Mobile gaming is changing the way we play. In years gone by, players were beholden to their joysticks and chunky Game Boys. But with the modern smartphone revolution, everyone has a sophisticated gaming device in their pocket at all times. Some games are cheap trivia apps, others simple puzzles — but the best mobile games are actually using the 21st century tech already built into our phones to change the way we see video gaming. Here are four of 2014’s finest:
By now, almost every gamer with a smartphone has heard of Ingress. It’s the godfather of what’s known as augmented reality — a genre of games that takes your GPS location and physical surroundings and turns that data into an interactive gaming experience. Ingress challenges players to fight against each other for control of ‘exotic matter’ portals, leading to social game play that’s far beyond any request you’ll get on Facebook. Take pictures of landmarks in your city and add details about a given location to make Ingress into a science-fiction scavenger hunt. Augmented reality is the next wave of gaming, and Ingress is here to introduce it to you.
2. Adventure Time: Time Tangle
Out of all the features on your smartphone, you probably pay the least attention to your gyroscope. After all, it’s only good for casual games and switching between landscape and portrait mode, right? Wrong, actually. Cartoon Network’s latest Adventure Time game, Time Tangle, uses the gyroscope to control the hero Finn’s movement from side to side. This frees up the touchscreen for other controls, such as jumping and attacking (in fact, those are the only controls). You can play with a more traditional button overlay, but it’s actually more intuitive just to twist and turn your phone — and more fun, too.
3. Clumsy Ninja
If you’re playing a smartphone game, you’ll be using a touchscreen 9 times out of 10. But while most games are relatively two-dimensional in their touch controls, Clumsy Ninja exists in three dimensions. You’ve got to help a ninja rescue his crush, but he’s got a lot of training to do first. By tapping and dragging to control the ninja and various pieces of training equipment, you can help him become stronger. As you move trampolines around and throw the ninja onto roofs, you’ll get a feeling of literal depth from your screen you won’t see in other free-to-play games.
One of this year’s most innovative titles, Republique is the only game on the market that acknowledges you’re on a mobile device — and works that into the plot. You play a mysterious benefactor to a girl escaping a totalitarian regime. By using your phone to hack security cameras, unlock doors and discover hidden clues, you can guide your charge to safety. This kind of meta-gaming concept is almost unheard of right now, but developers Camouflaj LLC do such a seamless job merging Republique’s story and gameplay, we hope this approach gains a lot of traction in the industry.
Republique is available for $4.99 on iTunes. Not yet available on Google Play.