LEGO The Lord of the Rings' transition to iOS is impeccably smooth, even if you'll miss out on some of the more exciting moments from the Mac version. Guiding Frodo Baggins and his crew of heroes on the path to Mordor works amazingly well on the smaller screen of an iPad or iPhone — and when the ring is finally cast into the fire, you'll still want to return to the fold to grab all of the elusive collectibles in Free Play mode.
Unlike its comparatively breezy predecessor, Rayman Fiesta Run has teeth. The mechanics haven’t significantly changed, and the game is still as amusing and beautifully presented as before, but a revised level progression and brutally precise platform action make for an absorbing and terrifically challenging experience. Even if you’re not the type to play and replay stages for high scores or collectables, Fiesta Run will pinpoint your perfectionist streak and make you leap and lunge until every last glowing Lum is in hand.
Thor is one truly badass warrior, but even his trusty hammer, electrifying moves, and a gaggle of armored cohorts to summon into battle can't quite save his latest jaunt from feeling a bit rickety around the edges. On a visual level, Thor: The Dark World is certainly an attractive-looking top-down brawler, which sends you through beautiful 3D environments to smash up evildoers and demonic beasts. Unfortunately, pushy microtransactions and shaky combat break the spell early on.
Bit.Trip Presents… Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien is arguably one of the best games to hit Mac this year, so the debut of a gorgeous iOS version is more than welcomed. And for the most part, Bit.Trip Run! manages to carry over the intense platforming action while attempting to keep things working on a touch screen. But amid all of that fantastic gameplay, you'll sadly find a game that isn't quite ready for prime time, and desperately needs an update to smooth over some notable issues.
Depending on your perspective, free-to-play games might either be the best or worst thing to happen to the mobile platform – but whatever your take, it's hard to deny that the approach comes with notable compromises. Dead Trigger 2 is a fairly engrossing first-person shooter with a lot to offer in regards to comfortable controls and enjoyable blood-spattered gameplay, but you'll quickly find yourself sitting around doing nothing in order to avoid throwing money into the works.
Confused demonyms notwithstanding, Romans from Mars is a fairly straightforward iOS offering from Sidekick Games: waves of green-skinned centurions are attacking your ramparts and you, a lone ballista operator, are tasked with holding them off. The Roman deity Jupiter supplies intermittent spells — an earthquake here, a lightning bolt there — but the bulk of Romans from Mars consists of launching huge arrows as quickly and accurately as possible against increasingly complex hordes of aliens. Unfortunately, it devolves into mindless tapping, while the free-to-play approach makes upgrades prohibitively expensive before long.
With a laser pistol in one hand and a glowing sword in the other, charging through long corridors filled with killer robots, oozing slime creatures, and alien freaks sounds like a good time. It is — at least to an extent — in Echo Prime. This sci-fi brawler from Robot Entertainment (Hero Academy) is a high-energy tap-fest that balances smart controls and formidable challenge. The satisfaction that comes from cleaving through droves of foes in a successful run dampens during longer play sessions, however, due to intense repetition that'll leave your wrists aching.
Fist of Awesome is a game with time-traveling bears, a talking fist, and bears being uppercut by said fist. Suffice it to say, it's all a bit absurd; when your character is told not to think too much about what's going on in the story, it's advice that you would be wise to follow yourself. Underneath all of the silliness and some less-than-enjoyable attempts at humor, though, is a surprisingly fun action game when played in short bursts.
Survival and dependence take on new meaning in Duet, an abstract minimalist game of two tethered dots navigating a perilous world of unforgiving white shapes. It’s full of contradictions — the game is both brutally hard and beautifully meditative — and will leave you tearing your hair out, but Duet offers up something special beyond its intense challenge.
Who expected one of the year's most intriguing games to be about fonts? Type:Rider features an odd premise, being an experiential side-scroller inspired by the history of typography, but it mostly soars due to excellent production values and inventive levels based on the fonts themselves and the processes and techniques around them. As a pair of dots, you'll roll through striking stages that spotlight paths built on the backbone of the fonts themselves.