Normally I like to balance the selection of these roundups between the formats, covering an iPad exclusive, an Android title, maybe a couple of iPhone games and a Windows Phone 7 offering.
But this time round, the WP7 selection was so shockingly awful I couldn't bring myself to shoehorn in any of the recent games just for the sake of it. When faced with dregs like Deer Hunter 3D, Castlevania Puzzle, Bubble Town 2 and Zombie Attack 2, you have to wonder how Microsoft expects gamers to get excited about the format.
As I type, the rather adorable I Love Katamari is being added to the WP7 store to restore some balance - but it's questionable whether you'd want to pay the £5.49 asking price.
By way of amusing contrast, this week's line-up offers ridiculous value for money. In fact you could buy all five for £5.36, and end up owning three 8/10s along with a 9.
Now that Bizarre Creations has shuffled off to the great developer conference in the sky, who's left to carry the Geometry Wars torch? Step forward ForzeField Studios, the new undisputed heroes of unblinking twin-stick shooter madness.
Following the fine template laid down by Bizarre, Infinity Field follows its lead with half a dozen hugely enjoyable survival modes. There's also a monumentally taxing 36-mission campaign mode and, to cap it all, head-to-head multiplayer on a single iPad.
Apart from somehow managing to be a game that looks every bit as beautiful as the title it so obviously reveres, and despite the perennial handicap of virtual thumbsticks. Infinity Field plays remarkably well.
The game's Survival mode is doubtless where most players will engage most of their epic fury - trying to hold out against the unremitting onslaught of Infinity mode, luring the undead into explosive bombs in Zombie or pulling off unlikely feats of pacifism in Unarmed mode.
Elsewhere you'll be trying to scoop enemies into your red line of death in Snake mode, fighting a criss-crossing blizzard of death in Cruces or figuring out which weapon's the best in the off-the-hook Insane mode. As you might expect it's monstrously tough, but keeps dragging you back for more.
The fact that all this has been put together by a 16 year-old Spanish programming genius is the kind of humbling fact that makes publishing behemoths like Chillingo weak at the knees, while grown men quietly have mid-life crises. You could just try and beat your derisory leaderboard position, a task equally valued by society.
Speedball 2: Evolution
The fact I'm so inept at Speedball 2 has long been a source of personal shame. I could tonk anyone at Kick Off 2, and usually hold my own at Sensible Soccer, but when it comes to Bitmap Brothers' rollicking future sport I tend to curl into a ball and let the big boys take turns to kick the crap out of me.
So it's been for the last two decades, and probably the next one. Having fired up Tower Studio/Vivid Games' exemplary iOS port, sure enough, even the weaker AI teams routinely shoulder-charge past my limp defences, throwing the steel ball past the despairing dive of my cringing keeper.
Occasionally I might manage to sneak a morale-boosting win or two with effective wing player and a bit of lucky argy-bargy. But someone's always there to take the wind out of your sails in Speedball 2.
As your hapless defence crumbles yet again, that sinking feeling of inevitable defeat returns. The only thing left is to try and train up your useless sacks of meat through progressive league and cup campaigns, and hope that bolstering your stats will make the difference.
You could, of course, just engage in some good old fashioned multiplayer in a vain attempt to bolster your self-esteem, but you're sadly restricted to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth play. No online or local fun for you, sonny. Maybe a patch can rectify such oversights.
On balance, though, Jon Hare and co. have done a fine job in capturing the spittle-flecked fury of the Amiga original so successfully. Thanks. I guess. Even with handicap of virtual sticks (or tilt controls if you're just plain odd), you'll be ripping the opposition a new one and wondering why no-one has managed to make a better futuristic sports game in the past 20 years.
Alone in the dark: it's a formula that never wanes, and here's another faintly grubby little game designed to spook the bejesus out of us.
Set in a world where everyone's considerately turned all the bleedin' lights out, it's a bit like feeling your way to the bog in the middle of the night after a house party. Someone's slipped something in your drink, and it's all you can do to stop yourself being sucked into the void.
If that sounds like your idea of entertainment, LambdaMu has just the thing. It's your job to guide a nervous young lady step-by-step through 50 progressively more taxing urgent toilet situations.
Sometimes you'll have periodic lightning flashes to guide the way. Other times you'll need to rely on echoes or pressure switches to stand a chance of avoiding the obstacles specifically designed to kill you to death.
Gallows humour aside, Infinight is actually quite an unsettling little bugger. Its simple top-down aesthetic belies the intensity of having to perpetually tread the finest of lines between escape and torment. And with the addition of various tapes to collect, the simple intrigue of the gradually unfolding narrative draws you in further.
By the time you're done with it, you'll be shot to pieces. A weary wreck, surrounded by hastily sketched maps, wondering how a 59p iPhone App could do this to you.
League Of Evil
If the wall-jumping, death defying madness that was Super Meat Boy set the veins in your temple throbbing, there's a 0.001 per cent chance that Ravenous Games' take on the formula won't do the same job. What's more, over a hundred levels of hideously exacting platforming nonsense can be yours for a fraction of the price.
The developer politely reminds us that it is not responsible for any broken devices. And well it might, for League Of Evil is frantic retro exactitude at its most taxing.
As ever, it's all about getting to your goal intact and as quickly as possible. As a special agent trained in the art of punching people into little chunks, you bound and flip your way around various super secret two dimensional lairs, on the hunt for mad pixellated scientists.
You can try to cheat death and take more time trying to find the hidden suitcases, or barrel on through and kick the crap out of anyone foolish enough to bar your path. It's your choice.
The question is whether you can take the pain. The further you get, the more the game tightens the thumbscrews and does its upmost to drive you to the nearest loony bin. This game is not called League Of Evil for nothing.
- Android - Free
- Also available on iPhone/iPad - Free
Is it possible to have too many retro-tinged twin-stick shooters in your life? It's not as if they're taking up space on your shelves is it? Besides, this one's a freebie. Let's give it the benefit of the doubt.
As is the way with these things, PewPew comes in four flavours of varying degrees of palatability. Megagore serves as the standard 'blast everything' affair, while Dodge This tasks you with collecting boxes and dodging enemies for as long as possible.
Assault sprays waves of enemies in vertical and horizontal formation and laughs repeatedly in your face. And finally, Chromatic Conflict makes it only possible to kill enemies the same colour as your ship.
There's an air of dogged competency about the package right from the off, but it's never a game that wishes to extend far beyond that. The minimalist early eighties vector-style makes for a pleasant contrast to the usual eye-frying fireworks, but it's quickly undermined by the general lack of variety and repetition. And the less said about the massive screen-hogging thumbsticks, the better.
In a market where even some of the best games cost next to nothing, it's hard to get too excited about something that rarely gets out of second gear.