The team behind the Windows Phone Store put together an interesting collection of games – mostly from independent developers – that they think deserve your attention. We would heartily agree.
There are more than two dozen games in this collection now, and you will find a serious mix of game styles and genres, including some that practically defy description.
While testing out many of the games in this collection – yes, it’s a rough job, we know – we were struck by the high level of quality and obvious care the developers put into their work. We’d like to think there is an overriding theme that ties all of these games together, but there is no way to neatly fit all of these games into a single bucket – perhaps that is why the collection is called “The Next Big Thing”. Will one of these games be the breakout hit of 2014?
Some of these games are exclusive to Windows Phone; and many are crafted using the software from Unity (such as the awarding-winning games Trouser Heart by Finland’s 10tons Ltd; and Alien with a Magnet, which we’ve written about previously), you will find options for every gaming preference, including:
Tower defense games like Garden Rescue (paid with a free trial), by the Russian company Rainbow Games, where you control a variety of plants that need to kill off bugs that are trying to destroy your strawberries. You can set the difficulty level of the game, and there is even a separate Christmas edition that you can try. Or maybe try Vein Rush, which is only on Windows Phone. You are infected, and need to fight off invading bacteria that are literally inside of you.
Side-scroller games like Picnic Rumble (paid with free trial) which is only on Windows Phone, and is a wacky variant on the theme as you must match the color of one of four “rumblers” to defeat enemies that you encounter along your unending stroll through the forest. The game has this funky hand-drawn quality and the characters are adorable. A faster pace is Manuganu, a 3D platform runner by developer Alper Sarıkaya from Istanbul, Turkey. The graphics are intense, and while this one only offers a paid version ($0.99 USD) we expect you’ll be hooked.
Match-3 games include Sky Cups by Fox3D Studios from Estonia, where you are a blue circus hippo – trust us on this one – that sits atop stacks of teacups that you must help him to smash so he can get back to ground level. You can swipe from the left or right to create matches. The game is free, plays quickly and yes, speed counts. Or try your hand at Jack’s Mistake (paid with free trial) where a scientist has released a dangerous virus into the world. There are more than 40 levels in this puzzle game.
Shooters or fighting-games in this collection include Crumble Zone (paid with free trial) by Rebel Twins Indie Games where you are a little green alien who must defend your planet from falling asteroids and other objects that are hurtling your way. The game has a dizzying quality as you rotate back and forth to defeat the oncoming waves of danger. Or check out the free Reaper by UK-based Hexage which combines the fun of hack-and-slash action in a side-scrolling realm that is full of magic and monsters. The graphics are rich and the action engaging.
Hidden-object puzzle games such as 9-Clues: The Secret of Serpent Creek by Artifex Mundi is a free game with remarkable visuals. Or check out Tales from the Dragon Mountain: The Strix by K.I.D. d.o.o., which offers a free trial. (Both are large files, and require Wi-Fi for download.)
The hard to classify
Among the collection in Windows Phone Store you will also find Mr. Potino, a modern take on hangman by Italy’s Mixel Scarl, where you work to guess words provided to you by the game. This free game features wonderful graphics that look like paper cutouts, and it gets progressively harder as you go. The game claims a dictionary of more than 50,000 words to try to stump you.
Or perhaps try the pinball-like mechanics of the puzzle game Energet (paid only) by developer Vladimir Plokhotnikov. In this game, you’ve got to play the angles, and ricochet an energy-craving sphere. It takes a bit of getting used to the controls, but it is quite addictive.
One of our favorites from the entire collection is Strata (paid with free trial), by Minneapolis-based developers Graveck, an elegant, and deceiving simple-looking puzzle game that makes you think. You need to plan ahead to successfully complete each level of this Unity-based game, where you layer various colored ribbons on top of one another to form a set pattern. Interestingly, the sound track that accompanies the game is piano music in a very classic form that evokes the moods of a wintry day. You can see the game in action here:
Bonus game: Songarc
Finally, there’s one more game that we think deserves your attention, although it is not yet in the collection in Windows Phone Store. We’re very excited about Songarc, a free game by Hungary-based developer András Velvárt.
This is no ordinary keep-the-beat music game. For one, you can use the music that is already stored on your phone to play along, giving you a full range of notes and rhythms. And the design, graphics and occasionally frantic pace of the game are certain to keep you entertained.
What games have your undivided attention these days? Share your suggestions below.