The Glowing Void
- iPhone and iPod Touch / Ł1.19
Being completely literal with your game titles is a practice I heartily approve of, mainly because it makes life a whole lot easier when it comes to explaining what it's all about. With no wittering back-story to bore you with, Assyria Game Studio's The Glowing Void cuts to the chase.
Essentially a brilliant riff on Qix, the game's Filler mode presents you with a similar screen-filling premise. But rather than drawing lines, you must fill 70 per cent of the screen with circular voids, which you create by touching anywhere on the screen. The longer you hold your finger down, the larger your void grows, and the more points you gain.
But while you're busy marvelling at your swelling creation, little red dots bounce around the screen, threatening to undo your good work. If one of the red voids touches your glowing void while you're creating it, you lose a life, so it quickly develops into a monumentally addictive cat-and-mouse affair.
Every time you clear a stage, another red dot is thrown into the fray, making it progressively more challenging to create voids without getting hit. But with a modicum of luck and no small amount of skill and anticipation, you can effectively create yourself little protective barriers by tilting the device and penning in the red dots with your collection of voids. The frame rate can be a little unhelpful at times on older handsets, but hopefully future revisions will improve optimisation a touch.
A second mode, Burst, works on the basis of creating voids purely for points. As soon as you create one, it disappears again, leaving you with the task of tentatively stabbing around the screen between a flurry of red dots. Although not as ludicrously moreish as Filler, the challenge is knowing when to stop.
With its woozy soundtrack and neon minimalism, The Glowing Void is a fine piece of retro-futurism. It'd be rude not to get sucked in.
- iPhone and iPod Touch / Ł0.59
Ninjas' irrepressible hatred of fruitkind is well-documented. Frankly, who can blame them? Stupid bloody pineapples with their detestable spiky tufts. And who thought the kumquat was a good idea. Off with their heads!
Halfbrick's Fruit Ninja buys into this fruity massacre wholesale, providing cibophobics with the perfect release. As the evil fruit is lobbed into view, you must slice it up with gay abandon, swiping your finger across the screen before gravity denies you a killing opportunity.
To add to the fun, bombs are tossed into the fray, and must be avoided at all cost - if you so much as touch one, it's Game Over. As the action gets ever more frantic, these fizzing explosives make it tough to find an opportunity to slice up your prey. Miss three fruit, and, likewise, it's a return to the start menu.
As simple and fun as Fruit Ninja evidently is, it feels like a Wario Ware game isolated for a single release. The 59p price tag and online leaderboard support make it worth a quick spin, but the urge to return is limited - no matter how much bitterness you have towards Mr Citrus and his pals.
- Xbox Live Arcade / 800 points (Ł6.80)
Dr Diggabone is my kind of adventurer; a man so completely bone idle he refuses to walk, and expects the ground beneath his feet to move on his behalf. I recommend reviewing videogames for a living, renting a flat on the top of a hill and rolling to work.
But this particular "lazy raider" has riches to reap, so it's up to you to spin each maze around and slide him around treasure rooms, collecting various keys, dodging traps and collecting gems and relics on the way to the exit.
With beautifully simple mechanics, Lazy Raider's appeal is instant. Controlling with the left stick, you tilt the world left or right, sending Diggabone (or your custom Avatar) careening around the place with scant regard for his safety. Usefully, you can also flip the world's gravity entirely by pressing A, sending everything crashing down to the opposite surface and potentially opening up previously inaccessible areas.
Set over an impressive 80 levels (including five tutorial run-throughs), Sarbakan's game is an instantly engaging bite-sized affair with plenty of replay value. Screenshots don't really do it justice.