Let's face it: The iPhone and its bigger brother, the iPad, may be the emerging powerhouses of mobile gaming, but there are also a lot of below-average titles clogging up the App Store. GameSpot's here to help you out, though, with our new weekly recommendations list of the games that we've been playing and enjoying on Apple's nifty little devices. So what's been exciting us this week?
Groove Coaster--iPhone and iPad
There are plenty of rhythm games on the iPhone and iPad, but few can match Groove Coaster when it comes to sheer style, content, and execution. Easier levels have you simply tapping anywhere on the screen in time with the music, but as you bump up the difficulty, you'll have to use drags, swipes, and more as the number of notes you have to hit increases. The vector-graphic style of the graphics give it a retro, trippy feel, with each level having its own unique "track" that dips, swirls, zigzags, and more. It's visually spectacular, and the way the game marries the music with its sleek looks is rhythm gaming at its best. There's also plenty of content here, too, with 21 songs included, each with three difficulty levels to master. Groove Coaster may not introduce anything new to the rhythm game genre, but it's still an engrossing experience filled with great music and trippy visuals.
Forget chainsaws and shotguns surgically implanted on your arm. When the zombie apocalypse comes, the weapons you'll really want to be behind are the various turrets of an AC-130, raining high-velocity metal death onto the undead hordes. Zombie Gunship takes the AC-130 level from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and adds zombies into the mix. Your task is to protect a base from being encroached upon by the undead, and you'll have a high-up aerial view through your plane's infrared. As you circle the base, you can use your 25mm gun for surgical hits, the 40mm for a wide radius blast, or the 105mm for the big boom. Each of these weapons can be upgraded through currency that you'll earn while blasting zombies, or you can take the fast route and pay real-world dollars for extra resources. Not that you'll need to; just playing through this addictive game will earn you enough of the basic upgrades, and it's literally a blast to perfect your zombie-killing skills from the AC-130. Pesky civilians that get in the way can ruin the flow somewhat (as you're only allowed to collaterally damage three of the poor saps before your game ends), but it also adds to the tension as you try to place surgical strikes using your very, very big guns.
Sid Meier's Pirates!--iPad
Sid Meier's Pirates! may be several years old now, but the recently released iPad resurrection absolutely shines on Apple's tablet, making good use of the device's touch capabilities. It's dead simple to navigate the blue ocean of the Caribbean by dragging your finger along a path for your fleet to go, and swordfighting has been simplified to a series of easy-to-learn swipes. The act of wooing the governor's daughters through the mysterious power of dance has been given a fun, rhythm game-like makeover, requiring you to tap onscreen buttons in time to the music. For those who have never played Pirates!, the game is a great mix of action, strategy, and role playing; it puts you in the pantaloons of a pirate trying to work his way up the buccaneer's ladder whilst trying to undo a great evil done to his family. Here's another thing that you need to know: Pirates! is as addictive on the iPad as in its previous incarnations, so be prepared to lose a lot of time over this outstanding game.
Space Is Key--iPhone
Did you think Super Meat Boy was a tad too easy? Did you feel the challenge level could have been higher in Trials HD? Then Space Is Key is the iPhone game for you. The mobile version of this popular Flash game hits the App Store with all of its fast-paced hijinks and punishing difficulty intact. In Space Is Key, you have to navigate a moving block, jumping and ducking various obstacles to the end of a level. It's not complex, but it's certainly challenging, and you'll need to have the reflexes of a ninja and the patience of the Dalai Lama (a ninja-Lama, if you will) to make it through. Frustration is kept to a minimum given that each level only lasts for two seconds or so (if done correctly), but you can still expect thousands upon thousands of deaths on your way to completing the game.
Continuity 2: The Continuation--iPhone and iPad
Continuity 2 will hurt your brain, and we mean that in only the most positive way. As with most puzzle platformers, the goal in Continuity 2 is to get your character from point A to point B. Sounds simple, right? The twist is that each level in the game is broken up into different tiles that you'll have to constantly rearrange to find the right path. Along the way, you'll have to collect keys, avoid dangerous obstacles, hit switches, and more all while sliding tiles around in an attempt to discover that optimum path. The game is challenging and unique, and it's a blast if you're looking for a cerebral distraction.
Magnetic Baby--iPhone and iPad
Magnetic Baby is what would happen if you blended Super Mario Galaxy and Portal together, swapped out Mario and his ilk for two appealing round blobs that are in love, and squashed it all onto a 2D plane. This physics-based platformer sees you playing as an orange blob of gosh-darn cuteness that can stick to the surface of planetoids, with the objective in each level to make your way to your girlfriend trapped on another nearby lump of rock. The game makes great use of momentum and physics, allowing you to slingshot around planetoids (given enough speed) and even makes use of portal-like wormholes that take your velocity and direction into account. Despite its saccharine looks, Magnetic Baby pours on the challenge in later levels, which means this is one game you'll be able to spend several hours playing.
GameSpot's weekly mobile games recommendation list aims to bring you a snapshot of what games the editorial team members around the globe are enjoying on their phones and tablets. For a more in-depth explanation of GameSpot's mobile games coverage policy, click here. And for even more mobile videos, check out our new show Appetite for Distraction.