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
Lili is a beautiful iOS title we’ve been waiting for since Apple showed it off at the iPhone event earlier this month, and it’s well worth the wait. This is a gorgeous, whimsical adventure RPG with some very fine touches and compelling themes. Lili is also the name of the game’s heroine, who finds herself on a strange world named Geos -- home to some very odd inhabitants, indeed -- and must begin a journey that will change not only her life, but the lives of the creatures living there.
If you’re feeling tentative about a 3D game with touch controls, you’re not alone; we felt the same trepidation as we started playing Lili. Fortunately, the controls are really well executed, using a “tap once to auto-walk/run, tap again to stop” scheme, and you’ll rarely find yourself frustrated as you wander around and look at your surroundings. The game revolves around flowers (Lili’s studying them), and Lili will need to pick flowers off the backs of Spirits roaming around Geos. As always, as she progresses, those mini-battles become more and more difficult (but we think it scales nicely).
Lili’s themes of oppression and bringing down authoritarian regimes are beautifully done, with the game’s script striking a balance between too fluffy and too morose exceedingly well. Bitmonster (Lili’s creators) doesn’t pull any punches letting you know how cruel Spirits are to the lowly Constructs, and it’s incredibly effective at drawing you in and endearing you to the characters you meet.
Save the world? Maaaaaybe. Gold and boobs? Absolutely!
It’s been a long time since the original The Bard’s Tale hit PC back in 1985. Since then, we’ve seen a console revamp, an iOS port late last year, and now, it’s launched on Android and BlackBerry for your mobile gaming pleasure. If you’re not familiar with The Bard’s Tale, it’s a top-down action RPG that’s filled with hilarious, tongue-in-cheek dialogue -- voiced by none other than Cary Elwes (you might know him as Wesley/The Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride) -- it’s the kind of game you play when you need a laugh, but want gameplay with substance.
The visuals are up-to-par with more modern mobile titles, though we don’t see any marked differences between the iOS and Android/BlackBerry versions. The combat and leveling system is effective and broad, allowing customization and upgrades as you progress. Later in the game, there’s a bit of grinding involved, but overall, it’s a solid title that’s more than welcome on both new platforms. The story is clever, funny, and always self-aware, making it well worth the price of admission. It’s awesome. Play it.
Puzzle fans will delight in The Room, a hauntingly striking mobile game that will capture imaginations and challenge minds. The entire game revolves around a lonely room containing a single box. The box itself is where the puzzles lay; not via cutscenes, but the actual construction of the device itself. You’ll spend hours rotating the box, seeking irregular parts and trap doors, and along the way, you’ll discover backstory from the scientist who created it. It’s a thin story line, but we think you’ll quickly forgive The Room once you get your hands on the box.
The box is painstakingly rendered; each piece of metal and wood gives The Room a wonderfully tactile feeling while you’re exploring every inch of the device. Completing puzzles gets harder as you get deeper into the box, but there’s always a sense of wonder and accomplishment when you do figure it out. In addition, the game offers a subtle hint system that doesn’t feel aggressive or like an “I win” button, and each puzzle offers unique and fun solutions. The Room is exactly the kind of puzzle game that’s brilliant on the iPad, and we’re looking forward to future installments of the story.
Westerns are making somewhat of a comeback on iOS as of late, and Black Water adds its spin on the genre with a lot of energy and fun. You’re a Deputy who reluctantly takes up against bandits and criminals after seeing the Sheriff unceremoniously gunned down. Each level is expansive, with waves of bad guys to gun down in the streets. So saddle up, grab your ten gallon hat, and get ready for some classic top-down Old West shootouts!
We dig the default controls (trace a path for the Deputy to walk along, and tap to shoot bandits/crates/other breakable items). As you pew pew your way through area after area, you’ll collect money, ammo, and other helpful stuff. Between levels, you’ll be able to upgrade skills, buy new weapons, and watch the (very good) story play out in beautifully illustrated and written comic panels. If you love a good old-fashioned Western, don’t miss out on Black Water.
iOS (FREE; $2.99 for Full Game Upgrade)
We’re having all kinds of silly fun in Hotel Transylvania Dash, a time management sim based on the upcoming movie. This is a skinned and reworked offshoot of Diner Dash and other games of the genre, but it’s worth a mention because A.) we’re getting ready for Halloween now that September is just about over, and B.) old-school vampires are très cooler than their sparkly, modern counterparts. You’ll control Dracula as he works to keep guests happy when they check in to Hotel Transylvania.
At first, it’s an easy task, tapping each room to guide ol’ Drac to complete tasks each customer needs completed. The game ramps up pretty quickly, though, and you’ll soon find yourself scrambling to handle the hotel’s wacky creatures and cater to their whims (our favorites are the Swamp Monsters who need towels for their daily swim routine). If you’re already planning on loving the movie, Hotel Transylvania Dash is a cute tie-in that’s a lot of fun.
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!