In the past several years, app stores have grown to include a virtually limitless range of games. This is a great development for gamers, who can now find pretty much any means they want of entertaining themselves with mobile devices. However, the sheer size of the selection also makes it easy to overlook some great experiences.
I wanted to take a look back at some terrific games that may have been missed, particularly those based on popular movies. When a major release such as the latest Marvel superhero film comes out, an accompanying mobile game is often front and center, featured at the app store menu. But a lot of very enjoyable games based on good films don’t get this kind of positioning. Below are five of the best, some of which you may never have noticed before.
It’s a little bit shocking how little attention this app garnered. Released to coincide more or less with Furious 7 in theaters, it’s a celebration of the entire film franchise than anything else. Perhaps it’s because games like Sony’s DriveClub have finally taken racing games to extraordinary heights on consoles, or because there are just so many alternative options in the genre on mobile devices. But Kabam’s Fast & Furious: Legacy is well worth a look. Consisting of customization options, the chance to build a “crew” and compete with other players, and a satisfying selection of film-based missions and racing locations, it’s really got everything a fan could want.
Originally designed in 2012, this game actually precedes the latest addition to the franchise, 2015’s Jurassic World. That film actually produced its own somewhat similar app game that was characterized by Gaming Lives as a decent but unremarkable freemium experience. But there’s something that just works about Jurassic Park Builder, which is based on the earlier films. In this app, it’s up to you to design the park from scratch, developing new areas, discovering and growing new dinosaurs, and creating experiences for park visitors. There are social and multiplayer elements at play, but constructing the park is the core of the game.
I, Gladiator doesn’t clearly invoke the image of a particular film, but it does claim to be based on gladiator movies—and that means Gladiator, the definitive film on the subject. Incidentally, that 2000 movie never made much of a splash in gaming, though there’s a slot game based on its subject matter that’s available at some websites. Described by Gambling.com as a game that “broke the mold” for its genre, this slot populated its reel and background with official imagery and even music from the film. But for a more action-packed experience, I, Gladiator is the closest thing we have to a combat game based on the same movie—and it’s a very satisfying one. Designed as a first/third person (it’s truly almost in between) slasher, it puts you in the arena with a gladiator you can gradually improve as you fend off new opponents. The gameplay and graphics are wonderful.
Like I, Gladiator, this game isn’t based on a specific movie so much as a general canon. If I, Gladiator is for all gladiator films (which again, mostly means Gladiator), then Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is for not just all Star Wars films, but also the animated projects and literature to accompany the series. It’s essentially its own experience within the world of Star Wars, but regardless it’s arguably the best mobile game related to that world. Technically set between episodes III and IV of the series, the game puts you in the role of a secret apprentice to Darth Vader in a quest to hunt down Jedi. It’s a fun way to embrace the dark side, and it’s a beautifully designed game.
As mentioned, major superhero releases are often among those movies that have accompanying app games featured on main menus, or at least advertised prominently in one way or another. It’s been true for a lot of releases, though this game for Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seemed to fly under the radar a little bit. Perhaps it was because there was a console game by the same name (which IGN dismissed, more or less). The app, meanwhile, is one of the more complete and impressive open-world action experiences you can find for mobile devices. Playing through a story loosely based on the film, you can pretty much do all the fun Spider-Man things you’d like to do, taking down anonymous thugs and famous villains alike, and all in a very sharply rendered world.