The best arcade game for iPhone and iPad: Osmos
Osmos is best described as an ambient arcade game. Although demanding quick thinking and fast reflexes, it also rewards planning and patience.
The aim is to grow your mote, which can absorb those smaller than itself and get about the place by ejecting matter. In moving and causing your mote to shrink, you discover an uneasy balancing act must be continually played out as you explore playgrounds that echo microscopic primordial soup through to solar systems with deadly sun-like ‘attractors’ and dozens of orbiting motes.
When Eliss arrived in 2009, it was a game that defined the iPhone, fully taking advantage of multitouch. You had to contain and manipulate planets, which could be torn apart or merged before being dragged to portals of appropriate size and colour. Letting planets of different colour collide would deplete limited energy reserves, and matters were further complicated by space storms and other hazards.
Years later, this semi-sequel still feels fresh, and in later levels success demands intricate yet speedy finger gymnastics. Beyond the original game, there’s also a truly crazed endless mode to master.
In a world devoid of humans, robots have seemingly taken up hoverboarding and kleptomania. A nefarious android has pilfered all the batteries that power your village, and so you hop on your board and scoot after him, scooping up any batteries dropped in his wake, across 30 diverse levels.
This could have all been painfully generic, but Power Hover pushes everything to the max. The simple controls — left or right, and that’s it — are twinned with floaty physics that lends the game a unique feel. The level design is superb, optimal pathways weaving through deserts infested with giant sand worms and spider-like drilling apparatus intent on stabbing an inconvenient hole in your droid. It all adds up to a challenge that’s familiar and yet has the capacity to surprise and delight.
Fruit Ninja reimagined by a lover of precision geometry, Linia rewards gamers with the keen eye, lightning fast reactions, and dexterity of a snake snatching prey out of thin air. Each of the 80 or so scenes features shapes that bob, weave and meander. Your task is to swipe through them in such a way that your finger collides with shapes to match the colour order of a set of discs elsewhere on the screen.
Linia never urges you to hurry. You can watch the patterns and cycles until you clock when to strike. Then it’s all down to a pixel-perfect slice across the screen at precisely the right time, before, presumably, finally allowing yourself to blink, having been staring at the screen for a good couple of minutes waiting for your moment.
Gaming’s dead. A virus infected hardware worldwide and enslaved the HoPiKo who ran the games. Except one. You know what comes next. Yep: muggins must rip through hundreds of levels, obliterating evil code by punching it in the face.
HoPiKo plays out at serious speed. This is super-fast twitch action that feels like someone strapped a top-down leapy game to Super Hexagon. Its brutal nature may alienate, but it’s also infectious. You’ll curse every time you die on the final section of a five-stage mini-run, but immediately return, determined that these errant bits of code won’t take you down for good.