I remember reading long ago that mobile gaming was going to be a fad. There was a lot of talk (and still is) that the mobile market was just a phase and that handheld gaming is or will be dying. After owning both Android and Apple products, and seeing just how much revenue can possibly be generated within this market, I can assure you that mobile gaming isn’t going anywhere. In fact, the success seems to be rising as mobile devices are becoming closer and close to handheld machines we see today.
Big companies like Square Enix and EA are supporting the mobile market 100%. Adapting some of their biggest titles to mobile markets might be the best thing they can do if they want to capture a large audience. After all, when 487.7 million people in the world owned some form of smartphone in 2011, that’s a hefty number to push your product to. Still, it’s not always the big hitters that have the best games.
That is exactly why I chose to write this article. With the ease of access to these games, I find myself playing dozens of them in any given month. A good portion of my gaming time is sunk into these games because they are perfect for their application. Most of them are short (in nature), can be played in small bursts, and can easily be picked up and put back down for quick gaming on the go. Because of the low entry barriers, however, it is easy to find five or six crappy games before you find one that truly stands out. My job is to introduce you to a few of the games I have found entertaining, and give you a little bit of background on them. I hope you enjoy these mini reviews!
Major Mayhem is a third person shooter that plays very similarly to Time Crisis. You are Major Mayhem, and your super hot girlfriend (not really) has been kidnapped, and it’s up to you to save her! You progress through three worlds with fifteen levels a piece that have varying difficulties, fighting ninjas, executives, and even terrorists! With a large assortment of guns, grenades, and several game modes to play, you’ll find yourself blasting hundreds upon hundreds of foes that stand in the Major’s way. The game also looks absolutely beautiful.
I happen to be a huge fan of tower defense games, but it is hard to find one that is truly unique out of the bunch. Most of them all play the same, and there is very little originality outside of the setting. Kingdom Rush has proven that theory to be wrong. One of the pleasures of Kingdom Rush is the mechanics behind the towers themselves. Each tower can be upgraded in a number of different ways, but at certain paths, can branch out to specialize in various fields. For example, the archer towers, who are good at long range attacks and hitting aerial units can specialize in being rangers (long range, fast speed, low damage) or musketeers (long range, slow speed, high damage). The choice is yours as you build up a multitude of towers and eventually have a hero to help you guard your kingdom. There are plenty of different power ups to make the game easier, but as with most tower defense games, that doesn’t mean much! With a cute and quirky art style, and a system that stands out among the rest, this is a must play for any aficionado of this genre of game.
Hero Academy - Robot Entertainment – iOS
Hero Academy is a strategy game that is only played online with other users. I admit, out of all of these games, this is the one I have the least exposure with, but I felt it was good enough to mention anyway. Each team has a set of units that are ‘shuffled’ in a deck and dealt to you at the beginning of your turn. Each turn you are given five moves to either summon units, move them, or equip them. There are various objectives to winning a match which include: defeating an opponents crystals or the opponent not having any more turns to play. This game reminds me of the ‘Words with Friends’ for those who like to play fantasy RPGs.
I absolutely despise games like FarmVille, CastleVille, and any other ‘ville’ games that start you off with nothing and build up to something. That was before I found Happy Street. I don’t know if it was the pleasant music, the subtle humor in the very light story, or the overly adorable characters that inhabit your town, but from the moment I started playing Happy Street, I was hooked. The objective is simple: you build shops and houses for people to live and buy things on your street. As you get money and resources, those houses and shops can be upgraded to further your development. Each citizen levels up as they purchase things, giving them bigger wallets to spend. As you level up, you are given more options to purchase within the store. One of the best things I liked about this game is that you are not limited by that pesky energy bar. You are welcome to play until your heart is content. The ‘real money’ currency (called Flooz) is also given out generously, allowing you to save up and expand your street, buy rare shops, and the like in a reasonable time frame, without actually having to spend real cash.
Racing games on mobile platforms are hard. They either use awkward touch screen controls, or have you looking like an idiot waving your phone back and forth to perform various actions. NaturalMotion has taken racing and simplified it into a more raw form of racing that still requires some skill: drag. Taking a leaf out of the Need for Speed games, CSR Racing focuses on drag racing with opponents using cars that can be souped up for more horsepower, better grip, and lighter weights. There are currently five tiers of gameplay, with each tier having a specific set of cars, and one boss who represents that tier. Beat him (or her) and their cronies, and it is off to the next tier. Outside of that, there are various modes, including daily battles, which let you use a car in the tier above where you are, regulation matches, restricted matches, and ladder matches. Each mode has a feature that allows you to earn cash for upgrades or more cars. Once you reach tier 5, you can even race your friends. This game is limited by an energy meter (called Gas; go figure, right?) but a full tank fills up in about 5-10 minutes, so you are back playing fairly quickly. My only real peeve with the game is the limited car makes (about eight) and models (about five to six in each) to choose from.
One of the biggest pleasures in playing these games is that as of writing this article, they are free, and you do not have to make a single in app purchase to fully enjoy the game. Obviously, if you wish to speed up your progress or enhance your game experience then real currency will be required. What I like is that any purchase I make would feel like something to enhance the game, not allow me to fully enjoy it.
I hope that you will check out these games, and if they are your cup of tea, leave a comment. I am currently doing a lot of iOS gaming, but if you want to see more Android compatible titles, or have a suggestion for me to play leave me a message and I’ll definitely get back to you.