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
“Wow.” -- That’s the first word out of our mouths after booting up the iOS port of Bastion on our iPads, and it’s well deserved. If you’re not already familiar with Bastion, it’s the first game from developer Supergiant Games, and it’s been showered in awards and accolades across multiple platforms (XBLA, Steam, Linux, Mac App Store, and even the Chrome Web Store). Now, it’s been brought to the iPad, and it’s just as transcendent.
We don’t want to give too much story away, so we’ll just say this: You’re a kid who’s world is shattered, and you’ll have to work alongside a mysterious stranger to help rebuild it. It’s simple, yet effective, and the interactive dialogue between you and the stranger as “The Kid” progresses through each level is masterful. Oh, and the voiceover for the stranger is downright incredible -- no joke -- and takes Bastion to another level of perfection. He’ll speak reactively as The Kid wanders through the world, offering exhibition and comments that set the mood of the world.
Bastion’s combat system and control schemes have been revamped for the iOS port; they’re very well done, offering a fluid and fun gameplay experience. There are also plenty of upgrades available for different types of weaponry, and any combination of items are viable in combat. Bastion is one of the best games we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing on iOS, so if you’re on the fence about picking it up, we’re telling you to take the leap. You won’t be sorry.
iOS (iPad $3.99)
We’ve never been crazy about biology (especially in high school), but Splice pretty much changed our minds within 5 minutes of picking it up. This is a microbial puzzle game that will make you feel like an uber-hip scientist looking into a powerful microscope... of awesome. Each level presents a strand of cells that must be manipulated into fitting the proper arrangement of the strand (there’s an outline displaying the shape you must make). You can drag and drop portions of the strand and connect them to other cells in order to complete each puzzle, but it’s not as simple as it sounds.
After completing the first few levels, cells will begin to appear with special abilities like splitting, mutating, and self-destructing. That’s where Splice becomes more than just its pretty face. Oh, and speaking of Splice’s pretty face? The game’s visuals are flat out exquisite, with some jaw-dropping renders behind each puzzle that makes use of the iPad’s accelerometer by moving subtly in the background as the iPad does. The eye candy is accompanied by a soothing soundtrack meant to balance the mental backflips your brain’s doing while you solve each meticulously crafted microbiological riddle.
iOS ($7.99) | Android ($6.99, TBD)
Wild Blood is the first game from publisher Gameloft powered by the Unreal engine, and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s a pretty cool action-adventure game for iOS (don’t worry fandroids, the Android version is very, very close to launch), and crafts its story from the tale of King Arthur. Specifically, we’re talking about the part where (spoilers!) Arthur’s wife Queen Guinevere and Knight of the Round Table Sir Lancelot start gettin’ it on. Arthur gets pretty pissed about that, and goes on a total rage bender, giving control of the kingdom to the evil sorceress Morgana... who then proceeds to start laying it all to waste.
The visuals in Wild Blood are painstakingly beautiful, with fine details and textures up to par with cutting edge iOS titles. The controls are surprisingly fluid, with a few misfires here and there, but generally easy to pick up and play. The weapon and leveling systems allow for interesting customization options without getting too granular, and the multiplayer (local or wi-fi) presents you with a different flavor of gameplay if you’re not in the mood for story mode. Wild Blood is an epic tale, told through a fantastic iOS title.
Puzzle games on iOS usually fall into two categories: slick visuals with a minimalist vibe, or painstakingly detailed environments with a decidedly busy or cutesy theme. Block-A-Way, however, somehow manages to balance between minimalist, colorful, and cute in an effortless manner. Each level gives you control of one (or more) robots who need to rescue the tiny “Boxies” around the world. To do that, they’ll need a little help... with explosives.
You’ll spend your time in Blast-A-Way manipulating the surrounding area with bombs, blowing up, teleporting, rebuilding, and otherwise working the environment to release Boxies, pick them up, and get everyone to the goal. There are five areas in the game, each with a distinct material theme (wood, metal, fabric, stone, and plastic), and as you progress, the game offers new bombs and ways to complete each level. There’s a cheerful, clever nature at the heart of Blast-A-Way, making it a game that’s interesting, challenging, and fun for all ages.
We always like to try to include a goofy, lighthearted game in the mix, and this week, Granny Smith fit that bill nicely. It’s a side-scrolling racing game in the same vein as Tiny Wings or the like, with a couple of silly twists that make it a great choice for quick play sessions or to kill some time while you’re out and about. Dear old granny’s had her delicious apples picked right off the tree, so she straps on her rollerskates to get them back. You know, as an octogenarian does.
Granny’s movement is automatic, and you’ll be in charge of controlling her jumps and rotation while she’s airborne. The goal is to beat the chubby little thief to the finish line, and nab apples along the way. Some of the physics in Granny Smith are hilarious, particularly so when you watch the old lady go crashing through various objects like doors and construction signs. Granny Smith is one of those pleasant, consequence-free games we always like to have on our devices, just in case we’re itching to play a game that doesn’t require all of our concentration.
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!