With 2014 now finally put out to pasture, and 2015 taking his first toddling step, it’s time once more for us to look back and see which games — that you might have possibly overlooked — best showcase the previous year’s achievements.
The same as last year I will only be listing ten games (ordered alphabetically), as I could otherwise construct a list so long that you’d probably still be slogging through it by the time 2016 arrived. Finally, just in case your favorite wasn’t listed, I’d like to point out that only games I’ve personally reviewed in 2014 — and were additionally either released that year, or otherwise still receiving major updates at the time — are eligible to appear on this list.
It’s one thing for just about anyone these days to make a new game containing pixelated graphics and 2D game play, afterwards proclaiming it as “retro”, whereas it’s something else entirely to offer gamers a new title that truly plays just like the actual games of yore. It is in this regard that the design masters over at Cascadia Games struck pure pay dirt, as 2-Bit Cowboy (our review) feels exactly like a bonafide missing release from the glory days of Nintendo’s old Game Boy. In the game players must jump, double jump, wall jump, swim, inexplicably stand on top of clouds, and shoot their way to victory as they work tirelessly to stop every last digital varmint terrorizing the fair frontier-town citizens.
The most unique thing about 2-Bit Cowboy is that — although each level does have an exit point, complete with Super Mario Bros style flagpole — the player’s primary objective is not to merely reach each stage’s end zone. After all, what’s the point of being a heroically dapper four-color cowboy — whom comically wields a gun nearly as big as his noggin — if you can’t also be totally swag in the process (all of which, in turn, costs a lot of moolah)? To this end players must scour the pixelated countryside for bandits to wipe out — beer bottles to smash — and numerous other feats of derring-do to perform, after which grabbing all of the lucrative wanted posters that enable them to cash in on their heroism.
In conclusion: 2-Bit Cowboy is a heavily enjoyable app — featuring non invasive IAPs — that will easily appeal to fans of classic platform jumping action, especially for those whom first cut their mobile gaming teeth sometime back during the early nineties.
Crazy Taxi: City Rush
Hardlight Studios — the same people behind 2013’s critically acclaimed endless runner: Sonic Dash (our review) — decided in 2014 that they would re-envision yet another SEGA classic: Crazy Taxi. Although there had already been a rather accurate mobile port of the arcade original released back in 2012, there were certain aspects of the classic’s controls that definitely left something to be desired when forced upon a mobile touch screen. Hardlight Studios’ Crazy Taxi: City Rush (our review) — however — managed to sidestep this thanks to a control scheme designed entirely from the ground up with touch screens in mind, as well as game play that better fit within the needs of a mobile gaming lifestyle.
The end result is a game where players must still do their best to drive like a reckless maniac deliver various oddball customers on time, all while an ominous clock ticks down towards utter failure. The main difference here is that instead of being a sandbox style experience, wherein a top performance could take upwards of twenty solid minutes to achieve, City Rush now delivers its action in bite-sized mission based chunks. Successfully completing these will earn the player valuable cash that is then used to turn their taxicab into the speediest delivery service ever, as well as enabling them to trick out their ride’s appearance however they like (because customers pay more for stylish speed).
Accompanying City Rush’s madcap fast-paced game play is a wonderfully cartoonish presentation, which even contains one mission — entirely done using quotes from Shenmue — wherein you must help a distraught man find a very special group of sailors. This is furthermore aided by the inclusion of an ultra catchy soundtrack, which thankfully is 100% true to the feelings invoked by the arcade original’s music selection (which oddly was somehow missing from the game’s otherwise nearly perfect mobile port). However, should you ever tire of the app’s pre-included songs choices – or perhaps just feel that you know an even better assortment of beats to drive recklessly to – you can even form an in-game playlist using your iDevice’s music collection as well!
Fans of AM3’s arcade racing classic will definitely want to check out Crazy Taxi: City Rush, especially since it’s hard to argue with the app’s ultra low price-tag of free (coupled with non-aggressive IAPs, no less).
People have long wondered why exactly did the chicken cross the road, and after playing through Hipster Whale’s Crossy Road (our review) you’re still probably going to be none the wiser. You will — however — have an absolute blast, for Hipster Whale’s cubist-infused mixture of endless runner meets Frogger is one of the best time wasters we’ve seen here at iFanzine in a long while. As you endlessly plow forward — trying to avoid becoming road kill, or even drowning — you’ll strive to collect every last coin you find, largely because they’re shiny (but also because you can unlock additional characters with them).
The pool of characters available currently includes mad mages, creaking robots, spooky grave diggers, hungry zombies, armed space marines, crap-filled pigeons, and even Hipster Whale’s very own mascot! More than merely having different graphics, these alternate characters also provide unique alterations upon the game’s world: such as how the mad mage keeps setting trees on fire, or how the space marine keeps shooting at cars. These amusing character specific alterations are purely cosmetic — however — as none of them will ever truly aid you on your eternal quest forward, meaning that IAP buying these characters early — rather than freely saving up for them — is a purely elective venture.
The only real danger that you face by grabbing Hipster Whale’s Crossy Road — which is available for the price of absolutely free — is that you’re rather likely to have considerable difficulty with ever setting it back down again, so consider yourselves fully warned.