Version tested: iPhone
And the hits just keep on coming. This isn't so much getting silly as completely unacceptably, window-lickingly insane. The sheer volume of stupendously high-quality games that press their pleading faces against the touchscreen glass every week is actually pretty distressing in its own way.
Five games per week sounded perfectly generous when we spun-off the Mobile Games from the Download Games Roundup, and yet it feels like we're only scratching the surface. Every time, I compile a decent list, but you can guarantee that something else will come along and elbow its way in at the death. Take this week. Having sat down to write it up, Zoo Keeper - of all things - comes along and kicks everything else to the kerb, and then the wonderfully ludicrous D-Captatrix shimmies into view like it owns the place. And it does.
So, tough luck 1000 Heroz, we'll come back to you another time. And geoDefense, and Touchgrind BMX and all your fine-looking friends. We'll meet again. Until then: games!
[Plus! In a bonus round, special guest reviewer Dan Pearson brings us an expert verdict on Monster Hunter Dynamic Hunting. -Ed.]
Zoo Keeper DX Touch Edition
- iPhone/iPad (universal binary) - £1.19 (half price launch offer)
It wasn't allthat long ago when us reviewer types had to weigh up whether it was really worth paying up to £30 to play the world's most addictive riff on Bejeweled. We'd write from our shoebox in the middle of the motorway, munch on coal and be bloody grateful.
Several hundred hours of hollow-eyed, match-three animal swapping later, we'd decamp from our central reservation and wash up at Zoo Keeper's Anonymous, muttering high scores to one another like whey-faced children from the early 1980s.
Zoo Keeper's journey to iOS can mean only one thing: it's time to fall off the wagon and surrender our free time and tenuous grip on sanity in the name of rapid animal matching.
But don't have a heart attack just yet. Saucy little tease that it is, Kiteretsu Inc. has elected to only dangle the carrot of Normal and Tokoton modes in the initial release, meaning that you'll have to wait for the likes of Time Attack and Quest mode to make it into the package.
In the meantime, though, what you get more than justifies the piddling £1.19 that it's currently being sold at, with online leaderboards and Game Center integration likely to have you frantically adding friends like nothing before it (krudsteruk, before you ask).
In terms of how it performs on an Apple touchscreen, the answer is: flawlessly. There's an obvious advantage to playing it on the iPad, though, because it's likely that your porky old man-digits will obscure just enough of the iPhone or iPod touch screen to prove an irritation when the going gets tough. Ladies' mileage may vary.
Some of you might wearily point out that Piyo Blocks 2 already does everything that Zoo Keeper does and more, so why get excited? If you try to rationalise it, it all sounds a bit flimsy. The music's brilliant. The cute icons are brilliant. The perennially disappointed boss: brilliant. How much brilliance do you need in one game? A lot? Good. Then you'll be a credit to this zoo.
Feed Me Oil
Not since World Of Goo successfully graced our faces has so much gloopy fun been had over such a concerted period. I feel like I should lay down some plastic sheeting, just in case.
Like some kind of excitable truffle hog, Chillingo has yet again managed to root around in the puzzle undergrowth and emerge beaming and triumphant.
This time, pass the hat around for HolyWater Games, who politely request that you divert oil from a spout into the mouth of a perverted grease glutton.
To do so, you need to arrange the tools provided, such as platforms, fans, and elemental circulators, and create pleasantly drifting gouts of inky ooze to a gaping maw. And I never thought I'd write that in a video game review.
At its heart, it's a simple trial-and-error arrangement puzzler, where most of the fun comes from just meddling with the props until something works. But if you have a low pain threshold for a challenge, you can also get the game to spoil it all for you by dispensing tips that tell you exactly where to put things. Hardly the point, but it's there if you get fed up and just want to go onto the next level.
Apart from being a thoroughly engaging game to fiddle around with, Feed Me Oil also looks the part, with a disturbing selection of slurpy behemoths to satiate. And then there's the price. Honestly, it's getting rude now. How is anyone supposed to compete with that?
In summary: Oil have some of that.
Super Stickman Golf
- iPhone/iPad (universal app) - £0.59 - limited time offer, 66 per cent off
- In-app purchases unlock extra courses and power-ups.
You know you've found a great sports game when the subject matter becomes almost irrelevant.
With Backbreaker, Virtua Tennis and Flick Kick Football, you could conceivably hate the sport and still love the game - and Super Stickman Golf is another one that's all about the purity of the mechanics.
In reality, golf is merely a hook to hang Jordan Schidlowsky's attempt at a physics puzzle-platform game, featuring a stickman, a club, a ball, a chip-tune soundtrack and all manner of headaches to overcome.
Presented in ultra-basic two dimensional form, you simply line up your trajectory, tap to fill up the power bar and tap again to confirm the shot. From there, it's 261 holes' worth of painstaking trial and error as you attempt to avoid the inevitable water hazards and sand traps - not to mention the dreaded forces of gravity.
The further you progress through the 16 available courses, the tougher the challenge - but to balance out the horror, the game gradually provides you with an arsenal of power-ups, such as new clubs, special balls or the ability to retake a fluffed shot without penalty.
Since it's been out for a while now, you might wonder why we've only just got around to covering this highly regarded effort. Well.
The big news of the latest update is, of course, multiplayer, and with 2-4 player support over wi-fi or Bluetooth and Game Center match making, it brings all the ugly drama of competition to an already teeth-grinding affair. With online leaderboards to fret over in addition, you know that this isn't going to end well.
So even if golf brings out your inner chainsaw-wielding Alf Garnett, face your demons with this playful physics-based catharsis. All yours for 59p.
It's not every day you get to roll a decapitated dominatrix robot head around in the name of quality mobile entertainment.
For reasons probably too sordid to repeat on a family website, a heartless machine known as The Golden Mistress has become consumed with a jealous rage and elected to remove the heads of all attractive female robots. They were most likely Ipswich Town fans.
But little does Robot Thatcher realise, help is literally at hand. It's up to your fumbling fingers to place little wormholes around each 'prison', roll their severed heads, reunite them with their lonely cadavers and allow them to attend the forthcoming Take That concerts.
To make matters a smidgen more involved, Gamesmold also deems it necessary to pick up three energy packs dotted around the level - a process that involves more precision faffing with every passing level.
If you're not dancing gingerly past electric force fields, you're coaxing ball bearings onto pressure pads or contriving to ignite explosives to blast your way through solid walls.
At other times it's just a matter of building up speed to launch yourself at a precise trajectory, before course-correcting at the last moment with judicious use of the tilt controls.
So that's D-Capitatrix: sexy robot physics dancing, to a soundtrack of your choice. Preferably White Denim.
Little angry robots need love too. But it's a special kind of love that one formally expresses via the ancient art of turn-based combat and fruit machines.
In Robotek HD, two slightly overweight mainframes face one another and slug it out until one's hit points have been reduced to zero. But the interesting part comes from a nimble combination of luck and judgement.
Faced with thee basic strategies each turn, you can either opt for warfare, hacking or powers. To start with, you simply spin the reels and tap again to stop on your chosen symbol, and this results in a different action; like a fruit machine, the more matching symbols you end up with, the more valuable the attack.
Given that your mainframe is not only defenceless but unable to attack, the first priority is to teleport droids into the fray and let them unleash merry hell on your opponent. But, occasionally, you'll spot opportunities to mine weak points, or, for example, circumvent firewall defences by using a microwave attack.
When you've got a full arsenal available and can afford to lose a few units, sometimes it makes sense to go all-out and unleash the most powerful attacks to knock down their HP, but sometimes you're simply reliant on the luck of the roll. Say, for example, your opponent rolls three-of-a-kind: not only will it deliver the most powerful form of that attack, but grant them an extra turn. Such moments can be decisive in a closely fought battle.
But the more turns a battle goes on for, the more one-off specials you can deploy, such as emergency repair or rapid fire. Knowing when to issue one can often make the difference.
As you can probably predict, the more you understand Robotek's nuances, the more it suckers you in for another battle. The more nodes you conquer, the more upgrades you can bolt on, and before you know it, you're rolling again.
If Hexage.net was asking a few quid for this simple battler, we'd be completely fine with that. But to deliver something this polished for free? Where I come from, ignoring it would be considered bad manners.
Monster Hunter Dynamic Hunting
- iPhone/iPad - £2.99
Dan Pearson writes: There are generally three things which you can expect from a Monster Hunter game: extensive and compulsive crafting, ample opportunity for endless grinding and a ball-crushing level of difficulty. They're not ideal for a mobile game, in truth. As such, Capcom's iOS take on the series which crippled a million thumbs is a pared-down affair, the Coke Zero of the franchise.
As a whole, the elements on offer in Monster Hunter Dynamic Hunting equate to a decent little time waster, but it's unlikely to satisfy any baying Monster Hunter fanatics expecting a 700-hour thumbscrew session.
What you get for your £2.99 is a Cliff Notes of the Monster Hunter experience, with 12 of the series' beasts available to creatively butcher with the three weapon classes on offer. Controls are generally responsive and well-implemented, with single finger taps and swipes to attack or move and double finger holds and swipes to block and dodge. Powerful slash attacks can be earned by successful dodging and lost by taking hits, whilst a combo meter builds to unleash a special move.
As per usual, chopping off your foes' extremities will furnish you with a grim harvest of body parts which can be forged into various weapons and armours. A choice of greatsword, dual blade or sword and shield combos is a truncation of the weapon options which aficionados will be used to, but there are still plenty of options.
Graphics are crisp, colourful and smooth, even when played on my ageing 3GS. However, screen real estate being what it is, there can be issues with the action getting obscured - but handy visual cues make it obvious when a dodge or block is necessary.
The main issue - and I never thought I'd find myself writing this about any game even loosely affiliated with Monster Hunter - is that it's really far too easy.
Besting each creature isn't likely to tax you for long and can easily be achieved without bothering with much of the material-harvesting grind. You're free to revisit any of the hunts for extra parts or a better ranking, and hitting the top band is very demanding, but there's little point beyond a sense of self-satisfaction.
Unless I've very much misjudged my own capabilities, Capcom's not going to make a lot of money from selling the stat-boosting potions available as in-app purchases. They're completely unnecessary in the course of normal completion, as is the still-welcome option of local multiplayer.
It's an easy game to finish, but after three or so hours of play I've still got a lot of armour and weapons to collect, and I've yet to S-rank most hunts. Plenty of replay value for the enthusiast, the perfectionist and the completist then, and a happy hour or so for everyone else.