It's safe to say that we're currently in the "hydrogen oxide" era of BlackBerry World. It’s a week since the platform launched, and there are a lot of apps in the new BlackBerry 10 store – but many of them are weird, often Chinese-language clones of popular apps and games. Top developers have pledged allegiance to BlackBerry 10, but so far there's no "Where's My Water" quite yet – it's more like "Where's My Hydrogen Oxide." (And no, that isn't in the store either).
Here's a list of games you can't download from BlackBerry World as of the end of January, but that you'll be able to in the future: The Sims, Tetris, Bejeweled 2, NOVA 3, Real Soccer 2013, Asphalt 7: Heat, Jetpack Joyride, Where's My Water?, Galaxy On Fire, Fruit Ninja, and Sonic 4 Episode 1. That's only a fraction of the list, of course, and the future looks promising.
But what about right now? The BlackBerry Z10 came out last week, and if you picked one up, you’ll want to know what games you can enjoy today, not tomorrow. So to that end, we downloaded a whole bunch of games from BlackBerry World and discarded the ones that were jerky, stuttery, or just plain bad, with the aim of finding 10 games that are absolutely worth downloading on your Z10 today.
They include a huge RPG, a shoot-'em-up, a strategy war game, and a triplet of “match-three” games that I packed into one entry on this list (yes, a slight cheat). Interestingly, fewer of them are free apps than I'd expect to see on a similar list for Android – BlackBerry World seems to have a larger percentage of paid apps. (I think it's really important to pay for apps, though).
We're looking forward to more apps coming to this platform, but here are some great games which you can get going with right now…
An adrenaline-packed shoot-‘em-up, Alpha Zero combines post-Galaga space shooter gameplay with some cut-scenes thrown in to give it a skeletal plot. The thrill, of course, is in zooming your ship around the screen while shooting at hordes of flying enemies with multi-touch. The lasers fly fast and furious, with the only real hitch being how your fingers can sometimes cover key elements of the screen while you're playing.
Angry Birds Star Wars “enhances” Angry Birds with Star Wars-themed playfields, cut-scenes, and birds, but it's the same bird-flinging physics gameplay that we're all familiar with by now. However, you can bag it for your Z10 for free, and given that, you’d be plain space crazy not to partake of some avian-lobbing action.
As rich as Warren Buffet and as deep as the Marianas Trench, the Bard's Tale is an epic 1.5GB download. This is a port of the Android game, make no mistake, but what a game! You get not only all three classic Bard's Tale games from the 80s (running in an Apple IIGS emulator), but also a modern 2013 swords-and-humour adventure as well, full of celebrity character voices and smooth 3D gameplay.
Early BlackBerry 10 games aren't all Android ports. Some of them are Flash games! Billy's Hill is a little casual game where you collect fireflies to pollinate a tree and feed a hungry monster. This effort is mostly distinguished by two positive factors: Firstly, it isn't a clone of anything else out there, and secondly, the art style is completely adorable. Gameplay is simple: Drag your little balloon around the sky to catch the fireflies and drop them off at the tree. You can check out more adorable art at http://www.unclehandsalt.com.
Everybody loves to match three, right? It doesn't matter much exactly what you’re matching. Rubicon's Fruit Blitz looks to be the best basic match-three game in the market right now, with the board consisting of cuddly fruits which merge, explode, and occasionally turn into wild cards. There's a multiplayer competitive mode, too. While most of the match-three games currently in the World are poorly-programmed Android ports from developers with limited English skills, Fruit Blitz has the professional sheen which marks a game that's fun to play. If you're into match-three, also take a look at Azkend (£2) and Dragon Portals (£2), which offer major innovations on the basic match-three concept.
This cartoonish turn-based military strategy game got rave reviews when it came out on iOS and Android, with IGN saying "the value is downright ridiculous" and MacLife saying it has "deep, addictive gameplay." Sold! The BlackBerry 10 version seems to be a pretty direct port of the Android version (albeit without any annoying Androidy dialog boxes or menu buttons), so all the gameplay is intact, including a very long main battle campaign and asynchronous online multiplayer mode.
I've become a little bit addicted to this weird combination of combat, strategy, and gambling. Popular on other platforms for years, Robotek lets you battle hordes of evil robots using a combat system which works like a slot machine. It's very easy to play and takes no reflexes at all, but there's some actual depth to this game – different units have different abilities and you can accumulate experience points, level up, and find sneaky ways around a very busy map of conflicts. Robotek looks and works great on my BlackBerry Z10.
Sparkle is a rather more aggressive version of the popular mobile game Bonsai Blast, where you shoot coloured beads at a marching line of other coloured beads, trying to match groups of beads so they disappear and don't make it to the end of their path (alternatively, you may be familiar with this concept as Zuma's Revenge). Sparkle has a dark, quasi-Druidic theme rather than Bonsai Blast's cheerful Asian look, but the gameplay is pretty much the same. Music and graphics are both very smooth on the Z10.
A peaceful, pleasant puzzle game, the popular Quell challenges you to push a raindrop around the screen with your finger to collect little gems in a limited number of moves. Quell has a pleasant pastel palette and soothing music, and graphics on the BlackBerry Z10 were smooth as you like.
BlackBerry 10 has a perfect port of this quirky puzzle game, where you build bridges and other structures with sentient balls of goo so they can get sucked into pipes. World of Goo has won a ton of awards and has an extensive Wikipedia page detailing its bizarre plot. My six-year-old loves this game and has at times asked us to "pretend to be goo balls" when we're on our way to school, which mostly consists of having conversations about the landscape and what structures we'll build.