App of the Day: Armed and Gorgeous HD
That's half true, at least.
Armed and Gorgeous is stupid and tacky and repetitive and annoying and I can't stop playing it. I'm genuinely starting to worry. The merest glimpse of the app sitting there on the iPhone's pretty little screen makes me embarrassed. The sight of its opening menu makes me genuinely sad. Worst yet, the thought of all the time I've spent hammering away at those virtual buttons when I could have been out tending the sick, protesting injustice, or at least stopping the weirdo down the road from kicking pigeons, makes me feel properly ashamed.
And yet I play it again and again. This is quite a short game - mercifully - but that just means I've been through the whole thing several times at this point, and I can't even pretend I'm exploring hidden depths. There are no hidden depths to Armed and Gorgeous. I haven't even found any hidden shallows. I just spam the main attacks, control the space, and then wait to pull off a special. Then I do it all over again.
So what's the idea, then? Armed and Gorgeous casts you as a female demon and sets you off against a cloned gaggle of peasants, knights and sorcerers. It's an arena brawler, really, with a very basic moveset, a series of small environments, and a limited collection of weapons and outfits to unlock.
Its main claim to fame lies with its protagonist, who represents a lunge at sexiness so horribly misguided that she's actually kind of frightening. Her come-hither smile is more of a come-hither snarl, her Louise Brooks bob looks like my blind uncle Dan cut it for her, and her anatomy is so miserably proportioned that you can't watch her in action without wondering, darkly, what ghastly shape her skeleton must take.
Her animations are suitably violent, though, and she can swing a selection of cudgels, clubs, and swords around without clipping through too much scenery, so I'm just about willing to forgive most shortcomings. Armed and Gorgeous doesn't do a lot right - actually, it doesn't do a lot full stop - but it does make repetitive combat feel strangely enjoyable. You just thump away at those buttons, prioritise any wizards - they can attack from a distance - and leap on all the collectable you can find once the dust settles. There are only two collectables, anyway. One tops up your health, and the other tops up your mana. Your mana, weirdly enough, is the colour of really, really stewed tea. It looks horrible.
Occasionally a boss swings by and you have to smack them around a bit longer than usual. Occasionally, there's a naff cartoon cut-scene. I'm probably not making this sound very appealing, but there's obviously something to it, however, because I'm on - what - my fourth playthough? I think it's a bit like doodling, playing Armed and Gorgeous: it gives you just enough purpose to keep you idly plugging away. There's something worryingly satisfying about drifting off and letting your reflexes take over.
Armed and Gorgeous doesn't have much to say on the subject of cutting-edge design, then, but it speaks volumes about the fierce appeal of very simple things, delivered with force and regularity. Send help.
App of the Day highlights interesting games we're playing on the Android, iPad, iPhone and Windows Phone 7 mobile platforms, including post-release updates. If you want to see a particular app featured, drop us a line or suggest it in the comments.