Hello Apple and Android acolytes! The app stores thrum with activity, but is any of it actually any use? It’s anyone’s guess! In a narrower, more correct way though, it’s my guess, and my top picks, as usual, follow.
Not the paintball you're thinking of.
The world of pinball is a fascinating precursor to the advent of arcade games as we know them, and while it’s hard to beat the feel of the flippers on a real vintage cabinet, a wide variety of classic cabinets have been recreated exceedingly well to run on the computers that eventually replaced them.
Rather than pursuing the cascading lights and shiny lacquered hyper-realism present in titles like Pinball Arcade, Inks simplifies and crystallizes the core concept while throwing in an uncanny yet still recognisably skeuomorphic touch. Rather than achieving timed runs or racking up ludicrously high scores, Inks requires the player to target paint pockets which delightfully explode, transforming the board’s bare beige canvas into a technicolour mess. The ball then continues to track vibrant colours in thin curving lines from top to bottom, each flip preserved as art. Lose too many balls down the abyss, and the vile black ball is dislodged, threatening to redact your all your lovely chaotic work. Replete with charming mechanical sound effects and the perfect form factor for mobile gaming, this is more than a little special.
Get all your ducks, i mean swans in a row.
Tales and myths of old have proved to be a wellspring of ideas to fuel the plots of games, from Age Of Mythology to God Of War and even Dante’s Inferno, but despite its rich history there aren’t many that draw on Irish lore. Legend Of Lir seeks to redress the balance with a charming and pleasant puzzler structured around the tale of the Children Of Lir, who the stories tell were turned into swans that roamed the land for hundreds of years.
As the eldest child, you must round up your cygnet siblings by navigating treacherous waters, propelled by ripples in a method reminiscent of the cell-based Osmos. A deft touch is required to avoid careening into rocks and other hazards as you try to reunite your family. With the story unfolding between stages to a lilting acoustic guitar and brass score, this is an engaging way to learn about one of Ireland’s most celebrated myths.
Just trying to provoke a reaction.
Real science is hard, and best left to scientists. Luckily for the rest of us, there’s Beyondium. Blue and red particles radiate from a central orb at ever increasing speeds and quantities, and like colours must be connected and dissipated with targeted swipes to sustain the reaction. An unwelcome shock awaits anyone who draws a line between opposing hues, and eventually the core fades completely as the frenetic particle shower becomes unmanageable. A slick clinical interface and cold pan-drum focussed soundtrack serve to increase the tension.
Several difficulty levels are available to try for those with keen eyes and even keener reaction times. Containing all of the hyper-reflex action of Super Hexagon but somehow also strangely calming at the same time, Beyondium is definitely worth experimenting with.
Like you couldn't pay someone to pop them for you.
Now that the economy has tanked and no-one has any real money, why not console yourself by matching and collecting some fake cash? Would-be investors are tasked with lining up currency symbols on a hexagonal grid to achieve the longest chain possible. It’s nothing we haven't seen the likes of in Puzzle Quest or Candy Crush Saga, but it’s well presented and jovial. The strategy switches from level to level; in some you have a limited number of moves to clear the board and must plan ahead, in others it’s a race against the clock to rack up those sweet sweet millions. Extra lives are portioned out through in-app purchases, but availing yourself of these may negatively affect your real-life balance, so watch out!