The holidays are a time for warm family gatherings and quiet reflection... and apparently for releasing a metric ton of Android games. Seriously, in December I couldn't even get our bi-weekly roundups out before a new highly-anticipated AAA game, port, or remake would fall into my inbox. Here are our seven top picks from the final and heaviest gaming month of 2014, along with some notable honorable mentions... and even that doesn't cover all the good stuff.
This is the one I've been waiting for. After spending the better part of a year on the iPad, Blizzard's free-to-play card battle game (loosely based on its own Warcraft series) is now available for Android. The basic game is essentially a super-simplified version of Magic: The Gathering, but its all-digital nature lets it cut loose with interesting strategy and whimsical animations. The best part might be the F2P system, which is easily one of the best and most player-focused out there. Unfortunately, Hearthstone is only available on tablets at the moment.
DECEPTIVELY SIMPLE. INSANELY FUN. Pick up your cards and throw down the gauntlet. In Hearthstone, you play the hero in a fast-paced, whimsical card game of cunning strategy. In minutes, you’ll be unleashing powerful cards to sling spells, summon minions, and seize control of an ever-shifting battlefield. Whether it’s your first card game or you’re an experienced pro, the depth and charm of Hearthstone will draw you in.
SXPD mixes comic book-style black and white visuals with first-person racing speed in a way that's utterly unique on mobile (or any other platform, for that matter). You play a member of an all-female police department which dispenses justice on the back of hyper-powered motorcycles. With machine guns. So it's a little ridiculous, so what? Check out the video below to see the comic/3D visuals in action. SXPD is $2 with no in-app purchases.
SXPD: Extreme Pursuit Force is a brand new form of entertainment that blends gaming with digital comic books. The complete version of this Comic/Game Hybrid allows you to enjoy a full 42 page comic by renowned comic book artist Duke Mighten and then jump right into the action when the story demands it, with its game sections directed by game industry legend David Perry. It is a comic book you can play.
Electronic Super Joy is one of those platformers that takes intense pleasure in difficult, precise running and jumping. It also takes pleasure in being extremely... porny. Between the thumping soundtrack and a minimalist visual style that still manages to cram in a ton of risqué sex jokes, it's something you might not want to play when your grandparents come over for Christmas. The game is relatively expensive at $5, but includes a free Steam key so you can play it on your PC.
A sequel to the platforming hit, Electronic Super Joy. A brave new World, ending in an Epic Boss Fight. Jump, dodge & dance among insane hazards, missiles, lasers & monsters in this crazy platformer. A Giant Robot Stripper called JoJo has smashed Groove City. She's angry because Dr Swinger stole her Laser-Nipples. Help JoJo reclaim her Laser-Nipples & defeat the Evil Plans of Dr.Swinger, with the help of Pope Boris the Super Sexy.
80 Days is halfway between a story-based adventure game and an MMO. It tasks you to recreate the famous feat of Phileas Fogg, but this time you get to pick your route across the world in a steampunk Victorian era. You'll have to travel via various routes and methods over land, sea, and (occasionally) air, unfolding your own personal story while challenging other players. With 150 different cities to choose from on your route, it's possible to play it in hundreds of different ways.
1872, with a steampunk twist. Phileas Fogg has wagered he can circumnavigate the world in just eighty days. Choose your own route around a 3D globe, travelling by airship, submarine, mechanical camel, steam-train and more, racing other players and a clock that never stops. Featuring a brand new journey - to the North Pole. Built using the same inklewriter engine that powers our critically-acclaimed Sorcery. series, 80 DAYS is an interactive adventure created by your choices, on the fly, and is different every time you play.
It's been more than ten years since the best Star Wars-themed RPG ever made landed on consoles. Now you can play it again, for the very first time. Bioware's classic has been released for Android phones and tablets running 4.1 or later (though compatibility is quite spotty at the moment) and the full game is on sale for $5. The graphics do seem to have been hobbled for the mobile release, but the game supports both touchscreen buttons and external controllers.
Choose Your Path. It is four thousand years before the Galactic Empire and hundreds of Jedi Knights have fallen in battle against the ruthless Sith. You are the last hope of the Jedi Order. Can you master the awesome power of the Force on your quest to save the Republic? Or will you fall to the lure of the dark side? Hero or villain, savior or conqueror... you alone will determine the destiny of the entire galaxy.
TellTale isn't wasting any time bringing its Borderlands-focused adventure game to Android, undeterred by the lack of actual 2K shooters on the platform (cough, Bioshock, cough). It's the same basic point-and-click storytelling and intermittent quicktime events that you've come to expect, but I found Tales From The Borderlands more enjoyable than Game of Thrones, if only for its irreverent tone and less heady setting. Episode 1 is $5, as are the following four. You'll want a powerful phone or tablet to play without stuttering.
Tales from the Borderlands is a five part episodic game series from the creators of The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead - A Telltale Games Series. Set on the unforgiving world of Pandora after the events seen in Borderlands 2, this is a story full of Borderlands’ trademark humor, following two adventurers on their quest for greatness. You’ll play as Rhys, a Hyperion ‘suit’ with dreams of being the next Handsome Jack, and Fiona, a Pandoran con artist looking to score her biggest ever swindle.
You've seen this before: top-down action-RPG gameplay, old-school graphics, roguelike perma-death structure, randomly-generated dungeons. But the previous bit Dungeon game was perhaps the best of these small games, and so the sequel has been eagerly awaited. Levels are awarded based on the weapons that you use, allowing players to specialize in one type of gameplay while ignoring the rest. The game is $3 with no in-app purchases, just like we like 'em.
bit Dungeon II is fast action roguelike game with a giant overworld to explore. Inspired by some of my favorite games Zelda, Diablo, Dark Souls. You are a spirit in an undead world of demons. Your "loved one's " grave has been desecrated. Fight through these corrupted lands, and bring peace to her soul. The dungeons are randomly placed in the overworld, changing your experience each play through.
That's all for December. If you're wondering why TellTale's Tales From the Borderlands got into the top seven instead of Game of Thrones, it's because having played the first episode of both stories, I find the former more interesting and easier to get into (without having read 4000 pages of George R.R. Martin). Now that the onslaught of the holidays is over, expect the usual first-quarter lull that occurs for just about all popular entertainment, with perhaps a few diamonds in the rough. We can but hope.