Pricing evidently has absolutely no bearing on the quality of download games right now. Some are happy to take a punt at retail prices with quite dismal offerings, while others are practically giving away their hard work despite being obviously brilliant.
This week, we've been treated to indie gems like Apple Jack and Numba, both the recipients of exceptional scores, and both available for the price of an tasty break-time snack. Yet, it's often punishing to witness how awful some of the titles punted onto, say, PSN are (Planet Minigolf and Death Race: Resurrection to name and shame) - and at prices that leave you shaking your head, if not your fist.
Should we go back to some sort of old-fashioned official quality control to save people from such detritus, or is the will of the free market a better means of separating the wheat from the chaff? Let us know.
- PSP Minis / £1.24
- iPad and iPhone / £0.59
It's hard to think of a single title in the history of videogames that's as boring to describe as Numba, so the biggest challenge will be to reach the end of the third paragraph without wanting to pull your own eyes out and blow on them.
Presented with a simple grid full of numbers (8x9 on the PSP, 8x6 on the iPad/iPhone), Classic mode tasks you with highlighting and connecting a selection of three or more tiles to create a Numba chain, such as 1, 1, 1, or sequential tiles such as 1, 2, 3, or 4, 3, 2 or odds and evens such as 1, 3, 5, or 2, 4, 6 and so on. Still with me?
Good, because Cobra Mobile's puzzler is probably one of the most maddeningly absorbing tile-matching games I've had the pleasure of playing since the mighty Zoo Keeper.
That got your attention. To begin with, Numba goes easy on you, with only three different numbers featuring on the grid, but as more numbers start to creep in the trickier it is to spot chains, and the harder it becomes to fill your points bar before time runs out. Adding further spice are the special ice, fire, vanish or chameleon tiles, which put the cat among the pigeons when the pressure's on.
Elsewhere, two further modes work similarly well, with Timeless played purely for score with no time pressure, while the excellent Puzzle mode provides the beautiful challenge of removing all tiles from the board via a series of predetermined arrangements.
Addictive, challenging and beautifully pure, Numba is one of those games you'll never want to uninstall. For the price, it's a mandatory purchase, though go for the touch-based versions if you have the option.