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 (and before you go nuts, don’t worry -- Angry Birds Star Wars will be on the list next week after we’ve had a little more time with it!):
GAME OF THE WEEK
A gorgeous, responsive, fun space shooter is a game a lot of people have waited for on iOS, and now, their patience has finally paid off in spades via Arc Squadron. Inspired by the super awesome Starfox franchise, Arc Squadron pulls together all the pieces of a sometimes-difficult puzzle when it comes to shooters.
The story’s pretty standard: a dastardly race of entities called the Guardians are running about, pillaging planets and ruining stuff for the universe, and you’re an ace pilot in the elite Arc Squadron unit who seems to be humanity’s last hope. What makes Arc Squadron so masterful is a combination of masterful one-touch controls, gorgeous environments, and an expansive level offering.
With over 60 levels and 20+ locations, the ever-evolving landscape your pilot traverses is always jaw-dropping and dynamic, with that Starfox-esque look and feel that we’ve so desperately missed on iOS. Without question, Arc Squadron is one of the best space shooters we’ve ever played on iOS. Barrel roll!
iOS ($0.99) | Android (TBA)
We’re totally loving Wreck-It-Ralph, the adaptation-of-the-games-within-the-movie of the same name. It’s a great example of Disney’s recent knack for releasing titles on iOS and Android that expand on a movie IP without completely beating a dead horse (take their Brave-skinned Temple Run clone). Now, we’re getting something ultra cool: true arcade versions of the games we saw in the movie.
Wreck-It Ralph currently offers three games: Fix-It Felix, the retro arcade title where Ralph is the villain and Felix must fix the windows he destroys; Sugar Rush: Sweet Climber, a fun vertical jumper starring Ralph in the sugar-spun world of Vanellope von Schweetz; and Hero’s Duty, a top-down, fast-paced shooter played in the boots of Sergeant Calhoun. There’s a lot of fun to be had in Wreck-It Ralph for the cost of a pack of gum, and Disney already plans on launching another title (Turbotime, based on the locked entrance in-game).
More than a few iOS fans out there want a dungeon crawler like Diablo 3 inside their iPads and iPhones, and Wraithborne hopes to fill that hole with some pretty cool 3/4-down action. It’s a hack-and-slash with a lot of eye candy, thanks to the Unreal engine, and renders in the game as you explore look straight up luxe. There isn’t a map overview, which is a bit of a bummer, but the beauty of the world makes wandering it a welcome experience.
You play as the title character, Wraithborne, a jacked up warrior chosen to defeat the plague of magic that’s returned to the universe. We know, sounds slightly corny -- but in this world, it works. The controls are competent, and we’re enjoying the rune system, which requires tracing them to unleash special abilities. It’s simple, but not boring, and scales well to most kinds of players. At $2.99 for a full game without IAP, we think Wraithborne is a great buy.
We can’t believe it’s been almost two decades since the original Need for Speed drifted into our hearts, and now, EA’s newest edition of the mobile version of NFS is here. Need for Speed Most Wanted expands on everything you’ve loved about the franchise, and still has insane amounts of polish to spare. Of course, what would a NFS game be without a signature style? This time around, there’s a wanted system that reminds us a little bit of Grand Theft Auto.
Obviously, your main goal is to drive really freaking fast and win races; however, the wanted system provides an additional layer of adrenaline to those already exciting circuits, with police setting up roadblocks, chasing you during races, and generally being “lawful” and stuff. And oh my god, is NFSMW pretty. Stunning, actually -- the level of detail (not just in the cars, but in entire track environments) is truly impressive -- and with over 30 licensed cars, we’re sure you’ll find something to drive around in whilst appreciating the scenery.
I feel like Curiosity is kind of like a mobile gaming Rorschach test: people see what they want to see in the game. Some consider it a brilliant social experiment. Others think it’s a worthless piece of crap that has no business in this column. Either way, you have to admit that 22cans is doing something... well, different. Curiosity revolves around a singular cube with a ton of layers, and the idea is to collectively chip away at each layer, bit by bit. Each tap dissolves a piece of a layer, and while that may sound boring, in some ways it’s oddly zen-like and relaxing.
The game proclaims to have a “life changing secret” at the center of the cube, revealed only to the person who taps the very last cube on the final layer. While we don’t yet know what the (hopefully) chewy center of Curiosity’s core is made of, it’s certainly an interesting experiment with a lot of interest at the moment (check out the stats here). If you’re a fan of Peter Molyneux and his more abstract works, you’ll probably want to check this one out.
(Note: 22cans has released a video about the server issues they’ve been dealing with -- apparently they weren’t expecting so many people to discover the game so quickly!)
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!