Give people what they want and they'll only want more of it. At least, that's the trend that appears to be emerging when it comes to the weekly Download Roundup.
Already onto the 21st edition, we've covered more than a hundred games already. We've also looked at the best iPad launch titles, the Game Room launch and the best ports. You asked us for an Android special and we obliged. We even did full reviews of download titles like like Limbo and Castlevania, and unexpected indie gems like Ancient Trader.
But it's not enough, is it?
It's inevitable that many interesting games fall through the cracks, such is the sheer velocity of the download market. We're also aware that some of you would prefer we split phone games away from other downloadable titles so more valid comparisons between similarly priced titles could be made. What do you think? What would you like to see more or less of? Let us know. In the meantime...
Dracula: The Path Of The Dragon - Part 1
- iPad (£2.39)
- iPhone (£0.59)
Anyone who has spent as much time poring over every dog-eared adventure game as I have over the years will understand the disproportionate excitement generated by overlooked gems. Ooh, Dracula. I don't know you. You might be good.
But, of course, you're not. If you were even half-decent, you would have already been leaped upon by the screaming throng of adventure gaming guardians out there. Instead, you're the sort of game only discovered by performing a cavity search of the ludicrously overpopulated App Store.
The prospect of vampire hunting and grisly encounters is appealing. However, you play not as Van Helsing but one Father Arno Moriani as he trudges soberly around the permagloom of a Transylvanian village, chatting to locals and uncovering shenanigans.
Despite looking like a forgotten PC relic from ten years ago, Dracular: TPOTD offers a surprisingly enjoyable couple of hours - especially if you're playing the HD version recently ported to iPad. The plot's overblown bobbins and the voice acting is as wooden as a forest, but there's a sliver of satisfaction to be gained from plodding through the storyline. Especially if you've spent decades patiently putting up with below-par adventures anyway.
One thing worth defending is the 360 degree engine. When granted the freedom to nose around each location by sweeping your finger across the scene, it's possible to become oddly intimate with the gameworld. The tactile puzzles aren't terrible either.
For pennies, you really can't go wrong. Just don't expect too much, and you might just find Dracula satisfying in an endearingly low-budget sort of way.
Note: Parts 2 and 3 also available. Part 2 costs £1.19 on iPhone and £2.39 on iPad. Part 3 costs £1.19 on iPhone and £3.49 on iPad.
Flick Kick Football
- iPhone (£0.59)
Not that it ever really went away, but the never-ending football's back everyone! Time to get needlessly aggressive. Time to question the parentage of officials as your team of overpaid prima donnas conspires to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Time to shake your head at the amount you pay for the privilege of this endless cycle of suffering. Time for your partner to leave you to your unfathomable misery.
Or, you could just give up on the beautiful game and celebrate by spending 59 pence on a game that is more fun than watching actual rubbish football.
The premise of PikPok's latest couldn't be simpler. Presented with a free kick opportunity, you have to boot the ball into the back of the net, beyond the despairing dive of the keeper. As the title helpfully suggests, doing so involves little more than flicking the ball to its destination with Beckham-esque precision using the digit of your choice.
You can add a little curve to the shot by adding a bit of bend as you sweep, or aim for risky Skill Shots. The nearer the crossbar or post, the more 'skilful' your shot is deemed, with an extra life awarded for your pains. Fluff the shot wide or hit a player, though, and one is chalked off for your profligacy.
With three subtle game mode variations to shoot for, the objective is always the same: hit ball, score goal, celebrate wildly.
If you're looking for a game that will end your Angry Birds obsession, hit Flick Kick Football up. It could well be your new favourite waste of time.
Platformance: Castle Pain
- Xbox Live Indie Games
- 80 Microsoft Points (£0.64)
Bloody princesses. Always getting kidnapped and locked up in castles. Why can't they learn kung-fu or carry mace or something?
Ungrateful types, too. After being mercilessly butchered, roasted, and generally eviscerated 125 times on the way to rescuing the fair maiden in Castle Pain, her only comment was, "Could you possibly die less next time?" Harrumph.
Of course, though, dying frequently is all part of the fun of Magiko Gaming's mean-spirited slice of 8bit-styled platforming punishment. Deadly insta-death traps litter Castle Pain, ranging from nasty spikes and flaming blasts to spinning blade windmills of extreme prejudice.
It all looks so innocent, too. That is until you get obliterated by the same trap 36 times. But practice makes perfect, and eventually you learn ways and means of slipping past these brutal implements of death without literally losing your head. Fortunately, the regularly interspersed checkpoints help maintain your sanity, while the presence of four difficulty levels makes it possible for even complete losers like me to rescue sulky, sultry ladies.
Whether you can speed run it and claim a gold medal is a different matter. Part with a paltry 80 Microsoft Points and boast about it to us later.
Link 'n' Launch
- 500 DSiWare Points (£4.50)
Not since the lairy, hairy days of 16 kilobyte Ultimate Play The Game classic Jetpac has refuelling a rocket been such a pleasurably diverting prospect.
Intelligent Systems' latest stab at the download market is a puzzle game crafted out of such an idea, challenging you to shift pipe tiles around a play area to connect the rocket to the fuel supply.
Essentially a neat riff on Pipemania, the gameplay comes in two distinct flavours. In the chin-stroking Puzzle mode, you have to connect the fuel pipe to the rocket in the fewest number of moves, with bonus points not awarded for whistling the Minder theme tunelessly as you go.
It's all hands to the pumps in Mission mode, mind, with a strict three-minute time limit forcing you to get your act together as you aim to fire your rocket up to a distant destination.
The already tricky process of connecting pipes together is made more challenging by virtue of the fact you can only move a pipe tile around the edge of adjoining one. And if that wasn't enough of a headache, you can't rotate each pipe manually. If you're as hapless as me, flipping it the right way around again is often more luck than judgment.
But despite sounding infuriatingly complicated, Link 'n' Launch very quickly gets under your skin. The only problem is it's a bit lightweight. With just 10 missions and 100 pretty simple puzzles to barrel through, you're soon left wanting more.
- £6.99 (Steam), free demo available.
Another week, another neatly crafted match-three indie block puzzler. You could set your watch by them. This time, Arcen Games invites us to wash away our sins with the power of the waves. Not an unreasonable suggestion.
Despite the rather innocent-looking screenshots, Tidalis is actually one deceptively deep little mofo, requiring a menacing number of tutorial levels and a fair bit of trial and error practice before you can even begin to unravel its intricacies.
On a basic level, the idea is to set off chain reactions so that same-coloured tiles get caught up in the 'tide' and, er, presumably wash out to sea or something tenuous.
The main thing to worry about is which direction each tile is pointing, because once you activate it (by clicking on it) that colour 'stream' flows three squares away. If it touches another tile of the same colour, then the chain reaction continues until all possibilities are exhausted. It's all very logical and satisfying.
Which flavour you like, though, is up to you. Although it boasts an alarming 20 game modes, two distinct gameplay types emerge: fixed 'Brainteaser' puzzles that require you to remove all the tiles on the board in a set number of moves, alongside a falling-block style where you have to work fast to stop any column reaching the top.
Once you wade into it, Tidalis is a charmingly lo-fi package that positively drowns you in content. At the very least, check out the demo before you splash out. [Hope you enjoyed this final download roundup, readers - dep ed.]