The old saying claims that April showers bring May flowers, but April also showered us with tons of great new mobile games this year. We usually try to narrow our Best Of lists down to some reasonable number that might fit in your always-limited storage space, but April had too many deserving titles to dip below double digits. The many top games of last month ran the genre gamut, ranging from sports and fighting matches to time management and puzzle challenges, with some really original variations giving us everything from math-related mazes to 3D item transformations to cat-powered car battles. There was truly something for everyone in April’s deluge of awesomeness.
CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars
CATS is a perfect mashup of mechanically-minded felines and BattleBots-style 1v1 arena matches. Players are challenged to design the strongest vehicle possible and then let it loose in battles against other players’ creations. Since you don’t have direct control over your machine, (it’s piloted by an independent cat driver), you’ll have to incorporate tools that will help it automatically defend against and dodge enemies’ advances. The real fun is in trying out different equipment and styles of vehicle with the hundreds of parts you’ll earn as you progress: whether you build a towering tank or a tiny rocket cart, there is guaranteed to be tons of explosive car smashing in every match.
Although we were already happily playing MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2017 after its early April launch, MLB Perfect Inning Live took the top spot as the month’s best sports game. While both titles use the nostalgic idea of collectible card packs to build your team, MLB Perfect Inning Live expands on this by including scouting, free agents, and training opportunities to truly refine the team management experience. This depth extends to the actual games themselves, letting you manage everything from pitch type to aim to provide a completely controlled gameplay strategy. Despite all the minutia and details that have been included, MLB Perfect Inning Live is still extremely accessible to newcomers thanks to its perfectly balanced tutorial that walks you through its numerous systems without dragging on, ensuring everyone can dive right into the fun part–which is the entire game.
Dr. Cares is the latest time management spin-off from GameHouse and the team behind the Delicious series starring Emily. While Dr. Cares looks similar to Delicious with its recognizably colorful, cel-shaded graphics and fast-paced time management gameplay, it introduces an entirely new story and set of characters (with a few familiar faces). Players are tasked with running a vet clinic that specializes in basically everything animal-related, whether it’s selling collars or fixing broken bones, and any type of pet, from dogs and cats to horses and birds. The main gameplay involves lining up tasks for Amy as she sprints around her various clinics, providing care to everyone in need. The medical jobs–such as cleaning teeth or removing thorns from a paw–involve a related mini-game that must be completed that adds variety to the standard time management goals, as do the bonus challenges on each level. The entire experience has the same charm and polish we’ve come to expect from the Delicious games, wrapped in a new theme and setting that is, we hope, only the first of many entries in a strong new series.
Transformers: Forged to Fight pulls off two major challenges in a single experience: it’s a great fighting game and a worthy Transformers title, to boot. Although developed by Kabam, the team behind Marvel Contest of Champions, Transformers: Forged to Fight feels like a very different game built with its specific setting in mind. The entire world is presented in 3D, with battles allowing for multi-directional sidesteps and ranged attacks appropriate to the varied weaponry of the Autobots and Decepticons. All of the bots’ alternate transformations are viable in battle, using the heavy ramming strength of their vehicle variations or their projectiles for long distance offensives. The other modes included outside of the primary fighting gameplay are also engaging, with base-building defense posts and resource-gathering missions allowing you to utilize your entire team of Transformers beyond just your strongest fighters. All of the little details, like spot-on sound effects and 3D map exploration, solidify this as not only a wonderful title for Transformers fans, but a great mobile game period.
Vignettes is a strange and lovely experience that might not always feel like a game specifically, but provides plenty of playful “ah-ha!” moments for curious players. There is no text, simply objects and shapes floating in an undefined space. You can rotate these objects to view them from any angle, with certain angles revealing and transforming into new items: a telephone might become a bowl, an hourglass might rotate into a chalice. There are different object paths available from the same item depending on how you choose to manipulate them, like a 3D manifestation of the duck-rabbit illusion. As you find these new paths and items they are added to a sort of still-life painting that acts as a checklist for discoveries–although the joy of Vignettes is not in finishing it but in being currently engaged, playing with its always-morphing objects, whatever they may turn out to be.
Invert is a wonderful combination of two of our favorite aspects of mobile puzzlers: tactile, rewarding gameplay and puzzles that are easy to jump into for short bursts wherever we are. The primary challenge in Invert is to flip over all of the tiles on a board so they are the same color. However, your controls for flipping are stationed at the edges of the board and each button affects a specific group of tiles: there may be a button that turns over a line straight across the screen or one that flips an entire 3×3 group. It’s a bit like the classic Lights Out puzzle but with a much wider variety of rotations. You have a limited number of moves to reach the single-color goal, but the Campaign does allow you to undo moves with ease, preventing the frustration of total restarts that could come with the ever-increasing difficulty. While that difficulty ramps up significantly–especially once you unlock the Challenge and Expert modes–the player considerations like easy undos and no sort of “game over” screen allow you the freedom to stay focused on the–very fun–challenge at hand.
Continuing the tradition of turning long-running TV shows into mobile games, Trailer Park Boys: Greasy Money transforms the shady exploits of the eponymous crew into a colorful idle clicker. Luckily for fans of the series, this transition stays true to the source material, offering the same humor and attitude in a truly enjoyable gaming format. The prestige system is built into progression directly, working off a TV-appropriate seasons format that mimics the original show’s ongoing joke of letting the boys succeed just before ending up back in jail. All of the upgrade and earning systems, characters, and gags are built off the series, providing tons of in-jokes and little details for fans of the show. The core clicker is strong outside of its source material and could be enough of a draw for TPB newcomers, but the real appeal of Greasy Money is its completely unabashed dedication to fan service and recreating everything we already love about Ricky, Julian, Bubbles, and the rest of the Sunnyvale crew.
Bacon Escape is a breakneck-paced finite runner that pits fleeing pig prisoners against a diabolical series of obstacles designed to knock them off the mine cart track they’re racing along toward freedom. Instead of controlling the cart directly, players must manipulate the obstacles themselves, tapping and holding to close bridges, rotate walls, and slide conveyors to allow the pig convict a safe route ahead. Hazards appear suddenly and close together, requiring rapid reflexes and perfect timing to prevent a run-ending one hit stumble. While levels are extremely challenging, their unchanging format and multiple pathways–with some paths a bit easier than others–ensure players can learn the routes and master them bit by bit on their way to the next stage. Dozens of characters and cart variations to unlock provide added variety even while replaying tough levels, as do the collectible apples and missions that offer a bonus challenge beyond the difficult–and extremely frantic and fun–goal of simply not dying.
Numplussed is a deceptively challenging combination of arithmetic and mazes, pitting players against a partially-solved math problem and asking them to physically find their way to the solution. Your goal is to move the white circle around each level, crossing over pairs of operators and integers, such as “+2” or “x3.” As you cross a pair, its changes will be applied to your current total–so if you currently had “1” and walked over “+2,” you’d end up with “3”–and your goal is to reach the equals sign with the same total that is next to it. Sometimes this requires crossing the same pair multiple times; other levels will only require some of the integers present, forcing you to avoid the unnecessary ones. Additional maze obstacles, like numbers that are blocked off after a single use, force you to really plot out your path before drawing it, although retrying a level is always quick and easy. It’s a really thoughtful combination of math and movement that is an obvious recommendation for the math-minded, but should appeal to all fans of puzzles and pathfinding.
Onirim is the mobile translation of a real card game that puts a beautiful, thematic spin on solitaire. Players take on the role of a dream walker lost in a labyrinth, tasked with opening the eight doors that will allow them to leave the magical maze. While some of the gameplay will be very familiar to standard solitaire players–alternating cards to complete decks–the other challenges that appear provide an extra layer of depth to the original format. Nightmare cards will pop up and demand a toll, such as cards from your hand or a door you’ve opened, forcing you to weigh the consequences of losing different offerings. Key cards provide insight to the cards remaining in the deck or can be used to placate demons in place of other sacrifices. The result is an engaging mix of solitaire basics with strategic overlays, combining the luck of the draw of standard card games with the thoughtful preparation of a deck-building board game that gets better with every play.