When Activision's Bobby Kotick comes out and says that his company doesn't view the App Store as a big opportunity for dedicated games, that's by no means a bad thing.
Looking at the company's rather meagre mobile output in recent times, it hasn't exactly covered itself in glory – but then neither have many of its traditional publishing rivals. The problem for many of the bigger publishers seems to be a reluctance to design games around the hardware, instead producing ill-suited, cut-down versions of their hits at prices that don't sit well with the average mobile gamer.
The fact that nearly all of the exciting, interesting mobile games released over the past few years have emerged from creative and dynamic independents suggests that it's a market best left to those nimble enough to work around its limitations. It's not as if anyone's exactly pining for a shonky iOS version of Shred or Blood Stone, is it?
- iPhone - £1.79
- iPad - £2.99
If the guardians of our collective moral conscience are going to whine on about how dangerously addictive games are, for the love of god never show them Flick Golf.
One swish of your imaginary golf club, and it's immediately clear that Full Fat's admirable stab at golf is going to be every bit as compulsive as PikPok's near-legendary Flick Kick Football.
Rather than purely rely on your initial strokeplay to determine the quality of your shot, the game allows you a hilarious degree of aftertouch control once the ball's in the air. With wind buffeting your drive, you'll frantically swipe the screen to counteract the forces of nature in the blind hope that you'll get the ball to land within the scoring zone.
The closer to the pin you get, the more you'll score. Simple. But to keep things interesting, a host of other factors influence your score, such as how much bend and power you put on the shot. For example, if you wind up for a gigantic shot, and then make the shot curve ludicrously, you'll score far more points than if you opt for simple precision.
Trying to top the required points tallies to unlock courses requires a fair bit of improbable play, and whether you'll enjoy that probably depends on your sense of humour.
Me? I found Flick Golf brilliantly stupid; as a representation of badly dressed men hitting balls with skinny sticks, it's completely terrible, but despite its nonsensical mechanics it's impossible to put down.
- Windows Phone 7 - £3.99
- Bejeweled 2 + Blitz available for iOS platforms for £0.59
Either we're all getting really old, or someone just put the calendar on fast forward. Apparently it's nearly ten years since PopCap first unleashed Bejeweled on an unsuspecting world. And to celebrate, the beautiful Seattleites have delivered a LIVE-enabled version of its match-three puzzle classic to the shiny happy world of Windows Phone 7.
As with all things WP7, it's alarmingly overpriced, but don't let that put you off trying to scoop another 200 Gamerscore points: this is, after all, an essential puzzle game. If you've never played it (in which case, ?!?!?!), it utterly debunks the theory of three being a crowd. Here, threesomes, foursomes or moresomes are deemed socially beneficial, as you slide gems one space in any direction in order to create a chain.
This is a somewhat stripped-down version, featuring three modes: Classic, Action and Endless. Classic is the tetchy teacher of the bunch, sending you out of the class as soon as there are no longer any moves; Action tests you against the clock with an ever-depleting bar; while Endless mode comes over all peace and love, allowing you to play for as long as you can stomach.
Online leaderboards and achievements add a smidgen of added value to the perennial favourite, but this might be one to pick up later on when some sort of pricing sanity check comes to WP7.
Must. Eat. Birds
- Android - £0.59
- Also available on iPhone - £0.59
If you're going to mercilessly suicide-bomb pigkind by the million, it's only fair to expect proportional retribution. Step forward the Nomster, a professional space hopper and consumer of perpetrators of injustice.
Your job is to launch the balloon-faced assassin into the air and guard your picnic from the greedy beaks homing in on it. But with only a limited number of Nomsters available to launch, you have to meet your targets with a dead-eyed aim and with hate in your heart. Tough work on a Monday lunchtime, but just you wait until you next get stuck on a freezing train to nowhere.
Blessed with the awesome ability to eat each other, Nomsters' dimensions can be swiftly inflated by catching them on the way down, and then you can bounce around the sky consuming the avian onslaught in one fell swoop.
Despite sporting a relatively miserly 18 levels, Must. Eat. Birds. is more of a time-sink than you'll give it credit for, and its four score-based challenge levels promise to keep you coming back for more.
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1 to 4
- iPhone - £2.99
- iPad - £2.99
Has there ever been a bad LEGO Whatever game? It doesn't seem to matter how many times Traveller's Tales twists the simple formula, it always seems to work a treat.
For its first attempt at squeezing one onto iOS systems, Warners has taken the not-unreasonable decision to port the DS version and release it at about one sixth of the price. At first glance, it's a smart move, with that trademark aesthetic translating well whether you play it on iPhone or iPad.
But being a direct DS conversion, it suffers from watering the gameplay down into a basic approximation of the original. Seemingly designed to appeal specifically to younger gamers, the game prods you along for what seems like an eternity before it deigns to take off the training wheels.
As pleasantly undemanding as it is to trawl through the Potter yarn picking up studs and utilising touch-screen spells, the inevitability of the whole experience robs it of a sense of purpose.
Mobile games always work best when they're simple and refined, but LEGO Harry Potter's debut on iOS feels flabby and unfocused.
Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit
- iPhone - £2.99
With rare exception, mobile racing games feel more like showboating tech demos than genuinely entertaining handheld diversions. That's certainly been the case for EA up until now, but Hot Pursuit sees the publishing behemoth finally doing justice to its properties.
As with many driving games, Hot Pursuit does the accelerating for you (if you let it), leaving you free to focus on steering, boosting and dishing out spike traps, EMP blasts and road blocks.
It's a ploy that works reasonably well, and the 24-event series of races, takedown challenges and checkpoint events is a decent approximation of Criterion's masterful reboot, presenting a surprisingly stiff challenge.
It's also comfortably one of the best-looking arcade racing games released in the mobile realm, with impressively detailed backdrops and a rock-solid frame rate designed to make you feel glad you went bananas and bought that iPhone 4.
Less creditable is the decision to focus on the cops vs. racers side of the game during the campaign rather than allow you to switch between the two. While you can't really moan at the price, it still feels like half the game it could have been.