by John Markley1
The Most Hardcore Android Strategy Games Ever Made
Let’s take a break from all the warfare, bloodshed, and wanton ecological vandalism that have dominated this article so far. In Townsmen 6, you’re in charge of building a new city, requiring you to manage various resources, create new structures, and attract new citizens to your town. Damien McFerran, of Pocket Gamer, hailed Townsmen 6 as a “complete triumph” for both the quality of its graphics and the depth of its gameplay, so give it a look if you enjoy actually creating things once in a while instead of wrecking them.
Kairosoft has made quite a name for itself in mobile gaming over the last few years, releasing a series of popular strategy/management/city-building games putting the player in charge of everything from restaurants to game development companies to a town in a the world of a stereotypical Japanese RPG. Epic Astro Story, aptly descibed by Damien McFerran of Pocket Gamer as “a mobile title that will ensnare you utterly,” ventures beyond the bounds of Earth and puts the player in charge of a growing colony on another planet.
You must gradually expand your colony, attracting new colonists and provide them with places to live, building farms and factories to produce income, and setting up resorts and tourist attractions to entice friendly visitors from alien worlds to stop by and pick up a souvenir or two. There’s also some light RPG-style combat when you send out teams of colonists to explore the wilderness around your colony, finding new resources and expanding the area where you can build.
If you go into this hoping for a serious take on the idea of settling another world, you’re going to be rather disappointed. However, it’s wonderful fun if you let yourself get into the spirit of the game. There’s lots to do, the gameplay is addictive and more complex than it initially seems, and the cute,colorful graphics style is endearing and gives the whole experience an infectious cheerfulness that will make you want to keep playing.
UniWar is another turn-based strategy game: Different types of units with various strengths and weaknesses, hex map, capture bases, you know the drill. Once again, though, it’s all about execution, and in that regard UniWar has been very well received. It’s especially known for its online multiplayer mode, which includes an option to have multiple games in progress simultaneously and can send you an e-mail notification when it’s your turn. Levi Buchanan, of IGN, raved, “If you draw even the smallest amount of gaming pleasure out of the genre, there is no reason not to download UniWar.”
My elementary school’s rather grandiosely named “computer lab” had little to recommend it. You could quite literally go there twice a week for six years, as every student there did, and remain blissfully unaware of the existence of exotic computing devices like mice or hard drives or monitors that displayed colors other than green.
Yet there was the one bright spot amidst it all: Oregon Trail, a game where you had to successfully cross the Western 19th-cemtury United States with your family in a covered wagon, carefully planning the equipment and provisions you’d take for your journey before setting out and then heading down the titular trail facing threats like starvation, disease, and rivers that randomly drowned half your family if you tried to ford them yourself to save five bucks on the cost of hiring the ferry. It was fun, it was addictive, and it was educational enough for the school to have it.
Organ Trail is a spiritual successor of sorts, adding new gameplay elements and decisions to the classic formula. Also, it has zombies, from whom you’re fleeing across a desolate post-apocalyptic wasteland in search of safe haven from the undead hordes. It’s won quite a few fans with its combination of dark atmosphere, humor, and classic gameplay, with Eurogamer’s Rich Stanton raving that, “Organ Trailis a great idea, and its execution moves it far beyond a grisly tribute act.” The Director’s Cut adds some new features such as customizable characters, new events you can encounter along the trail, and online leader boards.
For the hardcore gamer who isn’t sufficiently challenged by other tower defense games, there’s Myth Defense. It’s a relentlessly challenging game, where the enemy is utterly relentless and each of the game’s 18 campaign stages has at least 70 waves of pitiless foes to hold back. In addition to the campaign mode and another 4 stages for one-off games in Battle Mode, there’s also the option of playing in randomly generated stages, with a different layout and terrain each time. Mike Rose, of Gamezebo, says it “offers one of the better TD experiences on the Android with some wonderfully deep gameplay.”
We now travel into the mists of prehistory. Military Madness was originally released in 1990 for the TurboGrafx-16, an ill-fated console that had the unenviable task of competing against the Sega Genesis and then the Super Nintendo and ended up… well, pretty much the way you’d expect a scrawny newcomer who jumped between two ‘roided up bruisers trading haymakers to end up.
The game, which puts you in command in one of two warring futuristic armies battling on the surface of the moon in 2089, was widely praised as one of the best military strategy games on the market when it came out, but had only modest sales in the United States. This version for Android boasts all of the strategic turn-based gameplay of the original combined with greatly improved graphics, and has been praised by Pocket Gamer’s Damien McFerran for doing “a fine job of giving this classic game a much-needed modernization.”
As a special added bonus, the Description of the game on its page at Google Play, as of this writing, features the sort of hilariously broken English seldom seen in Western gaming since- well, since the original era when Military Madness came out. Do you have what it takes to master the feature of items and landforms to get a victory? Experience the sensation to play the classic simulation game and find out!
This is one I wanted to include on the strength of its premise alone: A Wild West tower defense game. Instead of building colossal automated Gatling guns or flamethrowers to mow down hordes of alien invaders, you position members of a gang of bandits to ambush waves of 19th century settlers and stagecoaches. This sounds pretty mean but after so many years of playing strategy games I’ve launched far too many wars of aggression and killed far too many millions of people to criticize.
Luckily, the quality of the game actually provides a justification beyond “It’s a Wild West tower defense game!” The game’s earned general critical acclaim, with Jon Mundy, of Pocket Gamer, calling it, “a mighty fine tower defense game.”
Some games are subtle in how they draw on their inspirations. Others are less subtle. Still others are blatant and explicit about it. And then there’s Starfront: Collision HD.
To say that Starfront: Collision HD resemblesStarcraft is like saying that the consequences of Earth suddenly falling out of its orbit and plunging directly into the sun would be “bothersome.” But derivative doesn’t necessarily equal bad, and while Starfront is a bit short on originality it makes up for it in execution, offering what Paul Devlin, of Pocket Gamer, calls “a generous, well-paced and satisfying strategy experience.” There are 20 single-player missions in the main campaign, a customizable skirmish mode, and online multiplayer for up to four simultaneous players. The game has also been praised for its effective control scheme, something that is often a sore point for mobile gamers in genres that require precise input – a group that definitely includes real-time strategy games.
One of my first contacts with the genre was trying to play the original Command and Conquer with a game pad on the original PlayStation, so I know about these things all too well.
The long-running military strategy franchise for PCs finally makes its mobile debut with this turn-based spinoff. It doesn’t actually have all that much in common with its desktop-based forebears, as was inevitable when translating a complex strategy game that can track thousands of individual combatants in real-time battles into a format that can be played on a phone. Nevertheless, this didn’t stop it from being acclaimed as Hardcore Droid’s Strategy Game of the Year, no small distinction in the face of competition like Anomaly: Korea.
Hardcore Droid’s own Travis Fahs “called it “a smart game that will tax the mind of an experienced player,” so if you’re away from your computer when you’re jonesing for some Sengoku Era Japanese military strategy this could be just the thing,