We're racking our minds to think of a platform that has as massive a disparity in pricing between hardware and software as the iPad. While it's much more than just a gaming device, the tablet itself is a beefy $500-$800 or so – yet it grants you access to a wealth of legitimately solid games, most available for just a few bucks a pop (or less). However, there’s also a lot of crap weaseling its way onto the system, so it's important to stay vigilant. And we're more than happy to help.
Each week, we'll pick a handful of games available in the iPad App Store – both recent releases and older favorites – and share the dirt on why each is worth a damn (or isn't, for that matter). But as we're launching this amidst a heavy couple of weeks of iPad releases, we're going to jump right into the latest and greatest options to keep you on the cutting edge of semi-portable, glass-tapping glory.
Yes, we know: it's early November and Halloween is in the rearview mirror. And if you're anything like us, you're scouring your nearest Target or Wal-Mart for half-priced bags of fun size Snickers to gorge on for the rest of the holiday season. Just avoid smearing nougat on the iPad screen.
But Angry Birds Halloween HD is much more than a throwaway, themed cash-in – it's another much-needed dose of the devastatingly addictive and thoroughly excellent mobile sensation, in which you fling various birds to crush structures housing devious swines. Sure, the pumpkins and ghoulish sounds lose their cultural relevance once the calendar page turns to November, but we'd play this if Rovio filled the game with fluffy bunnies and dandelions. Halloween HD's 45 stages quickly transform from simple tutorials to half-hour grinds that may take a hundred attempts to perfectly execute, but we love it that way.
Angry Birds Halloween HD may not have quite as many levels as the original Angry Birds HD, but considering how much free content has been added to the first release, fans almost owe it to Rovio to send a couple more bucks their way. It's time and money very well spent.
If Reckless Racing HD is any indication, the top-down racing genre is about to come back in a huge way on the iDevices. Pixelbite's original racer, which comes to us via EA Mobile, is a remarkably polished throwback that instantly reminded us of Super Off Road and Micro Machines in all the right ways.
The controls are dead simple – buttons for steering left and right, as well as acceleration and brakes, are at the bottom of the screen – letting you focus on the intense racing through winding tracks, flanked by destructible environments that look fantastic on the iPad screen. This is the kind of game best played with the iPad inches away from your face (don't tell your optometrist), fully absorbing you within the racing action for each quick jaunt.
In addition to racing A.I. opponents (bump the difficulty to at least "Silver" for a solid challenge) and a Crazy Taxi-like transport mode, you can hop online for four-player battles, and we've seen a fair amount of competition waiting in the wings. Kudos to EA for bringing this non-franchise racer to market, though hopefully it won't be the last we see of Reckless Racing.