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Edge earned a lot of press over the last couple years for a ridiculous, drawn-out legal battle with a trademark hoarder who objected to the game's title (and had it pulled from the App Store multiple times), but with all that nonsense in the past, the game can now be appreciated solely for its compelling touch screen gameplay. Bumped up to a universal release last summer, Edge challenges players to command a little cube around a series of obstacle courses by touching in any direction around the cube, being careful to avoid moving platforms and dangerous gaps. It's a simple concept that works wonderfully on the iPad display, and freshly added Game Center support lets you compare your top clear scores with pals and the worldwide competition.
Firemint's iPhone smash is surprisingly even better on the iPad, as the core experience – using your finger to draw landing paths for a variety of planes and helicopters – benefits from the larger tablet display. Flight Control HD's new stages offer considerably more space for plotting each aircraft's safe descent, but also create further opportunities for chaos, as the screen is quickly loaded with vehicles that must land at certain destinations. Managing the mayhem without a crash is the goal, but you'll quickly find that doing so for more than a few minutes per session can be immensely difficult. The HD version also includes online and wireless multiplayer modes, as well as a split-screen option for co-op controlling.
Fruit Ninja HD is sort of like the extrapolated full-game version of the fruit slicing mini-game from Wii Sports Resort, challenging players to use their fingers to slash the hell out of an endless array of apples, oranges, watermelons, and other juicy treats. It's actually a very entertaining little app, with the main mode tasking you with notching combos (by slashing multiple pieces with one swipe) and avoiding bombs with limited lives, and the additional Zen mode gives you just 90 seconds to amass the highest possible score without a single bomb in sight. Plus, the iPad version includes a split-screen mode, and what's better than cutting fruit with a friend?
When we first started playing Geometry Wars: Touch – an expanded version of the excellent Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 for Xbox Live Arcade – it was hard to overlook the fact that touch-screen virtual sticks don't offer the same kind of reliable precision as actual analog knobs. It should've been a sticking point, yet we didn't stop coming back to this stellar adaptation, which contains all six thrilling modes and a brand new one, Titans, that absolutely deserves to be included in the bunch. It's not perfect, but it's darn close – and the fact that Activision later made it a universal iPad/iPhone app and dropped it down to a buck only makes it that much more essential.
If you somehow missed Rockstar's portable masterpiece on Nintendo DS, PSP, or iPhone, here's another chance to soak in a complete Grand Theft Auto experience without a console or PC. Chinatown Wars may not have the visual sheen of Grand Theft Auto IV, but the diverse fictional metropolis of Liberty City is well represented in this exciting metropolis, where you can cruise around, take on missions, and evade the police just as always. As on the other platforms, Chinatown Wars HD includes a drug-dealing mini-game, where you can buy and sell for fun and profit, and the whole experience gets a nice visual bump here, along with a larger soundtrack and touch controls.
We love Plants vs. Zombies, but the candy-coated cartoon world may not be right for every player. Those seeking a slightly more even-toned tower defense experience are best served checking out iBomber Defense, a stellar original iPad strategy game that lets you battle invading forces in worldwide conflicts using machine guns, cannons, anti-air guns, and more. At its core, iBomber Defense doesn't stray from traditional genre tenets, but it does offer a couple interesting twists beyond that, including mid-mission weapon and ability upgrades, as well as mission-extending Counter Attack segments that let you deal a little more damage to the enemy. Plus, we love the semi-realistic hand-drawn aesthetic.
What is The Incident? No, it's not whatever dark memory you're conjuring up from the past (not this time, at least) – rather, it's a clever indie game that we've been playing over and over again for the past few months. Fantastic pixel artwork sets the stage for an experience in which your hero must survive the heaviest rain of all: a constant downpour of items like cars, doors, doghouses, soda machines, ladders, aquariums, and much more. Your goal is to stay atop the ever-building trash heap by rotating the iPad to move side to side and tapping to jump. And in case you don't think there's enough trash on television, The Incident includes a TV-out mode that lets you play on the big screen with a video-out cable.
When Infinity Blade launched near the end of 2010, it became an immediate sensation, and for very obvious reason. Developed by Chair Entertainment (best known for the fantastic Shadow Complex), Infinity Blade immediately became the showcase for what the iPad and iPhone processor was capable of, displaying gorgeous architecture and armored warriors with nary a significant hitch. But Infinity Blade is luckily more than just a pretty face: the Punch-Out!!-inspired swordfights offer a surprising level of depth and strategy, while the campaign approach – wherein you take the role of a descendent upon each death, while maintaining accumulated skills and gear – kept players on the tail of the God-King until he finally fell. And the promise of new areas and even multiplayer support will keep this one in our hearts and minds well into 2011.
One of the things that makes the iPad such a magical device at times is its ability to mimic real-life objects, creating the illusion that you're not just using an app on an expensive tablet computer. Labyrinth 2 HD is one of the best apps for discovering that sensation, as it nimbly transforms the screen into a perfect replica of a wooden labyrinth, using the iPad accelerometer to let you manipulate the ball in a very realistic manner. Labyrinth 2 HD includes a wealth of stages, both those included with the game and those created and shared by the community, as well as the many thousands developed in the previous iPhone and iPod Touch version of the game. And you can create your own, to boot.
Guardian of Light takes the Tomb Raider heroine on an all-new adventure, wherein the series' traditional third-person exploration is supplanted by an overhead, co-op action experience that manages to thrill and surprise on the level of Croft's best expeditions. After a strong launch on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and PC last fall, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light hit a couple stumbles upon its release on the App Store, as app-crashing bugs were widely reported. Luckily, many of those complaints have been addressed with a recent patch, making this very solid port worth a look, especially if you're looking to tackle the co-op adventure with a local buddy or online via Game Center.
Hidden image puzzles (think Where's Waldo?) tend not to be particularly memorable or entertaining to those who've outgrown the schoolyard, but Little Things puts the iPad display to great use with a charming and colorful new take on the genre that appeals to all ages. Each time you load up the app, Little Things randomly generates a new puzzle in the shape of some common item or animal, then tasks you with finding numerous objects, or several of one type within the collage. Identically colored items and stellar menu screens help make a strong impression, as does the ability to use hints, which sucks some of the frustration out of each fevered find.
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