An RPG-flavoured spin on the old Qix template, Fortix requires you to box off the gameplay area by guiding your knight across hazardous terrain, trailing his box-making line behind him. Your goal is the fort on each map. Once boxed in, the area is claimed and you move on to the next.
Complicating matters are such genre clichés as roaming dragons and cannons, which will unleash shots whenever you leave the safety of the screen's edge. If your knight - or an unfinished line - takes a hit, then you lose a precious life. Thankfully, cannons can be destroyed by boxing in catapults, which then turn and fire, and a lot of the strategy comes from working out how to activate all the catapults without being blown to bits. Different terrain affects your movement speed, while walls force you to take dangerous detours.
It's a clever twist on an old standard but the cannons prove to be an irritation rather than a true challenge - their fast, ruthless volleys reducing too much of the game to a painstaking crawl, claiming a few pixels of space at a time as you inch towards a vital catapult. Fun, then, but in need of balancing.
Another iPhone refugee, and another title that seems to misunderstand the potential of miniature gaming. Rather than build something small but perfectly formed, based around an immediately accessible and brilliantly simple hook, Funky Punch tries to cram a 3D fighting game into its tiny download. It fails.
With a cast of characters all based on an embarrassing 1993 interpretation of the word "funky", the game valiantly attempts to recreate the pace and depth of a true fighter, but is undone from the start by stodgy feedback, imprecise button response and a frankly ugly design aesthetic. Mashing gets the job done more often than not, while trying to play the game properly leads to inconsistent results.
Ultimately, all Funky Punch has going for it is the price. It's certainly cheaper than Tekken, but it's also a pale shadow of virtually all its genre peers. If you value frugality over actual value for money, then by all means give this a spin.
Hero of Sparta
- £3.99/€4.99 iPhone
Similar to Funky Punch in the way it tries to squeeze a square peg into the round hole of pick-up-and-play pocket-money downloads, Hero of Sparta is aimed at a very peculiar market - essentially God of War for people who don't want to buy God of War. The appeal is presumably seeing something that looks like an established brand for a budget price, but the clunky reality simply reinforces the fact that sometimes you're better off with the real thing.
You're a stereotypical Spartan warrior, marooned in a strange land and forced to hack and slash through eight stages to find your way home. Defeated enemies spew colourful orbs, which top up your health, magic or experience, and new equipment can be earned in each area. Basically, everything that God of War does, Hero of Sparta copies, only with an awkward not-quite-right feeling that price can't dispel.
Attacks feel languorous and disconnected, while the laughable Quick Time Events are so laidback as to feel pointless. There are sporadic platforming sections, which rely on floaty context-sensitive jumps, but after mashing through three stages of gluey, repetitive brawling, I'd had more than enough.
Games like Hero of Sparta exist because developers think that casual handheld gaming is little more than a knock-off factory; that offering up diminished and compromised versions of familiar hits is what the market needs. The titles that truly impress on bite-sized platforms are rarely those that try to ape "proper games", but the ones that turn hardware and storage restrictions into opportunities and innovations. Hero of Sparta isn't one of those games, and there are better Minis more deserving of your money.