Every week, literally dozens of new games make their way onto Apple's iTunes Store, but which ones are worth your while? Some outstanding examples are no-brainers, such as EA's recently released mobile version of Madden 12. But others quality games without the big-name brand recognition are harder to spot. Never fear--GameSpot is here to help you make this tough gaming decision, with our weekly look at the best releases giving you some sage advice on what's worth your time (and your money). So what have GameSpot's global editors been playing this week?
Crimson: Steam Pirates -- iPad
First up, despite what you may have heard, Crimson: Steam Pirates was not created by Bungie, the team behind the ubersuccessful Halo franchise. But developer Harebrained Schemes did partner with Bungie's aerospace division, which is a part of Bungie specifically created to help small dev houses with their mobile and social games. The result is an impressive steampunk-pirate naval adventure, with the added bonus of being free for iPad owners. The game has you controlling a small fleet of ships in turn-based battles, navigating your way around the Caribbean as you fight against the British navy and pesky Confederate forces. You play by drawing your fleet's paths along the ocean, using occasional power boosts, such as the ability to travel extra distance, repair your ship, increase your rate of fire, and more. You'll have to play strategically to best position your ships against the enemy fleet, and there's even a light card-battle-type game mechanic that kicks in when you try to take over a ship. Crimson is a great little package with compelling gameplay, and there are also two pass-around multiplayer modes included as part of the free bundle. While the first chapter of the game includes eight missions, subsequent chapters will cost you real-world money to download (chapter 2 is available now, with the third upcoming). But there's plenty here already that's free, and with its fun take on the line-drawing/pirate genre, it's a game that iPad owners need to download now.
Jetpack Joyride -- iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad
Aussie mobile game studios continue to represent the land Down Under. Last week, Firemint (creator of Flight Control) debuted its newest game Spy Mouse, and now it's Halfbrick's turn. This week, the creators of Fruit Ninja unleashed Jetpack Joyride (formerly known as Machine Gun Jetpack), which is the newest adventure starring the badass, shotgun-wielding Barry Steakfries. Steakfries--seen in such games as Age of Zombies and Monster Dash--is back in another auto-running adventure, where the objective is to once again to avoid obstacles and enemies for as long as possible. Yes, it's a genre that's pretty saturated on the iOS, but amazingly, Halfbrick has produced a game that feels fresh, exciting, and more than a little addictive. So what does Jetpack Joyride do to machine-gun its way above the throng? For one, it controls like a dream, with Steakfries' default machine-gun jetpack being a fun way to navigate your way past the various obstacles you'll come across. There's also a whole load of sweet rides that you can use, including a mechlike stomper, a gravity suit, a mechanical bird, and Steakfries' signature motorcycle. These vehicles add a lot of variety to the game because each controls in unique ways. Jetpack Joyride also has plenty of features that keep you coming back from more, including an upgrade system where you can upgrade new jetpacks, vehicles, special powers, and more using coins collected during your play-throughs. There's even an achievements/mission system embedded into the game. If you think you're done with the auto-running genre, then think again because Steakfries just came stomping back into town.
Pocket RPG -- iPhone/iPod Touch
Pocket RPG has been grinding along on the iPad for a while now, but the game has been finally been released for Apple's smaller iOS devices. Essentially a loot-based role-playing game that's played as a twin-stick shooter, Pocket RPG lets you play as three class types (the standard fighter, ranger, and mage classes) as you battle your way through randomly generated dungeons filled with a large number of enemies. The game's cute graphics belie surprising depth here; there are several upgrade options available for each of the three classes, as well as various weapons and abilities that can be improved. It's an appealing game that's easy to control: You use one virtual joy pad to move your character and the other to choose the direction in which your character attacks. It's fun--if a little simple--but the game dangles just enough level-ups and new loot to keep grinding a relatively fun experience.
Frogger Decades -- iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad
Remember Frogger? Sure you do, he's one of the gaming world's most iconic characters, having bounced his way across highways, logs, and turtle heads on a variety of gaming platforms for the past 30 years. OK, so maybe some of you may not have played much of the green-skinned hopper's games recently, but he's back to remind us of the pleasures of carefully avoiding obstacles. Frogger Decades is a whole new take on the old Frogger formula. Yes, you'll still have to bounce hop-by-hop past turtles, hippos, and traffic, but the levels now are much more diverse, stretching over several screens as Frogger tries to make it to a safe spot at the end. Frogger also now has a limited time to bounce his way to the end, with his energy meter slowly depleting the longer you take. You can eat bugs to replenish energy, but you'll need to navigate your way past a whole lot of dangerous objects and creatures to get the sweetest bugs. Not only has the gameplay changed, but the graphics have also been given a significant upgrade. Frogger Decades, too, presents a good level of challenge. From the second level onward, timing and quick reflexes will be needed to get your frog to safety.
DrawRace 2 -- iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad
You know how you've spent a dollar here and a dollar there on one-trick arcadelike games for you devices, and each of these games only really offers you one game mechanic that you probably got bored of if you played it for too long in any one sitting? Well, let us introduce you to MiniGame Paradise, which is a compilation of the one-trick game style so prevalent on mobile phones. You get 10 in this pack, which includes such minigames as a Canabalt-style auto-running game where you have to jump over opponents; a schmup-like shooter; a ski-slalom type event; and much more. Each game can be addictive in short bursts, which is the beauty of MiniGame Paradise because you can quickly switch to another game once your boredom meter starts to rise even slightly. It's all presented in an ubercute, Japanese style of animation where furry animals and stick-figure-like humans inhabit the quirky gameworld. There's some good progression to be had, too, with different characters and content to be unlocked as you make high scores in its various games. There's even a very light RPG-like element, where you can "train" your characters to improve their stats. The major drawback is that not all of the games are unlocked at the start, and you'll have to spend stars earned while playing the minigames to open up new challenges.
Flick Tennis: College Wars -- iPad
There are plenty of sports games on iOS devices, but Flick Tennis is one of the best mobile interpretations of tennis out there. All shots and player movements are controlled via finger gestures. You have a good amount of control with both shot selection and direction, depending on how and where you swipe your finger. Swiping up, for example, results in simple forehands or backhands, while swiping down with two fingers does a lob. This, coupled with having to choose the direction of your swipe, gives the gameplay good depth because you'll need a good amount of skill (and, as is usual in tennis, a little forethought) to outwit your opponent. Flick Tennis also has a unique presentation; each of the "chapters" in the game is preceded by comic-book-style sheets outlining the game's story. Flick Tennis has a free version that gives you the first chapter (and opponent), but shelling out real cash unlocks all 11 chapters.
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. For more games, be sure to check out our previous coverage:
Top iPhone/iPad Games - August 26, 2011
Top iPhone/iPad Games - August 19, 2011
Top iPhone/iPad Games - August 12, 2011
Top iPhone/iPad Games - August 5, 2011
Top iPhone/iPad Games - July 29, 2011
And for even more mobile videos, check out our new show Appetite for Distraction.