Best arcade game for iPhone and iPad: Spaceteam
Mobile games are so often solo pursuits; even those claiming to be ‘social’ usually require battling someone you’ve only ever ‘met’ on Facebook or Game Center. Spaceteam is different - two to four players join on a local network, faced with a control panel of dials, buttons and sliders.
Between you, everyone must coordinate to rapidly deal with silly time-sensitive instructions (“Set Shiftsanitizer to 1!”), lest the spaceship explode. It’s a hugely entertaining experience and also works across platforms, meaning your Android-device-owning chums needn’t sit out and wear a glum expression.
There’s some IAP, but only for entirely optional challenges and aesthetic enhancements, and those are primarily designed to support the indie who made the game in the first place. We’d say they’re well worth investigating, too.
Silly Sausage: Doggy Dessert
Imagine a sausage dog that has an infatuation with right angles, infused with the powers of the stretchy one out of Fantastic Four, dumped into a deadly world of saw blades and giant desserts, and that’s pretty much Silly Sausage: Doggy Dessert.
Across 50 short stages, you swipe to make the dog grow, until it reaches a grabbable edge, whereupon its rear end pings back into place. Over time, the obstacles become increasingly deadly and deviously positioned, transforming Doggy Dessert into a thoughtful arcade test.
Not got the stomach to take on the whole game at once? ‘Spend’ in-game pick-ups at kennel checkpoints. Fancy something a bit faster? Delve into the tough time-based challenge screens.
Even dragons have their rebellious years. In Drag’n’Boom, a teenage scaly beast zooms about, barbecuing local armies, pilfering bling, and generally being a menace.
It’s easy to grasp, but there’s a lot going on here. The controls marry dual-stick shooting and Angry Birds catapulting, with Matrix slo-mo to aid your aim. Speedy sections barrelling across the undulating landscape and through tunnels recall, respectively, Tiny Birds and Sonic.
But the combination is fresh, and there are 50 levels (and an endless mode) in which to inflict your fiery breath on the unfortunate populace – before, presumably, the protagonist becomes Drag’n’Grounded.
In a terrifying world of sentient household objects, the evil Blender has captured your fruity chums, and is planning on doing something horrible to them. You must heroically rescue everyone.
The snag is the doddering protagonist makes their way by rotating on one foot, until you tap, whereupon they shift to the other foot. Initially, this is comical. But when you’re avoiding psychotic hammers and knives, and being chased by a demented kitchen appliance, you realise how much of a benefit walking in a straight line would be.
Still: Silly Walks is indeed very silly, vibrant, playable, and will ensure you never quite look at a pineapple in the same way again.
Grumpy Cat's Worst Game Ever
Imagine WarioWare on your device, but instead of jolly Nintendo characters, every mini-game is helmed by a grumpy moggie. The format’s familiar: get started and you’ve seconds to figure out and complete a task before the timer runs down, costing you a life. Do well and everything unhelpfully speeds up.
The cat host looks properly angry, like it’s been press-ganged into stomping on laser pen light, launching itself into cardboard boxes, and karate-chopping planks of wood. To further add to the furry hero’s fury, score high enough to win coins and you can unlock yet more pursuits for it to ‘enjoy’.
Best shooting game for iPhone and iPad: Darkside
This twin-stick shooter updates Asteroids and wraps it around planetoids. The visuals are a treat, from the organic, spinning space rocks to the pyrotechnics on display as your powered-up ship seeks to obliterate everything around it.
The free version of the game gives you the arcade mode, but for £1.49/US$1.99 you unlock missions, survival mode and smart bombs.
If you thought vertical shooters would be easier if you could stop for a bit at any point, Time Locker proves otherwise. In this strange, blocky, abstract universe of roaming dinosaurs and angry giant bears, time freezes when you stop moving, allowing you to consider your next move.
This is less helpful than you might think, given that your next move often involves being blown to pieces by a gigantic looming boss, or hurled into oblivion by a relentless world-devouring darkness (which unsportingly continues its pursuit even when the clock is otherwise stopped).
Still, as you gradually grasp the mechanics, you learn how to target foes that bestow weapons and credits for bling boosts at the start of your next go; all the while, you’ll coo at how clever and different the game is, and perhaps note the developer’s generosity in giving it away for free.
Although seemingly influenced by every ‘one bloke against an army’ shooter released since 1985, Evil Factory dispenses with boring bits. Rather than fend off hordes of identikit grunts, each battle is a boss fight.
Unfortunately, your superiors have sent you into the fray under-equipped. Spats therefore involve deftly avoiding enemy fire, dumping explosives near your foe, and running like hell.
The game can be staccato and grindy, due to how easy it is to die and the ‘fuel’ lives system; but those things are easily forgiven due to the string of bonkers enemies you meet – the first being a huge, heavily armed walrus.