Best arcade game for iPhone and iPad: Forget-Me-Not
Forget-Me-Not is a pick-and-mix of classic arcade gaming. You control a little square with eyes who spews lasers and munches flowers.
As he ambles about each randomly generated dungeon, other critters go about their business, which usually means furiously trying to kill anything nearby. Before long, open warfare breaks out and huge chunks of the maze are obliterated as you frantically seek out the key to the exit.
Equal parts Pac-Man, Rogue, Wizard of Wor and Gauntlet, and with dashes of other arcade titles, Forget-Me-Not is easily the equal of every one of its inspirations, and one of the finest arcade titles we’ve ever played.
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.
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’.
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.
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 US$1.99 (RM8) 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.
Sky Force 2014
Sky Force titles have been providing old-school shoot ’em up larks on the iPhone since 2009, but this latest release takes things to a whole new level.
It’s gorgeous, with beautifully rendered environments and waves of ships zooming about the place. More importantly, the addictive gameplay that’s the hallmark of the series remains intact, giving you a dazzling blaster with plenty of character for no coins at all.
The sole drawback is that it can get a bit grindy, although you can always spend some IAP on a star doubler to help you upgrade your craft more rapidly.
HungryMaster features Delica and her cat, Saten, ‘scrubbing’ enemies to turn them into food that’s then fed to oddly ravenous houses. It looks like a NES classic, but plays like a thoroughly modern (if relentlessly frenetic) touchscreen title.
There’s an amusingly knowing sense of humour at the heart of HungryMaster, too, notably during cut-scenes that ape curiously scripted Japanese titles. “Does Saten like drink?” “Alcohol is the best!” (To be fair, we can’t argue.)