Happy New Year folks! So what can we expect from mobile gaming in 2011? Judging by the endless rumours circulating at the back end of last year, it looks like it's going to be the year that Sony finally enters the market in some form.
Of course, Apple will hardly be resting on its laurels, and we can expect the rumour mill to go into overdrive as the release of the second-gen iPad draws closer. And then, a matter of weeks after that, attention will inevitably focus on the iPhone 5, alongside the inevitable evolution of the various Android handsets.
Speaking of Android, the real issue for gamers isn't so much the quality of the handsets or even the OS, but the usability of the (currently) shoddy Marketplace. Sort that out and the Android's position will only improve.
Elsewhere, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform has undoubted potential to compete but you suspect that gamers' interest would rise enormously if Microsoft had a rethink on the pricing strategy for the games.
This week, though, all thoughts turn firmly to a very welcome conversion of World of Goo, one of the best independent games ever made. If ever a game was made to justify buying an iPad, this is it.
World of Goo
- iPad - £5.99
For more than two years, the world has been a decidedly better place for having 2D Boy's peerless piece of physics-puzzle brilliance in it.
You might recall Jon Blyth getting all excited about the PC release, only for John Walker to trump that excitement just a few weeks later, slathering upon it a manner of praise generally reserved for deities.
Now that I've been given no way of improving upon Mr Walker's 10/10, allow me to break with tradition and award Eurogamer's first ever 11/10 [no Ed], because somehow those ludicrously talented San Franciscans have gone and made it better than it was already.
In truth, the game itself hasn't changed a jot. You still have to build large wobbling structures made entirely out of goo. You still have to painstakingly attach each blob to one or more other blobs, and try to fashion a path to a nearby pipe. You're still trying to get as many blobs to the exit pipe in the least number of moves.
What's changed, of course, is the input method. Whereas before you were dragging and dropping blobs with a mouse cursor, or pointing the Wii remote, the iPad feels utterly tailor-made for the task at hand.
Afforded the ability to drag and drop the blobs with your fingertips, there's a satisfying degree of instant precision available to you, which allows you to make the kind of fine adjustments that make the hair's-breadth difference between success and failure.
The rest you probably know about already: the fantastic visuals, the cracked humour, the five contrasting chapters that keep you transfixed right to the end. If a better game ever comes to the iPad, you might well spontaneously combust.
- Windows Phone 7 - £2.49
Cog-based spatial puzzle games aren't exactly breaking news in the mobile scene, but don't let that put you off this absorbing remake of an iPhone super-hit called Geared.
Presumably renamed (and reskinned) to create the illusion of WP7 exclusivity, the idea, once again, is to drag and drop a series of cogs from your inventory so that they meet the spinning gear and eventually complete the 'machine'.
Just as it was on iPhone, its instant accessibility and deceptively challenging level design makes it horribly addictive, especially once you get drawn into scooping gold medals by trying to complete each level within the minimum number of moves and the smallest possible amount of time.
Being a WP7 version, there are added Xbox Live Achievements, yet another reason to drag yourself back for more punishment. Then again, 75 levels probably sounds like plenty, but bear in mind that Geared features double that and is less than a quarter of the price.
Leaving the stupid price to one side, Revolution is a fine addition to the WP7's puzzle line-up. If you've got the option though, you should definitely check out Geared (and its new sequel) beforehand.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
- iPhone - £3.99
- iPad - £5.99
When games like World of Goo demonstrate how perfect touch-screen controls can be, it brings a little bit of sunshine to the world. But then another similarly brilliant offering like Guardian of Light comes along and does the exact opposite.
Upon its celebrated release back in the summer, Keza MacDonald correctly enthused about the "heart-racing moments" in Crystal Dynamics' download-only Lara Croft adventure. On a joypad, it was one of the most unexpected highlights of 2010 especially in co-op.
But despite both the iPhone and iPad conversions being visually impressive, both become horribly fiddly and frustrating to play whenever the game requires any kind of shooting or jumping accuracy.
With an unwieldy array of virtual joysticks and buttons splayed all over the lower portion of the screen, it's a continual fumble trying to perform the basics with any level of proficiency.
And while spray-and-pray shooting tactics may work for the most part, you'll start to lose patience when it comes to creating makeshift platforms with spears, or when the inevitable time-based puzzles appear.
Things that were routine or mildly challenging in the original often become hand-gnawingly annoying. You'll still get through them after a while, but it's a question of whether you can be bothered with such an aggravating handicap.
The bottom line is that Guardian of Light is plainly ill-suited to touch-screen controls, so if you like what you see, you're far better off playing it on the platforms it was actually designed for.
Laser Dance Robberies
- iPhone - £0.59
If only Solid Snake had Oscar Shadow's dancing feet. Instead of hiding grumpily in lockers and cardboard boxes, he could have been pirouetting over security lasers via the magic of dance. No-one would have had to die. The whole story could have been so different.
Rejecting the unwelcome advances of the predatory Michael Flatley, he would have turned to a life of crime; one where half-inching the contents of a Parisian museum on a nightly basis becomes your sole reason for parting with 59 pence.
Viewed from above, the idea is to press and hold your finger over Oscar's head and slide him around the environment to avoid the lasers. Impressively, he can slip past them in an instant if you tap on the other side of your obstacle, but if you so much as touch one of them, it's Game Over.
With loot dotted around the place, you can choose to pursue thievery to catapult yourself up the leaderboard rankings, or play it safe and try to go the distance instead, and see how many cheesy classical renditions you can stomach before death becomes strangely welcome. Me? I bailed not long after Orpheus In The Underworld.
Dungeon Hunter 2
- iPhone - £3.49
- iPad - £3.49
As much as I absolutely cannot bloody stop playing Dungeon Hunter 2, it's impossible to get away from the repetitive ridiculousness of the whole affair.
You run around a splendidly illustrated Gothicus, duffing up everything in your path, hoovering up loot at every turn, levelling up every 10 minutes, and following daft quests that essentially involve little more than duffing up yet more respawning goons with your thumb clamped on the attack button.
And yet, despite yourself, you become completely and utterly locked into its hideously addictive formula. You know that the flailing hackandslash combat mechanics are wafer thin. You know that smashing up pots and scooping up gold is largely inconsequential. You know that assigning skills points and specialisms creates the moreish illusion of progress, and yet, there you are, investing hour upon hour of your life into getting gaming's equivalent of a choccy drop.
If you're not someone who gets too existential about the games they play, then step right up. It even has four-player wi-fi co-op multiplayer, assuming that you'd rather hack and slash yourselves into a coma in the same room as your friends, rather than enjoy this guilty pleasure alone, where no-one can judge you or see your haunted expression.