When we first introduced App of the Day to Eurogamer 12 months ago, we did so because mobile and tablet games seemed to be reaching the peak of their powers and we wanted the site to reflect their growing significance in our gaming lives.
App of the Day Archive
Hairy Tales, what a name. Behind it is a little bearded bloke you have to guide through levels that are ever-shifting puzzles, an unusual blend of route-planning and frantic mid-run swiping. Strategy-runner? Action-Lemmings? Whenever you're struggling to quite place something in a genre, that's usually a good sign.
Ah, Joe Danger, the nearly man of the download services. Too often dismissed - and unfairly so - as Trials Lite, the diminutive stuntman's PS3 debut was loudly heralded by critics but never quite became the smash hit it deserved to be. And if the leaderboards for Joe Danger: The Movie are anything to go by, it might even be a little generous to label its sequel a cult favourite.
Super Ox Wars is a shooter by Llamasoft, aka Jeff Minter and Ivan "Giles" Zorzin, which in a just world would be all the description required for this to shift truckloads. It is, true to form, another wonderful game, but it's also one that begs an overwhelming question of the studio's ongoing output. Let's phrase it like this - is an overarching aesthetic a studio's identity, or can it become a comfort zone?
Setting up a business is hard work. It takes money, good people and most of all, time. You have to train your staff, grow your team, and invest in plenty of titanium oven mitts (+2 Power in battle).
You could say that PunchQuest has pedigree. An endless puncher by Rocketcat Games, the developer behind a superb series of hook-based platformers, its randomised design showcases craftsmanship and imagination of the highest order. No mean feat when the only goal is to punch as many enemies to death as possible.
Games are very good at evoking certain emotions. The fear of being hunted by a horrible monster. The dark thrill of creeping up on someone and breaking their neck. The adrenalin rush of speeding past the opposition in a top class sports car. Games are less used to summoning feelings from the gentler end of the emotional spectrum. This is a particular problem when it comes to Christmas games, where cosiness - that least game-friendly of emotions - is in highest demand.
Rockstar's neon-drenched 2002 opus Vice City deliberately calls many pop references to mind. The title, the logo, the suits, the sports cars and the ostentatious colour palette all combine to evoke Miami Vice, of course. The plot, meanwhile, draws heavily on that other classic tale of 1980s excess on the Florida coast: Brian DePalma's Scarface. The presence of Ray Liotta in the lead role, all laconic New York swagger, adds a welcome dash of Scorsese's rich and salty Italian-American flavour.
Just when you thought the Tetris-style puzzle genre had run out of surprises, along comes Dream of Pixels to turn things on its head. That's the game in a nutshell, really. It's Tetris, but sort of upside down.
If anything needs a makeover, it's surely the humble turn-based hex game. Ever-present, tried and trusted but somehow a little too fusty and dusty to get truly excited about, hex strategy tends to be all substance and no style. Just saying the phrase makes you feel like a spod.
In some ways, Borderlands has always been interested in choices. Little choices for the most part. Bouncing grenades or healing grenades? This six-round shotgun, or that corrosive SMG? The biggest choice has generally come at the beginning: which of the game's collection of rootin' tootin' vault hunters to choose from? (Sorry about the rootin' tootin' thing.)
I love Buddha Finger, and I think you will too, but honesty compels me to add that it provides a dangerous tutorial for any real-world fights. Lady Shotgun's iOS debut will leave you worryingly exposed on the mean streets of any non-virtual metropolis, and may lead to the foolish belief that even the nastiest gang of thugs can be dispatched with a few taps and swipes. Through a clever use of sound effects and very simple visual feedback, it will convince you that your hand is a lethal weapon. Chances are that your hand is not a lethal weapon, however. Chances are your hand is just a useful grabby thing attached to the end of your arm.
Girls Like Robots reminds me of a wedding I was at earlier this year. As someone with good-looking friends that insist on pairing off with other good-looking people, I am well versed in the forced social mingling required when these unions are formalised. All must obey the seating plan - the sacred text of such occasions - and some unlucky chap (me) will realise they are to spend the next few hours sipping very nice soup with people they have never met in their life.
Imagine if you could float above someone you didn't like and pour rainwater on them. If you really didn't like them, you could zap them with thunderbolts. You could teach them a lesson, Old Testament style. And you could also use your powers to water crops.
Rayman's never been a great character, but his games have always been pretty good. Take Rayman 2, for example. It isn't shamelessly wheeled out at the launch of every new console simply to swell Ubi's coffers - though that's a part of it, probably - but because it's a genuinely decent platformer.
I'm not sure whether it's just a peculiarity of my social circle, but on the off-chance that other people will react the way many of my friends have upon being told I'm playing a new game called "The Room", I feel compelled to begin by noting that it has nothing whatsoever to do with Tommy Wiseau's extraordinary indie film of the same name. Lisa will not be tearing you apart. This is probably a good thing. (And if you have no idea what I'm on about, that probably is too.)
Terry Cavanagh's a bastard. A lovable, super-talented and quite brilliant man, but a bastard nevertheless. Best known for VVVVVV, the 2010 platformer that latterly made it to Nintendo's 3DS, he's become associated with games with bite, games that present a stark challenge where it's all about beating the game or being plain beaten. Play something like VVVVVV and it's dominate or be dominated.
Last year, when discussing Kristan Reed's 10/10 review of Zookeeper FX Touch Edition, Oli suggested that "the next iteration is a shoo-in for our first 12". Thank goodness App of the Day doesn't require me to award a score, because I might just have had to disagree with him. Zookeeper Battle is excellent, but I'm not convinced it's worth more than an 11.
Of all the skills I pretend to be learning while gaming, resource management feels like the most credible. Organ Trail's punning title riffs on The Oregon Trail, a '70s game all about surviving a journey across the States by carefully husbanding what you have - and this iOS title transplants a similar set of mechanics into a zombie apocalypse. Hey, we're learning here.
Being a morbid and even a maudlin sort, I'm right up for games set deep within the human body. I want to race nano-bots through bustling arteries, grapple-jump across sparking synapses, and score complex multipliers deep inside the medulla oblongata. The body has great brand awareness, really: surely somebody wants to make the most of that?
Clumsy Pirates is a smartphone game based on Billy Budd, by Herman Melville. You know, the gruelling tale of forbidden love and miserable cruelty that went on to inspire an opera by Benjamin Britten.
Avadon: The Black Fortress stands out amongst gaming apps. By not being esoteric, obscure, cute, or a new twist on a classic idea, it's pretty much unique in the market. It's an incredibly old-school RPG that simply acknowledges that a touch screen is pretty much a mouse, and then gets on with it.
A crashed spaceship, a mysterious alien environment, a network of hazardous caves lurking just beneath the surface: I am never going to get tired of this. It's one of the simplest set-ups in video games, and yet it almost always delivers.
Gauge is so simple you may think you're missing something at first, and the supreme confidence it projects in its minimalism only furthers the confusion. From high up in its ivory tower, it is laughing at you. It is playing mind games. Can you control the gauge? It seems easy enough.
Information asymmetry: when people know things that others don't, and vice-versa. A concept that underpins some of the very best multiplayer experiences, and the foundation of Scotland Yard: The Hunt for Mr X. Set on a large map of London, a team of the noble rozzers have one objective - track down that elusive, tantalising Mr X before he escapes.
If Treasure ever make an iOS game, it's likely to resemble Project 83113. The intense action is reminiscent of a fast-paced Gunstar Heroes or Silhouette Mirage (minus the sugary acid trip), while the amount of on-screen chaos reminds me of Bangai-O.
Simple rules are the prerequisite for a good board game, and there are two reasons why. The first is that people can get down to playing the thing relatively quickly. But the second is that a combination of simple rules can lead to extremely complex systems: depth is not necessarily a matter of detail.
As someone with all the tactical nous of George Armstrong Custer, I enjoy a mildly abusive relationship with strategy games: I like them, but they regularly humiliate me, usually for having the temerity to favour a gung-ho approach to combat. Still, it doesn't take much to tempt me back in for another beating, and being a sucker for a pretty art style, the painterly appearance of Autumn Dynasty was more than enough.
It's been around six months since we introduced App of the Day on Eurogamer and in that time I think we've brought you some pretty awesome recommendations. Alight on the App of the Day index and you've got so many hours of entertainment at your fingertips, most of it for the price of a teabag, that it's slightly obscene.
The best ideas, of course, are the simplest ones and Vorble's core idea is deliciously simple. It's what developer MegaTree calls a "mind sport", a three-dimensional spin on chequers with maybe a bit of backgammon and dominoes thrown in. Play takes place on a sphere made up of geometric faces - some pentagons, some hexagons. It's like a football, a fact the tutorial handily illustrates by temporarily changing the colour of the faces to black and white.