Welcome back to our monthly gaming retrospective, this time for January 2014. We've got a good mix of triple-A console-style games and more mobile-friendly casual titles for your consideration, some of which are so bizarre that they have to be played to be understood. We've also got plenty of picks that didn't quite make it to the top of the list, but are still worthy of attention. Check out the profiles below for screenshots, videos, and easy links to the Google Play Store.
Most games that get released for Android are decidedly casual. They're intended for quick, pick-up-and-play encounters when you have a few moments to kill while waiting in the fast food line or in the back seat of a cab. Most, frankly, can't compare to the lean-back experience we get from console games (or the lean-forward immersion of their PC brethren). Square Enix's Deus Ex: The Fall is a different beast entirely.
Clear your schedule and charge up your Android device – there is another classic Final Fantasy game out on Android. Final Fantasy VI has arrived in Google Play for the customary $15.99 asking price, but for that lofty sum you get the game you remember from 1994 with a few mobile enhancements.
The interface and controls have been tweaked to be more playable on a touchscreen, and the graphics have been carefully recreated to take advantage of the power of modern hardware without losing the classic style of Final Fantasy VI.
Fans of classic Squaresoft RPGs have had a smorgasbord on the Google Play Store as of late, but it's all been remakes and re-releases. The first "new" Final Fantasy game to come to the platform (unless you count some of the simple stuff like Final Fantasy All The Bravest, which you shouldn't) is Final Fantast IV: The After Years. It's a sequel to the old FFIV (from 1991) released for Japanese mobile market in 2008 before making it to the Wii in 2011.
The increasingly misnamed Final Fantasy series of role-playing games has been around for just shy of 26 years. In that time it's spanned the gaming spectrum from undeniable classic (FFIII and FFVII) to forgettable mess (pretty much everything since X-2), but it remains the unstoppable juggernaut of the Japanese RPG scene. Now Square Enix (that's Squaresoft for those of you who remember the days before the Xbox 360) is hoping to cash in on your nostalgia with Final Fantasy All The Bravest, a simplified RPG that combines the "endless" style of play with the company's rich intellectual property.
Guardian Cross is different from most most Square Enix mobile games. It's still a role-playing game, but it's centered around trading cards and is available for free. This is striking for a game company that charges some of the highest prices to be found in the Play Store. The game is already available for iOS and has accumulated over a million downloads, so expect both an addicting and relatively accessible experience.
If you have $15 to spare and a love of serious RPG's, Square Enix has your number. Drakerider has just arrived in Google Play, and this isn't a port of a console game. It's a new experience designed specifically for touchscreens.
In Drakerider you ride around on a dragon completing tasks and doing battle. The fighting system is a little different than most RPGs. You keep control of your dragon mount with the reins when you need more control, but ease up to allow it to attack enemies.
Android gamers have been waiting a long time for world-class publishers and developers to start creating mobile games with the same dedication that consoles and PC get. It looks like we'll have to wait just a little bit longer. Yesterday Square Enix and Eidos Interactive announced Deus Ex: The Fall, a full entry in the much-loved Deus Ex series, set in the same time period as 2011's Human Revolution. The initial media blitz has a lot to say about the iOS version of the game, due "soon," and almost nothing to say about Android.
The updated version of RPG classic Final Fantasy III has managed to sell over 100,000 copies on Android, despite its super-premium $16 price tag. Square Enix is hoping to replicate that success with the next entry in the series, predictably titled Final Fantasy IV. It's available now for Android 2.3.3 and higher, at the same $15.99 price. If you're looking to party like it's 1991, head to the Play Store now.