I have a special place in my heart for real time strategy games. Some of my fondest memories are playing with my dad in our cobbled-together home LAN with games like Age of Empires and Red Alert. But until last week, the last time I had seen a quality mobile RTS was Warfare Incorporated back on my Palm Tungsten T3, almost a decade ago. But now there's a real alternative: Desert Stormfront, from Noble Master Games, is worth a look from any dedicated strategy fan.
Even if you haven't played it before, there's a decent chance you've seen Plague Inc. around the internet. Usually, it involves seeing a screenshot that informs you your mom has killed thousands of people. If you've ever wondered how you—yes, you!—can also create silly-named diseases that annihilate Earth's population with your Android phone, the answer has arrived! Go here, download the game, then spend 15 minutes staring at the screen trying to come up with something clever.
I've been waiting for an Android game that gets touchscreen real-time strategy right for a long time. And I think I may have found it in Desert Stormfront, just posted to the Google Play Store by "Age of Conquest" developer Noble Master Games. It's an old-school, sprite-based strategy game in the vein of Command & Conquer or Age of Empires.
But instead of dumbing down the complexity for mobile users, the developers have adapted the mouse-and-keyboard controls for gaming on a touchscreen - though I have to admit it works much, much better on a tablet than on a smartphone.
The real-time strategy genre has a lot to recommend it: tactical thinking, fast-paced unit and resource management, and multiplayer atmosphere that's unlike anything else in gaming. But it's hard to escape the fact that in order to have a real RTS, you just need a mouse. Precise movements and commands are nigh impossible on a touchscreen. Sega's Total War Battles: Shogun is a spinoff from their wildly successful Total War PC franchise, which breaks with tradition and tries to adapt the RTS genre to the touchscreen.
Four out of five fantasy authors agree: orcs are bad. Combine this rather simplistic notion with tower defense (and gloss over the fact that the player is creating his or her own army of unholy killing machines) and you've got Orc Genocide. The basic idea follows the super-popular tower defense genre pretty closely, but infuses it with more strategy and tactics than we've seen in a long time. The multiplayer options - both local and over a wireless LAN - are icing on the proverbial cake.
Apparently simventure is quickly becoming its own genre. Today's latest entry into this crossover category is Kingdoms & Lords from Gameloft, which has finally hit release after being announced back in June. Part of the game will take place in a simulated kingdom (spoilers, I know). You'll spend your time managing your economy "on a daily basis", as the description on the Play Store is quick to point out. Hopefully this won't be the Farmville-ian style where, if you cease to play for a few hours, your kingdom dies.
It seems that mobile gaming is a haven for all the old classics to reappear. Rising even further from the ashes of the past than most other recent arrivals comes Z Origins, a remake of the RTS from the DOS days simply called "Z" by The Bitmap Brothers. It predates notable fan favorite Command and Conquer from Westwood Studios. Though it did come out roughly four years after Dune II (also from Westwood) which served as the archetype for most RTS games to follow, Z departs from traditional RTS gameplay in that collection of resources and structure construction as a requisite for certain units were not part of the game.
As mobile gaming starts to mature, new developers and properties have had a chance to shine. While Rubicon's Great Little War Game hasn't reached the lofty heights of some of the more mainstream titles, its mix of cartoonish humor and solid turn-based strategy has made it one of the most popular games on Android. The sequel, craftily named Great Big War Game, brings elements from both new and old strategy games to make a more cohesive whole.
Remember Cartoon Wars? Well, all the murderous stickman-fighting action you can handle is back in Gamevil's latest title: Cartoon Wars 2: Heroes.
As the self-proclaimed "most complete defense and real-time strategy game of the Cartoon Wars series," CW2 picks up where the original left off, and even adds a handful of features, including new heroes. In CW2 you can develop your stickman hero from six upgradeable characters, learning new skills as you level up.
The Tegra Zone is set to get one more amazing game next month, with the minimalist strategy game Auralux coming down the pipe. Auralux, which promises to have "every feature and more from the renowned PC game," combines the minimalist, otherworldly environment/music of Osmos with the real-time galactic strategy of Galcon for what looks to be a stunning experience.
Describing itself as "an abstract, essentialized, and simplified real-time strategy game," Auralux gives players individual units, each of which can only carry out one type of command.