Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Given that the Philippines is one of the most popular destinations for business process outsourcing, it’s not a cause of wonder that there should be a considerable number of local developers who would be making mobile games for international publishers like Rovio and Bulkypix. And then there are the noble few who opt to develop and publish games all by themselves, under their own names. As a result, some of your favorite games may have been developed, either partly or completely, by Filipinos, and you may not even know it.
In the list below, CNN Philippines Life highlights five world-class mobile games that have been made largely, if not entirely, by Pinoy developers.
Brave Frontier by Gumi
Brave Frontier is created by the Southeast Asian subsidiary of the Japanese game developer Gumi, which includes a group of Filipino coders working out of a satellite studio in Pasig City. Reminiscent of Square Enix’s Valkyrie Profile and Final Fantasy games, Brave Frontier fuses the charm of Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) of yore and the challenge put forth by gameplay mechanics established in the more recent past. In it, players have to summon and evolve heroes and beasts to save an otherwise peaceful land under siege from an evil god’s armies. It’s been three years since Brave Frontier was launched, but it remains one of the most played JRPGs on mobile.
Juice Cubes by Pocket PlayLab
One of the myriad of games that popped up in the wake of the success of King’s Candy Crush Saga, Juice Cubes is a colorful and zestful progressive level-based match-three puzzler that has fruit cubes instead of confectioneries. It was one of the first games released through Rovio Stars, a third-party publishing program launched in 2013 by Rovio, the Finnish entertainment company behind the Angry Birds phenomenon. Juice Cubes turns out to have all along been developed by the Manila-based Anino Games, which was acquired by Pocket PlayLab in 2014.
Kill the Plumber by Keybol
Billed as an “anti-platformer,” Kill the Plumber is a clever sendup of platforming tropes and, in particular, of Super Mario, Nintendo’s seminal series of platform video games starring the titular pipe repairer and crosser. In this “reverse” puzzle platformer, the enemies and bosses are the playable characters, and they must be controlled so as to, as per the game’s name, kill the plumber. Winner of the Excellence in Design prize at last year’s Independent Games Festival in China, among other international game industry awards, Kill the Plumber is developed by the one-man team of Bari Silvestre, aka Keybol, who is also behind the Duterte-themed Rody Fight and the minimalist puzzle platformer Pretentious Game published by Bulkypix.
Pictoword by Kooapps
A picture is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes. But with Pictoword, it’s enough that you figure out the correct word associated with each picture. Pictoword is a simple yet addictive rebus game that has you “reading” pictures and combining what you’ve “read” to solve word puzzles. For example, when you see a picture of sand followed by a picture of a witch, you get “sandwich.” Or when you see a bee and a bottle of gin, you get “begin.” Pictoword is created by Kooapps, a Seattle-based studio with a branch of Filipino developers in Makati City.
Super Awesome Quest by Boomzap
It’s rather bold of a studio to promise something “super awesome,” but that’s exactly what has been done by Boomzap, a Singapore-based studio employing a number of Filipino developers, with Super Awesome Quest. This visually dazzling game mixes elements of role-playing, turn-based card combat, and even Minesweeper-like tile-flipping to deliver a virtual adventure that hinges on strategy and cunning. Prior to its launch in July 2015, Super Awesome Quest was a finalist for best game art, best sound design, and game of the year at the Philippine Game Festival in 2014.