The best thing about the mobile gaming scene right now is never quite being sure of what to expect. With no budget for big marketing campaigns (or even PRs to alert us to their existence, most of the time), some of the very best games turn up fully formed, unannounced, unheralded.
Working out whether a game is even good enough to bother looking at becomes something of a dark art, where you're forced to judge based on the name, the quality of the icon and, eventually, the screenshots. Once you've gone as far as that, you might even bother to read the developer's description, and see what the public at large think of it.
And yet some developers don't seem to have the first clue of how to sell their own product, with tiny descriptions, often useless screenshots (that don't even present the game in its best light) and a website link that tells you even less, or doesn't give you a means of contacting them for coverage.
Occasionally out of all this chaos you can find something genuinely astonishing. Like UFO On Tape, probably one of the most brilliant uses of technology I've ever seen. Sure, there's sod all to it, but as a demonstration of an idea, it reaffirms the feeling that this is currently the most vibrant sector of the games industry.
UFO On Tape
- iPhone / £0.59 (Native iPad support coming soon)
How inconvenient that UFOs have gone all shy on us ever since the entire Western world started carrying cameraphones about its person. It's as if they can tell.
If they really were out there, nosing around the urban sprawl, the results would be something along the lines of Revolutionary Concepts' breathtakingly original point-and-shoot app.
Set inside the confines of a moving car, UFO On Tape's idea is to simply train your shaky cam lens on the distant flying saucer for as long as you can by moving your handset. But with the jerky movements of the alien craft to account for, and the added confusion of the car's window frame, keeping the UFO consistently in the viewfinder is a lot harder than it looks.
The addictive time-attack nature of the gameplay allied to the wonderfully fluid and realistic controls make UFO On Tape a unique gaming proposition. (Just don't bother trying to play it using the accelerometer if you have an iPhone 4 – it's one of the best uses of that model's gyroscope yet.)
Throw in the superb photorealistic visuals and the panic-inducing commentary of the excitable female passenger, and you've got one of the most instantly enjoyable games around. A few more scenarios wouldn't have gone amiss, but for the price, this is unmissable.