Featured Five - April 11th: Looty Dungeon, Crazy Truck, TohTum, and more
Loot, drive, er, tum
Monday has returned, red-eyed and shivering from a weekend of debauchery and mischief. It's sat in the corner, hugging its knees to its chest, wondering if it can survive the rest of the day.
It probably can't, but that doesn't mean that you can't have a lovely old time while it rots from the inside out. You might even have a lovely old time playing some of these games.
Yeah, that's right, it's time for the featured five. And there's a real gem included in this week's list.
And at least one other game that's worth your time as well. What a day. What a week. What a waste.
Okay, here goes.
This is an excellent mash-up of Crossy Road and a dungeon crawler, and it works really bloody well. Swipe through traps and monsters and try and beat your high score.
And the characters you unlock give you new skills to play around with. As free to play casual games go, this one's pretty damn impressive.
Bit of an odd one this. You build dinosaurs from bones you collect from archaeological digs, then fire them up the screen. Land them in a star to score some points.
It's sort of like a cross between curling and Jurassic Park. It takes a while to click, and it's pretty simple, but there's some marrow-based fun to suck from its skeleton.
A twitchy, spinny avoidance game that never quite manages to gel together. You're controlling a pair of critters connected by a white line, and tapping the screen to dodge through a stream of dangerous dots.
But it's a bit confusing, and the compulsion loop never quite manages to close around you in a meaningful way.
An auto-runner with a bit of a twist. You're a truck that's constantly bouncing. Push on the screen and you'll start driving along the ground instead.
You're challenging other player's scores all the time. It's tough, but once you get into the swing of things you'll start enjoying yourself.
7/10Gravity Island - Shiro's Adventure
A reasonably decent little platformer with a gravity-swapping central idea that isn't exactly original, but is pretty well implemented.
There are bite-sized levels, a decent challenge, and the game doesn't look too bad either. It's an engaging, if not all that interesting, distraction.
March 21st Barrier X
A super fast, lovely looking arcade blast that sees you weaving through a nightmarishly-neon landscape trying to avoid the titular barriers.
It's pretty damn hard, but once it starts to click there's a decent chunk of fun to be had here. Just be aware it might burn your retinas out. This week's pick of the pops.
This one's all about climbing a tower. You're a square, and you can only touch white parts of the level. You tap left and right to dart through objects.
It's ridiculously hard to get into the swing of things though, and while there are some neat ideas here, you'll probably get too frustrated to ever see them.
Do you like building towers? Do you like doing it in a haphazard manner? Then Frantic Architect is probably going to be up your street.
You build block by block, but every block you place flashes around the last one, and you need to tap to stop it. It's challenging, but it gets a little one-note after a while.
An over the shoulder endless runner that sees you controlling a ball. A bouncing ball. You need to avoid spikes, holes, and thread your way through rings to score points.
The controls are simple, and there's a tight-ish compulsion loop here even though it's pretty difficult once it speeds up. It's fun, but it probably won't stick in your memory.
This is the bonkers one. You're playing a drooling blob thing on a bike, and you need to catapult it through the sky as far as you can.
Once you're airborne you can swipe to fart yourself further. It's silly, it looks silly, and you'll have a giggle while you're playing it. Tee. Hee.
March 14th Rope Racers
A one-touch multiplayer platformer that sees you running along a series of levels, competing against other player's ghosts to see who's the fastest.
The twist, as you might expect from the name, is that you're using a grappling hook rather than jumping. It's fine, it's pretty frantic at times, but it does lose its sheen after a while.
6/10Jetpack Disco Mouse
This one probably has the best name of any game in the featured section of the App Store this week, but that's about as far as the praise is going to go unfortunately.
You tap to fire your jetpack, and release to turn it off again. It's fine, it looks a bit ugly, and while it tries to do something different, it never really manages to pull it off.
If you really want to play a match-stuff puzzler that's got a focus on serving people drinks in a busy coffee shop, then this is probably your best bet.
It looks nice, it plays pretty well, and there are a couple of novel-ish ideas thrown in for good measure. But it's a match-stuff puzzler. Like all the other match-stuff puzzlers.
6/10Pop The Circle
Oddly enough I think this one is my featured pick of the week. It's ridiculously simple – a circle changes size on the screen and you need to tap to stop it within a certain area – but that's all part of its charm.
The restarts are fast, the leaderboards are worth climbing, and while it won't stick in the memory for long, it's actually a lot of fun while you're tapping your way through it.
An interesting blend of a number puzzler and an endless runner. You play a changeable digit being pursued by an angry spinning top. There are little platforms with sums on the, and larger platforms with integers on them.
You need to make sure the parts of the sum you collect mean the number you'll be when you land matches the one on the big platform. It's solid, it's fun, and it's a good way to practice quick arithmetic.
Push the Arrow
A one touch arcade score chaser. This one sees you tapping the screen to propel a spinning spaceship through a series of obstacles. Hit one and it's game over.
It's reasonably tough, has that minimalist look that this sort of game seems to think is the be-all-and-end-all of style, and will probably last about three minutes on your phone before you get bored and delete it.
An endless runner that sees you driving a snow mobile through a snowy landscape. You can pull off tricks, spin around in the air, and go backwards. If you want to go backwards, I guess.
It's all a bit clunky, pretty ugly, and you've experienced everything it has to offer before. Unless you're obsessed with snow mobiles, give this one a miss.
Another little arcade game. This one sees you pressing on the screen to drop bumpers. These are essentially bouncy platforms that send you springing up the screen.
It's a neat enough twist on the genre, although it looks a bit murky at best. Still, if you only download one endless jumper this week, it's a decent bet.
This one's sort of like a staccato Super Hexagon. A series of shapes flies around a ball, and you need to fire said ball through them to the edge of the screen.
You tap to shoot, but the ball is spinning too. It's pretty tough, and the compulsion to keep going does fade after a while. It's fun while it lasts though.Train Conductor World
This one is by far the game of the week. It's a brilliant mash up of genres that's wonderfully addictive. It sinks its cog-y teeth in and doesn't let go.
You draw lines to guide trains around the screen. If there's a crash it's game over. Throw in some interesting progression and a bunch of challenges and you're left with a bright, breezy, and moreish arcade title.
February 29th Slide the Shakes
The most Ronseal of this week's games – it does exactly what it says on the tin. You need to slide milkshakes along a counter so they stop in green glowing zones.
You drag a finger to ping the drinks off, the further you drag, the further they slide. It's reasonably addictive, and adds new hazards in to keep things fresh. Fresh like milk.
Slightly less Ronseal, but still pretty Ronseal. It's sort of a 3D take on the Crossy Road genre. You're powering down a hill in a jeep with no brakes. Tap left and right to avoid crashing into things.
And that's about it. It's solid, but the progression isn't quite instant enough, and the collision detection is a little off. Good crashes though.
This one's a match-stuff puzzler, but don't let that put you off. It's actually got some pretty interesting ideas, and while it doesn't shake up the genre, it certainly gives it a bit of a kick.
There are some Candy Crush-style challenges, but the minimalist style, and the freedom of experimentation the game gives you, mean this one is well worth a go if you're a puzzle fan.
What could be more fun in a casual mobile game than disarming a bomb? Well, a few things I guess, but this one's actually pretty good, if a bit on the simple side.
A blob swings around some wires, and you need to tap when it's in a coloured section. Like I say, pretty simple, but also surprisingly addictive.
A one-touch platformer that's all about leaping over the moving hands of a clock. It sounds stupid, but in practice I think it might be my favourite game out of this week's five.
It's a challenging distillation of the genre, and chasing your high score can easily become a painful addiction. Plus you're a fly. You're never a fly.
February 29th iSlash Heroes
A mash up of puzzling ideas and styles. You're slashing up blocks of wood. Get them small enough and you'll complete the level.
But there are shuriken, metal edges, and a bunch of other trying to stop you from succeeding.
Throw in some boss fights and you've got an interesting if not all that moreish diversion. It's worth a chop, but it won't stick on your iPad for very long.
Another one-touch arcade experience. This one sees you making your way through a maze. You tap to throw out a grappling hook so you can swoop around corners.
There's some interesting multiplayer stuff going on. You're racing other people's ghosts every time you race, and it adds a little frisson of excitement to what would otherwise be a pretty dull game.
Imagine marbles, but set in the Robot Wars arena, and you've pretty much got this one down. You fire a rolly-robot (rollbot?) around the screen, attempting to smash balls into glowing goals.
You can also knock your opponents into the laser abyss, which is far more fun. There's something here, but the presentation is a little lacking, and the careening balls are surprisingly dull.
5/10Cooking Mama Let's Cook Puzzle
This one's a match-three puzzler with a twist. Rather than matching things on a grid, you're matching lumps of food in a bubbling pot.
You can slide things around however you want, and it's far more frantic than your average something something saga clone. Probably the best of the five we've looked at this week.
7/10Five Finger Fury
Remember that bit in Aliens where Bishop stabs a knife between his fingers really fast?
Well, this is sort of that. Except you're following a pattern of stabs that flashes up on the screen.
It's okay to begin with, but after a while it gets a bit too difficult. And quite frankly, it's not all that much fun. Looks nice though.
15th February Target Acquired
A decent looking auto-runner with an action focus. You jump and sprint through a series of platforming levels, blasting anything that moves.
There are boss fights too, and lots of armour to unlock and equip. It's sharp, but it's not the most original game you'll play this week.
A free to play arcade blast. You're controlling a ship spinning around a series of circles. Tap the screen and the ship will put out a shield.
You need to protect the circles from encroaching blobs by smashing them with the shields. It's solid, but it's not remarkable and the compulsion loop is a little thin.
Another circular one-touch game. This one sees you running around eating little creatures. There are blue ones and orange ones, and tapping the screen changes the hue of your own little monsters.
You need to eat the globs when you're the correct colour or it's game over. It's simple, but there's a decent chunk of fun to be had here all the same.
A clunky multiplayer FPS that somehow manages to be no fun at all. There are bears involved for some reason, but it's unlikely you'll play long enough to find out why.
The controls are sticky, the balancing is off, and there's almost zero feedback from the blasting. One to be avoided.
A take on the Crossy Road formula that sees you driving passengers from A to B. There are junctions to cross and traffic to navigate along the way.
And all you can do is accelerate and brake. It's entertaining enough, and there are three stages to play through, but it's unlikely to stick around in your head for more than a few minutes.