Friday £5 - Junk Jack, Rocket Riot, and INC
This week's best iPhone and iPad games for a fiver
At this time of the year, it's okay to give iPhone games a bit of a back seat. You've got other things to take care of, after all.
You've got to find a hidden city in the middle of a desert, defeat a dragon god before the world is destroyed, snuff out terrorism in just about every city on the planet, and bludgeon policemen with a giant purple dildo. Time's short.
But there's still time here and there for a mobile game. A little round of frantic shooter Rocket Riot while a game installs to your console's hard drive, or maybe a level or two of rock-hard jumper INC while you're sitting in the lobby.
This is The Friday £5 where we try and squeeze some top games from the last seven days out of a little green painting of Her Majesty.
iPhone - £1.99 - Pixbits
In Junk Jack, life is what you make it. Just like in Minecraft - the epoch-making indie phenomenon that so evidently influenced this developer - there's no real objective other than to do what you want, have fun, and avoid the spiders.
Perhaps you could delve deep into the labyrinthine underworld, exploring alien biomes and scavenging for neat loot. You can burrow the cigarette-toting Jack into the dirt by repeatedly tapping blocks (your finger will get very tired in this game), and the pits seem to extend for miles in every direction.
You'll definitely need some tools, and that's where Jack apes Minecraft to a fault. Just like in Mojang's infuriatingly unhelpful game, figuring out the recipe to turn an armful of materials into a spade or a sword often requires trial and error, or a trip to the internet.
Anyway. Maybe - once you've plunged the depths of the dirt, strip-mined the entire globe, and built a toolkit of toys - you could build a house. With doors and windows and tables and ladders, filled with the spoils of your travels. But we're not going to tell you what to do with your life - it's entirely up to you.
Junk Jack's hands-off approach to game design can seem a little irresponsible at first. Your immediate questions are likely to the tune of "what do I do?" and "where do I go?". But it ultimately works in the game's favour, letting you craft your own experience and tell your own stories, exclusive to your plot of dirt.
Rocket Riot HD
Universal - 69p - Chillingo
How to put this? Rocket Riot is the mutant love-spawn of Worms and Quake 3 Arena. On fast forward. With jetpacks. In pixels.
In most levels you've got to nuke the opposition with a barrage of missile blasts. You'll also need to watch your rear by dodging incoming attacks, use rockets to burrow into the scenery to make hiring spots and, most importantly, pick up bonus items to tweak your arsenal.
These boxes amp up the fun, especially because the power-ups can just as easily be power-downs.
Some make you spew out three rockets instead of one, or turn your ordnance into bouncy ping-pong explosives. Others make your rockets flop out and immediately succumb to gravity, or your RPG produce a little flag that says "bang".
You'll get to master the fine art of Rocket Riot's ludicrously frantic gunplay across 48 levels, as you strive to unlock some 100 different pixelated heroes. The controls are effortless, too - the floaty, imprecise nature of a zippy jetpack lends itself to touchscreen control.
The lack of multiplayer is a true shame. The head-to head modes in the Xbox Live Arcade version really captured the Worms and Quake vibe.
Universal - £1.49 - OrangePixel
Between Stardash, Meganoid, and Super Drill Panic developer OrangePixel has got the whole retro formula down to a science. If anyone's holding a flag for the glory days of pixels, rock-hard platformers and bleepy bloopy chiptunes, it's these guys.
So it's no surprise to see that INC has gone for the same look. It's managed to carve out its own unique visual style, sure, with each level dipped in a single-coloured paint pot, and the details are drawn in silhouette - some far off in the distance, some bits even in front of the gameplay. But it's retro to a tee.
In terms of gameplay, each of the 40 levels on offer is like a brutal trial of pits to leap over and baddies to gun down. And, in true OrangePixel style, you'll be cruelly killed and maimed until your timing and reflexes are perfect.
Most of us are a little too slow and a little too easily frustrated for the unique charms of these rock hard retroes. But if you're a veteran of Mario and Mega Man, and fancy a new challenge to storm through, INC will put up one hell of a fight.Total spent: £4.17. Save the spare pennies to spend on this month's biggest games. We suggest you start with Uncharted 3 and a spot of Mario.