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 ($2.99) | Android (Sept 27)
Ubisoft finally made our dreams come true this week by releasing Rayman Jungle Run for iOS and Android, bringing the magic of the Rayman franchise to mobile and delighting legions of long time fans (and snagging some new ones, too). It’s not a “true” Rayman game in that it’s not a platformer. On the contrary, it’s a runner in the same vein as Jetpack Joyride or Canabalt. There are some key features that make it unique, though, and Ubisoft manages to retain all the gleeful personality of the franchise.
Rayman automatically runs in the game, while you’ll be in charge of controlling his jumps (and other movements later) as he speeds through each level. As Rayman runs, the goal is to collect all the Lums throughout an area. Collect them all, and you’ll be rewarded with a red gem that doubles as a tooth -- collect five gem teeth, and an ultra-tough level unlocks to challenge you.
As for the environment, it’s everything you’d expect from a Rayman title (i.e., it’s jaw-droppingly beautiful on the new iPad). We do wish there was a little more variety in the music section, but it’s a small price to pay for such an insanely good mobile game. If there’s ever been a more awesome console to mobile spinoff than Rayman Jungle Run, we’ve never heard of it, not to mention it’s an almost-perfect addition to the runner genre. And Android users, take note: Rayman Jungle Run got pushed back from a launch on Sept. 20th to the 27th, so don’t despair!
We know, we know, everyone’s tired of zombie shooters. We promise you’ll have fun with Apocalypse Max, though. This is a brilliantly executed platformer that will see you taking down all manner of zombie hybrids, and having a blast doing it. There are a lot of side-scrolling zombie shooters on iOS, but none with the swagger and 2D-cool that oozes out of Apocalypse Max.
You’ll spend your time guiding Max through 20 levels of zombie-killing goodness, including swamps, forests, and other appropriate environments -- and those environments are super cool, ultra-stylized 2D renders -- slashing, shooting, and otherwise murdering the crap out of the undead. The game’s currency lets you buy new weapons and upgrade existing ones, and makes slaying zombies that much cooler. Oh, and one of the weapons you can buy is the freaking pulse rifle from Aliens. Do we need to say much more?
Cross the Mos Eisley Cantina, Jabba’s Palace, and your local Dave & Buster’s, and you’ll have Shufflepuck Cantina, a free-to-play, sci-fi air hockey extravaganza. Named as an homage to an old Amiga/Mac/DOS/Atari game, Shufflepuck Cafe, this is a silly and entertaining foray into the world of midway gaming. The cantina features a variety of alien opponents you’ll slowly work your way through, unlocking new floors and challengers along the way. Some of those alien barflies are menacing, while others are...quirky, to say the least, but they’re all very colorful and unique, making each interaction an enjoyable experience.
Each denizen of the cantina has their own bios, special moves, and personalities -- beating any of them awards you “Credz,” the game’s currency, which you can then use to purchase segments of their respective stories. When you completely unlock a story, you can play as that character, which is a nice touch. In-app purchases are useful and permanent (so no frustration with one-time use buys), and it never feels like you’re forced to spend cash to play the game. Since it’s free, there’s no reason to pass on trying this one out, but we think you might end up keeping it around for a while.
Huebrix is the kind of puzzle game you’ll find pleasantly challenging. The game presents you with a grid with some color squares that have numbers on them. Each number represents the amount of squares that color can fill, and each puzzle requires you to use up all of the color in every square to solve it. Seems easy enough, until you’re tasked with filling up a larger grid with 6+ colors on it, each square with a different number.
Once you complete the first few puzzles, Huebrix throws additional in-puzzle challenges your way: one-way arrows, “end” blocks (where a color must finish its path), and “math” squares that add or subtract the number of moves you get for a block, and more all add to an already brain-busting little game. With over 100 levels (and more available via a slightly pricey IAP system), Huebrix is a great value for your dollar if you’re a junkie for puzzles.
To-Fu 2 is the almost-homogenous sequel to a very fun physics game that was released earlier this year, making for a fairly quick turnaround from the original. Fortunately for us, while a lot of the elements in To-Fu 2 are cribbed from the first, a couple of new additions (and some wickedly fun level designs) make it worth a look. Little To-Fu must fling himself around, collecting blue orbs and ultimately reaching the fortune cookie at the end of each level.
Speaking of levels, their design in To-Fu 2 is markedly better than what we saw in the original. More precise aiming and strategy are required this time around, and some levels are pretty tough to perfect. We’re still not quite used to the “pull in the direction you WANT to fling To-Fu in,” instead of the old Angry Birds, slingshot style games, but To-Fu 2 is a welcome and cute distraction if you’re looking for a time killer.
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!