Not too long ago, if you asked us to list our most anticipated Android games, it would have been a list of last year’s iPhone hits. Now the ‘droid has a slew of timely ports and even some exclusives. It seems like whether you’re gaming on PC or on the go, this is the year of adventure games and old-school RPGs, thanks in no small part to Kickstarter. The crowd-funding service has meant gamers are getting the games they want on the platforms they way, and now we even have two new Android consoles – the OUYA and GameStick – thanks to the service.
Riptide GP 2: The original Riptide GP was a nearly flawless blend of Wave Race and WipeOut that put indie developer Vector Unit high on our list of teams to watch. The sequel, slated for this summer, looks to give the already gorgeous racer a graphical overhaul, while keeping the same awesome water physics that made the first so unique and addictive.
Dead Trigger 2: There’s little denying that the original Dead Trigger is one of the very best first-person shooters on Android, and the sequel is going to be bigger and better in every way. The first game was addictive for its bite-sized missions, but it suffered from heavy repetition of levels and mission types. Dead Trigger 2 is going to add bigger levels, more complex missions, and giant, terrifying boss fights to take the action to the next level.
Tex Murphy – Project Fedora: For more than a decade, the Tex Murphy series remained one of gaming’s worst unresolved cliffhangers. Trapped in perpetual limbo due to IP rights or lack of financing, the innovative series of 3D adventure games has been in exile for almost 15 years. Now, thanks to Kickstarter, the original creators are hoping to bring it back with the most ambitious adventure in the series yet; the original sequel to The Pandora Directive that the developers had hoped to make, but never could. Whether it’s on PC or the announced Android tablet port, we couldn’t be more excited.
Shadowrun Returns: Long-suffering Tex Murphy fans earn no sympathy from Shadowrun devotees, who have been waiting for a new RPG since the series’ Sega Genesis entry in 1994. After a failed re-launch as a first-person shooter in 1997, the property is back in the hands of its original creator, and reborn as an isometric tactical-RPG that stays true to the series’ pen-and-paper roots.
Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded: After some truly miserable attempts to by misguided publishers to modernize the bawdy adventure series, Larry is once again safe and sound in the hands of series creator Al Lowe. Larry Laffer’s new life begins with an extensive overhaul of his original 1987 adventure game – itself a tongue-in-cheek spoof of the earlier Soft Porn Adventure. This isn’t just a graphical touch-up, though. Al and company have re-designed the game’s puzzles and expanded the story with a fourth girl for the hapless Larry to seduce. If all goes well, Reloaded should be arriving in mere weeks.
Broken Age: Double Fine’s high-profile Kickstarter not only propelled the lovable independent studio into the spotlight, it changed the gaming landscape. Now the pressure is on for Double Fine to deliver a game that not only delivers on their promises, but shoulders an entire movement of crowd-funded games. With an ever-swelling budget well in excess of its original $3.5 million, the 2D adventure game oozes production value, with beautiful hand-painted graphics and some impressive lighting effects. Ultimately, though, it’s the writing that will make or break the title, and Broken Age couldn’t be in better hands.
Phoenix Wright Trilogy: If ever there was a series made for smartphones, it’s Phoenix Wright. Already out in Japanese, we’re eagerly awaiting the English release of the newly repackaged adventures of everyone’s favorite lawyer (Really, that’s not a tough contest). Combining the spiffed-up hi-res art of the PC and Wii versions with the touch screen interface that worked so well on the Nintendo DS, these new releases have the potential to be the best yet. It’s the perfect way to get ready for the new 3DS sequel later this year.
Final Fantasy: This is a big year for the classic Japanese RPG series on Android, with treatments of three of the series’ best games all coming to Android. First there’s a fairly direct port of Final Fantasy Tactics, the seminal strategy-RPG that introduced many to the genre. Next we have Final Fantasy IV, an enhanced port of the remake that first appeared on Nintendo DS. With 3D graphics like the earlier Final Fantasy III treatment, it’s should be the best-looking mobile game the series has seen. Lastly, we have an all-new 2D remake of Final Fantasy V, remembered fondly for its deep job system, and often cited by fans as the best of the classic 2D series.
Frozen Synapse: Frozen Synapse was a surprise sleeper hit when it arrived on PC two years ago, and its unique blend of turn-based tactical combat and minimalistic graphics seems like the perfect fit for tablets. Borrowing a page from Introversion Software, developer Mode 7 proves that less can be more with a game that is both simple and deep, with a stark visual style that still manages to be distinctive.
Soul Fjord: The mere fact that Airtight Games and Portal designer Kim Swift are working for our beloved Android OS seems like reason enough for excitement. Soul Fjord is a cartoon action-adventure game that blends Norse mythology with ‘70s blaxploitation, and hopefully packs some of the same humor that made Portal and Quantum Conundrum so amusing. For now, Soul Fjord remains OUYA-exclusive, but we remain hopeful for a wider release.