I did some reading. Listened to the Wool audiobook. And then I played some platformers. After extensive research, these are the best I’ve found:
UPDATED 31 MAR 2014
Okay, so I’m giving you a bonus game, because Naught is too awesome to leave out.
Naught is mostly cool because it uses gravity to control the experience in 360 degrees. So you rotate your phone all the way around to make the character fall through the level. It’s sweet. Really challenges your usual perspective of up and down. And the artwork’s not bad either. It’s not your typical platformer, but I still thought it was worth mentioning.
I’m kind of partial to Sonic 2, because I played it at my neighbor’s house when I was a tiny kid. It works pretty well on mobile. It’s fairly easy to control, and it’s not a 10-minute mind-numbing game like Angry Birds. This is a real game.
Sonic 4 is an update to the original. And they’ve made some nice visual improvements: it’s 2.5D and looks great on a fast phone.
(I don’t like Sonic as much as Mario, but these are foundational to the platformer genre.)
#4 They Need To Be Fed 2 (and They Need To Be Fed)
This also breaks away from the classic model by moving in multiple directions instead of simple side-scrolling from right to left. The artwork is classy too, and that’s a big one for me. The gameplay is super fun. But thinking upside down takes some getting used to. Definitely worth a dollar. In fact, I’d say it’s worth more than a dollar. I really li
#3 Stardash Free (and Meganoid Free)
Stardash was almost the hero of this story. Its artwork is stylized to look like the original GameBoy, which is a nice touch. The controls are great, giving an awesome user experience (when you die, you pop right back up without having to wait for a load screen). (Oh, and a tip: You can jump right after you run off a ledge, which lets you get over the huge gaps!) It also has some cool level layering—you get extra points by playing through the level backward, or racing in a certain amount of time, or by collecting all the coins. This adds a lot of depth to the playability. The reason it isn’t number 1? It’s too hard. Way too hard. (Sorry, I’m just not that hardcore.)
#2 Yoshi’s Island! (which you can’t buy directly, but you need this emulator)
It’s a game from 1995, but was well made and is still well worth playing. In fact, I liked it best—which is why it’s number 1. Here are the two reasons I went with Yoshi’s Island on GBA:
- My first instinct as a retrogamer was to find a Super Nintendo emulator. But the SNES gamepad had 4 main buttons across from the d-pad. The Gameboy Advance only has 2 main buttons, which makes it a much better fit for mobile gaming. (Notice the overlaid controls in those two screenshots.)
- There are lots of Mario classics. Only problem is that they all require you to hold B (to run) while playing the game, which is mostly impossible when you’re using virtual buttons on a mobile screen. On Yoshi’s Island, you don’t have to hold down a run button, which makes it way more playable than the others. And did I mention this game is super fun?
#1 Cordy 2
Cordy 2 is a freaking awesome game. It’s made for mobile—plays like a dream on my phone.
First, the controls are designed perfectly. This is the only game on this list where I had absolutely no problem finding the on-screen buttons as I was playing. I meant it: these controls are brilliant. Here’s a quick diagram I drew to show how they improved the controls with their TILT design. Basically, the controls fit your hands rather than making your hands fit the controls:
The artwork is pretty cool (though maybe not as classic in their design as Mario or Sonic). Swinging from your electric whip like a digital Indiana Jones is super fun. The jetpack and the magnet backpack are awesome.
This game gets high marks in every category. I would say it has just one possible downside: It’s too easy. Because I’m a pretty casual gamer, that was a good thing. I thought the difficulty was perfect. Also, each level can be beat once regularly, once by finding all six secrets, and once by completing it in a certain amount of time. The speed play, in particular, really increases the difficulty. If that’s still not enough, go play Stardash. It will kick your butt.
This is a great game and definitely worth trading a cheeseburger for.
As a followup to what I said above about Yoshi’s Island. The truth is, I hope the WiiU is a bomb, so that Nintendo goes the way of Sega. Because I’d love to buy Nintendo’s games, but I don’t want their console (the DS is great, but I want a device that does everything, not just one thing). You hear that Nintendo? Take my money! Let me play your games on my phone!
And while I’m griping, Android, when are you going to let me play these on my big-screen TV? Hopefully the Chromecast will grow into that as development opens up. Or maybe the new Google TVs will.
I’m also still hoping that the best games from iPhone like Fancy Pants and Lost Winds will show up in the Play Store soon...
Nuff said. Enjoy the games.
And post your own favorites in the comments.
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