- Windows Phone 7 - £3.99 (free trial available)
Having wallowed like a greasy hog in the all-consuming world of videogames for so long, it's easy to forget that there are some cracking board games out there – like Zombies!!! A game so shocking it requires three exclamation marks to underline the gravity!!! of the situation!!!
If you've never played the game before, the fine people of Babaroga (whose website states that their games empirically do not suck) do a fine job of introducing you to the basics. 10 minutes in and I didn't want to spoon my eyes out, which is always a good sign.
Akin to a decent turn-based strategy title, the ultimate aim is to become the first player either to slay 25 zombies or to escape to the helipad. The rules are pretty easy to pick up, the isometric maps are clear and clean, and it doesn't bog you down with needless information early on.
Designed for two to six players (including a combination of AI and human players), you kick off with three hearts, three measly bullets, and three event cards, which essentially allow you to screw over your opponent in a variety of ways. A roll of the die determines how many spaces you move, and you can then head off in whichever direction you fancy, either to scoop up more health and ammo or to take on the shuffling undead.
Combat is pretty basic, with a roll of four or more required to kill your opponent – fail and you can either trade a life or use one of your bullets to meet the required total.
It's fun, instant, and draws you in right from the start. The only problem is its almost total unsuitability for mobile play, with games lasting a bare minimum of half an hour – not such an issue against the AI, but a fairly big one if you're expecting to have a quick session on the way to work.
As an Xbox Live title, Zombies!!! would work perfectly, but I'm not wholly convinced that you'll get the most out it on the move.
- Android - $0.99
- Also on iPhone - £1.19
Lured by the prospect of a 'Metroidvania', I thought it was high time to check out the latest in a long line of iOS ports bolstering the Android's reputation. With its gorgeous pixel art and hippy-dippy premise, who wouldn't want to heal the Mother Tree?
Unfortunately, Spearhead Entertainment doesn't appear to believe in peace and harmony when it comes to designing intuitive, free-flowing control systems. Rather than, say, opt for a logical touch-based system or tilt-based movement, it unwisely opts to combine both, for no apparent reason.
Although tilting does control your movement, you need to hit the dive button to build up momentum. Getting your head around having to land and then push off takes time, and whether you can be bothered largely determines how much fun you'll have with Phoenix Spirit.
And then there's the similarly fiddly combat, where enemies take far too many hits to dispatch – and in a game where moving and firing accurately is already tricky, some sections quickly turn into a thankless slog.
With a few simple refinements to the control system, Phoenix Spirit would have been a lovely game, but as it is, it feels like one that requires rather too much patience to get the most out of.