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10 best iPhone and iPad games this week - Shadow Blade, Bardbarian, and more
By Mark Brown 17 January 2014
Game Name: New releases round-up | Publisher: Steel Media Ltd | Format: iPhone, iPad
Every Friday, Pocket Gamer offers hands-on impressions of the week's best new iPhone and iPad games.

It's always nice to receive a pleasant surprise. Shadow Blade, for example, wasn't hotly anticipated or even on our radar, but it turned out to be solid, fluid, and lots of fun.

That's part of the thrill of the App Store. iOS games aren't generally preceded by an enormous PR hype campaign filled with TV ad spots and "vertical slice" previews. They just pop out of the ether and plop onto our laps.

Here are ten games we were pleased to find in our general crotch area this week.

Think we've missed a top new iOS game? Shout at us with all your might in the comments section at the bottom.



This week's top pick

Shadow Blade
By Crescent Moon Games - buy on iPhone and iPad (£1.49 / $1.99)



Shadow Blade is a fast and fluid speedrun platformer for fans of games like League of Evil and Xbox Live's Super Meat Boy.

It's all about romping through levels as fast as you can by bouncing off walls, dodging spikes, and quickly assassinating enemies with a handful of sword strikes. Collecting medals for finishing levels under the target time is a lot of fun.

Plus, the game's got solid touchscreen controls (and support for iOS 7 pads if you've got one), and a whole bundle of levels to play through. Shadow Blade is a little rough around the edges, but it's well worth a poke.



Also out this week...

Lost Yeti
By Gionathan Pesaresi - buy on iPhone and iPad (99p / 99c)

Lost Yeti

A sweet puzzler with the sort of chunky pixel-art and chiptune music that sends me into a hot flush. But don't let the twee visuals deceive you: this single-screen puzzle game gets very hard, very fast.

In each level, you shift ice cubes to help a wandering Yeti pick up lollies, avoid enemies, and get to the exit. New traps and enemies are introduced all the time to keep you guessing, and even the earliest levels require some serious thought.

Mega Jump 2
By Get Set Games - buy on iPhone and iPad (Free)

Mega Jump 2

If you're not bored to tears by Doodle Jump knock-offs by now, then check out this colourful new endless-bouncer. Once again, you tilt your phone left and ride to help Redford leap between platforms and coins as you avoid enemies and complete challenges.

Get Set Games does absolutely nothing to improve or advance this tired genre. But if you like these casual one-handed timewasters, then Mega Jump 2's high level of polish and bucketload of content make it worth picking up.

Magnetized
By Zhi-Yu Hong - buy on iPhone and iPad (£1.99 / $2.99)

Magnetized

Remember Slingshot Racing? That cool iOS racer where you flew around corners by latching onto pivot points in the nooks and crannies of the track?

With Magnetized, Zhi-Yu Hong borrows that idea and applies it to a series of single-screen puzzles.

So, you go through these increasingly maze-like courses by attracting yourself to the nearest magnet. This enables you to turn into corners and away from danger. It requires impeccable timing and lots of practice, but it's satisfying and well presented.

Ferris Mueller's Day Off
By Glitch Games - buy on iPhone and iPad (69p / 99c)

Ferris Mueller

My recommendation for Ferris Mueller's Day Off comes with a caveat.

So I will say that the puzzles are fiendishly smart and satisfying to finish. They're just as good as the cryptic scavenger hunts in Forever Lost, and Glitch introduces more traditional point-and-click puzzles and even word play to mix things up.

But this is also one ugly game, with crude notebook doodles for art. And while it's supposed to be funny, it's about as amusing as a kick to the teeth. Winking references to John Hughes movies and Breaking Bad and Monkey Island are no replacement for actual gags.

Bardbarian
By Bulkypix - buy on iPhone and iPad (69p / 99c)

Bardbarian

The genre-bending Bardbarian is almost like a roving tower defence game. Instead of plopping down turrets, you recruit defensive units which follow you around the map as they fire arrows and magic spells at creeping invaders.

You play as a vicious barbarian-turned-passive bard, who plays his axe like an electric guitar to inspire his troops. It's got nice cartoon art, a rocking soundtrack by Maximum Satan, and it's generally a good time.

Baldur's Gate II
By Beamdog - buy on iPad (£10.49 / $14.99)

Bladurs Gate II

It's the long-awaited iPad edition of classic role-play romp Baldur's Gate II. But as much as we love the underlying RPG, with all its depth and complexities, we were less thrilled with this tablet port.

Reviewer Matt T. rolled a 6 (out of 10) here. He said: "An incredibly rich and detailed experience, but the control requires far more finesse than a touchscreen offers, and the experience is often as frustrating as it is fun."

Rhythm Thief & the Paris Caper
By Sega - buy on iPhone and iPad (£6.99 / $9.99)

Rhythm Thief

Following a disastrous launch, this iOS port of catchy 3DS dance-'em-up Rhythm Thief was yanked from the App Store last week. Now, though, it's back. So, yes, you'll be pulling shapes across Paris as you do jigs to uncover the secret of your dad's disappearance.

In his Silver Award review of the game, Matt D. said that "Rhythm Thief & the Paris Caper is a near-perfect rhythm game held back only by its persistent social integration and always-on connectivity requirements."

Cat Basket
By Retro Dreamer - buy on iPhone and iPad (Free)

Cat Basket

The concept for this one is simple. It's raining cats and dogs - literally. You tilt your iPhone left and right to catch the cats. If you hold your finger on the screen, you'll turn the titular container around to block dogs.

With Velocispider and SlamBots, developer Retro Dreamer has shown it can make simple games that get under your skin and demand just one more go. Cat Basket should prove to be no exception.

Small Fry
By Noodlecake Studios - buy on iPhone and iPad (Free)

Small Fry

A fishy little free-to-play casual game about a tiny fish who needs to escape from swordfish, sharks, electric jellyfish, and asteroids. All the while collecting coins and leaping from the sea to the sky to space.

It's nothing that hasn't been seen before in the likes of Tiny Wings and Jetpack Joyride, but the simple one-touch controls and steep difficulty curve make it worth a go.
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