Mobile Games Roundup • Page 2

Max! Bob! Frogs! Monkeys! Other monkeys!

Super Monkey Ball

  • Windows Phone 7 - £3.99
  • Previously released on iPhone £1.79.

Another week, another ill-advised iOS port on the Windows Phone 7 hit parade.

When it came out in the summer of 2008, everyone expected a tilt-controlled version of one of our favourite games of the decade to be fantastic. It made perfect sense to gently coax capsule-clad simians around elaborate mazes in the sky by merely moving the device around – but it didn't come off then, and it doesn't now, three years later.

The problem isn't so much the sensitivity of the tilt controls, but the way the enormously unhelpful camera tends to flip out whenever you're poised to make a turn or attempt to turn back on yourself.

The game often makes things arbitrarily difficult for you by orienting you towards the precise thing you're trying to steer away from, and what would normally be a straightforward manoeuvre turns into a frustrating leap into the abyss. With no way of manually adjusting the viewpoint, you're constantly at the mercy of a vindictive cameraman.

New balls, please.

Once the game starts to, ahem, ramp up the difficulty, it's a head-on battle with your own tolerance for fundamentally flawed controls. 100 levels might sound like good value, but it's doubtful you'll want to see even half of those before questioning your own sanity.

The fact that Sega has merely ported the show wholesale to WP7 without taking the opportunity to fix what was so obviously broken is disappointing, if a little predictable. The fact that it has elected to charge more than double for the privilege is the final insult.


Max and the Magic Marker

  • iPad - £2.99
  • iPhone - £1.19
  • Previously released on Windows Phone 7 (£3.99), WiiWare (1000 points/ £7.20) and PC/Mac (Steam, £12.99)

This isn't the first time we've taken a look at the exploits of little ginger Max and his fat felt tips. It's not even the second, but when someone bothers to remake a game well enough to turn our heads a third time, they must be doing something right.

In terms of the basics, it's the same: you work your way around inventive 2D side-scrolling platform environments, gathering ink, drawing makeshift ramps and props, and hoovering up collectibles en route to the exit.

Although it was originally conceived for the Wii and PC, Max and the Magic Marker was always a game destined to work best on touch screen devices, and was easily one of the best games to hit the Windows Phone 7 during the launch phase.

Mark my words.

But Press Play's game was ported more or less directly to WP7, without too much consideration for the more bite-sized demands of on-the-move play. There's no doubt that it was great, but some of the levels were rather too long – and we all know what a time-consuming faff resuming games can be on WP7.

With that in mind, this latest version has been carved up into much more manageable chunks, with the original 15 levels now extended to 58. Not only does it now work better as a mobile title, but replaying levels to scoop all the secrets is a less daunting prospect.

Whether you'll prefer the HD iPad version to the dinkier iPhone edition is a moot point. It might be almost three times the price, but there's no doubt that it's much easier to draw on the iPad screen.

The further you progress, the more creative you need to be with your solutions, so this is arguably one game where the bigger screen size makes a tangible difference. If you've somehow held off getting this so far, now is definitely the time to enjoy one of the most creative and engaging indie platformers around.


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Kristan Reed

Kristan Reed


Kristan is a former editor of Eurogamer, dad, Stone Roses bore and Norwich City supporter who sometimes mutters optimistically about Team Silent getting back together.


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