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
We love the fact that adventure games are making a big comeback via mobile, and Hollywood Monsters (a.k.a. The Next Big Thing on PC) is yet another stellar iOS entry from Bulkypix and Pendulo Studios. Set in a world where monsters not only exist, but are huge movie stars in blockbuster horror flicks, Hollywood Monsters is the tale of ditzy rookie reporter Liz Allaire and curmudgeonly-yet-handsome Dan Murray. Like any good adventure game, our heroes get caught up in a plot bigger than they are, that threatens the livelihoods of the moviestars they’ve been sent to interview.
You’ll alternate between controlling Liz and Dan as they get to the bottom of the mystery unfolding around them. As with any Pendulo Studios point-and-click adventure, the puzzles are varied, fun, and offer unique perspectives and challenges. We especially enjoyed one sequence involving what goes on inside Liz’s mind... we won’t spoil it for you, but we will say that the game gets weird in all the right ways. It’s very reminiscent of the golden days of point-and-click, which will make a lot of you happy.
The game is huge, both environmentally and size-wise; indeed, you’ll need 4GB of open storage just to install Hollywood Monsters. Fortunately, the game itself is packed with gorgeous visuals, hilarious dialogue, and fantastic voiceovers for each character no matter how small their role. There’s no doubt in our minds Hollywood Monsters is one of the best point-and-click adventures released on iOS this year, so if you’re even a little bit curious, make the space and get to installing it (and you will need space).
We can’t believe it’s been 14 years since the original Baldur’s Gate was released. Sure, that’s aging us, but it’s exciting to see so an RPG of this esteem find its way onto mobile. As an orphan out to learn the truth about your lineage and increase your power, it’s a story we’ve all heard before, but the universe in Baldur’s Gate more than makes up for that familiar tale with its depth and breadth.
This is the "Enhanced Edition" of Baldur’s Gate, and there have been some additions to the original game: touch screen optimization, new companion characters to aid you on your journey, brand new hand-drawn cutscenes, a new arena-esque battle adventure titled "The Black Pits," cooperative (not to mention cross platform!) multiplayer action, and more. Imagine a GOTY version of the original Baldur’s Gate -- not so many changes the game is unrecognizable, but enough to bring you back to the world and remind you why you started playing RPGs. Let’s hope this one does enough business to resurrect the sequel.
GRAND THEFT AUTO: VICE CITY
iOS ($4.99) | Android ($4.99)
Oh, GTA: Vice City. We spent countless hours back in the day on our PS2s roaming its streets, killing its denizens, and hiring its prostitutes. Now, we can relive Tommy Vercetti’s criminal glory days on the go, as Rockstar Games has generously ported Vice City to iOS and Android devices. Nobody does "building your own criminal empire" like Rockstar does, so it’s another GTA we’re thrilled to see come to mobile.
Rockstar also went in and made some improvements on the original: they’ve optimized the controls, allowing users to create a custom set up; extended the draw distance, making Vice City itself look and feel fuller and more alive; and upgraded textures and resolutions to show us the city and its citizens in the best possible light. Everything works, offering any GTA fan a fantastic experience filled with 1980‘s nostalgia (and coke deals). We can’t believe the game is a decade old, but then again, you’re only as young as you feel, right? Say hi to the VCPD for us!
Gameloft’s Modern Combat franchise is pretty much the gold standard in mobile FPS titles, which is why we’re not surprised they’ve kept that tradition going with MC4: Zero Hour. This time, we’re treated to a story that includes both terrorism and the quintessential presidential kidnapping. It seems to us the themes of Zero Hour’s development goals are "more" and "better," as the game offers enhanced voiceover, additional customization options, and bigger and better visuals than last year’s MC3: Fallen Nation.
The multiplayer is the biggest reason to pick MC4 up, though, as it’s been upgraded to now include specializations based on your combat style (with 8 perks in any given spec). Not only does it offer you a variety of ways to make your gun-toting hero your own, it also promotes gaining ranks via the cooler, later perks. There’s a lot to love about Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, and if you’re into multiplayer FPS on your phone or tablet, this is about as good as it gets.
If you couldn’t tell by the screenshot, Scribble Hero is pretty sweet. Here’s a game with a simple premise (shoot aliens and save your girlfriend), but presented in a clever manner with some stellar controls and gameplay to boot. It’s a game that looks juvenile, but actually contains a lot of depth and thought when really you dig into it. With 10 chapters, each with their own set of levels, and a wide variety of items in the shop to customize and enhance your hero, there’s a lot to love about Scribble Hero.
Our hero, Sketch, scampers around a notebook as the doodles of monsters encroach upon him. He auto-shoots, so you don’t have to worry about a fire button; instead, you’ll just drag your finger around the screen to make him move. It’s one-touch gameplay that’s deceptively fun, not to mention the plethora of charming and clever doodling-themed upgrades (we’re particularly fond of the Red Marker of Death). There’s a childlike joy in Scribble Hero, and it reminds us of our younger days, when we drew monsters and heroes in our notebooks and imagined what it would be like if they came alive.
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!