It would be really nice if we could reliably pick an interesting game from each download platform every week, but sometimes you just have to get what you're given.
This week is a pretty good example, with nothing worthy of full investigation on most of the major download avenues. Maybe it's just part of the traditional summer lull, with some key games being held back. Or maybe it's just how the chips landed. Whatever the reason, we had a steaming pile to waft away from your delicate senses, resulting in this rather Apple-skewed selection.
Part of it, though, was simply down to timing, with lovely little offerings like The Incident and Monster Dash being far too good to ignore. And when someone recommended that we check out Leave Home on the Xbox Indie channel, there was no way we'd pass up on the chance to recommend one of the most creative and interesting games on the entire service.
- Xbox Live Indie Games / 80 Microsoft Points (£0.64)
The cool kids probably realise that this came out ages ago, but hey, sometimes being behind the curve can be hip too. Just ask Huey Lewis.
The great man also observed that the power of love is a curious thing, and he'd doubtlessly also predict that Leave Home could make one man weep, and another man sing. That, you see, is because it's a twitch shooter, involving no small amount of improbable hand-eye co-ordination.
But unlike all the other downright mean-spirited shooters that gifted types tend to get all frothy about, Leave Home understands that we can't all play by sense of smell. It cunningly caters for cack-handed sausage-fingered idiots who couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo.
Playable for five minutes, Leave Home works on the basis of anger, and the assumption that the more you kill, the more psyched and angry you get, and turns up the heat accordingly. If you die, you carry on, but the game dials things down again, building up momentum the longer you stay alive, and the more you shoot.
It also has a tendency to flit between short chunks of gameplay, wrenching you out of one section and dumping you into another, seemingly without warning. Play it again, and different outcomes emerge, encouraging replay and inspiring great intrigue.
With its disturbingly frazzled intro and mangled retro aesthetic, this is a glorious trip into one man's fractured imagination. Any game that can legitimately boast metaphorical explosions should leave Minter spraying lentils over his keyboard with jealousy.
- iPhone / £0.59
There was a time when it was enough just to jump (jump!) for our love. A running man. A single frantic, obsessive task. One giant leap for handheld gaming accessibility. But enough about Canabalt.
Or perhaps not.
Halfbrick has come to the - not unreasonable - conclusion that there's a little bit more you can do with AdamAtomic's absurdly addictive microgame.
For a start, you can throw in monsters and give the player something else to avoid. And then you can give the player the ability to take down those monsters with guns. Finally, you can give the player health, so they can live to fight another day.
As you'd expect from the makers of the ludicrously successful Fruit Ninja, you know what to do the second you pick the game up. Whether you can force yourself to put the damned thing down is another matter. It's that kind of game.
Once again, the ultimate aim is to run for as long as possible, and to spice things up you get whisked into a different time zone every 1000 metres, giving you the chance to shoot and stomp vampires, mummies, zombies and demons for no other reason than they deserve it.
It's stupid. It's simple. You probably won't want to bother playing something so absurdly shallow. And, hours later, you might just be able to convince yourself that you've got something better to do.
- iPhone & iPad (universal binary) / £0.59
Jumping may not quite qualify as a noble art, but it sure is a popular source of demented platform inspiration this week.
This time we don't merely have to focus our leaping on the horizontal plane, but the vertical too, as Big Bucket takes improbable glee from raining incessant death upon our person from above.
You might imagine cats and dogs - or even fish - falling from the sky, but you'd be comprehensively incorrect. In The Incident, we must guide a man - let's call him Barry - to safety by nimbly avoiding cars, tubas and comfortable office chairs as they cascade from above.
What's going on above remains to be seen, and it's your job to continually scale the ever-growing pile of junk until you reach the source of The Incident. It's like Lost, the platform game, without The Dharma Initiative or stupid bloody polar bears.
Set over seven beautiful retro-style levels, half the fun of The Incident is in seeing what craziness can be thrown your way next while humming along to the giddy chiptune. Tutankhamen you say? How kind. A rusty spanner and a New York taxi? You shouldn't have.
Perhaps it's God and Brucey up there having a barney on The Generation Game's conveyor belt. You should probably find out.
Widget's Odyssey 2
- PSN Minis (PS3 & PSP) / £3.49
Splitting a free Flash game into two parts and then charging people for each is either a sign of misplaced confidence, or a bit dim. At the very least, it's a little on the cheeky side, but that's exactly what Frima has decided to do with its 2007 hit, Widget's Odyssey.
You probably wouldn't mind paying for the convenience of being able to play a charming little platform puzzler. Indeed, I didn't mind the first one, mainly because the puzzle design was challenging and fun, but most of this second helping is inexcusably shonky.
As before, the idea is to guide various lovably hapless robots across hazardous environments and gather up bits of machinery. Being a bit rubbish, these metallic lumps can't really do much more than bound around or kick limply. For a while, that's all part of the game's appeal.
But when you find yourself constantly messing up routine jump manoeuvres because of vindictive collision detection, the whole thing becomes aggravating - a war of attrition against poorly designed controls. Aside from that, the puzzles just aren't that interesting the second time around, and it all feels like a routine exercise.
All of this comes as a minor let-down after the promise of the first portion, and all you're left with is a few delightful cut-scenes and mild irritation to show for your £3.49. Next.
Air Attack HD
- iPad & iPhone / £0.59
Sometimes it's boring if you just focus exclusively on the cream of the crop in a download roundup, right? Now and again, you see a game like Air Attack riding high at the top of the Paid App charts and wonder why the buying public have spontaneously gone mental about something - other than the fact that it's dirt cheap.
Perhaps it's the exciting prospect of seeing a decent vertical shooter on the glorious iPad screen for the first time that inspired everyone to slap down their cash. For 59p, it's the perfect no-risk purchase.
In this case, you get what you pay for, though. While there's no denying that the enhanced HD version really brings the richly detailed backdrops to life, it doesn't mask the fact that it's a deeply average shooter when judged on its own merits.
Essentially a mashup of every mid-eighties top-down shooter you've ever played, it serves as a wistful trip down memory lane to a time when games like Xevious and 1942 were considered cutting-edge. Despite offering slick touch-screen controls and intuitive precision, Air Attack doesn't deign to spoil the party and challenge too hard, offering a procession of undemanding levels to pass the time.
With no real attempt to be anything other than a tribute to that fondly remembered era, Air Attack is the kind of game you'll happily run through a few times before adding it to the pile of cheap apps you'll never use again. Job done.