After four months of waiting since the iOS release in December 2016, Super Mario Run has finally come to Android devices. The perky plumber’s mobile debut is an endless runner with all the character and depth you’d expect from Nintendo. Except now, it’s been squeezed onto your smartphone.
Before we get started, it’s worth noting that only the first world of Super Mario Run is available for free. You’ll have to fork out £9.99 to gain access to every world the game has to offer.
Super Mario Run controls brilliantly on a touch screen without feeling too detached from the platforming classics that inspired it. The green pipes, goombas and carnivorous plants are iconic staples of the Mushroom Kingdom, and remain untouched here. Mario fanatics will recognise every tiny detail, which is a lovely way for Mario to make his debut on mobile.
The core objective in each level is to score as many points as possible. Mario runs automatically and by tapping the screen you can collect coins, stomp enemies and discover cleverly hidden secrets. It feels like each stage is designed with replay value in mind, with every one of them having three increasingly difficult variants to complete.
Once you’ve cleared through Super Mario Run’s six unique worlds you’ll want to check out Toad Rally. This mode has you competing against other players in a timed event that concentrates on winning the support of the Kingdom’s many Toads. It’s all about how many tricks you perform and coins you collect, with a penalty lambasted upon the loser.
Spoils from Toad Rally can be spent on customising the Mushroom Kingdom. I wasted no time filling mine with flowerbeds, houses and ? blocks as my population grew ever larger. Different coloured Toads will net you different rewards, forcing you to think carefully about each new addition. THE BAD
Super Mario Run is a little steep at £9.99. It could also be argued that the free trial is but a minute taster of the full experience. Toad Rally offers plenty of replayability, but without other stages you’ll quickly come to memorise the best strategy for victory.
Mario darting through the level on his own is also jarring at first. It flies in the face of platforming conventions we’ve followed for almost 30 years. As a result, it’s understandably difficult to adjust to. VERDICT
Super Mario Run is a hugely entertaining endless runner that exhibits all of the love and polish you’d expect from Nintendo. It’s just a shame the asking price is a little steep.Microtransactions
: NOBest Android Games | Best iPad Games | Best iPhone Games
Developed by Beijing-based indie studio Inferno, Musync is a delightful little rhythm game with a versatile range of tracks to match its utterly bombastic aesthetic. Offering dozens of tracks for less than a penny, there is plenty on offer here for rhythm enthusiasts and anime fans alike. The localization is effort is mediocre at best, luckily upheld by a simple yet robust gameplay experience.
The sheer variety of tracks available in Musync is overwhelming at first. The opening numbers I played drifted from orchestral concerts to positively filthy dubstep before falling into a relaxing nursery rhyme littered with the playful tapping of xylophones. Inferno has done an excellent job of appealing to everyone’s musical taste buds, with the majority being a blast to play on my smartphone.
The moment-to-moment gameplay is nothing innovative, with your only goal to tap along with the music being played, building up combos and aiming for a higher score. It’s a serviceable combination of systems made exceptional through a stunningly varied visual style. Every song is accompanied by a unique backdrop that looks lovely on my Galaxy S7 display. My personal favourite is a wide, sprawling ocean below a rainbow acting as your column of notes. It has a cute, silly charm to it I can’t help but adore.
As I mentioned earlier, the English localization is all over the shop. You won’t have any trouble navigating the menu or picking a certain song, but stumble into the in-game marketplace and you’re greeted with a cavalcade of broken sentences. It doesn’t necessarily ruin the experience, but the grandeur of the bizarre musical choices is lessened when you’re trying to decipher what a prompt’s trying to tell you in-between jams.
A meaningful form of progression such as a solo campaign or levelling system would have been appreciated, too. As it stands, there is little to do beyond scoring an S rank on each song, offering no noticeable experience points or bonus rewards. You don’t even gain currency for the in-game shop for your efforts, which is a no-brainer is almost all free-to-play mobile titles nowadays.
Musync is a cute, charming and lovably wacky rhythm game that’s a blast to play, despite its iffy localisation and lack of progression.
Best Android Games | Best iPad Games | Best iPhone Games
Rabbids Crazy Rush Review
I’m honestly surprised it's taken Ubisoft’s irritating little minions this long to make their mobile debut. The potential for a free-to-play adventure starring the raving rabbids is huge, and now, it's finally being capitalised upon. Rabbids Crazy Rush is an endless runner with attitude, carrying a zany personality opposite some surprisingly in-depth mechanics.
At its core, Crazy Rush is an endless runner you've probably experienced countless times before. However, it does enough with its recognised aesthetic to stand out, as well as adding some additional longevity to a fairly predictable genre. You'll still be swiping left, right, up and down to succeed, but the existence of objective based missions makes it far more rewarding.
You'll follow a sequence of levels through a range of different environments, each with their own designated aims. It might involve reaching a fixed distance or smashing your head against a nearby train for some mental reason. It's fittingly Rabbids-esque and elegantly designed into the core experience. It's also an absolute breeze to play on your smartphone.
Without the Rabbids, this becomes an endless runner with a few extra bells and whistles. Luckily, their inclusion is well executed despite their antics still being the Marmite of gaming humour. They're constantly burping, laughing, screeching and being an absolutely nuisance, and it's oftentimes hilarious. They haven't changed since their first incarnation in 2006, with what is essentially decade old shtick hitting mobile with ease.
As I said before, Crazy Rush wouldn't be nearly as appealing without such evident star power backing it up. The Rabbids are as recognisable as Rayman himself at this point, having helmed an entire library of silly platformers and minigame collections. Without them, this is but another entry in a genre bordering on oversaturation.
One of Crazy Rush’s coolest features is its repertoire of unlockable costumes. They each come with their own unique abilities, letting you gain double points or jump twice the height over obstacles. They're handy and fun to use. Unfortunately, obtaining them is a matter of grinding tediously for tokens that don't show up nearly enough. Progression feels stilted as a result, saved only by the frequent stream of creative courses to enjoy.
Rabbids Crazy Rush is an endless runner with enough distinctive charm and character to elevate above its many peers.
Score: 7/10 Microtransactions: YES
Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast
I wouldn’t call myself a metal fan, let alone a fan of Iron Maiden, one of the most iconic and celebrated bands in rock history. However, I am a huge sucker for turn-based RPGS, especially when they boast a spectacular visual style and worthwhile mechanics. Legacy of the Beast does exactly that, twisting decades of Iron Maiden history into a gritty, recognisable universe with a surprising amount of depth behind its skeletal appearance.
Dedicated fans of Iron Maiden will definitely get the most out of Legacy of the Beast. The characters, environments and attacks are positively littered with clever, obscure references to the metal icons’ decorated history. In many ways it can be seen as a faithful homage, blending the band's identity with a medium it has never touched before.
Battles themselves are fun and rewarding, with the occasional difficulty curve being your only barrier to progress. The simplicity of the battle system is improved by splicing rhythm action into the mix. Everytime you attack a circle will close in on your target. Hit this prompt at the right time and you'll do more damage and possibly stagger your enemies for an extra hit or two.
This makes for a fun addition, twisting a relatively mundane affair into something that feels refreshingly vibrant on mobile. I’ve always favoured retro renditions of turn-based battles systems, whether this be FF7 or Advance Wars. Having a free-to-play mobile game emulate this style with such graceful execution is wonderful to see.
I’ll admit that the bombardment of references and musical cues that will no doubt be adored by fans were lost on me at times. The aesthetic is striking, but undeniably cheesy as goofy characters exchange dialogue that feels ripped out of a sub-par cartoon from the 1980s. There is a lovable charm to it, though, and the characters take themselves seriously enough that it just about works.
If you're looking for a challenging mobile RPG, you won't find it here. Every counter is fairly predictable, offering no challenge beyond your constant rhythmic accuracy. predictable in terms of pacing. The challenge of each new obstacle never feels overwhelming if you keep on top of your party’s upgrades. Such a trivial RPG may disappoint some players, but on the other hand, it ensures that each victory feels satisfying as you push onto your next objective.
Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast is a neat little RPG that capitalises on the best qualities of its source material. Fans of the beloved rock icons will find a lot to love here, as will RPG fans looking for a new game on their morning commute.
Word Cookies seemingly takes place in a bakery that cooks nothing but cookies consisting of letters in the alphabet. God knows how they turn a profit, but it definitely makes for a fun little mobile outing. By concocting words from a random assortment of letters you must accrue higher and higher scores against a challenging yet accessible difficulty curve.
The premise of Word Cookies is delightfully simple. Each level expects you to craft a selection of words from the cookies that lay before you. It’s tried-and-true puzzle design paced between stages that feel utterly perfect for a morning commute on a smartphone. It can also be surprisingly challenging, forcing me to dive deep into my vocabulary for the smallest of words I’d otherwise never use in everyday life.
Word Cookies grows in difficulty as you progress, yet it never feels bloated. Short and sweet levels are frequently followed up by fierce blockbusters that had me scratching my head in search of what words I could find in the cavalcade of baked goods. Every successful level awards you with coins. These can be used to reveal a letter in each word, offering a thoughtful lifeline whenever you’re stuck. Coins are also given out as oddly generous daily bonuses and seasonal events. FYI, it’s easter themed right now.
Despite being hugely entertaining, Word Cookies sometimes lacks a meaningful sense of progression. A solo campaign or loose narrative wouldn’t have gone amiss. What if we were newcomers to the bakery business and were spelling out things for certain customers? It sounds silly, but would feel perfectly at home in such a charming, childlike experience.
The lack of character feels like a bit of a missed opportunity in a number ways. Injecting a character into the initial tutorial or a cutesy sprite to reward you in-between levels would have been a brilliant addition. There is a little dog that eats up words that do exist, but aren’t actual solutions in the level. Feed him enough and you’ll be rewarded with a nice drop of coins.
Word Cookies is a cute, fun if slightly undercooked puzzler that feels perfectly designed for the platform.
Score: 7/10 Microtransactions: YES
Nintendo’s third stab at mobile gaming could be its deepest yet, with Fire Emblem Heroes delivering an experience that pays homage to the beloved series while also carving its own identity. By combining familiar gameplay mechanics with dozens of iconic characters, Fire Emblem Heroes crafts a deceptively deep SRPG perfectly suited for mobile.
Fire Emblem Heroes does an excellent job of translating the existing gameplay formula to iOS and Android. Admittedly, it lacks some of the depth of the 3DS entries, yet often feels just as challenging. Managing your capable squad of heroes still requires a keen sense of strategy, albeit on a smaller and somewhat simplified scale. Every battle is controlled with a swipe of your finger, ensuring each move takes advantage of your enemy's hidden weakness.
The solo campaign is a nostalgic trip through Fire Emblem history as you encounter characters from previous entries summoned into your world by an evil sorceress. Each chapter has you battling through a series of skirmishes before coming across the iconic individual in question. Duking it out with them is a blast, even if at times the difficulty feels lacking.
The core appeal of Fire Emblem Heroes is arguably in its addictive recruitment system. By sacrificing hard earned orbs, the game’s main currency, you can recruit Heroes from across the Fire Emblem universe. These are all picked at random, with the likes of Marth, Chrom and Lucina ruling the top spots. Additional orbs are obtained through completing challenges and story missions, with new characters acting as occasional rewards.
It's worth noting that Fire Emblem Heroes is utterly gorgeous, setting a potential benchmark for the franchise in visual fidelity. The HD character models make their 3DS counterparts look ancient by comparison, awash with a sequence of gorgeous colour and animation. This quality carries over to the dialogue, which turns a nonsensical plot into a fun, charming tale that doesn't take itself too seriously.
At times it can feel like Fire Emblem Heroes relies far too heavily on loot mechanics, expecting players to grind for endless orbs before praying their favourite hero appears. Building up your squad of regal fighters is great fun, but being stuck with a load of generic nobodies can be frustrating. However, it does make your eventual drenching of luck all the sweeter.
The constant stream of identical missions can also grow repetitive. Unlike other Fire Emblem titles, Heroes has no fleshed out base to explore. Instead, you are relegated to a single screen with characters having little of interest to say. Training modes and weekly events will likely alleviate the tedium, but long-term players may grow tired overtime.
Fire Emblem Heroes is a solid adaptation of the beloved franchise to smartphones, even if there are a few stumbles along the way.
No, it isn’t a remix of the classic Blur song. Rogue Life is a top-down shooter spliced with an endless runner, sprinkled off with surprisingly tactful RPG elements that make for an addictive freemium experience.
The first thing that stuck out to me when jumping into Rogue Life was the strikingly charming visuals. The art style is a mixture of chibi-style anime sprites and classical fantasy tropes. Your team consists of three different characters each with their own unique class - Knight, Mage and Viking. All of them look suitably cute and silly, perfectly befitting of the cartoonish world the game takes place in.
I was also impressed by the unforeseen amount of depth Rogue Life possessed, piling multiple gameplay systems on top of one another to create a minute-to-minute experience that has you dispatching enemies, upgrading your squad and making improvements to your base. It’s all so quick and precise that it’s very easy to find yourself in a melodic groove of completing stages and levelling up your adorable band of heroes.
The meat of Rogue Life comes in its combat stages, which are played by sliding your finger across the bottom of the screen. This moves your squad with unexpected grace, zipping them across the screen as attacks automatically hurtle toward the enemy. Having to constantly strategize my movements against the enemy's attacks is swift and thrilling, especially when boss battles hurl projectiles in every direction.
While they may not impact the overall gameplay too much, having to mine for resources and customise each hero in-between stages is a nice little distraction. The little stat bonuses that come with this are always handy, ensuring victory is an option whatever the situation. That being said, Rogue Life can be a little too easy.
During the earlier stages you might as well not touch your phone at all. Health is so plentiful that the bad guys will take far longer than the duration of each level to make a dent. You’ll lose any bonuses that come with a perfect performance, but it’s hardly a big loss. Difficulty soon ramps up, yet it rarely feels rewarding to win so trivially.
The voice acting is also terrible. It feels like it’s been pulled straight out of 1999’s Theme Park World. Each character communicates in a series of irritable yelps. It’s utter gibberish, and feels jarring up against the otherwise well-executed aesthetic. I found myself muting the game, or shutting it out with my own music instead of sitting through it.
Score: 8/10 Microtransactions: YES
Smartphones have become the perfect platform for reviving old classics. For better or worse, we’ve seen plenty of oldies dug up by publishers in search of an extra dip in the pool of nostalgia. Ubisoft’s limbless platforming legend is the next in line for such a treatment, bringing his debut adventure into our hands with little to no changes to the original experience. The best thing is, there’s no rabbids in sight.
The minimalist platforming found in Rayman is a timeless relic of the 1990s, presenting a selection of 2D levels focused on tight precision above all else. To this day, it remains incredibly challenging, requiring a keen sense of timing in order to outsmart enemies and clamber upon far-reaching obstacles. The opening stages are made up of trivial stepping stones for the immense challenge that awaits. Once you’ve got a few powers, things really start to get interesting.
Rayman’s helicopter hair and spherical projectiles have become iconic staples of his identity, acting as a part of his offensive repertoire and visual appeal. Here in his infancy, he looks a little creepy, constantly glaring at the player as he pulls himself up vines and thrusts his balls into the face of scheming goblins. It’s not pretty by today’s standards, but remains a nostalgic time capsule showing how far the French hero has come since 1995.
We’ve seen Rayman go to some fiendishly creative places with Origins and Legends, showing just how clever Ubisoft is when it comes to outlandish level design. The origins of such modern masterpieces are on full display here, with each new world boasting a unique identity beyond the increasing difficulty. It’s a retrofied joy to leap about plains filled with dank swamps and multicoloured crayons. Rayman’s staggering variety is its biggest strength, and almost needs to be with such archaic gameplay.
Ironically, the weakest part of Rayman’s smartphone outing are the features that come with such a platform. The implemented touch controls simply aren’t accurate enough, especially when stages descend into a sequence of precarious platforms and dangerous enemies. On several occasions I found myself tumbling into an enemy or drowning in a nearby river thanks to the finicky nature of Rayman’s movements, none of which reflect the finesse of a traditional controller.
At times, I found it hard to progress through Rayman without making harsh comparisons to its contemporaries. The finesse of Rayman’s movement here is akin to treacle when put up against the likes of Origins and Legends. It’s still fun, but leaves an unusual taste behind when you know, deep down, there is better to be had.
Rayman brings to classic platformer to smartphones with relative ease, offering a nostalgic trip back to platforming infancy.
Score: 7/10 Microtransactions: Yes
Illusions that focus purely on our personal perspective have always fascinated me. The way in which an object can shift in shape just by us looking at it is brilliant, and a great way to showcase just how flexible the human mind truly is. Hocus takes this mental challenge of subversive simplicity and twists it into a series of sharp, addictive puzzles to solve on the move.
The initial simplicity of Hocus had my attention within seconds. The muted colour palette and oddly melancholic soundtrack combine to form a puzzle experience that feels almost tranquil. Some stages might take you several minutes, but I never felt an ounce of frustration on my shoulders upon repeatedly making the same stupid mistakes.
Your goal in every level is to guide a red cube into a specific point on the map. It sounds easy, but every stage presents a unique twist in perspective that questions everything that came before it. There is no concrete solution, forcing you think outside of the box on more than one occasion.
The challenge of each new shape is spurred on by curiosity, with every move acting as a way of discovering just how much influence you have. How unnaturally the shapes appear and defy gravity is incredibly cool to behold. Either that, or I'm amused far too easily. Some sections took me seconds, while others had me stumped for several minutes as I tried every single strategic avenue available to me.
Despite being free to download, only a select number of stages are available for free. Those wanting to experience all 100 of the puzzles on offer will have to fork out for the paid version. To be honest, it's more than worth it. Hocus’ hooks are capable of digging in deep thanks to its exceptionally creative puzzle design. It can be irritating to repeatedly beat your head against the same puzzle, but the sense of reward is often worth it.
Hocus is everything a mobile puzzler should be. It’s memorable visuals and challenging puzzle design are thought-provoking wonders.
Katamari is an obscure Japanese delight, fully aware of its oddball visuals and utterly mental personality. It's become a cult favourite amongst fans, drawing in thousands with its fabulously catchy music and addictively simple gameplay formula. Tap My Katamari takes this experience to mobile with some unusual changes.
I was initially concerned how Tap My Katamari would translate a predominantly 3D experience into the realm of 2D. I'm usually rolling my sticky otherworldly balls through an open space, free to cause chaos however I like. This sense of freedom is gone here, replaced by an idle experience that feels completely different yet strangely familiar.
If you've played a clicker on your smartphone before the usual trappings of Tap My Katamari are nothing new, and do little to alleviate the usual frustrations that accompany such a genre. Luckily, the sheer wackiness of Katamari shines through brilliantly here, injecting enough charmful fun into the experience it's very easy to overlook.
The charming nature of Katamari is complimented by an almost blistering pace. I was constantly barraged by new skills and upgrades as I escorted my unstoppable sphere through a range of colourful environments. Whether I’m gaining extra coins or adopting a temporary burst of speed, the idle of act of tapping away at the screen rarely felt monotonous.
Rewarding gameplay isn’t something I’d normally praise a clicker for, but Tap My Katamari deals in such laughable extremes it’s hard not to feel invested. After an hour or so of play my screen was filled with a swarm of stupidly high numbers. Every tap added billions to my score, pushing me through to the next stage with a feeling of overzealous pride.
One of the highlights of this neat little clicker are the army of katamari occupying the bottom half of the screen. These colourful creatures are gained through individual upgrades that feel neverending at first, but quickly fall into a rhythmic pattern of tapping, upgrading and bursting through to the next level.
Tap My Katamari marks the end of each stage with a time-attack challenge that can feel like a needless grind, forcing you to spam abilities to make even the slightest dent. Times like this aren’t helped by the rare drops of candy currency used for enabling premium powers reserved for microtransactions. It muddles up the pace of the status quo and simply feels frustrating.
Despite how catchy and novel it may be, the soundtrack of Tap My Katamari is bloody repetitive at times. For minutes at a time it will drill the same tune into your head. It’s fun at first, but doesn’t change it up often enough to stay impressive.
SCORE: 8/10 Microtransactions: Yes
Trials Frontier brings the addictive physics based series to mobile for the first time, translating its fast-paced, satisfying gameplay with surprising success. By combining a story-driven mixture of stages and fantastic touch controls, Frontier is one of the finest racers you can find on mobile without spending a single penny.
The core gameplay of the Trials franchise remains untouched in Frontier. It’s fast, chaotic and satisfying, propelled further by the convenience that comes with playing it on your phone. The touch controls can feel unusual at first, being overly sensitive as you prod at the on-screen prompts in clumsy anticipation. Putting sensitivity aside, Redlynx has created a wonderful adaptation of the beloved series on mobile, right down to the clumsy physics and laughable wipeouts.
Despite its main appeal being in its tight gameplay, I found myself surprisingly taken with Frontier’s alluring palette of quirky visuals and characters. Taking place in what appears to be a post-apocalyptic western locale, the environments you recklessly soar through are positively gorgeous. The art style is strong and distinctive, complimented by a varied yet cliched cast of oddballs responsible for gifting out much needed experience and quests.
Those familiar with Trials will know the key to success is persistence. Each and every track can be nailed with a keen sense of skill and determination. Nailing the subtle movements and weight distribution to each landing is crucial, and a beautiful art when done right. I found myself revisiting earlier stages to tackle quests and roundup hidden items I failed to obtain first time round.
Frontier’s wacky Mad Max-inspired art style is reflected heavily in its impressive customization features. Meticulously analysing every tiny component of my rusty ride was great fun, making eventual upgrades and tweaks a joy to earn. Stats and such can be ramped up with each new upgrade. You can also pimp out your biker with snazzy unlockable helmets and jumpsuits.
Trials Frontier sets out to be a worthwhile adaptation of the franchise to mobile, and achieves this goal with flying colours. Granted, the controls aren't as tight, and stages lack the creative diversity found on consoles, but they're still a blast to roar through.
Trials has always felt like the perfect fit for a controller, demanding ultra precise reflexes for those wanting to dominate its hardest tracks. Frontier supersedes this notion, creating a great experience that not only feels great on mobile, but created for it.
SCORE: 8/10 Microtransactions: YES
Pewdiepie's Tuber Simulator
PewDiePie's Tuber Simulator Review
Nowadays, YouTubers possess the same celebrity status as the world's most popular actors and musicians, cementing themselves in the zeitgeist of popular culture with zany, unorthodox entertainment. Pewdiepie, a ludicrously famous let’s player, lies at the centre of this fantastical phenomenon. Tuber Simulator grants you a cute and occasionally cynical glimpse into the life of an entertainer through an oddly self-aware lense.
Tuber Simulator does exactly what it says on the tin. You're thrust into the mind of a budding viral superstar, confined to your room as you produce video after video to the sound of cheering fans and ticking view counters. The act of creating a viral hit is satisfying, propelled further as the blonde entrepreneur himself congratulates you with a barrage of sarcastic insults.
Mechanically simplistic, the main appeal of Tuber Simulator lies in its fantastic visual style and weirdly subversive sense of humour. Every quest completed and level earned isn't just rewarded with experience. Pewdiepie's virtual avatar often appears to remind me my channel will never take off and his subscriber base is millions above what I'll ever amount to. It's portrayed with such blunt sarcasm that I can't help but try and prove him wrong.
When you aren't making videos about games, pugs and farting you'll be decorating your makeshift studio with random props and items. The sheer variety of objects on offer is staggering, only growing larger as you level up. Experience is gained by filling your humble abode with items, meaning there is always something crude awaiting you. I had a blast plastering my room with pugs, cats, pianos and pretend (I hope) turds. The grind for experience can be monotonous at times, with cash and subscribers taking far too long to accrue.
As I mentioned before, progression in Tuber Simulator can feel somewhat stilted and unsatisfying. After a few hours of idle play the frequency of unlocks dwindles significantly. Much of my time was spent grinding quests and views for that extra special item. Nailing a long sought after objective is fantastic, but not nearly as present as it should be.
The sarcastic and questionably malicious personality of Pewdiepie grew tiresome after a while. His dry insults and digs are fun at first, but just like the unlocks, they soon fade into obscurity. He's brilliantly realised, though, striking a bunch of recognisable poses passionate fans will adore. Sure, to some it's obnoxious, but to everyone else it's innocent and silly fun.
Pewdiepie's Tuber Simulator is a fun yet inconsistent clicker with a brilliantly subversive sense of humour that both delights and divides.
Score: 6/10 Microtransactions: YES
FIFA Mobile has abandoned the numbered naming convention of its console counterpart in favour of an experience that focuses on bitesized matches and social interaction that dominates the most popular of portable titles. Despite some admirable changes in the right direction, FIFA Mobile still lacks the polish and satisfaction of its older sibling, and feels suitably inferior as a result.
Running on the same engine that powered FIFA 08, FIFA Mobile at least looks the part with realistic character models and bright, colourful environments. In terms of graphics, it feels like a fully-fledged football sim, with the exception of its ugly, pixelated crowds that stand out like a sore thumb every time a free kick is taken.
I was a little disappointed to see that FIFA Mobile focuses purely on the offensive parts of matches as opposed to anything full-length. You’ll challenge other players from the main menu and be thrust into a short and chaotic matchup. The objective is to score and nothing more, as only the first half is played. Whenever the ball is caught by a defender and thrust down the pitch everything restarts, alleviating any tension that comes with defense. This is perfect for satisfying victories on the go, but rarely poses any kind of meaningful challenge.
Luckily, FIFA Mobile is rewarding in plenty of other ways beyond its lacklustre on-field action. One of the driving forces behind your progress is the collection of endless player cards that can be used to upgrade and manage each team. These are gained by taking on daily challenges and winning matches. Opening a flurry of new packs is brilliant, even if your knowledge of football is almost nonexistent (like mine!).
Those expecting to tuck into a full-length game of football on their next commute will be extremely disheartened by FIFA Mobile, as it is nowhere to be seen. Most of the action is split into short attacking events and daily training drills. These are frequently rewarding, but never let me lead my favourite team to victory like any other football sim. EA is clearly chasing a brief and satisfying mobile venture, yet abandons the original vision of FIFA in the process.
I’ve always had rocky relationship with mobile touch controls. Having to keep my fingers on the screen for extended periods of time obscures the action, adding nothing to the experience but an extra bundle of tedium. It’s worsened by the fact that FIFA Mobile's touch controls make the game a meaningless breeze. It may as well play itself as you tap players to pass and swipe lazily to score.
Progression in FIFA Mobile is constant and regular, but it rarely felt like I was achieving anything or stepping in the right direction. Amassing a collection of cards and victories means nothing when you aren’t stepping towards an ultimate goal. By crafting an experience perfect for mobile EA has abandoned what makes the console versions of FIFA so appealing.
FIFA Mobile is an entertaining yet ultimately underwhelming football game which fails in crafting its own identity with an uneven mixture of visuals and mechanics.
Score: 5/10 Microtransactions: YES
Rolling Sky Review
When Marble Madness launched way back in 1984 for the Nintendo Entertainment System it rolled out a genre that would spawn a thousand imitators, and its palpable influence can still be felt today. The act of balancing a large, clumsy sphere across a sequence of precarious platforms and daunting obstacles is surprisingly fun, especially when this can all be done with nothing but a touchscreen. Rolling Sky is a fantastic example of this enduring genre, bringing an addictive yet familiar experience to mobile with exuberant style.
Rolling Sky is exactly what you might expect from a quick, accessible platformer on mobile. The second the game starts up I’m thrown straight into the action, soaring across claustrophobic tiles towards a plethora of hammers, walls and traps. One hit and it's all over, my incompetence rewarded with an immediate restart. That’s okay, though, as with each defeat, your knowledge grows, the location of each barrier to victory becoming etched into my mind.
The fantastic controls, or lack thereof, reflect the impressive accessibility Rolling Sky brings with it, providing a commute-friendly experience that can be difficult to pull yourself away from. Much like Super Meat Boy, respawning is almost instantaneous, making its impossible to resist having just one more go. That is until you run out of balls to use, which can only be obtained by waiting a certain amount of time or indulging in a few advertisements. Alternatively, you could drop £2 on the full version, which isn’t asking much.
Split into nine unique stages, I found Rolling Sky to be ripe with challenge, forcing me to adapt to each new obstacle with vastly different strategies. It’s all about speed, and how quickly your finger can whizz across the screen. Each stage is pretty generous, giving an ample window of opportunity to analyse which obstacles are coming up and how to avoid them. At times, the constant stream of defeats became frustrating, but I never felt deterred from pushing forward. I could also just be a bit rubbish.
Much to my surprise, Rolling Sky is hugely diverse in its visual design, presenting nine unique stages decorated with vibrant colours and sharp, spontaneous scenery. It all looks lovely, with sombre background music acting as a stark contrast to the tense gameplay. I’d say it’s played best with headphones, like most mobile titles.
As I mentioned earlier, it's far too easy to run out of lives in Rolling Sky, forcing you into a corner filled with advertisements and microtransactions. Strong willed players will wait until things automatically restock, but for such a fast-paced bout designed for portable play, the act of constantly stopping and starting soon becomes a nuisance.
Rolling Sky is dotted with a few collectibles in the form of diamonds, but there is little incentive to go after these beyond your own internal satisfaction. They’re shiny looking and cool, but contribute nothing to the overall experience. Beyond this, Rolling Sky free of any major flaws.
Rolling Sky has the right combination of fun, addictive gameplay and rampant accessibility that makes it perfect for playing on the go.
SCORE: 8/10 Microtransactions: YES
Chickens are funny little things aren’t they? They’re also delicious, but that’s besides the point. Despite their charming way of walking and evident tastiness, the thought of starting a farm and raising a bunch of them has never crossed my mind. Until now. Who needs games journalism? Let’s go lay some eggs!
Egg, Inc. is a fun little clicker game that has you escorting chickens to a hatchery where they begin laying a never-ending quantity of eggs for you to sell. From here you can earn, money, upgrade your farm and store more of the furry little creatures. The premise caught my attention immediately, scratching that itch of watching numbers grow higher and higher alongside your progression.
Spawning chickens is done by a simple tap of the touch screen, and the faster you tap, the more will spawn. It’s a wonderfully satisfying feeling that had me constantly tapping away at the screen, marvelling as hundreds upon hundreds of birds swarmed into my newly constructed shacks. I can’t imagine being a farmer in real life is this stylish, or profitable, for that matter.
Egg, Inc takes more than a bit of inspiration from games such as Cookie Clicker and Simpson’s Tapped Out, combing an addictive idle experience with mechanics that encourage you to monitor your progress while adding new upgrades to your arsenal. The dangling carrot is always within reach, and I found myself reaching for it every time I started a new and improved farm.
After you cross a certain threshold the game will ask if you want to start over, taking all the knowledge gained thus far into a newly grown pasture. Except, this time, you can earn significantly more money. I jumped at this opportunity, leaving my old farm behind in favour of increased rewards. It remains satisfying throughout, despite its relative simplicity.
The general flow of gameplay is made more engaging by the implementation of subtle yet effective micro-management. In order to earn money while the game is switched off you can build grain silos, earning you a healthy stack of dough for when you return. It’s a shame that only two can be build at first without dipping a toe in the aggressive microtransactions, though.
Thankfully the rollout of random gifts filled with money and eggs is frequent enough that I never felt cheated. At times the grind could feel heavy, but I seldom felt the need to throw any real currency at what is a predominantly free-to-play venture.
Saying that Egg, Inc. doesn't ask much of you is a colossal understatement. It's designed in such a way that rewards persistence far more than skill, and the mechanics definitely reflect this. At times it can feel like you're waiting for a series of meters to fill rather than doing anything substantial, which can be a nuisance at times.
This could just be my clumsy fingers, but when playing the game on the Samsung Galaxy S7 I often found myself closing the application by accident as I tapped to spawn more animals. The user interface is cobbled together in a manner that feels unwieldy, suggesting the game might be best played on a larger phone or tablet.
I'm not yolking around, Egg, Inc. is an eggciting little game with a range of cracking yet eggcessible mechanics to lay into.
I'm really sorry.
SCORE: 8/10 Microtransactions: YES
I’ve loved the Pokémon series ever since I was young, filled with a burning determination to stuff my Game Boy with an array of strange, colourful creatures. The lovely world in which this all takes place is awash with imaginative characters and beautiful environments. And now, after twenty years, it’s finally come to the real world as a state-of-the-art AR mobile title.
THE GOOD Pokémon Go brings the tried-and-true RPG series to life using augmented reality. GPS and AR are used to have Pokemon populate your surroundings only to be caught with a single swipe of the touch screen.
My friends and I used to exchange imaginary stories about Pokemon coming to life when we were kids, and this is about the closest I’m ever going to get. For the most part, it works brilliantly, with only a few bugs souring the experience.
Upon reaching level 5 you will asked to join one of three teams: Instinct, Mystic and Valor. From here I started challenging (and losing to) rival gyms. Gyms appear as large structures on the map and are hard to miss. You challenge them by walking up close and giving them a tap. I also discovered that you can form your own gyms if you emerge victorious. I have to admit taking over my neighbourhood through Pokemon battles sounds pretty insane.
Battles require little more than a keen eye for timing and a few taps of the touch screen. Being showered with ludicrous amounts of XP and cool items was a nice bonus, but I never found myself drawn towards gyms too often. Niantic hasn’t quite created a system that has the competitive hook to keep me interested.
The social aspect of Pokémon GO is easily its strongest asset, bringing hordes of real-life trainers together to capture, battle and conquer across three unique teams. The sense of community I’ve felt as I wandered the streets bumping into neighbouring trainers was wonderful, and something I’ve never felt before with mobile gaming.
Items such as lures and incense can be used to attract nearby Pokémon, making it far easier to bolster your library of creatures without the need for overly long walks. These items can be purchased using in-game microtransactions or by levelling up, and I seldom felt the urge to splash real money on the former because of this.
THE BAD Your enjoyment of Pokémon GO will depend largely on where you live, and how far you have to travel in order to access the map’s Poke Stops and Gyms. Fortunately, my local area was littered with both. The same convenience can’t be said for rural areas, though. Some users have already reported their experiences to be nothing more than series of arduous hikes in search of Pokemon.
One major issue I had, is the toll Pokémon GO had on my Samsung Galaxy S7’s battery life. It is abundantly clear that you will have a lot of trouble keeping data charges down and battery life up if you plan on going all out when catching Pokémon. If you have any of the same problems, be sure to check out our tips article.
VERDICT Pokémon GO isn’t without problems, but is an admirable first attempt by Nintendo to bring Pokémon into the real world. It’s difficult to describe just how addictively satisfying it is when you stumble upon a Growlithe in your back garden.
Even if Pokémon GO is a temporary trend instead of a long-lasting phenomenon, it’s one that’s well worth being a part of.
SCORE: 7/10 Microtransactions: YES
What is Tales of Link?The Tales franchise has proven to be hugely popular in recent years, capturing fans with its engaging characters, in-depth combat system and cutesy visual style.
It’s been a long time coming, but the series finally makes its mobile debut, and for the most part, is a lot of fun. Bandai Namco has crafted a fun and refreshing experience for newcomers and veterans, providing plenty of nostalgic fan-service throughout. It isn’t without its flaws, but Tales of Link is an impressive, bite-sized adventure.
THE GOOD The battle system is immediately accessible, teaching all you need to know in the opening minutes. Turn-based battles are carried out using the touch-screen, where you must link character attacks together with a single swipe of your finger.
Fan-service is an integral part of Tales of Link, and it’s executed relatively well. You can recruit characters from previous entries in the series to your party as you progress, each fitted with unique attributes and abilities. They lend little substance to the story, which is unfortunate, but their presence alone is a worthwhile addition.
Tales of Link’s storytelling is nothing special, but weaves a substantial narrative in the context of your actions. Small, charming visual novel-esque cutscenes are peppered throughout important missions, giving your journey a meaningful purpose. The new cast of characters is also great, the highlight being a talking, smartphone-using cat.
Considering it’s free-to-play, the game is incredibly generous when it comes to handing out equipment, points and gems needed to upgrade your party. I had an abundance in the opening hours, spending several minutes outfitting each character with shiny new goodies.
THE BADWith the exception of the battle system, the interface is a nuisance to navigate at times, feeling archaic in its implementation. Filled with layers of menus and overblown, unattractive icons, it’s a blemish on an otherwise lovely package.
The generosity the game offers early on is lessened by an unusual difficulty curve that requires a ludicrous number of resources. It feels unnatural to breeze through the opening stages only to be destroyed by a single enemy immediately after. It hinders the sense of progression in a way that’s hard to recover from.
If the graphical style of Tales hasn’t appealed to you in the past, this will do nothing to change your mind. It seldom pushes the franchise in any new direction, instead remaining faithful to what came before it. This isn’t bad, not at all, but can feel unremarkable.
VERDICTTales of Link is fun, accessible and addictive mobile experience suited for veterans and newcomers alike.
SCORE: 8/10 Microtransactions: YES
What is Clash Royale?Clash of Clans is one of the most successful games in mobile history, and now developer Supercell is branching out to an entirely new genre. The mechanics of tower defense are trivial to produce, but incredibly difficult to master, relying heavily on the subtle balance of each and every component.
Supercell has done just that, creating a ludicrously addictive tower defense experience with few flaws. The temptation to have just one more online match is always there, coaxing you on to obtain further upgrades, cards and those irresistible treasure chests.
See also: Nintendo Switch Review
Seriously, it’s been years since a mobile game has pulled me in like this, and I’m excited to see what it has left to offer with new stages, units and strategies to master.
THE GOOD Clash Royale gives a fantastic first impression, laying out nearly everything you need to know in the opening minutes. Supercell is well aware how many approach mobile gaming, curating an experience that favours snappy, rewarding gameplay with constant progression.
Matchmaking is instantaneous, dropping you straight into a two-minute skirmish with another player. You must destroy your opponent’s three towers by strategically placing units across the battlefield. It’s deceptively simple in practice, but it won’t be long until you’re devising your own schemes to success.
The variety of imaginative characters at your disposal is overwhelming at first, as you slowly familiarise yourself with each unit’s traits and abilities. Upgrading these is a rewarding joy, providing a noticeable advancement in battle, so long as you aren’t facing someone pumped up on microtransactions.
Chests are unlocked after each successful match, and within them can be found the cards and currency needed to upgrade your arsenal. The constant arrival of new goodies is paramount to your investment, and Clash Royale has arguably perfected this system.
See also: Best iOS games
Every victory came packaged with its own worthwhile reward, even if I had to wait a while to open each shiny new chest.
THE BADWhile the pacing and execution of each match is mostly excellent, it is easy to feel unfairly outmatched by your opponent. Depending on what units they possess, your enemy can destroy you in seconds, giving you no chance to fight back.
It would be nice if the matchmaking was tailored to specific skill levels, although this could easily compromise the fast-paced action critical to the game’s appeal. Such matches don’t happen often, but they’re an irritable slog nonetheless.
See also: Android N features
You can only hold five treasure chests at any given time, and waiting for these to unlock can take hours. The time limit can be bypassed if you’re willing to fork out real money on additional gems, which an easy trap to fall victim to. However, the game is fun enough that I was happy to throw down a few pennies.
VERDICT Clash Royale is one of the most addictive mobile experiences out there, providing fast, exciting and rewarding gameplay perfectly suited for the platform.
What is Futurama: Game of Drones?
Futurama’s fictional universe is bursting with unique characters, locations and scenarios perfect for gaming, but rarely has a developer truly capitalised on the cult animated series. Futurama’s PS2 and Xbox release back in 2003 was a mediocre shooter made worse by awful platforming, and that’s all we’ve seen on the gaming front.
Futurama: Game of Drones sees the series return, this time on mobile with a match-three puzzle adventure that bundles in as many characters and jokes as possible. It emulates the tone and feel of the show brilliantly without feeling lazy or gratuitously forced.
It seldom strays away from the match-three formula, but when it does, it creates some spectacular moments that reward sharp thinking and persistence.
At first glance, Futurama: Game of Drones appears to be yet another generic puzzler, and in some ways, it definitely is. But through some unconventional mechanics and fantastic dialogue it sets itself apart.
Rare stages will have you battle against a boss enemy, racing to deplete its health by matching as many drones as possible. These brief stages imbue an element of competition, and it makes for a wonderful addition, providing a competitive context to your actions that would otherwise feel insignificant.
The crux here is undoubtedly the characters and writing, both of which build upon the franchise in creative and somewhat unorthodox ways. All of your favourites make an appearance, cleverly referencing obscure moments from the TV series as you play.
Levels are selected through The Planet Express as it dynamically travels through myriad iconic locations from the show. This passionate homage feels genuine, and the sheer amount of easter eggs nestled into each environment is truly impressive.
To my surprise, Game of Drones makes an admirable attempt at piecing together a storyline from your endless drone matching. It isn’t anything significant, but the small animated cutscenes interspersed between certain stages are fun, witty and lovingly nostalgic.
Unfortunately, Game of Drones suffers from many of the problems found with other games in the genre. At times, your success is simply down to luck, or your willingness to fork out on questionable microtransactions. If you’re skilled enough then microtransactions may be a trivial issue, but it became an obstruction that halted my progress on more than one occasion.
This leads to inevitable repetition with repeated stages and arduous objectives that feel defined more by your wallet rather than skill. This quickly stifled my enthusiasm, swiftly ending multiple play sessions as I hit yet another obnoxious paywall.
The game’s unconventional boss battles are few and far between, once again halting progression with frequent bouts of monotonous grinding. The moment-to-moment gameplay is enjoyable enough to overlook this, but it’s still an undeniable flaw in an otherwise enjoyable little game.
Futurama: Game of Drones is an exciting take on the genre, bolstered by fantastic visuals and a charming sense of humour. Microtransactions:
The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land
Having successfully helmed a TV show, comic series and even trivial board games, Rick Grimes and company are ready to take on the world of mobile gaming. The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land combines the best aspects of the popular franchise with some clever gameplay mechanics that feel both refreshing and unpredictable in a stagnant zombie genre.
You play as a vulnerable group of survivors fresh out of Terminus, eager to form a new community by gathering supplies, recruiting survivors and building your own homestead. Right from the start, No Man’s Land integrates beloved franchise characters into the game. Fan favourite redneck Daryl Dixon will guide you through tutorials as you progress, and may even join you on tougher missions.
No Man’s Land is surprisingly unconventional in a genre populated by cookie-cutter action games that focus on gratuitous violence over substance. Many of the game mechanics feel varied and fleshed out, forming a foundation around your decisions that feels genuinely meaningful. The game combines strategic turn-based combat, city simulation and some light decision-based gameplay that fluctuates enough to keep things fun.
No Man’s Land is a faithful adaptation of The Walking Dead universe, conveying the atmosphere and dread the franchise is renown for without feeling forced or lazy. The presence of fan favourite characters only punctuates this further, giving you with the incentive to discover new characters and explore a world that will feel acutely familiar yet simultaneously alien to fans.
Beyond the visual design, the game also boasts an impressive range of mechanics for a mobile game. The closest comparison I can make is to something like XCOM or Fire Emblem, where you are entrusted to build a bustling community while also participating in fast, turn-based battles.
Such a splicing of fluctuating mechanics are complimented by impressive character progression. The way in which you upgrade your party works in tandem with exploration and battling, forming a cohesive whole that frequently rewards your every move. It’s a system perfectly suited to portable play, motivating you to check up on your survivors whenever you can.
At times I found the difficulty to be a little too forgiving, leaving me eager for a more prominent sense of challenge. Battles pit you against a daunting group of dynamic enemies, but these are easily dispatched with the right strategy and equipment. The variety of enemies is also an issue, constrained by the The Walking Dead’s own mythos.
The battle system is frantic and unpredictable, but lacks any kind of worthwhile depth. Granted, the level of survivor customisation is extensive, giving each battle an element of progression that overshadows the lack of combat options available to you. This is partly why the game is so trivial at times, artificially constructing difficulty through obtrusive microtransactions.
With such an iconic visual identity it’s disheartening to see what little effort has gone into recreating The Walking Dead’s biggest characters. Daryl Dixon is an unnatural mess of pixels with horrid, plastic looking hair. It’s a massive eyesore within a competent package that rarely stumbles in delivering a great adaptation of Kirkman’s universe, making its faults all the more noticeable.
The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land provides a sense of challenging progression that will no doubt keep you invested, especially if you’re already a fan of Robert Kirkman’s undead universe. However, even without the juggernaut license, this is still a fun, accessible and worthwhile game to play on the go. Score:
YESDownload The Walking Dead: No Man's Land now
What is Target Acquired?
Have you ever wanted to explore a futuristic city populated by blaster-wielding catgirls? Me neither, until I got my hands on Target Acquired, a nifty little side-scroller that puts you in the shoes (paws?) of a catgirl on the Japanese police force. It’s a crazy premise, and one that unabashedly takes advantage of its quirky nature.
Target Acquired takes place in Nekomipolis, a city populated entirely by catgirls. The setting is ridiculous, but feels surprisingly grounded in its anime aesthetic. It takes clear inspiration from famous franchises such as Megaman, Sonic The Hedgehog and Ghost in a Shell, sprinkling in its own unique charm to top it all off.
You play as Yura Enders, a special agent catgirl tasked with hunting down and capturing Cammy, an evil robot mouse who loves to pilot giant robots. It’s ludicrous, and a fantastic backdrop to the fast-paced gameplay that requires frequent precision, patience and skill to succeed.
Endless Runners often lack variety, relying on the incentive of chasing high scores to maintain their appeal. Target Acquired adopts such an idea, enhanced through detailed equipment management and an impressive range of upgrades.
Gameplay combines the mechanics of a side-scrolling shooter with your run-of-the-mill endless runner. Such a mixture rewards your skill, but seldom punishes you for slipping up. As you progress more gear and weapons are unlocked, which can be upgraded before diving into each new session.
One thing I didn’t expect was the impressive variety of gear and skills available, all of which can be modified and upgraded to your liking. It’s a system that is both generous and rewarding, transforming an arduous gameplay formula into something worth caring about.
The rewarding progression system is enhanced by maniacally-paced gameplay mechanics packed with surprises. By combining shooting, platforming and endless running; Touchten Games has created an experience unlike anything else in the genre, punctuated by a loving homage to its retro roots.
Composed by Megaman’s Manami Matsumae, the iconic character’s presence can be felt throughout every facet of Target Acquired. The visual elements evoke a nostalgic reaction that push somewhat generic designs into a league of their own, even if at times they fail to leave a lasting impression.
Boss battles are mediocre, forcing you into straight-forward battles with only one viable solution: spamming attacks until you succeed. Enemy attack patterns also feel unfair, confining you to the corner of the screen with little means of escape. Encounters like this aren’t too frequent, but their presence fill many levels with unwarranted frustration.
With such a playful anime style, you’d expect the setting to try something new or daring in terms of storytelling. Instead, you are thrown into brief exchanges made worse by awful voice acting. While brief, these sequences feel completely out of place in the wider context of Target Acquired.
Due to the unpredictable movement speed of your character certain obstacles are difficult to predict. I found myself ambushed by enemies spawning out of the ground with no way of fighting back, losing half of my health in the process. It’s a shame, and a fundamental flaw in the game’s design. Target Acquired has tried so hard to imitate games of old it has failed to acknowledge their archaic flaws.
Target Acquired is a diamond in the rough amongst endless runners. Genre-splicing mechanics create an experience that feels unique and refreshing. If you’re in the mood for a cutesy game on the move, you could do worse than this.Score:
YesDownload Target Acquired now
Stupid Zombies 3 – Dying Light
What is Stupid Zombies 3 – Dying Light?
If I had to describe Stupid Zombies 3 in one sentence, it’d probably be something like “Angry Birds with Zombies,” and such a comparison isn’t too far off. Now, you probably don’t want to waste your time on such a clone, but hear me out.
Stupid Zombies 3 is a fun, addictive title that builds upon the initial formula popularised by Angry Birds with dynamic level design, clever mechanics and a weirdly charming visual aesthetic.
You have access to a variety of insane weapons, which must be aimed meticulously if you want to succeed. Nailing a succession of zombies by bouncing bullets around the environment is hugely satisfying, continuing to surprise after each new level.
The Dying Light crossover twists the existing game into a surprisingly sombre experience. Arcade-inspired game mechanics remain untouched, but everything feels enhanced by the oppressive atmosphere that surrounds you.
Containing 10 new levels, 4 new weapons and a unique graphical style; the free crossover is a fantastic addition, changing the original game in truly surprising ways.
Stupid Zombies 3 is propelled by its magnetic pace, drip feeding you new weapons and mechanics as you progress. Many of these feel timed perfectly with the game’s progression, enticing you to run through an entire set of levels purely to uncover new surprises.
The core gameplay is fun and deceptively simple. Early levels act as introductions into the game’s mechanics, giving you ample room to experiment with little consequence. However, later levels pose an exceptional challenge. Every bullet counts, the precise angle of each shot vital to victory. Strategic foresight is paramount, and screwing up a level rarely feels overly frustrating.
Dying Light’s graphical style lends itself well to the static backgrounds of Stupid Zombies 3. Despite its simplicity, the visuals are dripping with atmosphere, providing each level with a decent sense of place beyond its generic premise. The enemy designs are nothing special though, made up of blue, red and yellow variants which represent your objectives.
I often found myself surprised by the impressive level design. The majority of levels embrace verticality, placing zombies and environmental obstacles upon precarious platforms. This adds a new element of challenge to later levels, which often force you to use the environment to your advantage.
Certain levels can feel arduous and frustrating, but the feeling of satisfaction upon completion makes it almost worth it.
Despite being enjoyable, the general flow of gameplay can often grow repetitive. This isn’t helped by the repetitive range of enemies you are forced to fight through to progress either. The uninspired selection of enemies is compounded further by visuals, while atmospheric, fail to remain entertaining past the game’s opening hours.
The lack of context for your actions is also disappointing. Dying Light’s story was a lot of fun, so why not implement its characters and narrative in some way? It feels like a missed opportunity, and could have broken up the occasional monotony brought on by some sections.
Performance problems are an occasional blemish, often surfacing following an ad. The framerate can fluctuate at times, but considering the amount on screen, it ran brilliantly on a Samsung Galaxy S4.
Stupid Zombies 3 – Dying Light is a neat little game, blending an atmospheric visual style with game mechanics that surprise and challenge you enough to maintain investment.
OPUS: The Day We Found Earth
What is OPUS: The Day We Found Earth?
Space terrifies me. It’s empty, lonely and absolutely devoid of sentient life. Many games have tried and failed to capitalise on this fantastic atmospheric premise, so you wouldn’t expect a mobile title to pull it off so flawlessly.
Having spent centuries exploring deep space, humanity can no longer find its way back to Earth. We’re slowly dying out, and our only hope lies with a giant space telescope and a cute little robot.
Emeth is a young, curious robot tasked with rediscovering Earth and saving the human race. It’s a daunting goal, and you truly feel the weight on Emeth’s shoulders as you fruitlessly explore the expansive galaxy.
Gameplay is simple, all you do is follow subtle introductions in order to discover new planets and freely explore the colossal space before you.
As you discover new planets the abandoned space station you occupy slowly returns to life; slowly filling with compelling characters and story beats that are a joy to interact with.
OPUS has a wonderfully simple premise, and for the most part, it’s executed brilliantly. After the charming introduction, you are immediately thrust into the depths of space in pursuit of our home planet.
The discovery of planets is snappy and satisfying, and the challenge of scanning the universe is substantial enough to feel consistently rewarding overtime.
Naming your planets just to add them to your personal encyclopaedia feels weirdly personal, like you’re shaping your own intergalactic family. OPUS also has an unusual talent for tugging at heartstrings through relatable characters and a tragically sombre narrative.
The first time you start the game you are urged to wear headphones, and it’s definitely a suggestion worth taking. The melancholic soundtrack is the perfect companion to your hopeless search across the cosmos.
It also precedes the best feature of OPUS: the fantastic characters. Every character you encounter is well-written and worth your investment. Dialogue is sharp and emotionally resonant, drawing you into Emeth’s plight as he searches for the home he never had.
Maybe I’m just a sucker for cute, dorky robots, but Emeth’s emotional outbursts about his missing master and subjective morality really got to me.
Exploration in OPUS is enjoyable, even if it succumbs to the occasional bit of tedium.
The game is controlled entirely by the swipes of your finger, which can make locking onto certain planets a little annoying at times.
It isn’t a major issue, but made itself aware enough to become a prominent distraction. Searching for planets can grow repetitive too, especially once the narrative is negated to the backburner as you draw closer to finding Earth.
The backstories of each character could have been fleshed out further, but given it’s a mobile game, such a drawback is difficult to criticise. OPUS blatantly expects you to ponder on humanity’s position, and how they found themselves in such dire straits.
OPUS: The Day We Found Earth is a joyous experience packed with memorable high notes. The core experience is entertaining enough by itself, but the addition of lovable characters and a surprisingly involved storyline transcend it above similar mobile titles.
What is Pocket Mortys?
Rick and Morty has garnered quite the fanbase lately. Having just wrapped up its second season, the adult animation is now branching into the world of videogames.
It turns out that Rick and Morty’s rude, unpredictable dimension-hopping adventures are an ideal setting for a game, even if some of the show’s soul feels lost in translation.
Pocket Mortys is basically a Pokemon clone, complete with an almost identical UI and gameplay structure. You hop between dimensions battling trainers and gaining badges from unique leaders so you can return home.
The twist, however, is your party is made up entirely of Mortys. The endless variety of Mortys you can collect is where much of the game’s humour stems from.
I couldn’t help but giggle when I came across a Level 9 Hippie Morty amongst a field of weird blue aliens.
Grandpa Rick has found himself in a parallel dimension populated by alternate versions of himself. It’s a fascinating setting, and one that feels like it’s been pulled straight out of the show.
The dialogue is bitingly funny, filled with the excellent one liners and comical timing that made the show such a joy to watch. The distinct lack of voice acting is noticeable though, as many characters don’t translate well into bland dialogue boxes.
Exploring each new dimension is great fun, mainly for the unpredictable dialogue and characters you encounter. The endless variants of Rick are fantastic, imaginatively conveyed through bright and colourful visuals.
Pocket Morty’s battle system is identical to Pokemon, and the game has no problem admitting that. Rick often makes subtle stabs to the franchise throughout; you can even catch him singing the legendary theme song in the hub world.
Despite its similarities, levelling your party and participating in battles is still fun and rewarding. Each time I came across a new Morty I felt compelled to capture it, purely so I could appreciate the weird and wonderful character designs.
Pocket Morty’s blatant similarities to Pokemon is not only its biggest strength, but also its weakness. It often fails to craft an identity of its own, firmly cemented in the confines of its stolen mechanics.
The environments you explore are also bland, differentiated only by mere palette swaps in each new dimension. The game’s distinctive animation style shines through, but the potential for more varied level design feels wasted.
Battles may possess the same mechanics as Pokemon, but they fail to provide the same level of depth and customisation. The movesets of each Morty felt limited, leading to encounters that descended into repetition due to overused animations and sound effects.
Thankfully the microtransactions are minor, and rarely feel detrimental to your progression.
Pocket Mortys may lack the variety and challenge required to make a lasting impact, but it remains a fun, engaging and often hilarious distraction for newcomers and fans of the show.
Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade
What is Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade?
With the Warhammer universe becoming a little more mainstream, developers are jumping at the chance to grab a slice of its fanbase.
The series has evolved from a tabletop game, through to PC titles and now – although it feels strange to playing on anything but a computer – we’re playing on a mobile device.
Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade challenges you to fight in a mech suit against the Orcs and Chaos Marines: the enemies of your race, the Space Marines. The adrenaline pumping clashes with other mech suits is an awesome bonus.
With simple tap and shoot gameplay mechanics, it’s easy to blast and blow your enemies away.
In Freeblade, you essentially play as an Iron Man-wannabe in Hulkbuster armour with a crazy amount of firepower. Playing as this behemoth, you’ll be wreaking havoc on war torn planets.
I particularly love the game’s use of the 3D Touch feature of the iPhone 6S
and iPhone 6S Plus
. You use it as a way to activate your mech’s heavy weapon.
Developer Pixel Toys has crafted each level well, making sure that you can feel like you’ve achieved something important even in a short space of time. It’s the perfect game for short burst play, great for when you’re on the bus or distracting yourself from adverts.
But, this game is nothing without its graphics. Freeblade’s design and beauty oozes through every detail, from the Orcs’ green skin to the crumbling scenery. The screengrabs really don’t give it enough credit, the game is stunning and that alone is a reason to give it a go.The Bad
The game’s a little obsessed with in-app purchases, and without spending any dosh you’re forced to just use the weaker weapons in missions, which really lack variety.
In fact, it feels like Pixel Toys is pushing paid-for content a little too much at times.
Plus as mentioned, the game is full of detail so you might not get the full effect on older devices. I really think the game is made even better with the 3D Touch features, and might lack a little without it.Verdict
Overall Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade is an enjoyable game. It contains fun features that both fans and non-fans of the Warhammer universe can enjoy.
Developer: Yodo1 Games
Crossy road follows a similar framework than the 1980’s classic Frogger game - all you need to do is get your hopping pal across roads, grassy fields, rivers, railroads and more.
The exception with Crossy Road though is that you are offered a large variety of characters to unlock. Furthermore, unlike Frogger, the game is never ending and ever changing making the game unique every time you play it.
Crossy road is a great example of a rejuvenated remastered arcade game.
Download Crossy Road for Android
Developer: Digital Melody
Timberman is an excellent example of a Arcade pastime game made into a mobile app. If you want to game yet don’t want to invest yourself to heavily into the game Timberman is the game for you.
An endless cycle of cutting wood and missing branches, Timberman is a great arcade game to play on your commute to work or waiting for the bus to school.
Download Timberman for Android
Does Not Commute is a time oriented puzzle game in which both frustration and enjoyment arise as you attempt to get the community from point A to point B without collisions.
The in-app purchases are highly intriguing yet, you won't need to fork out to enjoy the game. The personal stories are both mysterious and comical creating a unique element to Does Not Commute, which you'll struggle to find with other mobile games.
Furthermore the differences with each characters and maps means that repetition rarely occurs, making for a game that you can keep coming back to.
Download Does Not Commute for Android
Bethesda treated us to a mobile game to pass the time before the Fallout 4 release date and it's called Fallout Shelter.
This is a game that allows you to build your own Vault as a post-nuclear strategy and sim experience. You'll need to build a variety of rooms, oversee your own Vault Dweller community and protect them from the dangers of the Wasteland.
All in all, it's up to you to create a thriving Vault habitat, with a community of happy Vault Dwellers.
Download Fallout Shelter for Android
Asphalt 8: Airborne is an intense and adrenaline pumping racing game. It is truly astounding that a free mobile game offers an experience that can come close to console racing games.
With 13 different locations and countless cars to choose from, boredom is a word that will never be associated with Asphalt 8: Airborne.Plus, the constant updates guarantee enjoyment throughout the year.
If the visuals were not enough, the soundtrack seamlessly integrates with the game making Asphalt 8: Airborne a truly must have game.
Download Asphalt 8: Airborne for Android
Developer: Netmarble Games
Create your own ultimate team of three Marvel superheroes and fight against the super-villains of the marvel universe.
With a large roster from both the Marvel movies and Marvel comics you are now the leader of any superhero team you want. With simple and easy controls you can immerse yourself into the game with ease.
The complex upgrade system can be a little frustrating. But, overall the game is enjoyable and will be enjoyed from a die hard Marvel fan to a casual watcher of Marvel movies.
Download Marvel Future Fight for Android
Developer: Electronic Arts
Don't be put off, because Madden Mobile doesn't require any knowledge of the NFL or Madden games to play. Instead, EA Sports has created a game for all thanks to a short yet effective tutorial, meaning mastering the game takes no time at all.
With a leveling up system that allows the player to get more complex and entertaining moves to defeat their opponents, Madden Mobile has a few more layers for those that want it.
For NFL fans you can play as your favourite team and create a ultimate team of your favourite NFL players. Yet like most things the game isn't perfect. With ridiculously short game quarters and a required internet connection to play frustration does arise at times.
Yet the enjoyment from playing the game overrules these imperfections.
Download Madden Mobile for Android
Developer: Rovio Entertainment Ltd
Angry Birds 2 might have only just launched, but it's already shown great improvements over its many predecessors.
Rovio Entertainment has answered their fans' cries with several asked for features such as the ability to choose your bird, allowing you to pick the order in which you sling your feathery friends.
Another new feature is multi-stage levels, meaning now you can kick those piggies' asses multiple times in one mission.
You will have to face the occasional Boss Piggies that you must defeat making the game even more enjoyable and complex.
With the new super stunning graphics and those enhanced gameplay features, Angry Birds has never looked so good. This is definitely a must have game of 2015.
Download Angry Birds 2 for Android
Developer: Valery Stepanov
The popular smash hit web game, Agar.io, has now arrived on the iOS and Android.
This is a game that is hours of fun even though it has a simple premise. All you need to do is start off as a small cell and eat smaller cells to grow. Yet as the game is online, others as also looking to grow so you must survive or be vanquished.
Short burst sessions and addictive gameplay makes it a perfect
Download Agar.io for Android
An addictive time-management game is the perfect description of Cooking Fever.
It's a great cooking game that simulates the rush and enjoyment of a restaurant, but none of that terrible stuff like the washing up.
There are over 400 unique levels to complete meaning boredom is nearly impossible in Cooking Fever.
Like a real restaurant, design and appliances are important. You must upgrade your restaurant to bring in more money and appease your increasingly demanding customers.
We guarantee that this is a fun, free game for everyone.
Download Cooking Fever for Android
Subway Surfers is a popular arcade game that's both easy and fun. It has a simple mission - you must run until you're stopped.
With colourful and superb HD graphics, Subway Surfers has quite the unique visuals. It also features fun features such as a customizable hoverboard and paint powered jet pack.
Furthermore, the general increase of speed within a run causes your heartbeat to rise every second as the suspension can be overwhelming. You'll definitely want to get that high score every time.
With each update, Kiloo adds an entirely new location, keeping the game feeling fresh. Overall, this is a simple to play, time-wasting game.
Download Subway Surfers for Android
Developer: Electronic Arts
The Sims Freeplay is a mobile spin on the classic PC simulation title. Now available on
iPhone and Android, The Sims Freeplay allows you to create unique Sims, build dream homes, and let them live your way.
It has similar gameplay and goals to the original Sims titles and comes with constant updates. It means that there is always something new without the need of buying it, such as pets and outfits.
The gameplay is perfect for small play sessions, but is perfect for dedicated sessions too if
you want it to be.
Download The Sims Freeplay for Android