While it's true that you should be focusing on your schoolwork now that summer's over, the fact of the matter is, you're going to need to blow off some steam sooner or later. So why not take a break from hitting the books with some of the best mobile games out there? You can take these anywhere, so you can even enjoy them during a bus ride or during your free period. And the best part is, there's a little something for everybody on this list; no matter what platform you're working with -- be it iOS, Android, PS Vita, Nintendo 3DS, or even something a little more exotic -- we've got you covered.
#5: New Super Mario Bros. 2
Okay, so this one gets the lowest ranking simply because it hasn't been released yet, so there's still a chance it may not end up being that great. But truth be told, that isn't likely?when was the last time a Mario game really disappointed? It will be here in a little over two weeks on August 19, while it's already available in Japan and receiving respectable reviews.
Let's be real here: the Super Mario games have not changed a whole lot since the initial iterations on the NES, and it seems that New Super Mario Bros. 2 is no exception. But there's a reason the game's formula has only been slightly tweaked over the years, and it's because the core gameplay is platforming bliss. Like many of its predecessors, this newest entry brings its fair share of new powerups, enemies, and levels, but rest assured that this is, for the most part, the Super Mario you've known and loved for years. If that sort of nostalgic experience is what you're looking for, this is the game for you.
Be warned, however, that the word on the street is that it's a little on the easy side. Thankfully, gameplay hours are stretched out thanks to the addition of the new Coin Attack mode, which challenges players to collect as many coins as they can while completing levels in sets of three?all without dying.
#4 Infinity Blade II
We reviewed Infinity Blade II on TPCR back when it first came out, and while it was enjoyable, its primary detractor was that its gameplay was nearly identical to that of its predecessor. Nevertheless, this remains one of the best iOS-exclusive games to have, and it's definitely a no-brainer purchase if you haven't already spent money on the first game in the series.
For those not familiar with Infinity Blade, it's an on-rails, third-person adventure in which you hack and slash your way through an ever-expanding dungeon. Combat is handled through well-timed swipes for attacks, blocks, counters, and casting spells, while the Infinity Blade II's addiction factor comes in the form of purchasing loot from the in-game store with the cash you earn from slaying baddies. Admittedly, at $6.99 it's a bit steep for a mobile purchase, but the price is reflected in the quality of the game; Infinity Blade II easily has some of the highest production value of any mobile game out there.
#3: Rayman: Origins
PS Vita, Nintendo 3DS; also on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
The underappreciated Rayman: Origins, complete with its brilliant art style thanks to its unique UbiArt Framework engine, has made its way to the Playstation Vita, giving gamers a way to take Rayman's latest bizarre adventure on the road. Nintendo 3DS owners will have to wait a bit longer, however, as the game won't be released for their platform until November 12.
Rayman: Origins is platforming at its finest, meshing fun, creative level design with rapidly escalating difficulty. It's a blast to play, but make no mistake: this game can be mercilessly brutal at times. That being said, Rayman: Origins strikes a fine balance. It's not unfair, and it never pushes you to the point where you might be at risk of smashing your device. Instead, it punishes you while always enticing you to come back for more. This is the perfect pick for you hardcore gamers out there.
#2: Plants Vs. Zombies
iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7, BlackBerry Tablet OS, PS Vita, Nintendo DS; also on Xbox 360, PS3, Windows PC, Mac OS
This one is an oldie but goodie, with a big part of the appeal here being that it's available on just about every platform imaginable. No matter what device you're packing, you should be able to pick up this fantastic tower defense game in which you play as plants defending a house from zombies. That's right: you can even get it if you have a BlackBerry PlayBook.
Plants Vs. Zombies has almost universal appeal, what with its great sense of humor, adorable visual style, and easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master gameplay. What other games let you plant watermelon catapults or gatling gun plants that shoot peas (peashooters, get it?) at zombies that shamble, pole vault, and ride lawn mowers onto your lawn? And aside from the lengthy campaign mode, there are other game modes like survival and multiplayer to help you squeeze even more gameplay out of a game that costs anywhere from $2.99 to roughly $20, depending on which platform you buy it for.
#1: Great Big War Game
A sequel to the lesser-known Great Little War Game, GBWG is essentially Advance Wars for your phone (or tablet). If that doesn't mean anything to you, it's a turn-based strategy game in which your goal is to use your land, air, and sea units to defeat the enemy army or complete other tasks like surviving a certain number of turns or protecting resources. To top it off, the game is downright hilarious and looks great, given the limitations of the platform.
And talk about bang for your buck: the game will only run you $2.99, but with a 50 stage campaign and cross-platform online multiplayer (as well as offline hotseat multiplayer), it should easily provide you with dozens of hours of gameplay. If that somehow isn't enough content for you, there is also DLC available for the game, including more maps, units, and army colors, all ranging from $0.99 to $1.99 in cost.
For more information, check out the rest of
our Back To School Special Report.