WHAT are the best mobile games to play these days? I decided to find out recently when a train I was riding came to an unexpected stop between two stations and there was no cellphone signal. That meant no Internet for distraction, no Twitter or Spotify to while away the time.
Fortunately, I had just downloaded some new iPhone games that have attracted a lot of attention. So during the train delay, I tested how the games measured up to their hype.
First up was The Swords, a gesture-based game that may remind people of Fruit Ninja, a game where you slash up a lot of fruits. In The Swords, you also have to swipe the screen to âcutâ through fast-moving targets.
The game has a story line: You follow a sword master as he learns his craft, dealing with ever more difficult opponents and learning new moves. When you swipe at your phoneâs screen to move your âsword,â you paint shapes in black ink to intercept the advances of your red-inked enemies. Each level requires more speed and more dexterity in swipes. Between levels, you see beautiful drawings that advance the sword masterâs story.
The Swords, which is $ 3 on iOS, is fast-paced but doesnât feel frantic. As I played, it relaxed me.
This is a physics-based puzzle game with abstract graphics. Thereâs no clock, and not much on screen other than a few minimalist graphics. By tapping here and there, you grab white building blocks with your character and drag them around in a gravity field. Then you stack the blocks to hit a pulsing target and move on to the next level.
Dreii may sound simplistic, but it is fascinating and the momentum quickly builds as new block shapes are introduced and targets prove harder to reach. Each puzzle piece moves and drops into place with little difficulty, and the lovely sounds add to this experience.
Dreii also has some advanced group-playing tricks, uniting you with other players from across the Internet to complete different goals.
The two games were so much fun that eventually, as my train moved, I searched for more to play. That led me to Rayman Classic, which is $ 5 on iOS. A huge success on Atari and PlayStation consoles in 1996, Rayman â an adventure game following the character Rayman â is now a mobile app.
Its makers have captured the look and feel of the original game without messing with the recipe much. Raymanâs graphics are classically blocky, and the gameplay is based on two-dimensional platforms and ladders, with jumping, collecting tasks and a mazelike path. Even the soundtrack will take you back to 1996.
Rayman was always fun to play and its characters were likable. You do need to perfect your timing, and learn to jump your character onto just the right pixel. I found it a lot of fun.
Iâve also been playing Final Fantasy IX on my phone. The game is worth mentioning because it is such a huge contrast to my other favorite mobile games. Originally a console app, Final Fantasy IX for phones and tablets is a sophisticated role-playing fighting game with a mythlike story line and all the usual features like learning new abilities and scenes that move the plot along.
This 16-year-old game looks great today because its graphics have been updated. Its controls have also been adapted for touch screens. You can expect to spend many hours immersed in this app. But itâs expensive: Final Fantasy IX costs $ 21 on iOS and Android.
The annual Games Developers Conference is later this month, so the media spotlight may fall on Xbox, PlayStation and PC gaming. But as I found during my delayed train journey, games on phones remain innovative, fun and within easy reach at all times.
The social sharing app Peach got a lot of attention when it hit iPhones this year, and now it has arrived as a free Android download. More image-based than WhatsApp, and more text-based than Snapchat, Peach is an interesting way to communicate with friends.