When the best thing that you can say about the latest crop of a long-running video game property is that "the tie-in children's TV show isn't completely terrible," it's not a ringing endorsement. Such is the case with Sonic Boom: after nearly two decades of hit-and-miss remixes on the familiar Sonic formula, SEGA hit a real stinker with the almost universally-reviled Wii U/3DS dual release last year. The "hip" new designs for Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and the rest of the gang might have been forgiven if the game itself hadn't been one of the worst entries in Sonic's 24-year catalog.
When Amazon announced Underground, the remodeled Appstore that features the ability to play paid and freemium games (as well as other apps) for free, I immediately raised the question of how they planned to make money on this venture. Users obviously benefited by getting free stuff and certain developers would make more money since Amazon compensates them on a per-minutes-used basis. But where was the cash flow to Amazon?
If you're a fan of the super-popular top-down MOBA genre (think Dota, League of Legends, and Heroes of the Storm), you'll want to sit up and take notice of a little game called Vainglory. This mobile interpretation of the well-known formula has been built from the ground up for touchscreens, and the experience has been praised on iOS since its launch back in November. It's available for free today on the Play Store.
Vainglory doesn't make an attempt to hide its inspiration. If you're not familiar with the standard MOBA formula, it's basically a shorter and more action-packed version of a real-time strategy game where each player controls a single unit.
Ubisoft seems to have an odd fixation with horse-themed mobile games. The publisher made an Android version of the inexplicably popular Howrse, a sort of equestrian-themed adaptation of free PC RPGs like Ragnarok Online. Now Ubi has created its own horsy mobile game, the innocuously-titled Horse Haven World Adventure.
It's terrifying. Completely, utterly terrifying. If H.P. Lovecraft and H.R. Geiger had some kind of genetically engineered offspring with too many initials, it would not come close to approaching the horror that lies beneath Horse Haven World Adventure. To look upon this game is to go mad.
No, not just because it's another fairly brainless free-to-play mobile game - which it is.
Final Fantasy Record Keeper has been out for a bit in Japan, and now it's opening up to a larger market, overwhelming even more players with heavy doses of unapologetic 90s nostalgia (and some from the early 2000s). The game lets you relive Final Fantasy highlights using a combination of your favorite heroes shrunken down into cute, little sprites.
Have you ever argued over whether Cloud and Squall had the cooler sword? Do you consider Ronso prettier than Wookies? Can you actually tell all of the Cids apart? This game might just be your dream come true, as long as you're not put off by the F word.
Here at Android Police, we've made our position on the prevalence of free-to-play mobile games perfectly known, to wit: most of them suck. It often seems like instead of embracing the audience-widening possibilities that the phrase "free game" implies, developers and publishers use it as an excuse to design games around compelling in-app purchases for more and more fleeting rewards. The phenomenon is well-documented, so I won't bore you with the inherently manipulative methods of most F2P games - you can read here and here if you really need a refresher.
Pictured: not something you want to see in your "free" game.
The original Beach Buggy Blitz was one of the first graphically-intensive games on Android, a frequent install for people who wanted to show off the power of their new phone or tablet. That being said, it was a bit simplistic: you "raced" along an endless beach, more or less playing catch up until you ran out of time. The sequel, Beach Buggy Racing, is much more of a conventional kart racer. It's got full races, power-ups, multiple characters and carts, and even single-device split screen multiplayer.
The graphics are a little better in the sequel, though the handling is what has really improved.
After toying around with Assassin's Creed Pirates' price tag over the past few months, Ubisoft has decided to drop it entirely. The game contains in-app purchases that raise revenue through other means, but now players are empowered to hop in and start sailing without having to pay a cent.
Ubisoft has also updated the app with a "Cold Blood" chapter that leaves behind the warm Caribbean for the frigid Arctic Seas. A new crew member that can help gather resources is present to help players survive this new adventure, and there are new ship customization options.
Pirates may sound like a companion title to any of the recent Assassin's Creed console titles, but it's actually a full standalone game that's exclusive to mobile titles.
When a vastly updated 1Password app hit the Play Store earlier this summer, developer AgileBits still wasn't sure on how it was going to price its revamped product. At the time, the app was free to use for anyone who wanted to put it through its paces, but the company planned to eventually tuck most of the features into a premium version. Now the team has followed through and settled on a freemium pricing model, which it is introducing with the app's 4.1 update.
The free version of 1Password will function primarily as a reader app, with users able to view and delete (but not create) items.