For this week's iPad feature, we're looking at a mix of recent releases – ZombieSmash HD and Time Crisis 2nd Strike HD – as well as a handful of slightly older 2010 releases still well worth your attention: Radio Flare Redux HD, Ninjatown: Trees of Doom! HD!, and Gravity Hook HD. We thought about changing the name of this week's feature to "iPad reviews of the week HD" to match the suffix of all five apps, but thought better of it – probably for the best, really.
We thought about playing it cool and acting like we've been playing Radio Flare Redux HD since it launched with the iPad last April, blasting enemy ships amidst a blazingly intense aesthetic experience, but we haven't – we actually just stumbled upon this one recently. But no matter: Radio Flare Redux HD remains a great game in 2011, and it has quickly become one of our go-to favorites on the iPad.
PlayStation Network and PC indie gemEveryday Shooterimmediately came to mind as we started Radio Flare Redux. The simple, flashy visuals and memorable soundtrack grabbed our attention, but Redux is a slightly different type of game. Rather than take after twin-stick shooters, Radio Flare lets you use your left hand to guide your ship, then target ships with the right before releasing to launch a volley of shots. Collecting the remaining bits to bump your multiplier is the key to notching five stars in each stage, though you'll lose a star for each ship lost in the heat of battle.
A variety of alternately trippy and ambient electronic tunes set the stage for the combat, and the endlessly flickering backgrounds and effects put the iPad screen to spectacular use. With 30+ stages, unlockable visual modifiers, and even a sound effects sequencer available in the app, Radio Flare Redux will keep you busy for a few hours – but we'll no doubt be replaying these stages for some time, shooting for ever-higher star totals while taking in the thrilling aesthetics.
Zombies can be defeated in some pretty inventive ways on the iPad, from launching pinballs (Undead Attack! Pinball HD) to unleashing carnivorous herbs (Plants vs. Zombies) on lawns and rooftops, but ZombieSmash HD gets back to basics, letting you simply touch and flick the undead around the stage in an entertaining display of ragdoll physics.
Granted, that's not the full extent of the experience. As the zombies drag on towards your lone farmhouse, you can drop asteroids and hilariously oversized cinder blocks from the sky, as well as utilize grenades, mines, rocks, and other amusing death-dealing devices. Plus, some stages take the flicking mechanism out of the picture entirely, forcing you to fire a pistol from the fixed perspective of the farmhouse windows to deal with the oncoming forces. ZombieSmash's gameplay is pretty light and fluffy – well, as light and fluffy as slaying zombies can be – but flinging dozens of cartoonish zombies towards a second death remains amusing long into the 31-day campaign mode.
Along the way, you'll be able to upgrade your home's defenses and purchase weapon upgrades using the stars earned from fallen foes, and ZombieSmash HD also includes unlockable bonus stages and an Endless Siege survival mode. Topping it all off is a Sandbox mode where you can trigger zombie waves and employ a limitless supply of weapons, creating entertaining cacophonies of explosions and flying limbs. Good times, that.