Yes, we've finally turned our Medusa-like gaze to Microsoft's recently launched Windows Phone 7 platform, and donned our waders to stride manfully through the detritus of the launch line-up to pluck out the gems.
In terms of game quality, the first impressions are certainly positive, with some fairly decent exclusives lining up alongside canny ports of recent indie hits. Considering it's still in the launch phase, there's just about enough to differentiate it from the iPhone and Android crowds.
On the downside, the game prices are - to say the least - questionable, with most being launched at hugely optimistic levels that dwarf the equivalent cost on rival mobile platforms. Some ports of iOS titles, in particular, are so expensive they seem designed specifically to put people off ever buying a Windows Phone 7 handset. It might be early days, but even the most hardened Microsoft apologist would have difficulty justifying an ageing iPhone game costing nine times as much on WP7.
Max And The Magic Marker
- Ł5.49 / Previously released on WiiWare, Mac and PC
Ellie quite liked Press Play's PC and WiiWare title when it came out earlier this year, slapping a well-deserved 7/10 on it for its giddy-but-fiddly take on the side-scrolling platformer.
When you first clap eyes on Max And The Magic Marker, you'll want to pinch its little cheeks, if only for maxing out the cute, charming, and gorgeous quotients. There's little flame-haired Max, bounding about drawing bridges and staircases with his magic marker pen to ascend the heights, and lobbing pretend rocks down upon bumbling foes. What's not to love?
Well, neither the PC nor the Wii controls were as precise as they could have been, and as a result it was just a little bit too fiddly to reach its obvious potential. On Windows Phone 7, though, it has found its natural home, thanks to the extra precision you gain from being able to directly draw on the touch screen - and it also helps that the left/right/jump controls are perfectly suited to a touch-screen.
As a result, you'll bask in the inventiveness of the level design and actually enjoy the challenge, rather than fight a war of attrition with input devices. After this, you might even stop being a ginger racist.
- Ł2.49 / Previously released on Xbox Live Indie Games, PC
Never mind the threat of a zombie apocalypse - what about the clown apocalypse? Send in the clowns? No, really, please don't.
In this case, though, I'm prepared to make an exception, because Gambit's one-time indie game makes for fine mobile entertainment - and also involves repeatedly electrocuting Slinky, a ragdoll clown, and ultimately throwing him into fire. All worthy aims, I'm sure you'll agree.
OK, that's not strictly the aim of the game, but all of the above does occur in this pleasant circus-based diversion. In what amounts to a very polished riff on Donkey Kong: King Of Swing, we must fire the little horror out of a cannon, and try and propel him to a ring of fire located at the pinnacle of a big top.
En route you control little grabbers, latch Slinky on, swing him around and release at the right time, popping as many balloons as possible as you go. Each level rates you out of five stars based on time taken, lives lost, and whether you snagged the secret star, so it quickly becomes a minor obsession to max out the star count and rank up.
But with only 15 levels to show for your Ł2.49, it's all over before you know it, and the inevitable clown nightmares follow.