When it comes to games inspired by brick-breaking Breakout, Anodia is right up there. The standard ball-and-paddle brick-breaking mechanic is mixed up with a variety of features: power-ups and power-downs (that you can't always evade), and a variety of levels, each with their own interesting brick mechanics. The result is a game that's rooted in a timeless classic, but is nevertheless clever, fresh and fun. Throw in some pretty slick graphics and you have a game that's among the best brick-breakers around.
The appeal of the procedural death labyrinth (AKA roguelike) cannot be denied.
And Sproggiwood oozes appeal. Not just because of the adorable oozy jelly-monsters. You've been spirited from your peaceful agrarian existence to the land of the Sproggi, who wants you to solve problems. That overarching narrative allows you to stitch together a series of quests, in turn-based dungeons, where brain means just as much as brawn, and where you can grow more powerful by collecting loot. The combination of adorable art, fun dialogue, bite-sized dungeons and a clear sense of progression makes Sproggiwood pretty danged difficult to put down.
Price: $9.99 | AU$12.76 | £7.74 (Android); $9.99 | AU$12.99 | £7.99 (iOS)
OTTTD and One More Line developer SMG swung One More Dash seemingly out of nowhere. It's similar to One More Line: You have to get a ball from point to point along a path. Like One More Line, the controls are one-touch simple. Tapping flings the ball from node to node along predefined lines. The tricky bit is getting the ball safely into the circle: barriers and spikes will bounce you back, bounce you off into space or kill you dead. Further complicating matters is the fact that, once your ball is in a circle, the circle starts to shrink -- you only have a short time to make your next move. It's the same compelling, one-touch arcade fun SMG brought out in One More Line, and it's probably pretty safe to say that these guys are on a winning streak.
Where One More Dash is twitchy tension, Puzzledrome is zen, letting you relax, take your time and tease out the solution at your own pace. Each level presents you with a grid of shapes. The aim is to rearrange those shapes to make each column and row a palindrome in as few moves as possible. However, there's no limit to how many moves you are allowed to make, no penalties for making too many and no timers (as well as no in-app purchases). It's a wonderfully soothing puzzle experience.
Price: $1.99 | AU$2.49 | £1.49
The Legend of Grimrock, paying homage to (and in fact heavily based on) 1987's Dungeon Master, is a superlative dungeon-crawling experience. It takes place in the prison of Grimrock, where your aim is to get your team of adventurers to freedom. As you explore the dungeons in first-person 3D, you'll have to solve locked doors and puzzles, collect loot and fight the monsters lurking in the dark, all the while trying to escape.
It hearkens back to the old-school dungeon experience, with its grid-based layout, real-time mechanics and puzzles that don't spoonfeed you solutions, yet with a modern makeover for a game that feels both nostalgic and new at the same time.
Price: $4.99 | AU$6.49 | £3.99
There aren't nearly enough of the old LucasArts adventure games on iOS, but with the studio remaining open in its bare-bones capacity as a licensor, hopefully we'll see a lot more.
Grim Fandango, starring Manny the skeletal travel agent in an adventure that mixes Aztec myth with noir, is one of the studio's best. As it was written and directed by Tim Schafer, it's only right and proper that Double Fine has remastered and re-released it, including a magnificently realised iPad edition.
If you've played it before, you probably need no further convincing. If you haven't, what the heck are you even waiting for, sheesh.
Price: $9.99 | AU$12.62 | £7.87 (Android); $9.99 | AU$12.99 | £7.99 (iOS)
It's probably fair to say that most twin-stick shooters take place on a flat plane. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions does not. Each level takes place on some sort of three-dimensional shape. It's not quite a bullet hell -- the enemy objects you need to destroy don't fire back -- but you can move in any direction, and if you collide with an object too many times, you get the boom explodo death and need to try again. It has, as is to be expected, production values through the roof. It looks incredible, with brightly coloured objects and reactive environments, and gameplay is, excuse the pun, an absolute blast.
Price: $4.99 | AU$6.49 | £3.99
For those of you who play Goat Simulator on PC, GoatZ -- the zombified goat expansion pack for the game that lets you run around exploding things as a goat -- is available as paid DLC. For iOS and Android users, it's a new totally separate game! Lucky!
It adds, of course, the zombies, which includes zombie goats and zombie everything else, a crafting system that allows you to craft weapons, a large new map, survival mode, where you have to eat something every five minutes, and a bunch of unlockable new goats, because why would you play an Angora when you could play a Saanen? (That is a silly thing to say, there are no goat breeds in Goat Simulator. The unlockable goats look more like giraffes and shopping carts, and have crazy abilities.)
Price: $4.99 | AU$6.49 | £3.99 (Android); $4.99 | AU$6.49 | £3.99 (iOS)
Tallowmere is another retro dungeon crawler, this time of the 2D-platformer variety. Lady Tallowmere has a cruel dungeon just for you to explore, loaded with traps and monsters. But if you can survive, you get to claim the loot. She's just nice that way.
While the gameplay is a lot of fun, with clearly mapped, intuitive virtual buttons, I particularly like the game's sense of humour. For instance, you can increase your max HP. All you have to do is kill a cute little kitten.
It's also a nice little homage to the old Metroidvania-style platforming, with a difficulty level that can be adjusted for those of you who like frustration.
Price: $2.99 | AU$3.99 | £2.49 (Android); $3.99 | AU$4.99 | £2.99 (iOS)
The long-awaited sequel to 2012's Knights of Pen & Paper has arrived. The original game let you play out a pen-and-paper role-playing campaign in the style of a turn-based RPG.
This premise allows some interesting mechanics. For example, each human player at the table has a type that adds a bonus, as well as their character's race and class -- for example, a jock whose character is a dwarf paladin -- as well as some fun characterisations, as the players take on their RP personas.
Just one caveat: The game isn't quite as long as its predecessor and its expansion, but that doesn't mean more content won't be added in the future.
Price: $4.99 | AU$5.61 | £3.99 (Android); $4.99 | AU$6.49 | £3.99 (iOS)
OK, Foursaken. You have my attention. The four-brother dev team behind Block Fortress, Phantom Rift and Heroes & Castles keeps on killing it.
Heroes & Castles 2 is, well, not a sequel exactly… more of an expansion on the same theme. It's a third-person action-strategy RPG set in a medieval world. You play as a heroic knight, mage or paladin defending your castle from waves of attacking foes.
This is accomplished partially via real-time action combat and partially by building a giant army. You can also customise and upgrade your hero, your equipment, your units and your castle.
As you progress through the game, you can summon more powerful units to fight by your side.
It's not perfect. There's no targeting system, so staying locked on to a moving foe feels clunky, and some of the animations need work. It is, however, filling a niche that needs more representation on the iTunes app store, and is eminently playable in spite of its minor peccadilloes.
Price: $1.99 | AU$2.49 | £1.49
Teenaged Erica is the victim of a cruel prank. She's found herself locked up in a haunted house with a disembodied spirit whose voice sounds a lot like Peter Serafinowicz, who is my humour hero, so that's my interest double-piqued (even though it's probably not him).
My love of Peter Serafinowicz aside, Til Morning's Light ticks a bunch of other boxes. Spooky haunted house story. Point-and-click puzzle-solving. Light quick-time combat to shake the gameplay up a little. An engaging heroine. Gorgeous graphics. Check all those boxes.
It's a little on the fluffier, younger side of horror as opposed to the more adult survival horror experience, but there's certainly place for both in the world.
Price: $6.99 (Android); $6.99 | AU$8.99 | £4.99 (iOS)
Totome is a very simple little arcade game. A totem pole is running on the left side of the screen. From the right side of the screen, arrows will fly. Your job is to tap the right part of the totem for that section to jump and clear the arrow. That's it. What makes the game special is how beautiful it is.
The gorgeously drawn totem poles in a lush green environment looks like something out of Princess Mononoke. You'll want to play just so you can keep looking at it.
Retro 2D side-scrolling adventure games proliferate on mobile, so it can be difficult to know which ones are worth your time. Sword of Xolan definitely falls into that category.
It comes with the standard save-the-world-from-monsters plot, but it's very cheekily self-aware about it.
It has also put together some very solid gameplay that fits nicely into the environment.
Sword of Xolan isn't as punishingly difficult as some of the games it's inspired by, but there's enough of a challenge there to keep the game interesting.
Price: $0.99 | AU$1.29 | £0.69
Match games aren't exactly a rarity, but there's something I like about SubaraCity. The premise is based on a city. You have a grid of buildings, and you have to tap on matching areas of colour to distil them down to a single block, increasing the size of your buildings and the city's population over the years (each turn counts as a year). Sometimes you have to stop and plan where you're going to tap. This will determine where the single block is placed, which means you can carefully align other blocks in turn. It's something like a more relaxed, more accessible version of Triple Town.
I thought that touchscreen skiing mechanics didn't have much more to offer. I thought incorrectly. Skiing Yeti Mountain is a top-down slalom challenge in the style of SkiFree (but with better graphics and less ear-destroying music).
And the touch controls are pretty much perfect: you steer your little skier down the slopes with just the faintest pressure of your thumb on the bottom of the screen -- it's a rare combination of completely intuitive perfectly designed for the game -- at no point does your hand obscure on-screen visibility. It seems such a small thing, but so few developers get it so utterly right.
The game is free to download, but you might want to think about making the one-off in-app purchase to remove ads. The developers have pledged half the game's profits to earthquake relief in Nepal.