Friday £5 - Paper Monsters, Cranky's Story, and Dungeon Crawlers

This week's best iPhone and iPad games for a fiver

Friday £5 - Paper Monsters, Cranky's Story, and Dungeon Crawlers

This week's Friday £5 was a struggle. Each week, we take the handful of games that were launched on the App Store over the last seven days and try to find the best of the bunch for less than a fiver.

But, sometimes, life (or, more accurately, the iOS App Store) gives you lemons. There are some good games out this week: don't get us wrong. We spent about two seconds in the hotly anticipated Dungeon Crawlers and didn't immediately hate it, so that's a good start.

Paper Monsters is a good shout, too. Not only is it an imaginative platformer with a fabulous origami art style, but it also comes packed with a bonus Canabalt-style Endless Runner mode. You're getting two games for your 69p.

But, it's hardly the best week ever for new games. In fact, we're already counting the days until next week when we can play Reckless Racing 2, Taito's Dariusburst, and Chillingo parody Spice Invaders. Should be a good one - see you then.

Paper Monsters
By Crescent Moon Games - buy on iPhone and iPad for 69p friday-fiver-paper

It seems like the conventional wisdom is that the iPhone can't handle platformers. With its complete lack of buttons and nothing but a touch-sensitive pane of glass for input, Apple's mobile marvel is often considered a no-fly zone for this particular genre. But, that hasn't stopped a brave handful of developers trying.

The latest experiment in button-free jumping is Paper Monsters, a colourful and creative game that's almost entirely built from folded papercraft models: all sharply scored edges, big flat sides, and corners that would poke your eye out.

It's a pretty typical platformer at heart, and "thanks to its abundance of pipes, mushrooms, costumes, [and] cutesy sprites", our reviewer says, it's reminiscent of Mario and LittleBigPlanet. But, it does have some ideas of its own.

The 3D stages are layered, with alternative routes that trail dizzyingly into the background. There are also submarine bits and minecart bits and clever boss fights.

It doesn't have the best platforming engine of all time, mind. I mean, getting around is easy, but controlling the ickle robotic hero doesn't have the same elastic, hyperactive thrill as a Mario or Rayman. But, what it lacks in technical proficiency, it makes up for in bold, creative style.

Cranky's Story, for Where's My Water?
By Disney - buy on iPhone and iPad for 69p fiver-fiver-swampy

Disney's physics-based puzzler Where's My Water? doesn't have quite the cult-like following of Angry Birds, but I'd argue that its post-release level packs are of a higher quality.

New Angry Birds stages - which there are now more of than there are stars in the observable universe - are often just fresh towers for bird-brained obsessives to topple. Where's My Water?, on the other hand, introduces new concepts, tougher challenges, and brand-new ideas in its content updates.

The first paid update - a 69p in-app purchase - rewrites the game's rules entirely. Instead of your delivering water to Swampy, you're transporting noxious purple liquid to the villainous Cranky.

There aren't any new concepts like the balloons or hot coals of updates gone past, but Cranky's Story mashes everything you've learned so far into one ultra-tough batch of 40 devilishly hard levels. These will test the mettle of any hardcore Where's My Water? player.

Further still, a selection of challenges makes you rethink the way you play. These are levels set in older Swampy stages but with unorthodox new objectives, like beating the level without collecting a duck, or evaporating all of Swampy's water.

Dungeon Crawlers
By Ayopa Games - buy on iPhone and iPad for £1.49 friday-fiver-dungeon

Funnily enough, Dungeon Crawlers isn't really much of a dungeon-crawler. Which is like making a racing game called First-Person Shooter, or a first-person shooter called My Horse: Paddock of Dreams.

Sure, it's set in a dungeon. We'll concede that point. But, unlike the majority of simplistic hack 'n' slash crawlers, this Kiwi-made game is a strategic turn-based affair with a whiff of Final Fantasy Tactics. Complete with coloured tiles on the floor.

But, while the battles are tactical and turn-based, the rest of the game is more reminiscent of proper dungeon trudgers. You creep around poorly lit caves, you wail on monsters, you pick up loot, and you descend deeper and deeper into the dungeon, down ladders and through doors.

There is also humour. Whether or not you'll appreciate the humour depends on your proclivity to laugh at Ghostbusters jokes. Oh, and whether or not nerdy internet humour tickles your giggle glands. Pop culture gags can sometimes fall flat, but "Your princess is in another castle" references never get old. Right?

Total spent: £2.87. A long ways off. Keep your pennies for next week's big game blow out.
Mark Brown
Mark Brown
Mark Brown spent several years slaving away at the Steel Media furnace, finally serving as editor at large of Pocket Gamer before moving on to doing some sort of youtube thing.