Mobile and console games

Thomas Was Alone
£5.99, iPad. Age 9 ★★★★☆

Thomas is a rectangle, an artificial intelligence trapped in a video game. Can his jumping ability — and the help of other shapes, each with their own skills — allow him to escape? It’s remarkable how these simple geometries develop real personalities, aided by a well-written script (narrated by the writer and broadcaster Danny Wallace), with comments by the game’s fictitious programmers preceding each chapter and hinting at a deeper back story. In other, earlier formats this was Bafta award-winning stuff. But in the years it’s taken to come to the iPad some of the novelty has worn off: the idea of self-aware characters “imprisoned” in a game has become almost a cliché, from the film Wreck-It Ralph to Sometimes You Die for mobile, reviewed here last month. Luckily the puzzle-solving and wonderfully precise controls add enough enjoyment to make up for a now-familiar theme. MB

Smash Hit
Free, Android, iPad, iPhone. Age 4 ★★★★★

There’s a genre of game that is basically an excuse for you to travel through and admire a beautiful landscape, normally to the accompaniment of plinky-plonk new age music. If you’ve ever wondered whether the gameplay would be improved by hurling marbles into all those delicately rendered towers, check out Smash Hit. As you are wafted through an otherworldly paradise, tap the screen to fire steel balls at the architecture. Blast special crystals into shards and you gain additional ammunition, while failure to break open the glass barriers the architects foolishly place in your path loses you 10 balls at a time. A “relaxation tape” spoof instrumental soundtrack is the icing on the cake. It’s such great fun that you won’t begrudge the £1.49 in-app purchase needed to save your progress and restart at the apex of your last effort rather than go back to checkpoints. MB

AngerForce — Strikers
£1.99, iPad, iPhone. Age 9 ★★★☆☆

Twenty years ago the nation’s arcades echoed to the sound of “bullet hell” games in which you steered your battlecruiser over a landscape riddled with tracers, your finger held permanently on the fire button. AngerForce relives those glory days as you steer your battlecruiser . . . well, you know the rest. Firing is automatic and permanent, leaving you free to trace the best path through the mayhem and launch additional bombs and missiles, all while the obligatory rock soundtrack throbbing away in the background. The enemy seems to be some sort of machine uprising — it is not entirely clear, as the pre-title sequence and help menus slavishly reproduce the same strangled “Engrish” fondly remembered from the original arcade games. Great fun, all the same, complete with a (very) brief Lite version that is available free. MB

Super Time Force
£12, Xbox 360, Xbox One. Age 12 ★★★★☆

As a downloadable time-travel puzzler/ shoot-’em- up, Super Time Force is in a class of one. It looks like a late-1980s action game, complete with blocky graphics and a hero racing left to right through the centuries, from the Jurassic period to the medieval era, blasting away at anything that moves. So far, so standard, but Super Time Force boasts a unique gameplay touch: at the second of death — or indeed any moment beforehand — you can pause the action and pull in another member of the team to fight alongside your hero, doubling your firepower. What’s more, each ally has a different ability, such as shooting through walls or blocking bullets, so it’s very much a case of bringing in the right help at the right time. The great thing is that you can keep on doing this, stacking up more and more characters, until the screen is ablaze. Does that all sound a tad too clever? Don’t worry — it’s a riot. Super indeed. SA

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