If you're one of the many who's only just joining the smartphone party, it might strike you as rather odd that it's such a monumental pain to find out what the best games are.
From the handset itself, the focus is nearly always on the new releases and the perennial best-sellers. There's barely any means of finding out about the games you missed – even ones only a few weeks old. Trying to get any daylight among this lot is practically impossible.
With that in mind, you might imagine the handset and OS makers would be more invested in making an intuitive hub or web-based marketplace to make it easy to browse from your computer, but they're a complete mess. Windows Phone 7 has only been out for a matter of weeks, and already it's overflowing. Browsing the iTunes App Store is like unpicking a Gordian knot, and the less said about the hateful Android Market the better.
Just as well we're here to spare you the pain, then...
- iPad - £2.39
While you sit in Costbucks browsing the interwebs with one hand and trying not to spill Gingerbread Latte down your pink cardigan with the other, you wonder aloud why no-one has bothered to make an iPad app that's part spatial-action puzzler and part interactive stringed instrument.
Well wonder no more, because Zach Gage has just the thing to fill the gaping void in your otherwise perfectly balanced modern life. Think of Halcyon as a world of would-be lovers yet to meet, only those lovers are coloured arrows travelling along the tracks of life.
As they travel inexorably along their predetermined paths, it's your job to point the finger of fate at them, and ensure that they meet the partner of their dreams, fall in love, have children and spend the rest of their lives despairing at the never-ending spiral of debt.
In other words, as the arrows converge from the sides of the screen, you have to swiftly create pairs by drawing a line to the track you wish the arrow to move to. Success only brings more colour-matching fun, though, and as you do so, the 'strings' procedurally create a calming sonic swamp.
Halcyon might well ask that you untangle the currents of the wind, land, sea and air, but it's as vicious and unpredictable as a Friday evening jog across Victoria Station concourse.
Mushihimesama Bug Panic
- iPhone - £2.99
The latest in a long line of snappily titled shooters from bullet hell-hounds Cave takes a rather different direction than you might expect.
Opting for twin-stick frolics this time around, you must guide a mysterious girl named Reco around forests and deserts and bring 'peace' back to the insect kingdom. Being a Cave title, it's perhaps no surprise to find that her idea of conflict resolution involves bombing them all to back to hell. To be fair, I'd do exactly the same.
Although dispatching the insect army is an initially straightforward process, the promised Bug Panic of Mushihimesama duly arrives nine or ten levels in, with scores of buzzing foes determined to exact revenge for their fallen comrades. But with its surprisingly slick twin-stick implementation, you're well-equipped to deal precise blasts with a steered charged shot, while also dodging the curtain of enemy fire sent in your general direction.
Although very different from the Japanese veteran's usual ferocious output, Mushihimesama soon grows into the kind of exacting, gleefully sadistic experience you expect from this lot. Then again, if you've ever seen the kind of hellish insects the Japanese have to deal with, it's hardly surprising they want to wage war against their kind with explosives.
- Windows Phone 7 - £2.49
If by 'butterfly' they mean 'short-lived', then Press Start certainly sums up the brief-but-beautiful life of a fluttering Lepidoptera.
Tasked with bringing all the flowers to bloom, you must nimbly guide the fragile insect around the colourfully rendered environment in the quickest possible time, dodging the voracious predators that line up to pluck you from the air.
But underneath its seductive visuals and soothing premise lies a poorly optimised exercise in casual gaming. Levels demand a pixel-perfect precision that the choppy performance doesn't quite offer, and directing your hapless butterfly away from the jaws of hungry fauna, fish and frogs is never quite as smooth and instant as the gameplay requires.
Despite that, the game's forgiving nature ensures that you'll still rip through each of the 80 levels in a matter of seconds, and probably three-star eight of the ten environments on your first attempt.
You'll scoop a few cheap achievements for your Xbox Live profile, but that's probably the only reason you'll feel compelled to see this pleasant but ultimately vacuous diversion through to its conclusion.
- iPad - £1.79
- Also available on iPhone (£0.59) and PSN Minis (£1.74)
"Lemmings in the style of LittleBigPlanet" was Dan's astute assessment of Honeyslug's whimsical gem when it emerged on Minis just over a year ago.
Now available in tempting touch-screen format in glorious HD, this 50-level puzzler makes perfect sense on iOS, with much of your attention focused on sliding and swapping tiles as you try to guide your wandering plasticine podge-monster to a nearby exit.
Every environment is awash with deadly spike traps and wandering cardboard-munching sentries, and getting the creature to its destination involves plenty of timed deployment of spring pads and trap doors to usher it to safety. As an optional secondary objective, you can also try to figure out how to reach the cake, tantalisingly placed elsewhere in the level.
But the star of the show is undoubtedly the Pegbeast, who delivers a spirited song between each level to explain the challenges that await. Just don't tell him to shut up, unless you really enjoy crushing the feelings of a sentient being into the dust. We all know what happened to HAL...
- Android - £1.28
- Also available on iPhone (£0.59), iPad (£1.19) and Flash (free).
A warped blend of top-down shooter and turn-based strategy, Rapid Development delights in twisting the tired and obvious into an enticing new shape with this one-time Flash game.
Now available on Android, the goal of Steambirds is to rule the skies by steering your steam-powered aircraft into position turn-by-turn, and unleashing your firepower accordingly.
In what comes across as the anti-Flight Control, each plane under your control has an arrow that you have to drag into position, with limited control every turn over the specific direction, speed and distance. The trick is to try and anticipate the flight path of your foe, get them in your sights and rake them with fire.
Although it only features 20 levels, it's one of those games you'll spend ages with repeatedly trying to craft a perfect four-star run by dodging enemy fire and bringing down your enemies with maximum efficiency. Far more fun than it reasonably ought to be, Steambirds is the kind of game whistling was invented for.