Greetings gamers and true believers and welcome to the latest edition of Android Community's Level Up!, where we bring you the latest and greatest games and news that have come across our radars for the past few days. In this round, we're doing something a bit different for a change. We're bringing you not just what's new, but also what's hot, or alternatively, what's not. Presenting our selection of the 5 top games for March 2015, starting with number 5.
5. Angry Birds Stella POP! (Free, IAP)
Rovio really knows how to milk a franchise and its not yet running out of ideas just yet. Putting its newest heroine and her gang to the task, Angry Birds Stella POP!, which is still a mouthful to say, puts the pig popping, slingshot pulling action in another perspective. Literally. Instead of the conventional side view of previous Angry Birds games, POP! turns it around to the front. Popping pigs is the same in principle, as you will need to pop the structure on which they sit. Or stand. This time, however, they sit/stand on colored bubbles that you can only pop using a similar colored bubble from your "bubble quiver". But don't think it would be too easy, as you will need to have at least 3 of the same colored bubbles to get a pop. It's like a Threes game, just with brightly colored spheres and annoying green swine.
Angry Birds Stella POP! is free, but, as you might have guessed, riddled with in-app purchases.
4. Five Nights at Freddy's 3 ($3.99)
OK, we're probably kicking ourselves in the posterior for this, but this game is so darn freaky that it's so good. The ghastly animatronics are back to test your resolve. Though they have seemingly "died" in the last game (yes, there are 2 other freakishly nightmarish prequels), that isn't stopping them from haunting your days. Or nights rather. Why you would want to still work at a theme park designed in the likeness and image of your nightmares is beyond comprehension, but here you are, once again trying to make a living, ironically among the animatronic dead. So better get that popcorn ready for some night time ghost hunting. At least before they start hunting you.
Though there's a free demo to try, you do have to pay $3.99 for the full experience of Five Nights at Freddy's 3, which, when you think about it, is like paying someone just to scare you, hopefully not to death.
3. X-Men: Days of Future Past ($3.99, IAP)
Comic books are fond of reboots, resets, and repeats, and some of them might not sit well with more seasoned fans who have developed some form of attachment to the older version. If you are one of those who were taken aback by the latest X-Men film "re-imagining" then this game might be to your liking. If you actually liked the film, then, well, X-Men: Days of Future Past will introduce you to how it really happened. Set not within the film's storyline but in the original world of the comic book, the game gives access to more familiar names in the mutant roster, including Cyclops, Colossus, Shadowcat, and the soon to be very popular Scarlet Witch. The game itself even feels like a throwback to the old X-Men arcade games, taking the form of a side-scrolling action platformer. As for controls, well, we've grown to accept the realities of mobile gaming. At least the game offers you an option between virtual buttons or swipe gestures. Along with power ups for each mutant, the game also teases fans with hidden pieces of the comic's history, including character bios, comic book covers, and even concept art.
X-Men: Days of Future Past does cost $3.99, but happily it doesn't have any other purchases hidden inside along with the secret treasures.
2. Final Fantasy Record Keeper (Free, IAP)
All your favorite Final Fantasy characters and scenes all rolled into one in your smartphone. What's not to love? Maybe the pixelated renditions of said characters, but some will take Cloud, Tifa, Squall, Rinoa, Lightning, and the rest of the gang in whatever form they take, as long as they can bring them along in their pockets or bags. In Record Keeper, a kingdom that keeps safe the chronicles of heroism throughout the Final Fantasy universe has been besieged and the paintings that held these records mysteriously vanished. Now it's up to you, the new hero, to bring back those paintings. How else than by actually reliving those now iconic moments and battling the villains that were vanquished. Worry not, as you will not do it alone, as the very same heroes who defeated them will be at your beck and call. Final Fantasy Record Keeper has everything you might have loved in the classic FF games, with an engaging and mysterious plot, memorable soundtrack, and yes, even the 8-bit goodness of the good old days.
Best of all, unlike the other Final Fantasy ports to mobile, Final Fantasy Record Keeper comes free of charge. There is, of course, IAPs, but that might be a price some will be willing to pay.
1. Dungeon Hunter 5 (Free, IAP)
Gameloft has done it again. Another Dungeon Hunter installment, another hit game. The highly popular action RPG comes swinging away again on Android, but this time there is a little twist. As with many mobile games these days, there is both a single player and multi-player element to DH5. But the multi-player part takes on a slightly different form. Players can now create their own strongholds, keeping their treasures and protecting them with summoned minions. Other players, of course, can take stab at getting their hands on those. Players attacking another player's lair will have to go through all the obstacles laid before them before finally facing the dungeon master himself or herself, who is another player, of course. And there's more to DH5 than that. The story itself is quite changed, turning the player not into a hero but into a sword for hire. The game also introduces an element system that you can use to your advantage against enemies that are weak against a certain type. Gameloft also boasts that the graphics engine for this fifth installment has been revamped to take advantage of the latest in mobile technology.
Dungeon Hunter 5, like its predecessors, is free to claim but do beware of the hidden traps of in-app merchandise.
(Dis)Honorable: Stormblades (Free, IAP)
There are just some games that try to hype you up and build expectation, only to fall short of the promise and disappoint .Stormblades, who could have easily taken a spot in our top 5 but instead falls almost flat on its face. Poised to be an Infinity Blade for Android, the game does deliver on the graphics, somewhat, and the swipes and counter-swipes of the popular iOS title. The endless runner aspect injects a tinge of novelty to the game as well. But from there, everything else goes south. The lack of a notable storyline, the buggy double tap to evade implementation, and the highly repetitive gameplay makes Stormblades look less like Infinity Blade and more like Temple Run, with pit stops for slashing baddies. Good thing the game is only free to try, then.
And that's it for our Top 5 edition of Level Up! Tune in next time as we bring you more news and views on the latest in the Android gaming world. Be sure to check out the rest of our Gaming coverage for other noteworthy bits and pieces, like new games, updates, and on-going sales and bundles. Until next time, keep those thumbs warm!