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iPad reviews of the week: Velocispider, To-Fu: The Trials of Chi, Tri-Tri-Triobelisk, Laser Dolphin

We're all about wacky and weird protagonists this week, as we're spotlighting Velocispider – a really stellar arcade-style shooter for both iPad and iPhone – as well as protein-based platformer To-Fu: The Trials of Chi HD and Laser Dolphin HD, a game that feels like an in-joke taken to an entirely new stratosphere. And then we're tackling Tri-Tri-Triobelisk, a revitalized new version of the local two-player gem Shot Shot Shoot, which you likely either played and dug or totally ignored because of its simplistic looks. Now it looks and sounds awesome, so no more excuses!

Game: Velocispider
Price: $0.99/£0.59
Size: 3.8MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store: US / UK 

What's a Velocispider? Besides being a well-armed half-velociraptor, half-spider robot being of sorts, it's also the title of our latest iOS obsession. This tiny universal app – which weighs in at just 3.8MB (seriously!) – packs in plenty of arcade-stylized thrills, taking cues from Space Invaders and Galaga as you fend off increasingly intense waves of enemies. And these aren't your average alien invaders: you'll be facing off against robotic sharks and whales, all the while protecting your eggs and surviving the varied attacks.

It's silly, retro-like fun, but Velocispider offers up a pretty serious challenge. Luckily, it controls effortlessly with dead-simple controls that let you tilt to move left and right, and tap and hold the touch screen to fire a charged shot in place of the standard auto-fire. Brief power-ups offer rapid-fire attacks and wave shots, but you'll spend as much time aiming your shots as you will dodging enemy blasts and warding off attempts to claim your Yoshi-like white-and-green eggs. And it's all wrapped up in a pixel-perfect sheen that makes it look like a lost Game Boy Advance game (never mind the screen dimensions), with classic-sounding chip tune beats pulsing alongside the action.

Velocispider's 20 attack waves may not sound like a lot, but the increasing challenge means you'll likely play later stages over and over again as you learn the patterns and best strategies, and you'll easily get a couple great hours out of the game. It's a simple arcade-like shooter, but Velocispider's sharp aesthetics and approachable play mechanics make for a stellar iOS experience that's an easy recommendation on both iPad and iPhone. And really, who can resist a game about the CEO of the Robot Seafood Corporation trying to eat your endangered eggs? We sure couldn't.

Game: To-Fu: The Trials of Chi HD
Price: $2.99/£1.79
Size: 10.1MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store: US / UK 

At first glance, you might think that To-Fu: The Trials of Chi HD has something to do with Super Tofu Boy, the PETA-produced parody of Super Meat Boy that ultimately just gave the SMB developers an easy target to lay into. It doesn't, for better or for worse. Still, To-Fu undoubtedly pulls some inspiration from Super Meat Boy by putting you in control of a hunk of protein, albeit one that bears the spongy, sticky qualities of its namesake. And to solve these 100 puzzling platform challenges, you'll need to fling this adorable (but assumedly flavorless) hero around spikes and lasers while using varying surfaces to reach the fortune cookie at the end of each stage.

Doing so is as simple as tapping and holding To-Fu, then pulling and setting his trajectory before releasing your finger to launch him in the intended direction. You can also grab nearby chi icons by stretching him out from a surface and waving him around with your finger. Each stage tasks you with avoiding and overcoming obstacles en route to the glowing cookie goal, and getting there means finding the best way to utilize the available surfaces. To-Fu will stick to wood, but he'll move on conveyor belts, slide down glass, bounce off of metal, and detach from crumbling bricks; and as the game progresses, the stage designs make more and more devious use of these varying destinations to create tricky tests.

Unlike its beef-based spiritual forbearer, To-Fu: The Trials of Chi HD isn't a speed-based game – you can take your time solving these missions, and sometimes you'll need to – though you'll still need your wits about you when sliding down a glass wall towards spikes while aiming through a slim pathway towards the floating cookie. To-Fu puts a lightly inventive spin on puzzle-platform games, though it feels similar in execution to something like Land-a-Panda (also on iPad) in which timing and smart use of your surroundings will ultimately determine your success. It didn't hook us quite as strongly as Super Meat Boy, but just like the real thing, your appetite for To-Fu over Meat Boy may vary wildly. We assume so, at least.

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1 comment

  • Baron164 - June 26, 2011 7:09 p.m.

    To-Fu sounds interesting, I'll have to try that one out. Loved me some SMB

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