Courtesy Halfbrick Studios

After a couple days of heavy stuff, I thought I’d lighten things up with a few mini-reviews of some of the best mobile games I’ve played lately. Here’s my take on three games available on both iOS devices and Androids.

Ghost Trick

I know that there are a lot of Capcom games out there that may give the impression that they don’t know how to tell stories. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is not one of them. Developed for the DS as well as smart phones and tablets, and under the direction of Shu Takumi of the Ace Attorney games, Ghost Trick introduces us to Sissel, a detective who finds himself the victim of a murder. Death is not the end, as Sissel and we discover, but before he can uncover the nature of his untimely demise, he witnesses another murder and finds he has the power to avert it. He teams up with the woman he rescues to get to the bottom of the situation, and maybe get his memories back as well.

The dichotomy of the worlds of the living and the dead yields unique puzzle mechanics. In the living world, times moves at its normal pace, but Sissel can manipulate objects. In the ghost world, Sissel can move himself but not other things, while time stands still. You can also rewind time back to a checkpoint, or 4 minutes before the impending murder if you mess something up. This intuitive system combined with an interesting story, fluid animations, and quirky characters makes Ghost Trick a rather immersive experience for a mobile device, and while only the first episode is free, I highly recommend checking it out.

Assassin’s Creed: Recollection

This game is, in a nutshell, a real-time Magic the Gathering game in the Assassin’s Creed universe. I admit, I have not played a great deal of it. While I do like Magic, and dig the Assassin’s Creed games, putting them together along with a constantly ticking clock and the unfortunate over-arching presence of a freemium model and U-Play feels like a hodgepodge meant to grab cash.

It’s not a bad game, despite its trappings. The territory is divided into three between you and your opponent, and you deploy allies and resources to defend and build up your side and increase your income. Every time day turns to night (a minute of in-game time), combat resolves, cash is collected, and new cards are drawn. I could see it working, but unlike the other games, I find myself disinclined to make the necessary investment to do well in it. Spending real-life money on digital cards has always felt off to me. It’s why I don’t play Magic Online.

Yet I’ve spent real-life money on digital skins for champions in League of Legends. I never said my mind was always entirely logical.

Jetpack Joyride

This little number comes to us from Halfbrick, creators of the very simple and satisfying Fruit Ninja, and holds to those tenets. The premise is the simple part: Your name is Barry Steakfries, and you steal a jetpack. The game consists of alternating between running and jet-packing down a long hallway, gradually building up speed, avoiding obstacles, and grabbing power-ups. If you’ve ever played one of those Flash games on the Internet that has you fling something to achieve maximum distance or one of the many “cave flyer” games out there, you’ll find Jetpack Joyride similar, but far easier to grasp and a great deal more satisfying.

Featuring a rather tongue-in-cheek presentation, a kickass soundtrack, and a true free-to-play model that does not require you to spend a dime on it, Jetpack Joyride does everything a mobile game needs to do in order to be memorable, fun, and habit-forming. With shout-outs to Angry Birds and (if I’m not mistaken) VVVVVV, Halfbrick has stuffed the game with appeal, surprises, and a lightness of tone that makes it undeniable. I seriously love this game. You have no excuse not to download it.