Thursday Top 10: Mobile games worth giving yourself RSI for

Gaming, Mobile phones, Top tens

Mobile games are rubbish, right? Snake’s the only one worth playing, especially since you paid a fiver for that rubbish movie game when you were drunk on the train home last year. Never again. But wait a second.

Mobile games have moved on, both from Snake and from the more atrocious movie tie-ins that were common a couple of years ago. The last year has seen an explosion in creativity and quality among mobile game designers. To prove it, we’ve rounded up ten of the best current mobile games.

They’re all unbranded, not based on films, console games, celebrities etc. This isn’t because branded games are inherently bad, but because unbranded games don’t always get the publicity they deserve – in the press, or from your mobile operator. That said, they should all be available to buy for £3-£5 from the games section of your operator’s portal.

1. Turbo Camels: Circus Extreme

It’s the best game featuring a bouncing German camel you’ll ever play! Yes, probably the only one, but still. Pioneering a genre crying out to be known as the hump’em-up, this sees you playing a camel who’s fired out of a cannon, and has to bounce around over 60 levels collecting items before executing a gymnastic landing. It’s got humour, panache, and turtles too. And a finely-tuned scoring system gives it more depth than most games we’ve seen.
Official site – Pocket Gamer review

2. Rollercoaster Rush

Ever been on a rollercoaster and wished it was, well, a bit more dangerous? Try this neat 2D game that puts you in the shoes of a coaster brakesman. It’s controlled with just two buttons – 6 to speed up, and 4 to whack on the brakes (although you get a bonus if you don’t use the brakes at all). The idea is to give your passengers as thrilling a ride as possible by jumping off bumps, speeding downhill and doing loop-the-loops at every opportunity. Set in Australia, France and the USA – what, no Alton Towers or Thorpe Park? – and will have you beaming like a fool from the start.
Official site – IGN review – Pocket Gamer review

3. Midnight Bowling 3D

Bowling games have always been a safe bet on mobile thanks to the simple controls and familiar gameplay mechanics. The latest breed of 3D-capable phones are spawning their own bowling titles too, such as this one. There’s a selection of well-rounded characters to control – yes, including the obligatory slinky women – and enough swoopy camera angles to make the game worth showing off. Meanwhile, you unlock new characters, balls and costumes as you go along. They haven’t messed with the controls though – setting your aim and spin is as easy as the traditional 2D bowling games.
Official site – IGN review

4. Tower Bloxx

You have to be good to get comparisons to Tetris and not emerge with egg on your face. The premise of Tower Bloxx is simple – build skyscrapers floor-by-floor by pressing the 5 key to drop blocks into place – complicated by the fact that they’re swinging all over the place. If your timing’s good, your tower is straight and loads of people move in. If it’s off, you end up with a wobbly load of old shite. It’s hypnotically addictive, with added depth provided by the Build City mode, which mixes in a dash of Sim City-esque town planning to the core one-button action.
Official site – IGN review – Pocket Gamer review

5. Ancient Empires 2

This is nominally an original game, although it’s fair to say this (and its predecessor) owe more than a smidgeon to Nintendo’s Advance Wars series. It’s turn-based game where you move your units around a map, ganging up on enemies, capturing towns and gradually taking over the (fantasy) world. If all this sounds a bit dull, don’t worry – it’s leavened by the crafted cartoon graphics, which actually look better than the GBA version of Advance Wars. Hate orcs and elves? No problem, this goes easy on the wizardy rubbish in favour of brain-twisting strategy.
Official site – IGN review – Pocket Gamer review

6. Skipping Stone

Single-handedly popularized the mobile game genre of ‘one-button’ games, so called because, yes, you only use one button to play it. Made in South Korea, it’s brilliantly simple: you have to skim a stone by pressing the 5 key every time it hits the water. Time it right, and your stone goes faster and higher. Get it wrong, and you’ll gradually sink. There’s also a bunch of obstacles/helpers thrown in, including a whale that spurts to give your stone a boost. It’s not half as twee as that makes it sound – it’s probably the best rhythm action game released yet for mobile.
Official site – IGN review – Pocket Gamer review

7. Darkest Fear 2: Grim Oak

Because you can scare the willies out of yourself with a survival horror game on mobile, even if it’s top-down rather than 3D like Resident Evil on console. The plot concerns a suitably spooky hospital-gone-wrong, and there’s lashings of monsters, gore and puzzle-solving to be had. If you’re as geeky as me, you’ll also appreciate the effort that’s gone into the game’s atmosphere, from the sound to, yes, the lighting effects. Scarily good.
Official site

8. Playman World Soccer

Football games traditionally haven’t worked well on mobile. They need too many buttons, leaving you floundering while the opposition spank 20 goals past you. But this game’s different, thanks to its innovative control system where your player automatically runs ahead – all you have to do is turn him left or right. The result: marvellous weaving runs a la Ryan Giggs in that FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal. The game’s also got spiffing 3D graphics and a wealth of humour, with some of the most unrealistic – yet fun – unlockable power-ups you’ve ever seen.
Official site – Pocket Gamer review


9. Townsmen 3

For those of you with fond memories of Populous and Powermonger, the Townsmen series of mobile games is the modern-day equivalent (albeit with less smiting and natural disasters). It’s a resource-management and building game where you have to build up a colony of ‘townies’ (no, not the kind that hang around your local shopping centre). Construct buildings, seek out new resources, fend off natives and eat LOTS of bacon. It’s cartoony looks bely a strategy game with impressive depth.
Official site – Pocket Gamer review

10. Slyder

Another unbranded mobile game that’ll remind elderly gamers of some titles from their youth, for example Chip’s Challenge. The task here is to guide an amenable blue ball (‘Slyder’) around 150 mazes, negotiating baddies, traps and bottomless pits. As you do. The twist is that when you move Slyder in a particular direction, he won’t stop until he hits an obstacle. Much brain-twisting strategy ensues. The game looks ultra-simple, but trust me, it’s fiendish once you get started. A perfect example of the sort of 2D puzzler that mobile does best – although hopefully the nine other games here prove that’s not all your phone is capable of.
Official site – IGN review – Pocket Gamer review

Stuart Dredge
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