Another day, another Bank Holiday. Seriously, how many bloody holidays do these banks need? How about actually taking less than a week to clear a cheque. That would be nice, wouldn't it?
Anyway, if you're reading this on the Bank Holiday Monday like a truly hungry mobile gaming hound, then lucky you, because we have a rarity – a pair of two-out-of-tens.
You see, one of the problems with the explosion in popularity of the mobile sector is the vast number of chancers who try to peddle bottom-of-the-barrel sludge and stand there with their hands out. Well, guess what, chancers? I call bulls*** on your nefarious ways, and will do my best to ward unsuspecting gamers off your worthless offerings.
But it's not all whining indigence. Three of our selection are rather good, too, and you can have all three for a sum total of 59p. This could well be the cheapest bank holiday you'll ever have.
- iPhone/iPad - £0.59 (universal binary).
With Coin Drop being the most talked-about mobile obsession right now, it is my sworn duty to find out what all the fuss is about. A bizarro combination of Peggle, Angry Birds, Breakout and Portal you say? Who could possibly resist?
Like many of the unfailingly addictive time sinks we now have in our lives, the name pretty much says it all. You have coins. You must drop them. Forever. Specifically, they need to find their way into the five hungry receptacles stationed at the bottom of each of the 60 levels.
Getting them there, though – oh ho ho. At first, it's simplicity itself. Just line the coin up roughly above the goal and down it plops. But then pins which bounce your coin around, Peggle-style, start to become a factor. Before you know it, you've got all manner of obstacles: spinny things, whirling critters, portals, you name it, all doing their best to disrupt your once-simple task.
Judgement comes into it, obviously, but only a bit. Just like the ubiquitous Angry Birds and Peggle before it, you're kidding yourself if you think it's all down to your skill. Sometimes you'll just get that lucky break and squeak through, and then it's onto the next, even more vindictive stage.
I haven't even mentioned the shaking. Yes, just to add an even greater degree of random nonsense, you can shake the device to jog the coin a little, and therefore give you a chance to influence its direction. Once you start employing this tactic, of course, you can't bloody well stop, and so spend most of the game spasming like a drunk with an involuntary tic.
Sorry to say, but that spoiled Coin Drop for me. If the 'shake' could be deployed as a last resort like a Pinball tilt, fair enough, but when so much of your success appears to depend on blind luck, its appeal starts to wane.
Full Fat is addressing this issue in a future update, but whether it disrupts the balance the other way remains to be seen. Either way, it's certainly worth dropping 59 pennies on it. You wouldn't want to miss out on a phenomenon-in-waiting, would you?
- iPhone - Free.
As brilliantly creepy and original as Papa Sangre undoubtedly was, it left you wondering where Somethin' Else could go next. The answer? Into space.
Once again, you're thrust into a terrifying graphics-free world where you're forced to rely only on what you can hear. In this instance, you're abandoned on a space station and have to pace around while a strange voice gives you vital instructions on how to make your es-cape.
The mechanics are exactly the same as before, with a semi-circular dial at the top of the screen allowing you to turn, while the lower half of the device is given over to your left and right feet.
If anything, the effect is even more immersive this time around as you creep gently around unseen terrors, flicking switches and groping for the exit.
The only downside is that it's all over far too quickly. With just 12 rather simple levels to explore, it's the kind of one-hit app that you'll cruise through, never to return. Then again, unlike Papa Sangre, it's completely free, thanks to a promotional tie-in with Wrigley's of all things. On that basis, grab it now. Tell all your friends.
Prose With Bros
- iPhone - Free.
- Ad-free version £1.19.
You've heard of Words With Friends. Now it's time for Prose With Bros – a game essentially designed to bring out the perverted wordsmith in all of us.
At its core, it's multiplayer fridge poetry (online or off). If you've never had the tittersome pleasure of this dubious pastime, it involves creating slightly bizarre sentences out of a word soup. Many small hours of the morning have been lost crafting prose to excite and delight fellow residents.
In Prose With Bros, the same aim applies. You're given a page full of disconnected words, and tasked with arranging up to four lines' worth.
Meanwhile, one of your buddies somewhere in the world has to try his or her best to out out-filth you, and both attempts are voted upon by the rest of the world over the next 24 hours. The one with the greater percentage of the vote 'wins'. While you wait, you can also vote on everyone else's distressing creations and give kudos where it's due.
Of course, Evil Laugh Games didn't intend for the game to descend into grubbiness, but that's the internet for you. At time of writing, the plan is to remove some of the more suggestive words in the upcoming free update – so the dirty-minded among you best get in there quick.
If you loved Words With Friends, then it's almost certain that you'll waste just as much time here. Just don't blame me for corrupting your innocent mind.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction
If the recent 3DS port of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory was a sullen disappointment, it looks like a peerless masterpiece next to this amateurish attempt at bringing Sam Fisher to the mobile realm.
When it first came to iOS and Android, I took one look at the hideous virtual stick controls and thought better of trotting out more black words about virtual stick controls. But with Xperia Play's excellent combination of dpad, buttons and thumb pads, that no longer applies to the same degree.
Unfortunately for Gameloft, the vastly improved control system only highlights what a terrible game it was in the first place. For starters, you can't even invert the Y axis, making it basically unplayable for about 50 per cent of us.
And even if you're able to adapt to that, the game feels like a hapless approximation of what Splinter Cell might have been like if Ubisoft had designed it for the PS1 in 1997.
If the horribly angular, poorly animated visuals aren't enough to put you off from the start, the undercooked stealth certainly will, featuring some of the most brainless AI you've ever seen.
If you bother to play it properly, then it's possible to gradually creep up behind enemies and dispatch them with a swift melee manoeuvre, or mark targets and take out a whole group at once.
But once the game's hilarious limitations become fully apparent, you'll soon realise that it barely matters if enemies discover you or not. You can simply wander up to anyone and smack them with a melee smash, and shrug off the small matter of a few bullet wounds to the chest.
From that point, the game descends into a farce where the biggest challenge is not switching it off immediately. One day Gameloft will bring us high-quality mobile versions of its sister company's console hits. Until that day, avoid this at all costs.
Game Room - Pitfall
- Windows Phone 7 - £2.49.
- Free trial available.
And now, the final insult. After months of being routinely charged over the odds for ports of two-year-old iOS games, Windows Phone 7 owners can now enjoy Atari 2600 games for a mere £2.49 a pop.
To be fair to David Crane's legendary platformer, it was bloody brilliant at the time – but that time was 1982. In an era before Miner 2049er, Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy graced our screens, Pitfall was one of the first home titles to get anywhere near the arcade standard, and it promptly sold four million copies.
But nearly three decades on, it's little more than a charming museum piece. Even with triple-layered rose-tinted hippy specs on, your wistful memories will turn to ash as the harsh reality hits home.
You can't really knock the game itself. It is what it is: a simple 2D run-and-jumpathon where you have to collect 32 artefacts within 20 minutes. It's tough, it's exacting, and one of the very few 2600 titles that doesn't look irredeemably awful.
On a touchscreen system, though, it's obvious within about two seconds that it's a total waste of everyone's time. Things like achievement points and leaderboards mean nothing when the game itself is as fun as tucking into a maggot and offal sandwich.
Fortunately for all sane retro gamers that don't come running at the merest whiff of nostalgia, you can find out all of this by downloading the free trial. If you want to slap money down, more fool you.