber is an easy shoo-in for one of this year’s best iOS games.
Spy vs. Spy harkens back to the days of the Cold War, when an artist named Antonio Prohías drew Cold War cartoons for Mad Mad Magazine. A brilliant, often wordless cartoon, Spy vs. Spy also had an incarnation on NES in the 80’s. Now, it’s back in form as an iOS title with a fresh coat of paint and a new lease on life. And even though the name of the game is still the same, it’s a chance for a new generation to love those sinister secret agents.
You’ll still play as the white or black spy, moving from room to room as you search for secret documents, a key, cash, and passport. As you move swiftly through the map, you’ll also be able to plant booby traps for your opponent (or you, if you’re forgetful) to stumble into. There are four modes of play, including campaign, tutorial, custom match and multiplayer. Developer Robots and Pencils even added an unlockable “retro” mode, which allows you to play the old-school Spy vs. Spy without any of the new bells and whistles the updated version offers. Now get down to some good old-fashioned espionage!
Emotions often get overlooked in mobile gaming, but Mush is a game that capitalizes on them in a most whimsical fashion. It’s named after the game’s hero, and Mush sets out to liven up his village after deciding it’s a little too boring for his taste. Mush must traverse each level and find his friends while picking up fluff and using his emotions to get around. As you progress, you learn how to use the phone to control Mush’s feelings. Draw a smile on screen, and he floats; shake the phone, and Mush gets mad! It’s a clever way of utilizing a smartphone’s features and abilities, and combined with the environment, really shines as a pleasant little platformer.
It’s a beautiful game; indeed, lovely vector art and textures fill every level with fuzzy, cuddly feelings. One thing we’ve noticed about Mush is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to officially “die” in the game. Sure, you might get zapped and Mush might yelp in shock, but generally speaking, “game over” isn’t really a part of the game. Personally, we think this game is best enjoyed as a relaxing time-killer, and provides a welcome respite for adults and children alike.
Ravenous Games has some excellent titles under their belt (League of Evil being one of them), and oftentimes, their games are marked by precision platforming controls. This time, they’ve released Random Heroes, a fantastic platformer with the same visual styling as LoE, but with expanded levels and a variety of new weapons to shoot (instead of just one). The story goes like this: It seems like a couple emo kids were messing around at the cemetery, knocking over headstones, when they knocked over the very, very wrong one. Now, a portal’s been opened, and monsters are on the loose, so a hero must arise! Or, maybe that’s heroes....
You’ll play an assortment of average joes; platforming, shooting bad guys, and collecting coins is the name of the game here. Fortunately, the levels in Random Heroes are much larger than their LoE counterparts, making for an experience that’s not unlike the oldest versions of Mega Man (and trust us, that’s not a bad thing). As mentioned, visual controls can often be loose and irritating, but in Random Heroes, they’re extremely responsive without being too touchy. If any of you are itching for a great platformer to keep you busy on your iOS device, then look no further.
The joust. A time-honored tradition, practiced for centuries (and even in present day!). Shake Spears looks to bring a simple yet fun joust game to Android tablets and phones. The princess in this particular medieval setting realizes she wants a little more than just a knight; she wants a champion knight. Of course, this means you’ll have to get on your horse and go win some tournaments.
Jousting is easy and fun, with left and right thumbs controlling the position of your lance and shield. As you progress, you’ll earn gold you can use to purchase level-ups, special abilities, and other goodies. There are 4 kingdoms to conquer, and plenty of jousting at each tournament. It’s pretty easy to rack up gold in Shake Spears too, making for frustration-free upgrades. And the best part about that? You can just sit back and enjoy the jousting!
Ashley Esqueda is a tech pundit, cylon, and all-around mobile nerd 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!