Smartphone games have gone from terrible-looking, impossible to control abominations (N-Gage, we're looking at you) to triple-A fun generators. Here are some of our favourite ways to waste time on a smartphone (or tablet).
Angry Birds Space
Old school “bullet hell” shoot ‘em ups may not be de rigueur on consoles these days, but they’ve found a good home on mobiles – and Shogun: Rise of the Renegade is one of the finest examples. Loads of weapons, loads of baddies and missiles on-screen at any one time, ace 16-bit music and even a decent plot – it ticks all the boxes.
Shogun: Rise of the Renegade
Arguably the most graphically impressive game on iOS (or just on mobile devices full stop), Epic Games’ Infinity Blade is a fantasy fighting game that sees you using simple swipe controls and combos to despatch armoured foes on your way to avenging your slain ancestors. Add in the RPG elements of levelling up and collecting sweet loot and you’ve got a total winner. An equally beautiful sequel is also available.
Cut the Rope
Mobile versions of “proper” console games are often a letdown, but EA managed to pull off this conversion by taking the parkour gameplay of Mirror’s Edge, flipping its 3D world down to a single plane and simplifying the controls. Tear across the roofs of the city at an adrenaline-pumping pace, dodging obstacles as you enter a “groove” of seemingly effortless free-running.
A game or a work of participatory art? We’re still not sure, but it’s certainly an experience. Sword & Sworcery isn’t really like anything else on the market: drenched in atmosphere thanks to its evocative soundtrack and pixellated visual style, it’s a thoughtfully paced exploration of a mythical realm. About as far away as you can get from the “snackable” style of gaming that dominates mobile.
Plants vs. Zombies
You’ve stolen the idol, now you need to escape from the temple, careening headlong down a crumbling, hazard-strewn pathway pursued by a band of bloodthirsty monkey-demon creatures. The thing with Temple Run is that you’ll always die eventually – the idea is simply to get as far as you can through the randomised 3D levels. The control system, all swipes and tilts, makes this a cinch to play anywhere.
Tetris meets Sudoku in this puzzle game, in which you have to eliminate rows and columns of discs by dropping other numbered discs onto them – if the number matches the number of discs in a touching row or column, those discs are eliminated. Yep, it’s one of those games you have to play to understand, but once you pick it up you may have a struggle putting it down.
More after the break...
The first “big” game to land on Windows Phone 7, The Harvest is a shooter set in the aftermath of an alien invasion of Earth. Boasting brilliant 3D graphics and a raft of RPG elements like skills and upgrades to keep you coming back, it’s a fine demonstration of what Microsoft’s OS can do.
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
A smartphone remake of the 11-year-old Rockstar Games classic, Max Payne’s touch controls may lack a bit of the immediacy and finesse of the original, but the film noir cool and bullet time craziness remain – and go a long way to making this a must-own on Android and iOS.
World of Goo
A turn-based strategy game that sees you lead a ragtag group of zombie apocalypse survivors in an attempt to, well, rebuild society. Expand your camp in an infested city, scouting out areas, scavenging for supplies, managing resources and avoiding or eliminating a variety of hazards. Addictive, especially if you’re one of the many people who has envisioned their own zombie apocalypse survival plan.
This trippy title (named “Osmos HD” on Android) features psychedelic galactic motes absorbing smaller organisms while striving to be absorbed themselves, all to an ambient electronica soundtrack. A gorgeous visual experience.
This physics puzzlers tasks you to use a variety of “everyday” objects to solve its tasks. Once you’ve placed the objects and started the screen, there’s no more input from your end – so the idea is to set everything up to start the perfect chain reaction, collect all the stars and move on to the next screen.
Pinball video games are nothing new, but Pinball Arcade is a true simulator in that it actually recreates real life tables made by Midway, Bally, Gottlieb and Stern – i.e. the kind you might find in the back corner of your local dive bar. Beautiful 3D graphics, authentic sound effects and accurate physics round off the package nicely.