Given the huge surge in popularity of the Android handsets, it's surprising how poorly organised the Android Market really is. Sometimes you wish there was even a tiny bit of quality control to allow you to filter out the endless detritus from the odd decent game battling it out for recognition.
Simple things would make all the difference, like making sure that the 'Just In' picks were a list of everything worth checking out, as opposed to a long list of crap interspersed with a few gems. People are fond of knocking Apple for its closed system, but at least it seems to be able to filter out the worthless dregs. Would that be so hard for the organisers of the Android Market? Or is this a price of having a free market without compromises?
With so many of you out there checking out the Android scene, tips of interesting new titles are always welcome. There's so little publicity given to 99.9 per cent of all these releases, so the good stuff needs all the help it can get.
- Android / $1.99
- iPhone / Ł1.79
In the murky den of infinite sin that is the Android Market, the appearance of a celebrated iOS title sometimes warrants a ticker tape parade. This is one such occasion.
Ported with loving care by Gray Fin Studio, supermono's side-scrolling blaster puts you in control of an improbably nimble aircraft and tasks you with knocking everything out of the sky.
It's based on a joyously responsive and smooth rotational control system where you slide your thumb around the left corner of the screen to steer the plane, gunning everything down in sight, including flocks of seagulls, ducks and wiggling UFOs. They probably had it coming to them.
Set to the strains of Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaichovsky, the fun in MiniSquadron comes from how fluid it feels to play. There's an immediacy of control that hooks you in, and a resolutely stern, frantic test that never strays into the bowels of bullet hell frustration.
Every bit as polished as the original, MiniSquadron is another sure sign of Android hitting its stride, and easily one of the best titles available right now.
- iPhone / Ł2.99
Offering all the satisfaction of flossing with overcooked spaghetti, FIFA 11 provides an object lesson in how not to make a football title for mobile platforms.
For starters, the frame-rate is astonishingly poor for a game that boasts "visual excellence made to maximise the stunning Retina Display". Perhaps inspired by FIFA 97 running on a 486, angular players wheeze out of the tunnel like Gazza after a fraught night with Jimmy Five Bellies, and proceed to trudge around with all the urgency of geriatric ravers entering the K-hole.
To compound EA Romania's horror show, the gameplay is bad enough to make even Liverpool fans look on the bright side. As usual, trying to shoehorn joypad controls onto a touch-screen offers the worst of both worlds: fist gnawing imprecision and tiresome inflexibility.
Trying to craft simple build-up play feels bizarre, with opposing defenders content to amble alongside you. Wading through the treacle-slow action, you'll have plenty of time to ponder on the creative cul-de-sac of attempting to bring the full footy console experience to the iPhone. It hasn't worked before and still doesn't work. Make it stop.
Meanwhile, Eurogamer editor Tom Bramwell has had to check into the gaming rehab clinic after losing 18 hours to FlickKick Football. (High score: 676.)