If you approach Trials Frontier as a Trials game (capital “T”), then you’re in for disappointment. Although the game broadly echoes its console counterparts, its soul has been ripped out and replaced with the festering guts of a stinking freemium business model, and then spray-painted in mobile-friendly colors and cuteness. Yes, this is still a physics-oriented bike-balancer, set across ludicrously difficult-to-traverse tracks, but it lacks refinement and elegance.
Glorkian Warrior: Trials of Glork is what would probably happen if a quirky cartoon series was suddenly invaded by a host of goofy aliens trained by the kamikaze pilots from classic arcade blasters Galaxian and Galaga. The hero of the hour—a bipedal, three-eyed fellow wearing a talking backpack with automatic weaponry—must defend his asteroid from countless terrors intending on blowing it to bits. It’s here where you come in, guiding the purple protector left and right, blasting pulsating alien formations and occasionally having him leap about a bit in order to avoid swooping foes.
It’s just as well that ninjas have long been associated with a mercenary take on warfare as opposed to honor-obsessed samurai. In Shadow Blade, hero Kuro isn’t averse to quite a bit of unsporting bloodshed after he receives news about the Amida clan rising once again — and reasons that he must immediately inform the sole surviving ninja master. Unfortunately, Sensei lacks a cell phone, and so Kuro must fight his way through 30 smallish core levels of traps and bodies that inconveniently lie in the way of his goal.
Hopping onto a motorbike and barreling through the air while doing backflips is exciting stuff, but executing daredevil stunts while atop a tank or riding a runaway rocket? Joe Danger certainly doesn't shy away from peril in his latest action-packed obstacle course romp. While it doesn't add much new to the core stunt-centric formula laid out in predecessor Joe Danger Touch, Infinity's fresh settings, goofy characters, and challenging stages still make for a joyous ride.
One-man indie studio Damp Gnat (a.k.a. Reece Millidge) has proven itself a purveyor of experiences that are short, sweet, and sensationally stunning. Last year’s single-screen iPad mini-golf course in Wonderputt made a strong mark, and it’s followed up in the exquisite Icycle: On Thin Ice – a 2D platformer that bears a similarly impeccable sense of design, yet explores altogether different territory. The result is an unforgettable, humor-spiked affair in which you’ll guide a half-naked man on a bicycle through an array of surreal challenges.
Punishing puzzle-platform games are nothing new on iOS, but Stealth Inc. raises the bar in both creativity and challenge with the inventive gauntlet of deadly devices it sends you merrily charging through. Trapped inside a cloning facility, your mission in this clever puzzler is to escape with your hide intact. That's not so easy when there's a vast network of closed-circuit cameras watching from all directions. Outsmarting these mechanical overseers to circumvent the many dangerous traps is a real thrill — assuming you don't mind dying a lot in the process.
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.
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.
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.
It's no secret that Google TV has had a rough go of it, despite Eric Schmidt's claims of living room domination. But could a simple rebranding to connect the dots to Google's mobile products do the trick?