Monday, 26 Feb 2024

Best new mobile games on iOS and Android – March 2020 round-up

This month’s most interesting mobile releases includes a port of RTS classic Company Of Heroes and Mario Kart World Tour’s multiplayer mode.

We may be in the midst of the worst AAA games drought in living memory, but as ever mobile telephony has got your back. The arrival of Sticky Terms, a fresh Kamibox game, is good reason to be cheerful, as is Mario Kart: World Tour finally getting the multiplayer mode it should have had all along. And for strategy heads, Company Of Heroes is a note perfect recreation of the classic PC game.

Sticky Terms for iOS

£Free (Kamibox)

Every Philipp Stollenmayer game is worth playing and Sticky Terms is no exception. It scrambles words and short phrases, but rather than simply rearranging letters, the characters themselves have been pulled apart, rotated, and stuck back together.

Using the touchscreen you tug them to pieces, tap to rotate each segment, then drag them back together when you spot matching pieces. It’s a wonderfully relaxing process with no timers, and a satisfying bounce to the letters as they pull apart and snap together.

It’s also a chance to learn new idioms harvested from around the world, like the sound Swedish pigs make or the Norwegian expression for the joy of drinking beer outside.

Score: 8/10

Summer Catchers for iOS & Android

£3.99 (Noodlecake)

The action in Summer Catchers involves driving a go-kart across side scrolling levels and hitting power-ups to overcome obstacles you come across – hopping over spiked pits, ramming totem poles, turbo-ing up steep hills, and a host of level-specific activities to spice the process up.

In between you’ll be replenishing your supply of powers, unlocking new karts and outfits, and chatting to the friendly but demanding animals that populate each area, supplying narrative continuity and quests.

Although graphically pretty, the controls are often slow to react to your input and swiping to swap out redundant power-ups is horribly temperamental, undermining a great deal of the potential fun.

Score: 6/10

MIB Galaxy Defenders for iOS & Android

£Free (Sony Pictures Television)

After spawning a couple of surprisingly watchable films, and two that proved somewhat harder to love, the Men In Black arrive on mobile with a heavily monetised point ‘n’ shoot game that suffers from a perpetually jerky frame rate.

Taking place in predominantly urban locations, you’ll be faced with a selection of aliens either popping out from behind cover or running blindly towards you. All need to be shot, preferably in the head.

There’s an arsenal of weapons, each of which has to be upgraded in multiple, barely perceptible ways, new agents to unlock, timed loot crates, and endless inducements to watch ads in return for increased rewards. There’s also a battle pass that costs an insane £6.99 per week.

Score: 2/10

Crossy Road Castle for Apple Arcade

included with subscription (Hipster Whale)

Hipster Whale’s new game takes the charmingly pixillated Frogger clone’s graphical style and reapplies it to a platform game that features miniature levels with coins you need to collect, and an increasing array of enemies to be hopped on or avoided.

Levels get more complex as you progress, with the addition of lifts, trampolines, spiked platforms, and more. Its crowing glory though, is multiplayer mode, which makes all the above into a riot as the screen is filled with hopping, item-collecting animals.

There’s always someone falling off something, or getting impaled on something else, in a cacophony of tiny sound effects reminiscent of the chaos of LittleBigPlanet 3’s excellent multiplayer mode.

Score: 7/10

Aces Of The Luftwaffe Squadron for iOS & Android

£6.99 (Handy Games)

Sequel to Aces Of The Luftwaffe, and originally released on consoles, Aces Of The Luftwaffe Squadron is another vertically-scrolling shoot ‘em-up set in an alternate Second World War where there are also flying saucers and super-weapons.

Dragging your finger around to steer, your plane is surrounded by three wingmen and women, each of whom has their own personality and occasionally goes nuts, presenting an additional danger separate from the incoming bullet hell.

Its hilariously low budget voice-acting has absolutely everyone sounding like Germans, and contrasts with higher production values elsewhere. There are plenty of better scrolling shooters available, most notably the excellent Sky Force Reloaded.

Score: 6/10

Company Of Heroes for iPad

£13.99 (Feral Interactive)

Originally released for PC in 2006, Company Of Heroes is a serious real-time strategy whose emphasis on squads rather than fiddly individual soldiers lends itself nicely to touchscreen conversion.

Starting with the inevitable Saving Private Ryan-referencing strategy-free Normandy landings, the campaign rapidly gets more interesting, with a real diversity of situations that frequently escalate as you play. You’ll also get a sprinkling of new units as you progress, each of which brings fresh tactical opportunities.

There are neat graphical details, with chunks of masonry blown off buildings by grenades or tank rounds, and your tiny soldiers will automatically dive to the ground when a machinegun opens up nearby. The base game also had some excellent DLC, which will hopefully make its way to this rock solid iPad port.

Score: 8/10

World War D’oh for iOS & Android

£Free (Jam City)

Although heavily inspired by Clash Royale, World War D’Oh has a respectable number of original ideas. It may be a card collecting game played in portrait, but this time there’s no king tower – instead you’ve got a commander you need to protect.

He also wanders about at your direction, shooting anything in range and generally assisting the other units you drop into the arena. Two gun turrets at the bottom of the screen defend themselves automatically, as well as providing a healing beam and a brief damage buff.

Graphically, it’s not as refined as Clash Royale, but there are interestingly different dynamics to its battles and its sense of humour is several degrees whackier.

Score: 7/10

Mario Kart Tour for iOS & Android

£Free (Nintendo)
The mobile iteration of Mario Kart, with its clever single thumb control scheme, dumbed-down handling, and fastidious devotion to shaking you down for spare change, has finally been granted a multiplayer mode that lets you race seven other players either locally or online.

Following a closed beta last year, it’s now available for all, letting you race on a set of tracks that automatically changes every 15 minutes. It also sees the first appearance of the franchise’s infamous pole position-targeting blue shell.

Played against people in the same room, there’s some of the old banter-generating last minute turnarounds that make the console version such a perennial favourite, but the more limited handling model can feel uncomfortably random. It’s a pale shadow of the console games.

Score: 4/10

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