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Hello, 2011! With TRON fever back in action recently, we're taking a look at the TRON: Legacy licensed game for iPad, as well as the wholly unexpected (and surprisingly enjoyable) Jenga HD. But we're also exploring a couple of recent original favorites in the form of iBomber Defense and Little Things, as well as one of the iPad's true classics, Flight Control HD. And not only that, but everything here can be had for $5 or less. Bargains!
iBomber Defense is a full-fledged military tower defense game, in which you'll plot out machine guns, cannons, anti-aircraft turrets, and more in an effort to stop advancing waves of foes. iBomber Defense seems a little straight-laced from the outset, and it no doubt trades in a lot of the familiar elements of other top entries in the genre. But interesting additions like unlockable mid-round enhancements and special Counter Attack missions – where a fresh slate of foes descend on an already-completed map for a new challenge – thankfully kept us coming back for more.
To top things off, iBomber Defense is a looker, from the austere campaign map screens that create the illusion of planning out tactics in a war room, to the nicely detailed in-game visuals that put a light cartoonish spin on the realistic settings. Even if you've defended every last tower in the App Store, iBomber Defense is an entertaining new option that's a great fit for both iPad and iPhone.
While the arcade games associated with the original TRON film seem to hold at least some lasting nostalgic quality, it seems unlikely that those released alongside TRON: Legacy will have the same kind of impact. TRON: Evolution has gotten mixed reviews on consoles, and Disney's TRON: Legacy for iPad and iPhone is similarly decent but not great.
The difference is, TRON: Legacy for iOS is only a buck at present, making this a quick and easy way for series fans to keep TRON fever alive in short bursts. TRON: Legacy includes two types of mini-games inspired by the film series. The light cycle racing events are pretty straightforward multi-lap jaunts with a handful of weapons and power-ups around the tracks, plus the ability to block opponents off with your light ribbon trail. It's essentially a simplified riff on the classic Extreme-G franchise, but not as likely to inspire as much racing enthusiasm as the first couple games in that series.
Legacy's other event type is an on-rails shooting affair where you pilot a Recognizer, one of the massive floating ships seen in both films. Here, your goal is simply to aim at tanks, light cycles, and other enemy vehicles and open fire, racking up score bonuses for accurate blasting. Neither game type is particularly rousing nor disappointing, so TRON die-hards needn't feel too bad about dropping a dollar on this timely release. But casual fans can safely pass on this light licensed fare.
Where's Waldo-style find-'em-all image games are gaining popularity on iPad, because – well, it's pretty much the perfect genre for a large, interactive display. We usually expect big things from our iPad apps, but in this case, it's Little Things that really captures our attention.
What sets Little Things apart from the considerable competition is an eye-catching visual style that shines throughout and actually adds a reasonable extra burst of challenge to the experience. Rather than just present a series of busy drawings for you to obsess over, Little Things builds a collage of diverse and random items in the shape of a dog, scissors, or one of several other objects, and then tasks you to find several of one item, a handful of different ones, or one at a time in a hectic timed challenge.
It's a beautiful aesthetic that demonstrates immense care and polish, but Little Things also manages to be a lot of fun, due in part to those unique challenges. Little Things takes a super casual approach that pops up a randomly created stage each time you start up, and lets you use hints that slowly darken areas of the screen that don't contain the item you're currently looking for. Share it with the kids in your life, but don't hesitate to play it yourself or with friends – then be sure to track down the excellent Time Geeks: Find All! as well.