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
No lie, Punch Quest is one of the best damn games we’ve played this year on any mobile device. This arcade-style action game is rocking us like a hurricane this week, and handily snags the Game of the Week title this time around. It might seem like a run-of-the-mill runner, but trust us, the second you punch open an egg and a raptor with lasers shooting out of its mouth pops out, you know this game is more than meets the eye.
The game’s concept is simple: run through levels, punch bad things/chests/environments, and collect in-game currency to buy upgrades. There’s something decidedly Double Dragon about Punch Quest’s art style, and we mean that in the most awesome way possible. Levels are fun to navigate, and (we’ll admit it) sometimes it’s just fun to punch the crap out of stuff.
While playing, you’ll realize that the more time you spend with it, the deeper it gets; indeed, from special moves to costumes, customizing your character is a huge part of Punch Quest’s appeal. And for a free game, you’ll never feel pressured to participate in the IAP, though we happily parted with our cash, just to support the developers at Rocketcat Games!
Writer admission: When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with He-Man. I wanted so badly to hang out with him and the rest of the gang in Eternia. I even had a He-Man sword that would go PING whenever I’d hit it against something... but I digress. Prince Adam has returned after a lengthy vacation (probably self-imposed after that hilariously bad box office flop back in 1987 starring Dolph Lundgren), and now stars in He-Man: The Most Powerful Game in the Universe from Chillingo.
It’s a silly conceit: He-Man must find a way to get back the keys to Castle Greyskull from archnemesis Skeletor, chasing him around Eternia and laying waste to bad guys like Trap Jaw along the way. It’s presented in a deliciously retro package, with parallax scrolling and old-school fight animations straight out of our childhood memories. The controls can be a bit wonky (can we get a dedicated jump button up in here?), but overall, if you’re a He-Fan, pick this one up.
And then run around yelling, “I HAVE THE POOOOOOWER!” at anyone nearby.
Pixld has an interesting parentage: It’s from Airtight Games, which happens to be Kim Smith’s team. Kim’s one of the people who created the original Portal (yes, THAT Portal), and after that, left Valve to work at Airtight as team lead. We’ve already seen one console title from Airtight (the fantastic Quantum Conundrum), and now, Airtight brings us Pixld, an iOS puzzler that’s -- cliche as it may sound -- easy to play and tough to master.
Imagine a grid filled with light and dark squares. Tapping on those squares flips the color of it and all surrounding squares, and aligning a 2x2 square or larger ‘pops‘ them and the blocks shift down to fill the void. That sounds easy enough, sure, but when you throw five different modes of play, power ups, and a pulsing electronic soundtrack into the mix, you’ve got a game that has huge replay value and style to spare. Think Lights Out, but with a futuristic twist, and you’re on the right track toward understanding what Pixld is all about.
iOS (FREE - Full Game Unlock $0.99)
Any word freak would immediately understand why we’ve been obsessing over Letterpress, the word game that’s taking the iOS community by storm. Instead of giving you 7 vowels to try to bash into a word (thanks for that, Words With Friends), Letterpress presents a 5x5 grid filled with letters and requests you create words from them. It’s asynchronous, too, so you’ll be able to play against friends and random match ups at your leisure.
The best part of Letterpress is that it eschews traditional “point values to harder letters” model for a simpler, yet more strategic, mechanic: when you make a word, the letters you use flip to your color. Surround letters to ‘claim’ them, and your opponent will not get points when using them unless they can ‘break out’ the captured letter/s by flipping surrounding ones. Letterpress is a simple concept spun into pure gold, and a must-buy for any fans of the word game genre.
Penny Arcade saw great success across multiple platforms with their action-adventure franchise On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, and now, they’ve invaded iOS and Android with the third installment in the franchise. The previous two OtRSPoD games, as mentioned, fell squarely into the action-adventure genre; now, #3 takes Tycho Brahe and Jonathan Gabriel in an entirely different direction, opting for a 16-bit RPG that’s reminiscent of masterpieces like Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy.
That’s not to say this sequel in the now-trilogy isn’t good; in fact, it’s excellent, and holds up nicely to its predecessors. It’s witty, sharp, and includes all of the magic you’ve come to know and love from two of our favorite internet comic strip heroes. The New Arcadia presented in OtRSPoD3 is as jam-packed with content and narrative as any RPG we’ve ever seen on iOS or Android, and it’s well worth picking up, especially if you have a soft spot for vintage RPGs.
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!