iPad reviews of the week: Cut the Rope: Experiments, Zombie Gunship, Kickin Momma, DOOM Classic

Game: Kickin Momma HD
Price: $1.99/£1.49
Size: 50.7MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store:US/UK

Why PopCap continues to abstain from releasing an iPad-native version of Peggle remains one of the world's great mysteries, but chances are most folks who had any interest in the peg-popping casual smash have found some other way to enjoy it by now. As well you should! We've seen a handful of decent knock-offs on the App Store and Facebook over the last couple years, but the first we've played that really stands on its own merits is Kickin Momma. Spawned from the folks at Hothead Games – the developer behind DeathSpank, Swarm, and a recent spate of iOS originals – Kickin Momma still very clearly apes PopCap's swell source material, but makes enough alterations to the formula to keep things interesting.

Kickin Momma spins some bizarre narrative yarn about a creepy blue creature that demands a jeweled necklace but doesn't have the cash for it, so naturally she decides to punt her children into grids of pegs to snag the glowing red jewels held within. It's a ludicrous premise, but that's entirely nonessential here. Like Peggle before it, Kickin Momma finds that alluring middle ground between skillful shots and blind, stupid luck, tasking you with nabbing a series of gems located between masses of ordinary pegs. Here you'll launch the creatures from the side, but the resulting experience isn't terribly unfamiliar, despite the switch to a side-based firing angle and the introduction of various other elements in the mix.

With three worlds at present packing a total of 36 stages, Kickin Momma currently offers up a solid two or three hours of play, with more stages planned down the line. And later levels shake up the experience with explosive pegs and fire and ice elements that must be considered. Since all the stages don't force you to grab every single available gem (only a handful do), Kickin Momma doesn't deliver quite the same level of addictive challenge as its spiritual predecessor, but it remains a much more entertaining than anticipated casual offering – and a very suitable substitute for iPad fans until the real deal eventually arrives.

Game: DOOM Classic
Price: $4.99/£2.99
Size: 112MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store:US/UK

Most id Software fans are eagerly awaiting the early October launch of Rage, the company's big new first-person shooter/racer/sandbox hybrid, but there's another release from the famed developer to get excited about. We're talking about DOOM. And not even the eventual DOOM 4; the original one – DOOM Classic, as id likes to refer to it nowadays. DOOM Classic first dropped on the iPhone back in 2009 and earned stellar reviews for the sharp port of the legendary 1993 shooter, but a recent update finally made the app universally playable on iPad as well. Plus, with newly added Retina display support, even iPhone 4 owners have a fresh way to experience this first-person classic.

DOOM remains relatively unchanged from its early-90s origins, aside from the boost to a much higher resolution than anything we were wielding back then. The hugely influential shooter may seem primitive compared to the monstrously large retail titles we expect today, but it remains a fast and entertaining bit of ultra-violence – and an endlessly important history lesson on the genesis of this stunningly popular genre. DOOM Classic contains all four episodes (including the one from Ultimate DOOM) and a total of 36 missions, and time-honored firearms like the chaingun, rocket launcher, and BFG 9000 remain intact and as enticing as ever. Plus, id Software co-founder John Carmack reportedly designed the varying control options himself, and you can mix and match settings to generate the best-possible scheme.

One curious omission, though: despite a mention of multiplayer modes on the App Store listing, they're actually nowhere to be found on iPad and iPhone. Reportedly, they were axed from this version in favor of a better offering to be added at a later date, but anyone who snagged the app with the intention of jumping into some sweet, sweet classic deathmatch action may be sorely disappointed. Hopefully that'll be axed from the App Store listing soon – or better yet, added back into the game. But even as a single-player experience for now, DOOM Classic serves up the seminal shooter in an easily enjoyed portable package, and shooter fans seeking a quick flashback can be speedily sated. Now, how about getting DOOM II on iPad?

August 14, 2011

Snoopy-themed iOS-based social games en route next year

Our A-to-Z guide for filling your iPad with last year's awesomeness

Rovio head says company "betting everything" on series