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 five favorite games this week:
GAME OF THE WEEK
Dot Emu is the team responsible for the fabulous port of classic Another World, and they’ve really impressed us with their newest effort, a port of the mystery/adventure classic The Last Express. The first time The Last Express was in gamers’ hands, it was back in 1997. Today, it translates well to the iPhone and iPad, offering a rich and intriguing story, hand-drawn animation, and solid voice acting.
The story takes place in 1914, on one of the most famous trains in history, the Orient Express. You play as Robert Cath, a mysterious man who’s boarded the moving train in order to meet up with his friend, Tyler Whitney. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but a few minutes into the game, it’s obvious things aren’t going according to plan.
One thing we love about The Last Express is that it takes place in real time, over a train ride from Paris to Istanbul. And we hope you’re a master sleuth, because events will happen whether you’re there to witness/hear them or not, so you’ll want to be sharp and efficient as you solve the mystery that unfolds around you. The Last Express is a wonderful port of a game; it’s tough, but that makes reaching the end all the more satisfying.
Polara is a game that wouldn’t feel out of place if someone told us it happens in the Tron universe: it’s slick, neon, and invokes that bleak, dystopian society we love to see in sci-fi. Polara is the story of Agent Lara, a special agent who’s been testing out a special suit that allows the wearer to cross class lines in the city. Once she learns the truth about her father’s death, though, her life becomes far more complicated than she ever imagined.
The core gameplay mechanic in Polara keeps the auto-run genre fresh via a “color-swap” system. As Lara runs through a level, various obstacles require a tap of the screen to change Lara’s suit from red to blue so she can pass through them. It’s a clever choice that spruces up a sometimes-stale genre, and the “uprise against the evil oppressors” storyline keeps the gameplay interesting and well-paced.
Crazy Taxi first hit arcades in 1999, and it’s made its way to iOS as a port. We remember some great moments while playing the original, so seeing this one make it to iPhone and iPad brought nostalgic sparkles to our eyes. It’s a simple concept: ferry passengers to their destinations as quickly as possible. The best part of Crazy Taxi, though, is that the more insane your driving, the better.
The game’s a pretty straight port of the original, including a major high point: Sega’s licensed the original’s killer soundtrack, so you’ll be drifting on the sidewalks to bands like The Offspring and Bad Religion. It’s a major part of the game’s appeal, screaming through the streets at blistering speeds while blasting tunes and avoiding pedestrians... Crazy Taxi might be simple, but you can’t beat pure, unadulterated fun.
Gamebook Adventure 1: An Assassin in Orlandes (AiO from here on out, at least for us) is a sweet combination of classic tabletop gaming, Choose Your Own Adventure books, and fantasy. Recently, a slew of the Gamebook Adventures for iOS were ported over to Android, so it’s worth revisiting the first installment in the GA series. Name your hero, roll the dice for stats, and embark on a grand adventure.
As the story progresses, you’ll be presented with various options and activities. Sometimes, you’ll just need to choose how to respond to people and their actions; other times, you may be required to fight (via rolling virtual dice) in order to progress. There’s a variety of endings -- death being a common one -- but the sheer number of ways to play the game makes AiO something cool and a little different than what we’re used to playing on our iPads.
iOS ($0.99) | Android (TBA)
Oh, Adult Swim, always managing to make weird, wacky games everyone can enjoy. This time, we’re talking about Girls Like Robots, a game about... seating arrangement. Somehow, Adult Swim took this humdrum concept and made it into a really fun and quirky iOS game. The characters are rounded squares, the plucky soundtrack is folksy, giving the game a markedly cheerful spirit we’re huge fans of.
This is a puzzle game requiring you to “seat” various kinds of people and objects (girls, nerds, robots, pie, insects, etc.) in a puzzle grid. Certain people like other kinds of people/things next to them, but they also have dislikes you’ll need to be aware of. Each level has a minimum score you’ll need to beat by keeping people happy or reaching specific goals, but sometimes, that’s a serious challenge. Everyone who loves puzzles should pick up Girls Like Robots. (And for the record, yes, we really DO like robots!)
Ashley Esqueda is a host, cylon, and all-around mobile nerd who also works for Mobile Nations and runs an obscenity-laden tech podcast called Techfoolery. 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!