We're focusing heavily on big licenses this week, starting with the recent iOS release of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, which is followed by a pair of Marvel Comics games: X-Men, the old arcade favorite, and new mini-game set Marvel Kapow! HD. But for the last one, we're highlighting a bizarre (but beloved) lo-fi favorite called Techno Kitten Adventure, which just made its way to the App Store following a successful Xbox Live Indie Games run. All four of these games are universal releases, though, so iPhone owners can get in on the fun as well!
Game: Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
Buy it now from the iTunes store: US / UK
After playing Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing on the iPad or iPhone, you might start seeing cracks in the traditional console/handheld retail release model that previously evaded your eyes. While this universal iOS port of last year's multiplatform "Sonic Kart" isn't a direct copy of the console versions – it's lacking a few of the more visually impressive tracks, along with some of the niche hidden characters – but it still offers a remarkably meaty handheld experience, complete with thick single-player content and online battles, at the price of just $4.99. And it was only $1.99 during the opening weekend!
That's not to say that Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing was a hugely amazing game in the first place, as it truly is Sega's latest take on the Mario Kart formula. But it's one of the best wannabe kart racers in recent memory, as the game bursts with charm and creative use of Sega's vast library of games and characters. On the iPad, the slightly smaller app looks and plays very similarly, with carried-over graphics, menus, and play modes. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing still struggles a bit with A.I. balancing – they're easily dominated on the lowest level, but will rough you up in a heartbeat on the next step up – but it remains an entertaining diversion throughout.
And the online play is a total breeze here, whether you're looking for quick races or battle events, plus the single-player side has individual races, grand prix cups, time trials, and missions, along with a thick slate of unlockable content. Some of what the iOS version of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing left on the cutting room floor is admittedly the game's best content – the flashier stages and sillier racers – but such omissions are easily overlooked when you consider the value equation here. With a dozen intriguing tracks and plenty of single-player and multiplayer content, it's one of the easiest recommendations in the App Store.
Game: Techno Kitten Adventure
Buy it now from the iTunes store: US / UK
Is there a person alive who doesn't love flickering lights, trashy techno pop jams, and adorable cartoon kittens? Let's rephrase that. Who all out there loves amusing little indie games that seem subversively designed to meld together individually irritating elements into some shockingly entertaining and cohesive new experience? That's exactly what Techno Kitten Adventure has to offer, and the result is truly enrapturing. It initially debuted as an Xbox Live Indie Game last year, spawning lengthy YouTube survival runs and underground fandom, but now with a universal iOS release, those flying techno cats are sure to become a household name.
Techno Kitten Adventure essentially boils down to a side-scrolling jetpack game, where your choice of cuddly cat must avoid the stars that line the borders and various obstacles while constantly moving ahead. This is done by either holding the touch screen to accelerate upwards (and releasing to drop) or by using the gyroscope for a smoother, but ultimately less engaging experience. With flat presentation, it probably wouldn't be worth more than a cursory look. But Techno Kitten Adventure is like a full-on hallucinatory dream, complete with three bumping electronic tunes – each with fluffy pop lyrics that'll burn a hole into your skull – and flashing lights and silly icons that go absolutely bananas when the beat kicks in. Even the score indicator spins around the screen at times!
The free iOS release sells the three stages individually for $0.99 apiece, and while each plays pretty identically, it's really the audio/visual experience you're shelling out for – and that's truly the stuff of dreams, folks. As a game, Techno Kitten Adventure is solidly entertaining, as smart timing and taps are necessary to guide your kitten through the mayhem. But it's really the bewildering peripheral elements that make this silly little game a should-be phenomenon.