We’re smack-dab in the middle of summer, so you might be considering a road trip with family or friends.
Along with snacks, good tunes and perhaps spare change for toll booths, don’t forget there are some awesome mobile games to help passengers pass the time between cities (or while lounging in a hotel room).
Played on smartphones and tablets, these digital diversions can also help reduce the “Are we there yet?” from the backseat.
Here’s a look at a few recommended downloads for both iOS and Android (unless otherwise specified). Be aware all these games are free, but most support optional in-app purchases to unlock additional content or to remove ads (or both).
Halloween may be months away, but you’ll no doubt fall for the charm of PlaySide’s "Ghost Pop!," a hauntingly fun game about staying alive as long as you can.
Easy to pick up but hard to put down, you’ll navigate down a spooky road and confront various ghosts in your path. Armed only with a flashlight, you’ll aim the beam in their direction to pop them. You’ll need to twist your body around to ensure you get every single one. If they touch you, it’s game over.
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"Ghost Pop!" offers unlockable protagonists, larger boss battles to tackle and coins that can be exchanged for power-ups.
It’s super fun – and can be played with just one hand.
'Looney Tunes World of Mayhem'
Think the Tasmanian Devil can take on Foghorn Leghorn? Is Bugs Bunny stronger than Marvin the Martian? Or what about pitting longtime enemies Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote against each other?
You can find out which cartoon character reigns supreme in "Looney Tunes World of Mayhem," a turn-based multiplayer role-playing game (RPG) from Scopely.
Players create a dream team of animated fighters, challenge others and then use a variety of over-the-top weapons ripped from Saturday morning cartoons – including falling anvils, ray guns, runaway trains, and, of course, ACME-branded dynamite – to inflict as much damage as possible on the opposing team.
There's a surprising amount of depth. Players can unlock more than 100 characters (each can also be upgraded), build their own “Toon Towns,” find crates full of goodies, and play a mode called Arena that lets you compete in round-robin competitions for rewards.
'LEGO Hidden Side'
LEGO’s new Graveyard Mystery playset ($29.99) fuses brick-building fun with the magic of augmented reality.
The 335-piece buildable LEGO model works with the optional "LEGO Hidden Side" app for smartphones or tablets. Once downloaded and installed, the app triggers your device’s camera. Point it at the playset, and it seemingly comes alive. You’ll see animations on the statue and tombstones, ghosts to collect, games to play and mysteries to solve.
You can even walk around the Graveyard Mystery playset to discover hidden items superimposed on top of the physical toy – when viewed through your device’s camera lens.
LEGO says the app (which does not offer in-app purchases) will enjoy continuous updates. Graveyard Mystery is the first of eight AR-supported Hidden Side playsets.
'Mr. Bean Solitaire Adventures'
Available exclusively for Android (for now), Pointvoucher Studio’s "Mr. Bean Solitaire Adventures" stars an animated Mr. Bean – the hapless character played by U.K. comedian and actor Rowan Atkinson – in a solitaire card game that’s easy to learn, even for younger players.
In fact, it’s reminiscent of other mobile solitaire games (like Big Fish Games’ Fairway Solitaire) – where you must tap a card that’s one higher or lower than the card you’ve flipped, such as placing an 8 or 10 on a 9. This game, however, also adds a silly story about Mr. Bean accidentally arriving in the U.S., and traveling from New York to other cities like Honolulu, San Francisco and New Orleans.
Along with hundreds of levels, the game lets you earn Bean Bucks and stars, unlock virtual prizes, use special power-ups and bonus cards, and more.
The only downside to the game is its constant nagging to sign up for a Pointvoucher account to save game progress and play on multiple devices (the game remembers your progress, anyway).
Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast at www.marcsaltzman.com.
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