Unresponsive controls or a sloppy touch-based interface can often hold back a fighting game from shining on your mobile device. Fright Fight is one iOS brawler that looks a lot like Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. series, but offers its own simplified combat system and unique touches that together offer a well-rounded experience without the need for a controller. You may not pull off extravagant combos along the way, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be having fun bashing baddies in online showdowns.
Abe Lincoln looks pretty mean with a chainsaw. He’s one of 12 historical figures called in via cloning to save the world (and an underground hobo kingdom) from hordes of monsters, zombies, evil dudes, and man-eating cheeseburgers in Rocket City Studios’ dual-stick hack-and-slash game, Second Chance Heroes. It’s just about as crazy as it sounds, and the wacky premise is backed by solid gameplay. Lincoln is joined by a who’s who lineup of historical clones, including Leonardo da Vinci, Napoleon Bonaparte, Joan of Arc, and Queen Elizabeth I (who carries a gatling gun).
Word Puttz definitely gets points for its original premise: take a casual game of Scrabble, throw it on a miniature golf course, add an octopus, and you've got this new free-to-play affair. Okay, so the octopus doesn’t actually have much impact on gameplay other than being your guide to this oddly linguistic puzzle hybrid, but it’s worth mentioning for the sheer oddity — and in that vein follows the essence of Word Puttz itself.
It’s no surprise that a cartoon like Adventure Time would branch out into video games to attract its young (and alternately, geeky adult) audience. What is slightly more startling is how well the latest effort from Cartoon Network stands on its own merits. While certainly effective as a tie-in to the cartoon, its card-battling mechanics are so strong that Card Wars could have done without the license and proven just as sophisticated and inventive.
One of the challenges facing educational game developers is how to strike a balance between lessons and fun. Too much teaching, and the game ceases to keep a child’s attention; too little, and it becomes just another game. That’s one of the reasons Slice Fractions is so great: it has mastered teaching kids about fractional math without having overt lessons to do so. Slice Fractions tasks players with clearing a path for a woolly mammoth to get from one side of the screen to another.
Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider reboot (newly ported to Mac by Feral Interactive) is a game about searching: for ancient relics, forgotten tombs, and undisturbed grottoes, yes, but also for the self-assurance necessary to transform from a shy archaeologist into a brutal killing machine. Lara Croft's baptism in blood — her own and, often, her enemies’ — takes place on a fictionalized Yamatai, a hidden Japanese island full of pristine forests, snowy mountain ranges, and a sect of violent cultists who worship the shaman-queen Himiko.
Kahuna is a tactical, one-on-one board game about controlling island territories. The physical boxed set, originally published in 1998 and still available today, doesn’t look like much – a modest deck of cards, a few plastic pieces, and a minimalistic game board. But what initially appears to be a simple game of token placement quickly reveals itself as a meditative test of strategy. USM’s universal iOS version of Kahuna not only capitalizes on this clever design, but also adds a distinctive thematic flavor to the experience.
To carry the breakfast analogy through to its full extent, Force of Habit’s retro-styled tower defense/shoot-‘em-up hybrid Toast Time comes with a glass of insanity and a side of ridiculousness. It’s utterly bonkers and lightning-fast right from the start, with a typically British kind of over-the-top silliness and tongue-in-cheek humor, though there’s a solid mechanic at the core. Your singular preserve from a ruined breakfast is Terry the toaster’s projectile bread slices, which you fire at inter-dimensional, time-rushing beasts intent on sneaking off with your morning meal time (seriously).
Eliss Infinity hurls you into an abstract universe where you sort planets for obliteration. They materialize somewhat randomly on the screen and must be manipulated by your digits, making them a suitable size to dump in “squeesars” that periodically appear and wink said planets out of existence. Naturally, there are twists that hamper any thought that you’ll be done with your planet disposal within mere minutes. This upgraded and expanded version of one of the App Store’s best early games remains fresh, tactile, and truly terrific today.
You wouldn't know it from the screenshots – what with that clean, minimal design and little faces on the number tiles – but behind Threes!' delightfully cheery exterior lays a complex and calculated puzzle core. Its number-blending mechanics are simple on the surface and incredibly easy to pick up, yet careless play is quickly punished and low scores prove inevitable without constant consideration for each and every move made on the board. Success is often elusive in Threes!, yet seeking it has quickly become our favorite new single-minded pursuit.