The more popular this mobile gaming lark gets, the more interesting games come out, and the more fall through the cracks every week.
Just this week alone, I could have covered about 10 more games that are worthy of attention - games like Battleheart, Devil May Cry, Blockoban, Cover Orange, Backbreaker 2, Grimm, It's Just A Thought, ilomilo, Tiki Towers 2 and the awesomely named Mini Gay Boyfriend, among others.
Most of these go in a 'To Cover' list, with a resolute intention to include them in upcoming roundups, but then what happens? Another slew of brand new goodies turns up and elbows a lot of them out the way, Surveillant being the latest case in point.
If you've got the time and the money, it's hard to resist spending a cumulative fortune on these snackable nuggets of gaming. But that's what we're here for...
- iPhone - £1.19. Free trial version available
Remember Geoff Crammond's thoroughly sinister 8-bit classic The Sentinel? It was probably the most far-out (you could still say "far out" in the eighties) game concept of the decade, and now it's the inspiration for Recluse Industries' avoid-em-up, Surveillant.
Mercifully less complicated than Crammond's brain-breaking masterpiece, the idea in Surveilliant is to hop around from block to block, and eventually ascend high enough to reach the nefarious CCTV and disable its evil electronic eye.
Across 10 surprisingly tricky stages, your main concern is to avoid the frazzling red beam that continually sweeps the play area for troublemakers like you. Stray into this field of view and you'll be smoked harder than Dot Cotton's morning ciggie.
With that in mind, keeping the hell away from this hot arc of death becomes your primary goal, and a camera icon in the top right corner gives you a chance to instantly glance up and see where it's pointing at any given time.
While that's all going on, you'll be tilting your device left and right to look around, tapping on each block to jump from one to the next, and trying to collect all the data clusters scattered around. Scoop them all up, and you'll be able to unlock a platform that grants you access to your prize – and, of course, the next level.
At this early stage, there's only 10 levels to battle through, but with more to be added in Surveillant's upcoming free update, this is a keeper.
Pac-Man Battle Royale
- iPad - Free (via US iTunes only)
So utterly perfect was Pac-Man Championship Edition DX (a.k.a. Crack-Man), there was probably no need for Namco's developers ever to make another game featuring the gluttonous yellow blob. They could justifiably have sat back, feet up, safe in the knowledge that they would never better it. Job done.
Being the Terminator of gaming franchises, though, it absolutely will not stop. Ever. Hence Battle Royale, another attempt at multiplayer dot-gobbling. But this isn't a twist on the Pac-Man Vs formula as you might expect, but a full-on 4-player Last Man Standing fight to the death.
Each player starts off in one corner of the maze, and the idea is to eat all of your friends. In your default state, you just bounce off one another, but chow-down on a power pill, and you become super-sized and can go on a mad dash for your fleeing opponents. Being faster than them, it's only a matter of time before you catch up with them and put an end to their miserable existence.
The chances are, however, that one of your rivals has also eaten a power pill as well, so it quickly becomes a case of being the first to get the next power pill to finish the job.
The problem with all of this is that it's all over in one round, and you're told to go and play the 'real thing' in your local arcade. You can just start the whole thing again, of course, but the absence of any competitive options, this is nothing more than a basic teaser demo.
Maybe Namco will realise soon enough that arcades are just a bygone dream for most of the rest of the world and release a fully featured version for a few quid. Until then, set up a US iTunes account and catch a glimpse of what you're missing.
We should reserve judgement until Namco releases a proper version, but from what we've seen, it's worth 7/10
MiniSquadron Special Edition
- Android - £1.86
- iPhone - Free (in-app purchases unlock two levels at a time at 59p each)
If by 'Special Edition' supermono means 'more of the same with a few new power ups', then I guess that makes MiniSquadron SE very special indeed.
If you played the original version of the side-scrolling shmup, you'll remember that everyone admired its responsive and intuitive rotational control system, cuddly visuals and wryly inappropriate soundtrack. Being able to shoot animals in the face raised a smile too, against our better judgement.
The 'Special Edition' is - let's be honest - more of the same with a couple of new power ups to try out (rapid fire and freeze). Probably the most interesting thing about it is the fact that the pricing is different on each platform. On the iPhone, you can try out a couple of levels for free, and then buy the remainder at 59p a pop, while on Android, you just buy all eight in one go for £1.86, with no free initial trial.
Given that the original came features eight levels of a similar quality (and can be tried out free first), you might be better off checking out the original first. If you just can't get enough, come back for second helpings.
Hysteria Project 1&2
- iPhone - £1.19
- iPad - £1.19
- Original Hysteria Project now free.
If you were fully conscious in the mid-1990s, you'll be aware of the uniform hatred among game critics for FMV-based games. [That's Full Motion Video, kids – Ed.] I rather liked the idea, but the results were almost always eye-bleedingly awful, and then everyone sensibly ran screaming from the idea.
It's with impeccable appropriateness, then, that the Hysteria Project games are devoted to running screaming from an axe-wielding hoodie. (He's probably just returning that Guitar Hero controller you lent him, but you're not taking any chances – especially as someone has taped your hands and feet together.)
Part one of Bulkypix's frantic tale quickly turns into Blair Witch meets Choose Your Own Adventure, with much of the game spent picking which forest path to leg it down, followed by panic-stricken trip-wire negotiation. You'll get an axe in the head a dozen times, but hey, it's free, lo-fi fun for half an hour.
The more ambitious sequel tries to up the stakes, with varying degrees of success. Rather than limiting itself to endless chase sequences and QTEs [that's Quick Time Events, acronym haters – Ed.], it mixes things up with a much greater emphasis on adventure-style puzzle solving alongside the frantic action.
Now and then you'll find yourself trapped in a room, but can now look around 360 degrees, and click on objects and the like. Sometimes you've barely any time to figure out what to do, while on other occasions it calms down enough to give you things to read, and even problems to solve in your own sweet time.
But then you'll encounter something utterly hateful, like the nigh-on-impossible, laser-dodging corridor chase, and be forced to indulge in prolonged primal scream therapy. If the point of these games is to inspire a state of violent mental agitation, then the Hysteria Project series is doing a fine job.
- Windows Phone 7 - £2.49 (free trial available)
- Previously released on iPhone/iPad (£1.19 + free Lite version available)
Stickmen are falling out of aeroplanes! Help them parachute to safety on passing boats! Die frequently because of passing storms/helicopters/sharks/aliens! Play it repeatedly in the vain hope of attaining a decent score!
Yes, it's another one of those games, designed to drive you half insane whenever you have a spare few minutes kicking around.
A big hit upon its iOS release a couple of years back, FDG Entertainment (like everyone else) has brought the whole show to the plush new world of WP7 – and you only have to pay slightly over double for it. We call it Microsoft's Achievement Tax.
Presented in that once-adorable doodle style, it's the kind of ultra-simple game you'll probably hate yourself for spending so much time on. Like Flight Control, it goes from being mindlessly easy to mercilessly evil in the blink of an eye, as every possible aerial hazard emerges to snuff out your hapless daredevils.
One minute you're gently wafting the wind to make sure they land safely, the next you're furiously battering choppers and UFOs into submission, wondering who's the evil one. Maybe the men jumping out of planes are Scientologists, off to impregnate our children. Maybe we should put the phone down and move onto something more constructive.