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
The brilliant Terry Cavanagh (Super Hexagon, VVVVVV) returns with Don’t Look Back, a crazy good 8-bit game that’s atmospheric, challenging, and fun as hell. There’s no fluff here -- Cavanagh’s created a game that’s stripped to its core -- but even without all the bells and whistles a “cutting edge” mobile game might possess, Don’t Look Back does a stellar job of sucking you in and refusing to let you go.
There’s no story. You’re an 8-bit dude that appears on the screen next to a tombstone. Simple left-right controls dictate your movement and quickly add jumping and shooting to your repertoire. That’s it, though. No spells, no health bars, no silly IAP; in fact, the game’s environments are mostly crafted in shades of red, with generous portions of black/total darkness complimenting it.
There’s nothing truly easy about Don’t Look Back. Just like Super Hexagon, sometimes you’ll find yourself yelling at the screen as you try to shoot down a fast-approaching snake or jump off a platform before it disappears. But that’s really part of the fun of Don’t Look Back -- at least to us -- and it’s a solid (and completely free) game that anyone who loves old Colecovision games should grab.
You guys, we have to talk about Skyriders. There are a lot of racing games out there: some are boring, some are amazing, and some manage to carve out a special place in the genre with an interesting setting and great mechanics. That last one easily describes Skyriders, a fast-paced sci-fi racer with a ton of character and gameplay for days.
You play as a little alien, piloting your shiny UFO through courses, collecting stars and avoiding hazards along the way. That seems easy enough until stars become more than one color; at that point, you’ll have to flip your ship from color to color by double-tapping the screen to pick up otherwise-greyed-out stars, keep up your speed, and reach the finish line in record time. If you’re a fan of racers on mobile, Skyriders glides easily into the “don’t miss” column.
For those of us hoping the 3DS masterpiece Theatrhythm will someday show up on our iPads and Nexus 7s, Symphonica is a wonderful rhythm game that may help ease the longing. Presented in beautiful fashion (as most Square-Enix games are), Symphonica is a lovely iOS game featuring some of the world’s most popular symphony music. As young conductor Takt, you’ll work through various songs as you attempt to play at the mystical King’s Hall, where no conductor has played in ages.
The game does a good job of sprucing up the typical “tap a note” music game, offering some additional moves like swooping, pinching, and spreading your fingertips to match certain notes. There’s something almost regal about the look of Symphonica, and it only adds to the elegance of the music you hear as you make your way through the game. Unlocking every “story level” is $14.99, but you do get access to levels 1-3 in the free version, giving you a chance to try it out.
iOS ($1.99) | Android (Nov 2012)
We might be showing our age here, but we’ve got a huge soft spot for Sonic, and Sega’s just released Sonic Jump, a vertical jumping game featuring everyone’s favorite hedgehog. Every time we hear the unmistakable ba-DING of Sonic grabbing those golden rings, we’re immediately transported to the days of yore, where Nintendo and Sega fought for console supremacy and Zack Morris carried around one of these.
Sonic Jump is easily accessible, as it only requires you to tilt your device to move Sonic from side to side as he auto-jumps upward from platform to platform. Tapping the screen will perform a double jump, and as long as Sonic is curled up, he takes down most enemies in one shot. Each level has rings to collect, times to beat, and other collectables/power ups along the way. Sonic Jump is Sega’s first original game on mobile featuring the speedy blue guy, and we’re pretty excited about what that might mean in the future for Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles.
Super Bunny Breakout is Atari’s adorable twist on Breakout the arcade classic they developed over 30 years ago. Intended to be a ‘single-player Pong, most folks know how the game is played: use a paddle to bounce a ball towards a wall of blocks in order to break them all and clear the level. The same rings true of Super Bunny Breakout, but it’s far cuter than its ancestors.
SSB is the story of 6 “Super Critters” who band together to release the adorable, fluffy animals being held captive by E.A.T. (Evil Animal Testing) Labs. You’ll unlock Super Critters as you progress, and each has their own special ability to assist in breaking out the bunnies and other cute creatures in E.A.T. Labs. It’s a fun, cheerful spin on the “Breakout” franchise, and one both kids and adults will enjoy.
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!