Song Blaster is an arcade-style shooter that loosely incorporates your personal music library into gameplay. The concept has been done before by games like Beat Hazard and Audiosurf, but rarely has it been this playful. You won’t find in-depth strategy or demanding tests of reflex with the free-to-play Song Blaster, but what you do get is a fun, stimulating way to virtually interact with your favorite tracks.
For all of its strengths, Fightback is a game that feels tuned to reward in-app purchases more than strategy or skill. Ninja Theory, the studio behind the '80s-tinged brawler, is known for big console projects like last year’s Devil May Cry reboot and 2010’s Enslaved: Journey to the West. Those games were great — underrated, even — which is why Fightback’s shortcomings come as such a surprise.
Sega’s first attempt to mine the Mario Kart formula worked out rather well on iOS with Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, though it already looks a bit weathered by time (especially without iPhone 5+ widescreen support). Luckily, console sequel Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed has now likewise made the leap to the App Store, expanding the arcade-style approach with the addition of flight and boating segments across an array of colorful tracks inspired by classic Sega properties. It’s once more an entertaining concoction, though slow-paced progression and paid power-ups slightly diminish the effect of this mobile port.
Four years after an uneven iOS debut with Ridge Racer Accelerated, Namco Bandai’s long-running drift-racing series returns to mobile in fine form. Ridge Racer Slipstream offers little that we haven’t seen in recent handheld and console offerings, but it handles well, looks great, and packs just enough features to keep you on board for the whole hog. Online, arcade, and career modes all earn credits needed to buy and upgrade cars to keep pace as the competition gears up, while series icon Reiko reprises her role as announcer.
Even more so than the middling Angry Birds Star Wars II, Angry Birds Go! feels like an elaborate advertisement for other products rather than a purposeful game. The ever-in-vogue kart racer spinoff is tied into a series of marginally useful Telepods toys, and also tries to sell its soundtrack from the menu screens. But this free-to-play affair takes things much further via the introduction of sponsored boosts. Want to keep your kart from breaking down during a race? Use the State Farm Insurance power-up. Much more galling is the Goldfish-branded speed boost, which shoots a stream of virtual cheddar crackers behind your kart for the entire race. No, really.
With a subtitle like “The Next Generation Slicing Game,” KingHunt invites comparison to other titles in this done-to-death genre. Most slicing games — the definitive example being Halfbrick’s Fruit Ninja — are ostensibly endless: you’re free to keep playing as long as possible without failing. KingHunt’s hook is that it features all of the trappings of more traditional action games, like power-ups, life bars, distinct levels, and enemy bosses — but it lacks the timing and restraint to keep from feeling mindlessly chaotic.
Zynga’s Skateboard Slam pulls out some solid tricks and coasts over the finish line without ever breaking a sweat, although its upgrade and level unlocking systems seem cynically balanced to drive additional in-app purchases. In a fun, surprisingly deep, but ultimately somewhat frustrating experience, you stack up gnarly trick combos and race through four vibrant worlds of 10 levels each in a challenge-based single-player campaign, along with multiplayer match-ups.
Darklings' endless arcade-style approach uses gesture controls to deliver an experience that keeps you coming back for more. Using just your finger, you’ll need to draw the symbol that appears above a monster’s head to destroy it before it gets too close and knocks you out. That may sound easy, but with constant waves of enemies coming at you from all sides, plus the ever-present temptation of collecting as much currency as you can, it makes for one challenging and addictive game.
Tilt to Live wasn’t easy when it debuted in 2010, and its sequel certainly isn’t easy today. To some degree, you can consider Tilt to Live 2: Redonkulous the anti-Asteroids: using tilt controls to command a little arrow avatar, you must rid the screen of all collision-causing obstacles, only instead of shooting them it’s a matter of avoiding them for as long as you can hold out. Basically, you’ll want to keep your arrow from touching plagues of red dots that will hunt you to the ends of the earth in various patterns and formations.
Touchscreen platforms typically do a solid job of recreating individual aspects of a sport (like swinging a bat or kicking a ball), but they're rarely good at offering full simulations. While it might be a decidedly unrealistic take on football, Football Heroes does provide a fairly complete — and, more importantly, a very fun — version of the sport. Heroes is a straightforward version of 8-on-8 football with a few key differences, the most notable being your ability to punch opponents and use various power-ups.