Beat Sneak Bandit
Prior to fashioning immersive adventures like DEVICE 6, Simogo worked on idiosyncratic arcade games, tailoring familiar mechanics to the touchscreen. Beat Sneak Bandit found you helping a benevolent thief steal all the clocks back from an evil mastermind who’s sent the world into chaos now no-one knows when its lunchtime.
Everything moves to the beat, and the game demands you do as well. But interaction solely happens by way of prodding with a single digit. So what you get is a mash-up of one-thumb gaming, stealth, platforming, and rhythm action, with super-stylish visuals and nods to retro fare like Manic Miner, all for the princely sum of a few quid.
This gem first soared on to the App Store in 2011, and became a yardstick for quality quickfire games on Apple devices. It’s another one-thumb effort, with you helping a bird traverse a hilly landscape. She slides down hills, then up the next, her momentum briefly sending her skywards. You then prod the screen to close her wings, timing a dive perfectly for the next slope.
It’s simple, immediate fare, but with high-score chasing akin to classic arcade games, and gorgeous textured visuals that propel Tiny Wings far beyond the bulk of its contemporaries and pretenders. And that’s before you take into account the entertainingly daft side-on Mario Kart that is the Flight School race mode.
Infinity Blade III
Slicing up bits of fruit with a finger, ninja-style, was all very well in the very early days of iPhone gaming, but Infinity Blade took such finger-based swordplay and added massive foes that looked like they’d beamed in from Shadow of the Colossus. It made jaws drop, blasting your eyes with visuals you’d have sworn were being magically squirted into your iPhone from a telly console.
In the event, the canned attacks and game’s repetitive nature showcased that this wasn’t quite a console experience. Still, Infinity Blade II and the latest title expanded on the original, resulting in a compelling mobile-friendly and bite-sized mash-up of brawling and RPG-lite. And deftly hacking up monsters with a finger never really gets old.
Dumping you in a world of interior decorating where technology has gone mad, Telepaint mixes up Portal, Lemmings and tins of paint. Little bipedal pots dodder about like clockwork automatons, hoping you’ll reunite them with paintbrush pals.
For the most part, achieving your goal requires hurling paint pots through teleporters, which blasts the scenery with colour. Then the game ups the ante, having you stack multiple tins, create bridges, and deal with irritating magnetic ‘friends’.
The mechanics might be familiar, but Telepaint brilliantly marries platform action and touchscreen-optimised gameplay. Do be aware, though, that the colour you’ll most see yourself will be red on attempting to tackle devious and hugely challenging later levels.
Our final pick is in many ways neatly representative of all things Apple and gaming. INKS. takes as its core pinball. You spang a ball about, on minimal tables of flippers and bumpers. But INKS. Reworks the conventional by making it considered and beautiful.
In this case, pinball becomes about perfection, figuring out how to hit a series of targets with a tiny number of shots. And when those shots are made, colour explodes from the targets, splattering tables with ink and turning them into tiny works of art.
It’s a sedate and thoughtful take on a type of game usually associated with brashness, noise and frenzied speed. And it has an elegance entirely befitting of the platform it’s exclusive to.