The Futureheads would have you believe that Christmas was better in the eighties. Not if you were into videogames, it wasn't.
Most of those glorious 1980s were spent listening to the terrifying, otherworldly screeching of a ZX Spectrum performing its interminable loading routine. You'd sit there patiently, hoping against hope that the dreaded "R Tape Loading Error" wouldn't appear or that your brother hadn't hidden your Lenslok down the back of the sofa as retribution for stealing the last purple Quality Street.
Nowadays, we get the likes of Epic's Infinity Blade (reviewed tomorrow) just casually tossed into our laps for half the price of what games routinely cost a quarter of a century ago. Or, better still, completely cracked goodness like Corpse Craft and Silverfish for less than the price of a posh packet of crisps.
In summary, my dear Futureheads, you can keep your 1980s. You've never had it so good.
- iPhone - £1.19
Don't let the indignity of having to control the vilest of slithery house-wreckers put you off. This latest twist to Geometry Wars 2's Pacifism mode brings more than enough score-chasing fun to make you forget about dealing with that lurking infestation under your sink.
Developer Chaotic Box has three variants on the theme for you to chew on; Reaper tasks you with leading your foes a merry dance around the environment, and then repeatedly smacking into bombs to smash them into little green chunks of death.
As you collect these green proton shards, your POW meter slowly tops up, and once it's full you're able to turn the tables for a brief period, Pac-Man style. Smack into any of your enemies, however, and you'll lose a smidgen of POW. Once you run out, it's game over.
Scavenger mode, meanwhile, makes it a tad harder to earn POW points because your enemies ignore you and just swish about the screen in orderly rows. Not so in Onslaught mode. Enemies chase you relentlessly like they do in the Reaper mode, but this time you have to rely on good old-fashioned lives, rather than your POW bar. Three hits and you're out, so it pays to have a full command of the game's exacting movement system.
The swipe-based controls are where many are divided on Slilverfish's otherwise undoubted merits. On an iPhone or iPod touch you're always obscuring a portion of the screen whenever you move, and can find yourself swiping headlong into trouble at a moment's notice. And while it fares much better on the iPad, the need to switch into 2x mode means you're also likely to, at some point, accidentally switch it back mid-game. Fury.
When Chaotic Box produces a unified binary for iPad users, this will be an essential app, but right now it feels like an excellent game held back by some minor design quirks.
- iPhone, iPad (universal app) - £0.59
Having a face only a mother could love is perfectly fine when you're edible and shaped like a slice of toast. It might even make you a hero, if it allows you to spare an improbable cast of muffins, cups of coffee and fellow breadheads from being abducted by aliens.
Who needs plotting when you're in charge of a bug-eyed dude who can run around the surface of a planet several times a second? Thanks to the magic of touch-screen play, Simogo has come up with an utterly charming load of nonsense that involves little more than spinning yourself around a sphere, rescuing your tasty friends and avoiding the abductor beam of a nearby UFO.
Two modes of play help keep Kosmo Spin interesting for more than the regulation 10 minutes that 59p games are supposed to last. The first takes the form of a simple score attack and challenges you with collecting as much tat as possible without being abducted, while the quest mode goes for a structured run of 36 challenges, such as heading a ball ten times in a row or avoiding UFO abduction for a set period of time.
Simple, beautifully illustrated and packed with addictive lunacy, you should give this a spin immediately.
- iPad - Free, full game costs £2.59 in-app
This one-time darling of the Flash gaming scene finds itself in rude health in the lavish new surroundings of expensive touch-screen gadgets.
If, like me, you completely missed this a couple of years back, you might find the idea of an RTS-puzzle hybrid about as appealing as a meat feast ice cream with dog hair sprinkles. But don't worry. As developer Three Rings says: mayhem, drama, English accents and zombies await. Only a fool would resist.
It goes a bit like this: you need to continually prod a grid of puzzle blocks to generate the funds to create units. Every time you remove blocks of three or more, you're quids in. From there, you have to roll out your army of undead warriors in the hope that it's enough to break down your enemies' defensive barrier and expose their feeble hut HQ.
But all-out attack proves fairly useless in the long run, and you'll quickly discover that you have to balance things out a bit and put your multi-limbed blockers in the way. It ramps up rather gradually, introducing all manner of units and regaling you with a curious tale in a distinctly Edward Gorey style.
And just when you've started to really enjoy it, you're politely informed that you have to cough up a few quid to access the rest. Fair enough. Anything that's this determined to be unhinged is thoroughly deserving of our loose change.
- Android - £1.88 (Six-level Lite version - Free)
There are many interpretations of the word 'squibble'; my favourite is definitely too unsavoury to repeat here. And yet none of them have anything to do with MassHabit's quirky 2D platformer.
Unusual for being genuinely exclusive to Android (for the moment), it tells the touching tale of one octopus' journey home. Distinctly disadvantaged by his inability to walk, Squibble (for it is he) must latch onto the environment around him and haul ass to the nearest exit while keeping out of the way of nearby hazards and inconsiderate patrolling sentries.
Despite Squibble having eight tentacles, you're only given control of two of them, so you have to manage his movements accordingly, grabbing hold of platforms and walls by touching the point you want to attach to. As an added bonus, you can also twang him into the air before grabbing a nearby platform to halt your descent. You have the option of hoovering up all the collectibles en route and glowing with pride when you reach the exit with 100 per cent.
But while it's all very intuitive and giddily enjoyable in the early stages, you might find, as I did, that the viewpoint is a little too zoomed-in to be able to judge where you're flinging Squibble most of the time. Maybe that's the point, but once the levels become more hazard-strewn and challenging, the red mist starts to descend as you wrestle with the control system. And you wouldn't want that, would you, Mr. expensive HTC handset?
- £0.59 - iPhone
- £1.59 - iPad
Gaijin Entertainment's blood-strewn tale of one man's journey into intense dizziness is the kind of crazed, half-cocked nonsense that people feel compelled to ask you about on buses.
For reasons probably not worth going into on a Monday lunchtime, the knight Richard has been sent forth by King Wilhelm to look for the Holy Grail, but it appears that the entire world has decided to mash him into a bloody pulp. Medieval Smash TV it is, then!
With slaughter firmly on your mind, you spend most of your time swishing a big old mace around by spinning your finger in RSI-inducing circles. When annoying gits start spamming you with magic attacks from afar, you can hold one finger down and shoot them with arrows from the other.
Enemies drop lots of loot for you to dutifully snaffle, and since this is an RPG-flavoured game, you can then use all of that old tat to level yourself up and go out and buy new weapons of extreme justice.
Braveheart is completely mindless yet absorbing, repetitive hack-and-slash fun. Looks great, won't change the world, simple as the Beckhams, but what the hell: absolutely no buyer's remorse – guaranteed!