You're probably wondering where the promised Windows Phone 7 coverage is, right? The problem is partly that the games are too damned good. We figured that, rather than slip a couple into this week's roundup, we'd save them up and review all the best launch offerings in one go, providing a definitive guide to the gaming on the platform. [Kristan WILL do this next week. -Ed.]
On the plus side, it means that we've had a chance to take a look at some rather tempting new titles elsewhere – the best being the iPad-only Jubeat Plus, a Japanese 'Bemani' rhythm action arcade game that the West saw only very briefly last year.
The rest include some rather tasty puzzle games, such as the gorgeous Ancient Frog, which is a very welcome new addition to Android, and another iPad exclusive, Spirits, which gives Apple fans yet another reason to feel happy about their slab.
- iPad - Free (Japan-only, song packs 450 yen each)
Anyone lucky enough to stumble into a Japanese arcade over the past couple of years can't have failed to notice the shiny Jubeat machines standing imperiously in the corners. It became a personal obsession of friend of Eurogamer Keza MacDonald, so its arrival on the iPad in the past week is likely to elicit the kind of excitement usually reserved for an impending zombie apocalypse.
As you might imagine, Jubeat is absolutely tailor-made for the iPad, and the touch-based J-Pop rhythm action nonsense translates beautifully. As ever, the task at hand is to simply tap each pad as it lights up on the 4x4 grid, and try and time your touch so that it's perfectly in sync with the frantic, twitching light show.
The tricky part is when the game demands that you touch two or more pads at the same time; you'll feel like some sort of futuristic conductor as you contort your rhythmic digits to the exacting whims of the lights.
Wicked Konami hasn't got around to releasing Jubeat outside of Japan yet – but don't despair. Setting up a Japanese iTunes account is extremely simple and because the basic game is free, you won't need to worry about sourcing iTunes gift cards unless you're desperate to download the various four-song packs available.
But the likelihood is that once you've sampled the three bundled songs, you'll want more. The options at the moment are to sit and patiently hope that Konami produces a version for the West, or buy some Japanese iTunes gift cards. I know what I'd do.
- iPhone - £0.59
Whenever there's a snack gap, Twix fits. That's all very well if you're a bored call centre drone trying to quell the rising rumbles while it's pissing down with rain on a Wednesday, but try telling that to a gigantic slavering invertebrate with an appetite for a little more than chocolatey goodness.
In this case, passing pedestrians, low flying choppers, wandering camels and curious UFOs are more the kind of dish that Mr Death Worm has in mind, and it's your job to usher them into his gaping maw without getting shot, bombed and generally obliterated to death.
Being something of a brute, you're blessed with the useful ability to tunnel in and out of the earth on a whim, and leap into the air like a salmon, plucking your unsuspecting prey en route to the level's kill target. The fast-paced carnage and slick, responsive controls make you realise why Playcreek's one-time indie smash has been so well regarded. It's instantly playable nonsense that grabs you the first time you play.
The question is whether you'll feel the burning need to come back for more once you've cleared a few levels. The simple upgrade system makes you bigger, more resilient and faster, but there's only so long its simple, twisting, turning formula can keep you amused before the urge to move on kicks in. Mercifully, the price is right, but don't expect much more than a quick fix.
- iPad - £0.59
There must have been something in the air (tonight) in the early eighties, but every other pop star wanted to run away. We had Running In The Night (Lionel Ritchie), Run Run Away (Slade), I Ran (A Flock Of Seagulls), Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush), and Run To The Hills (Iron Maiden). Throw in Jump by Van Halen and you have the perfect soundtrack to this brutally minimalist piece of platforming survival torment.
Sadly, I doubt YoYo Games could get the licensing clearance for a 59p iPhone game, so you'll have to do your best to warble your own renditions as you run away from the nasty red wall of death chasing after you.
Mounting the procession of obstacles that spiral forever towards you becomes an increasingly tricky prospect thanks to Maddening's one-hit-kill policy, coupled with the fact that you're expected to hop your way through each level with a single life.
At first, such fearsome expectations are part of its appeal – until, half a dozen levels in, you literally hit a wall. Such unremitting violence against the player is fine when you've got the kind of instant command a game like this demands, but you're not quite so full of calm forgiveness when laggy touch-screen controls hinder your progress.
What starts out with such promise eventually becomes an exercise in tolerance. With some semblance of balance, this could evolve into a stylish platforming diversion, but right now all you're left with is high blood pressure.
- Android - £1.69
- iPad - £2.99
- iPhone - £2.39 (LE version free)
Tasty snack or slimy little buggers? I suppose that depends how French you are, but when it comes to Ancient Workshop's marvellously moreish sliver of a game, you'll have absolutely no problem stroking frogs' hindquarters in the name of snack-based fun.
The object of this twisted helping of puzzling is to ensure that our green chum can reach his fly-based lunch. Imagine Frogger on ketamine and you're somewhere close.
The solution seems obvious enough to my tired man-brain: crawl gently across that leaf, lash out that long sticky tongue of yours and munch away. But perhaps Froggy McFrog fancies a challenge today: the challenge of reaching his prize by only stepping on the nearby water droplets.
In this amphibian equivalent of avoiding the cracks in the pavement, you have to make sure he takes the smallest number of steps to his tasty snacklet. To do so, you must individually manipulate each limb; detaching and reattaching it to a droplet that's within range. As the game is happy to point out, he's not made of rubber. More's the pity.
Simultaneously brain-frying and fiendishly satisfying, Ancient Frog is another puzzle revelation. And with 100 beautifully presented levels to unpick, it's a keeper.
Spirits for iPad
- iPad - £2.99
With Sony happy to park the bus on the Lemmings IP for the duration, it's no great surprise to find developers still tinkering around with this enduring gameplay formula.
Spaces Of Play's adorable iPad exclusive flicks a furtive glance at DMA's 1991 classic as it tasks players with ensuring that a set number of hammer-headed spirits are granted safe passage to the 'swirl'.
Negotiating the yawning chasms and deadly spike pits requires you to, for example, grow vines or dig down before adding wind to blow the procession of spirits across to the next area of the level. Sometimes you need to utilise a spirit to block the wind, but once deployed, they can't reach the exit themselves, so careful use of resources becomes essential to meet the strict targets across all 40 absorbing levels.
Broken down into its base mechanics, Spirits probably doesn't sound especially exciting, but in practice, its charming hand-drawn aesthetic and calming pace make it a perfect game to unwind to on a lazy Sunday.