Version tested: iPhone
I've spent a large portion of the last week lugging my 3DS around wherever I go. Not because of the stunning quality of the games, you understand; truth be told, I'm not especially bothered about any of the launch titles.
No, the root cause of my minor obsession is the bizarrely adorable Streetpass concept, where passing Miis migrate to your system and help rescue you from captivity. It's silly, largely pointless, and one of the most charming ideas I've ever seen.
On that note, then, I can't imagine it'll be long before we start seeing similar social gaming ideas integrated into mobile phones. I've only been wandering round London for a week and have already attracted 12 Miis into my 3DS. Imagine how many iPhones and Androids you'd wander past unwittingly in an average day.
How do you feel about strangers invading your devices? Is it a throwaway novelty or something that's going to steadily creep into our gaming from now on? While you're pondering, here's this week's pick of the mobile crop.
- iPhone/iPad - £0.59
Curse you, Chillingo. Not content with inflicting Cut The Rope, Sneezies, Food Processing, Wackylands Boss and about a hundred other similarly insidious mobile gems upon the world, it looks like you have yet another monumental timesink up your sleeve.
As ever, the premise couldn't really be much simpler - but that only seems to make Collision Effect harder to put down.
The Action portion of the game involves eradicating coloured 'cosmic orbs' known as Zybbles. Obviously. As they drift lazily across the screen, you have to touch one of them to attract all the other like-coloured orbs. Once they touch, they disappear, and points are scored.
But if any of the orbs touches one of a different colour, it's a trip to the Game Over naughty step for you. Failure is a harsh mistress in Collision Effect.
Equally unforgiving but more considered is the Puzzle mode, where you're presented with a formation and have to suss out how to collide all the orbs of the same colour without allowing any opposing colours to touch en route.
The action starts off nice and gently before smashing you around the room with a two-by-four. No one said that puzzle genius couldn't be tempered by abusive madness, and you take the rough with the smooth in this game. Bloody Chillingo.
- iPad - £1.19
- iPhone - £0.59
If only life were always this simple. According to my wholly unscientific research, nine times out of ten, a mobile game's title reveals exactly what the game is about without need for lengthy explanation. Are they trying to put me out of a job?
Case in point: Land-A Panda; a game in which you're required to, er, land a panda next to his lovestruck mate, lest her heart be broken into a thousand pieces.
As luck would have it, Mr Sad Panda can only reach the love of this life by being blasted between cannons. It's up to you to catapult the poor beast from one to other without reducing him to a paste.
What he did to deserve this appalling treatment is entirely glossed over, but Big Pixel Studios manages to convey this harrowing tale of animal cruelty with a cuteness bordering on sinister.
There you are, propelling Yang Guang from one metal tube after another, trying to collect love coins and avoid making Tian Tian dissolve into a puddle of her own tears as he gets impaled on spikes again.
If anything, Land-A Panda could have probably benefitted from cranking up the evil earlier on. For the first 20-odd levels, it's all a bit of a foregone conclusion.
The danger is that by the time it starts to present a concerted challenge, you've probably started to grow weary of their fawning. But stick with it; those sickly love chemicals don't last forever.
Tapper World Tour
- iPad - £1.79
- iPhone - £1.19
Just when it seemed there was no hope of Midway's ancient arcade classic ever being dusted down for the mobile generation, up pops this bright and breezy tribute to insatiable alcoholism.
As with the 1983 original, the idea is to keep a baying mob of thirsty customers happy by flinging endless pints of beer in their general direction until they all sod off home again.
With its simple, tap-based controls, Tapper World Tour has the kind of instant, manic, and repetitive appeal that made us so unreservedly fond of it in the first place.
Square One Studios hasn't spoiled the party with pointless new ideas for the sake of it. Instead Tapper World Tour gradually builds on the original template with logical additional mechanics, such as having to dish out the right drinks to each patron, and new powerups.
With the steady hand of the legendary Don Bluth providing the necessary visual makeover, the game's relentlessly cheery vibe picks up from where it left off all those years ago. This time a cast of deranged and thirsty souls do battle across a hundred levels. We're holding out for the Eastenders and Corrie DLC, guys.
Perhaps the only downside to all this nostalgia is that Square One didn't include the effortlessly charming original for posterity. For as much as Tapper World Tour has all the ingredients required, the net result was that I wanted to go back and play the real thing. Maybe one day.
Fable Coin Golf
- Windows Phone 7 - £3.99
Can a puck ever truly be heroic? Lionhead certainly seems to think so, and who are we to argue when the promise of pretend riches lies in wait?
As the title helpfully points out, this game is essentially golf played with a coin/puck. The goal is to ping it around an obstacle-strewn course and reach a pillar of light in as few shots as possible.
The slingshot-style control system means it's simplicity itself to get into, but reaching the goal is easier said than done when you've got axe-wielding monsters lurking - plus water traps and forests to negotiate.
Plotting a path through the mire is, as you might guess, all about applying just the right amount of power and judging angles better than Ronnie O' Sullivan.
But even The Rocket needs powerups, and Lionhead duly obliges by scattering handy performance enhancements across the course. These allow you to cut a swathe through anything standing between you and coin golf immortality.
As with all absurdly addictive mobile games, there's the requisite mixture of blind luck and judgement to keep you coming back for more. But it's questionable whether you'll want to shell out four quid just so you can import some extra loot into Fable 3.
With a bit more content and a more tempting price point, Fable Coin Golf might be more interesting - but as it stands, it's just a feeble excuse at brand extension tacked on to a fairly engaging mini-game. Next.
Airport Mania: First Flight
- Android - £0.62 (free trial available)
- iPhone - £0.59
- iPad - £1.19
After the multitasking mayhem of Tapper World Tour, you might assume that I'd quite like to narrow my focus for a while. Incorrect!
The latest iOS gem to make a welcome transition to Android sees you take on the hand jazz of air traffic controller, dutifully landing planes while also picking up passengers, performing repairs and refuelling.
Despite looking like a cheap, charmless flash game, there's a certain carefree, primal satisfaction to be had from methodically landing planes, sending them to the correct colour-coded stand and juggling all the various tasks assigned. I blame the eyebrows attached to the planes. It's the little things.
The further you go, the more plates you're forced to spin at once, and the more your little monkey brain fires with the excitement of micro task successes.
And so it goes on, with a basic upgrade system allowing you to cope with more traffic, improve punctuality and increase customer satisfaction. You'll feel almost embarrassed at finding Lemon Games' efforts so entertaining, but as guilty pleasures go, there are worse ways of spending 62 pence.