Call of Duty: Black Ops is out, and if you've been counting down the days on your calendar and filling your living room with snacks like a modern-day fallout shelter, chances are your iPad is going to feel a little lonely in the coming weeks. But if you need a respite from Black Ops and the rest of the big-budget holiday blockbusters, here are five fresh iPad picks to help you fill every last second of the day with gaming goodness.
Developer Halfbrick Studios has been making a name for itself with offbeat and entertaining bite-sized games for iPhone, PSP Minis, and Xbox Live Indie Games, and its latest – and arguably greatest – release is Age of Zombies, a twin-stick undead blaster filled with irreverent humor and throwback visuals.
Age of Zombies stars Barry Steakfries, a time-traveling commando who winds up in ancient Egypt and the prehistoric era (among other settings all across history) to blast undead dinosaurs, mummies, and more with an impressive selection of firepower. The game controls as well as any "dual analog" shooter on the iPad, letting you place virtual sticks for movement and shooting wherever you place your thumbs, and the legitimately laugh-out-loud jokes (including a perfect CSI: Miami riff) and stellar pixel graphics help make this something special.
Plus, it's a universal app, so your $2.99 gets you both the iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch versions. Age of Zombies isn't the longest-lasting experience, with the campaign clocking in at around an hour. But it's a memorable hour, and the survival mode and humor will keep you coming back for seconds and thirds.
Sushi Boy doesn't start with the most complex of concepts – tilt or touch the screen to help an anime-stylized kid catch falling sushi pieces – but it maximizes that simplistic approach with an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable arcade-like experience that is perfect for quick play sessions.
We prefer the silky tilt controls, which let you quickly glide across the screen to catch the ground-bound delicacies, but whatever your control preference, Sushi Boy is easy to play and understand. There's plenty of challenge here, though: the longer you last, the faster the sushi falls, plus you'll have to dodge boots, hooks, and uh, swirly brown dollops. Plus, you can customize the boy with hats and facial hair to increase his skills and enlist pets to help you in your quest.
And like Age of Zombies, Sushi Boy is a universal app, meaning you can grab it on any iOS device with a single purchase. The brief play sessions potentially make more sense for the on-the-go iPhone, but Sushi Boy looks and plays great on both platforms, and is a steal for only a buck.