Oscura Second Shadow

Oscura was among the early dark and spooky side-scrolling platformers on mobile back in 2011, making the most of the silhouette figures on an atmospherically coloured background. The sequel once again sees you travelling across a shadowy land, restoring light, collecting the scattered crystals from the shattered lighthouse to return the world to its former glory. For all its style, though, Oscura Second Shadow is also a game of substance: you will die, a lot, and the challenge becomes how perfectly you can complete each level to collect those hard-earned medals.

Platform: iOS

Price: AU$3.79 | US$2.99 | £1.99

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Photo by: Surprise Attack Games / Caption by:

World of Tanks Blitz

If you like World of Tanks, well, World of Tanks Blitz will be your new favourite mobile iteration of blowing things up from giant armoured vehicles. It is, by necessity, scaled back somewhat, but it looks amazing on a tablet, with controls optimised for touchscreen, over 90 tanks from the German, US and Russian armies and seven-vs-seven PvP for shorter, more intense games.

Platform: iOS

Price: Free

Published:
Photo by: Wargaming.net / Caption by:

Paperama

There's something meditative about origami -- but something quite challenging as well. It's this combination that has been captured so neatly in Paperama. On each level, you are given a shape, and you need to fold the paper to fit that shape as accurately as possible in order to progress to the next level. There are no timers, and no penalties for getting it wrong -- you can try as many times as you like, purchasing hints as you desire (although some are given free as you progress). It's one of those deeply engrossing puzzle games that manages not to stress you out in the process.

Platform: iOS

Price: Free

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Photo by: FDG Entertainment / Caption by:

Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake

Kickstarter-funded Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake tells the story of Niko, who wakes up to find that… monsters have absconded with the delicious cake he was saving for breakfast. It has an adorable vector art style (which is actually the subject of a plagiarism claim, so that might be worth checking out and drawing your own conclusions), the game is a series of puzzles where you have to figure out how to reach the cake, coins and other goodies with the help of your monster friends -- while avoiding getting caught by the cake-eating meanies. It's perfectly playable in bite-sized pieces, with a smooth difficulty curve that ramps up to a deep sense of satisfaction when you do manage to solve a particularly tricky stage.

Platform: Android | iOS

Price: AU$5.31 | US$4.99 | £2.93 (Android); AU$6.49 | US$4.99 | £2.99 (iOS)

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Photo by: Sleep Ninja Games / Caption by:

Plantman

In a post-apocalyptic world, nuclear war has devastated the planet, and it's only through the use of a giant greenhouse that the world can be oxygenated. As gardener Andy Sprout, you just want to do your job, splat the mutated aphids and have a nice cup of coffee -- but on this particular day, something new has come to the plant plant. The gameplay consists of side-scrolling platformer puzzles -- you have to figure out how to use the bugs to your advantage, avoid being eaten, and splatter the bugs when you're done. It's a nice mix of strategy and action.

Platform: iOS

Price: Free

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Photo by: The National Filmschool of Denmark / Caption by:

Rival Knights

As a Gameloft-published title, this one comes with an IAP warning, but you shouldn't let that deter you from at least checking it out, because it's also a highly polished game based around jousting. As a knight at the bottom of the ranks, you need to joust your way to the top to win the grand prize. Gameplay has two core quick time-style mechanics: a meter, where you have to tap the screen when the indicator reaches the sweet spot to speed your horse; and aiming at a reticule on your opponent's armour to unseat them. These actually work really well together for a decent game of skill and speed.

Platform: Android | iOS | WindowsPhone

Price: Free (with IAP)

Published:
Photo by: Gameloft / Caption by:

Wrong Way Racing

Usually in racing games, the point is to go faster than all the other cars and be the first to complete all your laps of the course. In Wrong Way Racing, it's… not. You and three other NPC cars are racing a two-lane, oval course. Your goal is to make as many circuits as possible going the wrong way, changing lanes to avoid the other cars. It's silly, yes, but great fun -- and surprisingly difficult.

Platform: Android | iOS

Price: Free

Published:
Photo by: Nocanwin / Caption by:

99 Bricks Wizard Academy

This game is kind of like Tetris in that you're dropping bricks to fit together -- and it even uses the Tetrimino shapes -- but that's where the similarities end. The aim is to build the tallest wizard tower that you can by stacking up the blocks, but physics are in effect, meaning that they don't necessarily fit together as neatly as you might like -- and that, eventually, it's bound to come crashing down. You do have magic spells to help you keep things together, but your rival -- the evil wizard -- will be working to undermine your efforts with his own spells.

Platform: Android | iOS

Price: Free (Android); AU$3.79 | US$2.99 | £1.99 (iOS)


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Photo by: WeirdBeard / Caption by:

VVVVVV

Before Super Hexagon, Terry Cavanagh made VVVVVV, the tale of a lone astronaut left behind on a failing spacecraft, trying to find a way to teleport to safety. Like its chiptune soundtrack, side-scrolling platform format and 8-bit graphics imply, it's old-school brutal, as you flip gravity to avoid hazards -- sometimes requiring razor-sharp timing. Don't forget to pick up the free companion app, Super Gravitron, the minigame playable at the end of the original Flash game (Android | iOS).

Platform: Android | iOS

Price: AU$3.59 | US$2.99 | £1.99 (Android); AU$3.79 | US$2.99 | £1.99 (iOS)

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Photo by: Terry Cavanagh / Caption by:

Broken Age

Double Fine's beleaguered Broken Age finally arrived for PC earlier this year -- and now it's dropped for iPad too. And yes -- it's absolutely worth the wait. Its production values are through the roof -- beautifully acted and animated, split between the two characters -- Vella, who is trying to escape being made a village sacrifice, and Shane, who is trying to escape the boring routine of life on a space vessel.

Platform: iOS

Price: AU$12.99 | US$9.99 | £6.99

Published:
Photo by: Double Fine Productions / Caption by:

Lex

Lex is kind of like playing Scrabble with yourself. You're given a set of letters with which to form words -- but there's a catch. All letters are on a timer, and when a letter timer runs out, it's round over. This means that you need to use letters quickly -- and older letters faster, since they'll run out sooner. It's surprisingly tricky, even for the most seasoned Scrabble player.

Platform: Android | iOS

Price: AU$1.05 | US$0.99 | £0.58 (Android); AU$1.29 | US$0.99 | £0.69 (iOS)

Published:
Photo by: Simple Machine / Caption by:

Blood & Laurels

Blood & Laurels, penned by Emily Short (one of the finest creators of interactive fiction) is a riveting read: as a humble poet in ancient Rome, Marcus, your job is to make your master look good; but when an oracle gives you news that could change the fate of the empire, you have to make some fast decisions -- and try to stay alive. Each part of the two-part story can be played in four different ways: glory, loyalty, piety or self-preservation, giving you some pretty hefty replay options. You can also get achievements based on the ending you reach -- and choose a partner to fall in love.

Platform: iOS

Price: AU$3.79 | US$2.99| £1.99

Published:
Photo by: Richard Evans / Caption by:

Qvadriga

Continuing on the ancient Rome theme is Qvadriga -- a racing game with chariots. It's not, however, your standard zooming-around-the-track racer; it's a lot more complicated. It's more a strategy game, with your colour faction giving you various advantages. As you race around the track, you can periodically take actions, such as whipping your horses, stabilising your chariot, accelerating and decelerating. Each action has consequences; whipping your horses too much will injure them, whereas reckless driving will see you crash, whether it be going too fast, hugging the inner wall and scraping your chariot -- even trying to play it safe can see you go head over heels. The aim isn't to be the fastest, but to be the last chariot standing.

Platform: Android | iOS

Price: AU$10.70 | US$9.99 | £7.13 (Android); AU$12.99 | US$9.99 | £6.99 (iOS)

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Photo by: Slitherine / Caption by:

The Ministry of Silly Walks

As far as endless runners go (or in this case, endless silly walkers), the officially Monty Python-licensed Ministry of Silly Walks game isn't anything special: you avoid obstacles by jumping over them and sliding under, and collect coins to upgrade your outfit. For fans of the Python lads, though, it does have that special silly walks flavour (no, not albatross).

Platform: Android | iOS

Price: AU$1.79 | US$0.99 | £0.99 (Android); AU$1.29 | US$0.99 | £0.69 (iOS)

Published:
Photo by: Boondoggle Studios / Caption by:

Steel Mayhem: Battle Commander

If there's one thing the world needs more of, it's battle mech. Steel Mayhem: Battle Commander gives you your very own upgradeable battle mech as the Sheriff of Galactic Security to battle hordes of other mecha, armoured vehicles and other foes in a massive, non-linear, 60-mission campaign.

Platform: iOS

Price: Free

Published:
Photo by: Aurus Group / Caption by:

Sky Force 2014

2004's Sky Force has received a special HD remake and port for its 10th anniversary -- and it's arcade shoot-em-up at its best. The controls are simple: you slide your finger around on the screen to control your plane, dodging enemies and gunfire, while trying to blast them out of the sky and rescue civilians. Stars scatter when you destroy a foe, which can be collected to exchange for upgrades. And it's just graphically beautiful.

Platform: Android | iOS

Price: Free

Published:
Photo by: Infinite Dreams / Caption by:

King of the Course

As with Gameloft, EA games come with an IAP caveat, but if you're into golfing titles, this one is solid, and you can play it in increments without having to spend money, since your lives regenerate over time. The controls are optimised for touchscreen: you hold your finger on the screen to swing, then swipe up when the club is at the right point to hit the ball, with the line of your swipe influencing the direction of the ball. When the ball is in the air, you can make small swipes to spin it close to your goal, and points are awarded for how accurately you hit.

Platform: Android | iOS

Price: Free

Published:
Photo by: Electronic Arts / Caption by:

Tales of the Adventure Company

Every month, it seems, we have a new PDL to wet our permadeath whistles. June's excellent contribution is Tales of the Adventure Company -- a lo-fi tile-based version. You have only 99 turns per game to track down and kill the Lich -- and those turns go quickly. Each level of the dungeon consists of a five-by-five tile grid, so you have to strategically plan which tiles to explore and how to manage your health; using a campfire to heal party members uses up 10 turns. It's an interesting and refreshing take on the genre.

Platform: Android | iOS

Price: AU$2.13 | US$1.99 | £1.18 (Android); AU$2.49 | US$1.99 | £1.49 (iOS)

Published:
Photo by: Slothwerks / Caption by:

Damn Little Town

If you like Carcasonne and Downfall of Pompeii, Damn Little Town -- which was inspired by both of those games -- will be right up your alley. The game takes place in two stages: first, you place your tiles and your dudes, trying to create clear paths towards the temples in the four corners of the map, while an enemy AI places their own pieces (multiplayer can be unlocked by buying the full game via IAP). In the second stage, you and your foe try to block each other's exist by placing monsters to gobble up the fleeing dudes.

Platform: iOS

Price: Free

Published:
Photo by: Illya Sikeryn / Caption by:

Out last month for Android

Waiting for a particular game that got an iOS release a while ago? Here are our picks.

Eliss Infinity (AU$3.20 | US$2.99 | £1.76)

Wave Wave (AU$1.98 | US$1.99 | £1.09)

The World Ends With You (AU$22.99 | US$17.99 | £12.99)

Castle of Illusion (AU$10.63 | US$9.99 | £5.88)

Topia World Builder (AU$2.16 | US$1.99 | £1.18)

Angry Birds Epic (Free)

Solforge (Free)

Band Stars (Free)

Published:
Photo by: Wave Wave screen by Thomas Janson / Caption by:
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