Mobile games are fun, simple and accessible, but that doesn't mean they are lightweight or insignificant. They have the ability to bend time and make commutes bearable; they transform idle moments into thrilling distractions. In a new series, CVG celebrates the most impressive examples of this exciting new wave of games.
Click through the link to find our full list of the best mobile games.
Best iPhone games: Tiny Wings
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Tiny Wings' picture book aesthetic masks its true form as an unforgiving game of acute, precise timing. Its undulating hills are procedurally-generated, and mistakes are punished with lost momentum and a tortuous uphill slog.
Games are about victory and defeat, but here we don't get game overs, we have a setting sun. Another game is another day. Its look somehow negates any potential frustrations, the watery art style recalling The Hungry Caterpillar, The Jolly Postman and Peter Rabbit. Tiny Wings' outlines are crisper and the colours are more vibrant, but even the set-up feels like a familiar kids' parable. It's the tale of a bird who dreams of flying, but can't - the underdog you instantly sympathise with.
The childhood theme is, for me, weirdly appropriate to the game's mechanics, too. Sometimes, on long car journeys, I used to trace an imaginary line along the top of the landscape whizzing by. It created an undulating course for some pretend character to run along, and they would take flight at the top of the peaks and dive down into its troughs, gaining greater and greater momentum.
Tiny Wings is that idle childhood daydream on your iPhone. Hold down on the screen and your tiny wings retract, perfect for divebombing into downslopes. Release from the screen as you climb up the other side and it sends you skyward, sometimes right off the top of the screen. Skimming across peaks, darting down into Tiny Wings' dips and catapulting out of them is, for small spaces of play, gratifying in the extreme. A celebratory high jump and a squawk of delight announces the arrival of each new island.
Get Tiny Wings' unusual rhythm right, and you can chain together consecutive perfect landings and leaps to reach panic-inducing speeds, bumpier sets of islands and ever higher scores. But as you inevitably clatter into more and more of the slopes, your time runs out and the sun sets. There's always another day.
Anyone already familiar with Tiny Wings' charms should still revisit it for the update, which adds the more videogame-y new mode, Flight School. It turns Tiny Wings into a race, has stages to progress through, and extra springs and water hazards on each course. On iPad, Tiny Wings HD adds a multiplayer mode, splitting the screen so that two players can play against each other. Plus on a larger, crisper screen Tiny Wings' gentle beauty shines even brighter.
Tiny Wings is an oddly poignant picture book based on one simple, captivating game mechanic. They combine beautifully in a game rightly considered an App Store classic.
Tiny Wings is £0.69 on the App Store. Download it here.
Tiny Wings HD is £1.99 on the App Store. Download it here.