- Android, iPad, iPhone - £0.59
As Pac-Man Championship Edition proved so triumphantly a few years back, it's still completely feasible to make an entertaining dot-munching maze game in these more demanding times.
Hexage proves much the same thing with the neon-drenched Evac, but does so by pursuing a more stealth-oriented, slower-paced take on the formula.
The aim remains to clear all the dots from the maze, but with a few crucial tweaks and changes, the process becomes much less about screeching around the maze at full tilt, and more about strategic choices. Just like Pac-Man, patrolling ghosts roam the tunnels, but unlike Namco's old favourite, they don't simply chase after you from the moment you appear.
Pressure pads set off alarms that send ghosts chasing after you, so choosing when best to trigger them becomes all part of the fun. Luring them to a nearby power-up and turning the tables on them in quick succession is not only hugely satisfying, but helps you rack up a fearsome score into the bargain.
As the levels progress, though, you'll have much more to worry about, with spikes to crush you and blocks to shift to clear a path to the exit. But with patience, timing, and mastery of the simple four-way arrow controls, Evac's difficulty curve proves satisfying rather than spiteful.
24 levels might not sound like a lot, but this isn't a game you'll breeze through without concerted effort. And with its adorable aesthetic sealing the deal, it's another 59p well spent.
- iPhone - £0.59
If you're one of those maniacs who can unblinkingly romp through crazed Cave shmups like they're idly texting a filthy message, then Phoenix wants your love.
There's no pretence of a gentle introduction. No small talk, just straight to the point, down and dirty in the grimacing alleyway of bullet hell. Played out like one continuous mini-boss battle, Phoenix presents you with an endless procession of menacing, violent, laser-spewing foes.
The genius behind Firi Games' procedurally-generated vertical blaster is that the better you are at Phoenix, the harder it gets. With difficulty kicking off at one star, the longer you survive without taking a hit the more brutal the challenge becomes and the more points you rack up. Take damage and the game's 'AI director' dials down the heat to accommodate your misfortune (though you do have the option to lock the difficulty down, should you prefer).
But such generosity is only a fleeting respite, and it's unlikely that you'll be able to last more than a few minutes in Phoenix's intense company. If you do, then regional score-based glory awaits thanks to Game Center's curious ability to break your performance right down to your specific area. Being the fifth best in Brent on your first go's not terrible, right?
Correction: Firi Games has been in touch to let us know that this feature isn't part of Game Center, but a service it designed and implemented itself. Credit where it's due - it's a very cool feature. -Ed.
Without wanting to sound like a broken record, 59p is exceptionally good value for a death-dodger with as much replay value as Phoenix. Go forth and fill the spare time void.
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