Please charge your glasses for the arrival of Xperia Play. It might not be the most awesomely powerful smartphone ever seen, but it has the one thing I've been hankering after ever since I started covering the sector back in 2008: buttons.
Although our unit arrived too late in the preparations for this week's roundup to make a full assessment, even a cursory playthrough of the pre-installed games suggests that it could quickly become many people's platform of choice.
Games that were always a bit of a slog on touch-screen-only systems instantly benefit from tactile controls. Even rather mediocre titles that we wrote off months ago benefit enormously, and once developers start to optimise new titles for the system, I can see an intriguing battle emerging.
The only significant downside is the price. At around £480, there's no doubt that it's going to be out of reach of all but the most gadget-obsessed or those coming to the end of their contracts. In the meantime, you can be sure that we'll be keeping an eye on it.
- iPhone/iPad - £0.59 (universal binary)
You never quite know what you're going to get with Grasshopper Manufacture, but it's usually strange enough to make you check whether someone's slipped something in your drink.
So it probably won't come as a monumental shock to find that its iOS debut involves catching live prey and feeding it to frogs.
In what amounts to a live-action hidden object game, you can spend as long as you like just tapping away in the undergrowth, picking up dragonflies, butterflies, flies, snails and, of course, grasshoppers.
When you spot something rustling in nature's underbelly, you can tap that too, and then quickly satisfy its desire to chow down on something wriggly and crunchy.
How long you keep going is probably more down to your OCD tendencies than anything, but with dozens of frog species and even more achievements to shoot for, it will most likely be longer than you should.
[Just ask Child of Eden and Rez creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi – he couldn't put it down when Keza sat down to lunch and an interview with him for Eurogamer last week. -Ed.]
So, no, it's nothing like you expected from the makers of Michigan and Killer 7, but maybe that was the whole point.
Super Monkey Ball
- Windows Phone 7 - £3.99
- Previously released on iPhone £1.79.
Another week, another ill-advised iOS port on the Windows Phone 7 hit parade.
When it came out in the summer of 2008, everyone expected a tilt-controlled version of one of our favourite games of the decade to be fantastic. It made perfect sense to gently coax capsule-clad simians around elaborate mazes in the sky by merely moving the device around – but it didn't come off then, and it doesn't now, three years later.
The problem isn't so much the sensitivity of the tilt controls, but the way the enormously unhelpful camera tends to flip out whenever you're poised to make a turn or attempt to turn back on yourself.
The game often makes things arbitrarily difficult for you by orienting you towards the precise thing you're trying to steer away from, and what would normally be a straightforward manoeuvre turns into a frustrating leap into the abyss. With no way of manually adjusting the viewpoint, you're constantly at the mercy of a vindictive cameraman.
Once the game starts to, ahem, ramp up the difficulty, it's a head-on battle with your own tolerance for fundamentally flawed controls. 100 levels might sound like good value, but it's doubtful you'll want to see even half of those before questioning your own sanity.
The fact that Sega has merely ported the show wholesale to WP7 without taking the opportunity to fix what was so obviously broken is disappointing, if a little predictable. The fact that it has elected to charge more than double for the privilege is the final insult.
Max and the Magic Marker
- iPad - £2.99
- iPhone - £1.19
- Previously released on Windows Phone 7 (£3.99), WiiWare (1000 points/ £7.20) and PC/Mac (Steam, £12.99)
This isn't the first time we've taken a look at the exploits of little ginger Max and his fat felt tips. It's not even the second, but when someone bothers to remake a game well enough to turn our heads a third time, they must be doing something right.
In terms of the basics, it's the same: you work your way around inventive 2D side-scrolling platform environments, gathering ink, drawing makeshift ramps and props, and hoovering up collectibles en route to the exit.
Although it was originally conceived for the Wii and PC, Max and the Magic Marker was always a game destined to work best on touch screen devices, and was easily one of the best games to hit the Windows Phone 7 during the launch phase.
But Press Play's game was ported more or less directly to WP7, without too much consideration for the more bite-sized demands of on-the-move play. There's no doubt that it was great, but some of the levels were rather too long – and we all know what a time-consuming faff resuming games can be on WP7.
With that in mind, this latest version has been carved up into much more manageable chunks, with the original 15 levels now extended to 58. Not only does it now work better as a mobile title, but replaying levels to scoop all the secrets is a less daunting prospect.
Whether you'll prefer the HD iPad version to the dinkier iPhone edition is a moot point. It might be almost three times the price, but there's no doubt that it's much easier to draw on the iPad screen.
The further you progress, the more creative you need to be with your solutions, so this is arguably one game where the bigger screen size makes a tangible difference. If you've somehow held off getting this so far, now is definitely the time to enjoy one of the most creative and engaging indie platformers around.
- iPhone/iPad - £0.59 (universal binary)
If you grew up in the grimy 1980s, the chances are you owned at least one of Nintendo's loveable Game & Watch handhelds.
The less grey-haired among you might be only vaguely aware that they were easily the best handheld gaming systems around at the time, but that wasn't exactly saying much. The gameplay was as basic as you can imagine, but even then Nintendo knew how to make the most insidious, addictive games around.
You probably wouldn't want to play them now if someone paid you, but if you're up for a loving homage to a lost era of gaming, Monkey Labour captures the unending monotony perfectly.
Just like the LCD greats of yore, the 'gameplay' involves the kind of manic repetition that makes you question your own sanity after about five minutes.
With a chippy monkey lobbing projectiles down upon you, the idea is to exact heated revenge by commanding your 'mobot' to place these blocks in a fire to heat up the pipes that he's standing below. Once you've thrown enough in there, a blast of steam shoots down at the snarling simian and, if he's standing in range, he'll recoil in pain and you'll gain a points bonus. Hells yeah.
That's all there is to it. The action speeds up a notch, the process repeats, and you cling on for dear life in the name of high score glory. You'll probably only want to play it a couple of times yourself, but show it to your ageing mates and you're guaranteed to spark a conversation about Mario's Cement Factory within 14 seconds.
- Android/Xperia Play - £1.83
- Previously released on iPhone - £0.59 and iPad - £1.79
- Mac App Store - £2.99. PC - £5.95, Gamersgate
Remember Commando, Ikari Warriors and Who Dares Wins 2? Angry Mob evidently does, going by this concentrated dose of rambunctious nostalgia.
Now, as then, you fight your way through an enemy onslaught, screaming obscenities like a fraught John Rambo and racking up a genocidal kill count. Subtle it is not.
But with accessibility right at the forefront, you can sleepwalk your way through most of the seven campaign mode stages, complete with play-it-for-you autoaim, infinite ammo, generous health bar, plenty of power-ups and a truckload of lives.
As a result, it is by no means as frustrating or hellishly unforgiving as the genre pioneers we remember a little too fondly, but nor is this casual difficulty going to present much of a challenge.
Additional survival and mercenary modes add a smidgen of variety, but not really enough to mask the inherent repetition. Likewise, cross-platform wi-fi (or local, if you go for the iPad, Mac or PC versions) multiplayer co-op mode doesn't hurt, but ultimately, playing it alongside someone else doesn't make it any less of a mind-numbing trudge.
Guerrilla Bob certainly has its fans, but it's not particularly obvious why. If you want a puddle-deep twin-stick blaster, you'll be well served.