Weekend Mobile roundup: Shut up and take my money!

It has been a while since the last Weekend Mobile roundup, mostly due to a lack of time on my end (sorry!), but it’s back in force this weekend. The good news: a lot of great games have been released on iOS lately and every game in this weekend’s edition is a must-have, so I hope you saved some money!

The bad news: the Android game market still looks as dire as ever and until I can find a dedicated Android gaming editor to help out with these posts, I’m going to have to stick with iOS games for the time being.

Let’s move on to some of the finest iOS games that were released in the past couple of weeks; I guarantee they are all more fun than any memorial programme you’ll see today. If you can’t find your current favorite in this weekend edition, check back later this week and next weekend for some of the games I wasn’t able to get around to, like NyxQuest, Contre Jour, and Spy Mouse.

Weekend highlights:

 Radballs (iPhone & iPad, $2.99 — universal app)

Anyone with a mobile device that can play games has probably had his (or her) fill of block puzzle games by now — I know I have — but Radballs is different enough to warrant your attention. Sure, you still create big blocks by moving smaller and similiarly colored blocks together. But the variation on the genre is where it shines.

In tune with a booming techno beat, a bar starts dropping down every couple of seconds. When it passes one of the blocks you’ve created by moving smallers ones together, it makes them explode for points. Get enough points, and you pass the level. However, you can hold and drag this beat bar up and down to scratch a block for even more points, or whip it upwards to give you a few precious seconds to create a few more giant blocks for combos. Add some bonus items to the mix that occasionally drop down to help you clear the field, and you have plenty to keep yourself occupied.

It’s a frantic little game with a lot to offer, and before long you’ll be planning moves ahead to form sequential chains of big blocks for massive points. It’s also easy to play for both a minute or half an hour, so if you have some crappy free match-3 games on your iPhone, please replace them with Radballs ASAP. Yeah yeah, I know it’s a whole $3. It’s worth it.

 Anomaly Warzone Earth (iPhone, $1.99; iPad, $3.99)

I really dug the PC version of Anomaly: Warzone Earth, which offered an interesting twist on the tower defense genre and was a really solid — and cheap! — strategy game all around. In the iOS version, the Commander unit you controlled directly has been replaced with touch controls and it works incredibly well. Moreover, the game looks better than it should.

As I’ve already gone in-depth on the mechanics in the PC review, suffice it to say that this version lacks some of the lavish presentation features, such as cutscenes and voice-overs, but the core game has stayed intact — great graphics and all. The PC version is still the one to get, but this is as good a mobile version as you could’ve hoped for.

If you liked the game on the PC but didn’t complete it on Hardcore yet, you can now do so at your leisure on the go. If you missed out on it and have a really shitty PC that can’t run it, you now have the option to get practically the same game on an iDevice. (But who can afford anything above an iPod Touch without being able to afford a gaming PC?)

If I hadn’t already played this game already, it would probably have been my favorite iOS game this year. Go buy!


 Infinity Field
(iPhone, $0.99; iPad, $1.99)

There’s no way around it: Infinity Field is a Geometry Wars clone. Having said that, it’s one of the finest of its kind I’ve had the pleasure of playing on any platform — and Geometry Wars 2 is probably my most-played Xbox 360 game to date.

Extra lives, weapon upgrades, shields and the like can be picked up instead of having to score your way to them. A campaign has plenty of missions to keep you occupied for a while, and various Survival modes will keep you coming back well after you “finish” it. A few of these are variations on Waves and Pacifism, but some modes like the Zombie mode — in which you can only stall enemies by shooting them and have to survive until you can pick up a Nuke to clear the field — are fun and new twists on the formula.

The only downsides are that some of the big rippling explosions can look a bit crap, especially when they go through the borders of the field, and the optional “3D” view options are not very useful for veterans. Still, if you like Geometry Wars you will need this game on you at all times.

 Tiny Invaders (iPhone, $1.99)

From a Geometry Wars clone we go to the debut game of Hogrocket, one of the newly formed studios created from the ashes of Bizarre Creations — the studio that made Geometry Wars and a few racing games or something. Tiny Invaders is a cute and pretty damn hard puzzle game in which you slowly infect puny humans with germs.

Every level starts with one or multiple germs that set out on a path to collect all orbs. Key junctions can be tapped to create different paths for your germs. Some orbs will give you another germ and since each germ can only carry one orb back to the starting point, you’ll have to strategize quite a bit to collect everything you have to while staying under the required par time for the best score. This starts out easy enough with simple paths and some occasional headaches trying to find the fastest path to catch all the orbs, but it can quickly become deviously hard.

If you like the kind of mindbending gameplay that games like Candy Train offer, but in a different format with plenty of crazy mechanics down the line to drive you mad, definitely check out Tiny Invaders. Getting 3 stars in all levels will account for more patience and skill than getting them in Angry Birds, and the challenge that Tiny Invaders offers makes it more than worth the price of admission.

 DrawRace 2 (iPhone, $0.99; iPad, $2.99)

The original DrawRace was an excellent game, but you can forget all about it now that DrawRace 2 is here. Everything is bigger and better, most notably the new 3D graphics. It makes everything look a great deal better than the cartoony 2D graphics of the first game, and the new drawing paths give better feedback on what kind of path you’ve just created.

You draw a path through several laps, with slower drawing movements for slowing down the car’s speed, after which your car will follow the paths you created without any direct control but a refilling turbo boost on your side. It’s as fun as ever and a lot more accessible this time around thanks to a better UI, clearer menus and a less painful tutorial.

The huge amount of content to play through, which you can all unlock instantly if you want to pay for the in-app purchase thing, will keep you occupied for hours and if you want to, you can play some multiplayer to boot. And look at how cheap it is! DrawRace 2 is really a no-brainer purchase.


 Swing The Bat (iPhone & iPad, $0.99 — universal app)

Here we have one of those Tiny Wings or Jetpack Joyride kind of games. Large, continuous, dynamically created levels with objectives to keep unlocking stuff over and over again, and with a fun enough mechanic to keep replaying the same thing over and over again like a dumbass.

Surprisingly enough, you are a bat that swings. Tapping somewhere will make you shoot out an… arm (I guess?) that sticks you to a tree, and from there you swing until you tap to release and move forwards. On the way you collect stuff for points and fruit to grow your wings. Collect enough fruit, and you can fly for a bit to boost forwards and collect more points. The key is to get as far as possible for highscores.

It’s a fun game that’s priced just right for those with an iPad, but it will really depend on how much you like these kind of games. If you do like them, you can keep restarting it for hours to try and unlock everything and beat friends’ highscores. If you don’t, and if you hated Tiny Wings for some reason, you might get bored a tad faster. As these games go, however, there’s enough to unlock to keep you entertained for a couple of weeks of casual play.


 Emissary of War
(iPhone & iPad, free (first chapter), $0.99 (second chapter) — universal app)

One of the easiest games to recommend because the first chapter is free, Emissary of War follows the adventures of a barbarian and his potion-throwing sidekick through their comedic fantasy antics. As the barbarian protagonist, you run around and hack & slash your way to victory by tapping on the ground or on enemies. Meanwhile you can queue potions for your sidekicks to throw, with healing potions for health and different other potions for damage and debilitating effects.

It’s a blast to play, but more importantly it’s perhaps one of the more PC/console-y kind of games you’ll find on iOS. Cutscenes deliver some great and witty dialogue, it’s easy to connect with the characters, and the story is interesting enough to want to keep playing it. As there’s plenty of gear and stats to upgrade, the slightly repetitive gameplay won’t become too boring too quickly while you traverse the path through the story.

Currently the second chapter is a $1 in-app purchase, with developer Cedar Hill Games planning a total of 6 different chapters in 3 separate apps. They haven’t decided yet if each chapter will be an IAP, but it looks like you wouldn’t be spending a ridiculous amount to get to the end of the story. Either way, you should most definitely check out the first chapter just to see for yourself.


WTF:

 Sour Patch Kids: Sour Fling (iPhone & iPad, free — universal app)

I kid you not, there is actually a Sour Patch Kids game and it’s developed by Other Ocean, who made Super Monkey Ball for iOS and Dark Void Zero for DSiWare. Surprisingly enough, it’s kind of… not bad?

You fling a Sour Patch Kid in a direction to collect as many other deliciously sour candy kids in the path to an exit on a 2D level, and then you do that a whole bunch of times. It’s free for the most part with some in-app purchase nonsense that you might encounter well after you get tired of it, but the true hidden cost is that you will want to eat all of the Sour Patch candy you can find. I had never even heard of Sour Patch Kids before, and I still want to eat all sour candy in the existence of the world while writing this sentence.

Also, an Android version in the works. An Android version! Rejoice!

Trucks & Skulls NITRO (iPhone, free; iPad, free)

Out there somewhere, there were once a couple of people who said to themselves: “You know what? Angry Birds isn’t hardcore enough. We can make it more hardcore!” How to make it more hardcore, you wonder? By replacing birds with monster trucks, who have to be flung into “castles” made of objects in order to destroy skulls. Skulls that explode in a giant vapor shaped like a skull.

That’s it. It’s Angry Birds with monster trucks and skulls. While Trucks & Skulls was released last year, it’s now free with IAP crap you can safely ignore. Sadly the controls don’t work as well as the game that “inspired” it (enter your favorite “Angry Birds ripped off game X” argument here). Because there’s no catapult to pull the trucks back from, you have to tap and drag a button at the edge of a ramp, which makes your thumb obscure more of the screen than you’ll feel comfortable with.

Still, you could keep it on your iDevice to whip out on a whim whenever a friend brings up why Angry Birds is not hardcore enough, or when someone is bitching about how much that game sucks.

Free!

 Demolition Dash HD (iPhone & iPad, free — universal app)

It’s free this weekend, and it recently received an update that adds an Endless Run mode and some more statistics for your pleasure. There’s not a whole lot to Demolition Dash, as you jump and roar your way through cities all over the world and destroy as much as you can, but it’s pretty fun and most importantly free right now.


Notable updates:

Burn It All – Journey to the Sun (iPhone & iPad, $0.99 — universal app)

A free update adds World 5 to Burn It All for an extra 25 levels. These levels add a new floor mechanic that adds another screen of rope-burning puzzling to a level. To get to the next floor, you have to burn a rope on the top-right corner of the screen. Sadly, that’s also where the restart level button is, so be careful not to accidentally touch that while you’re trying to finish the new levels. Burn It All is still a great little game and better than Burn The Rope, so go wild.


Mobile news of the week:

That’s it for this weekend. If you know of a ridiculous or cool new Android or iOS game, hit up Jim Sterling or myself on Twitter. Or post it in the comments!

Maurice Tan