iPad reviews of the week: Grim Joggers, Infinity Field, Pac-Man Battle Royale, Rooms: The Main Building, Resident Evil 4

Game: Pac-Man Battle Royale
Price: Free
Size: 18.6MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store: US

Notable free games are very few and far between on iPad, especially with a big name like Pac-Man attached; plus, we're sort of wary of Namco Bandai's App Store offerings after the bogus "free" release of Time Crisis: 2nd Strike HD. But Pac-Man Battle Royale is legitimately free with no strings attached. Granted, it's a pretty straightforward, no-frills experience and clearly designed as a promotional tool for the just-released arcade version, but free is free – and Pac-Man's latest App Store romp is a fun riff on the classic game, assuming you have local friends handy.

See, Pac-Man Battle Royale is strictly a multiplayer experience – it won't start up with less than two players, and it doesn't include A.I. opponents or online options. Instead, up to four players can man a virtual joystick and battle it out on the same screen, with each player attempting to eat power pellets to double in size, then try to eat the other Pac-Men to win the match.

The iPad version is sort of like a promo Flash game: it gives you just enough to (hopefully) entice you to play the real thing without giving too much away or spoiling the experience. We didn't get a ton of entertainment out of the app, but considering how awesome the arcade cabinet looks – along with the use of Championship Edition-like visuals – we're pretty stoked to see the actual game in action. But apologies to our UK friends, because as of this writing, it's only available for download from the U.S. store. Hopefully that will change soon!

Game: Rooms: The Main Building
Price: $5.99
Size: 45MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store: US

Rooms: The Main Building earned some mixed reactions from the press when it dropped on Wii and Nintendo DS last spring, but we liked it well enough– and the touch (or waggle) based interface was a great fit for the experience, as shifting room tiles to guide the protagonist to an exit was a snap on either platform. As such, the recent universal iOS release of the game makes perfect sense on the iPad, and the dramatically lower price makes this the must-try version for puzzle aficionados.

This unique puzzler follows protagonist Chris through a series of challenging buildings, tasking you with sliding the various on-screen rooms around to guide him to the exit. At first, this simply means swapping rooms around the map, connecting doors, and using ladders to reach the next stage. But as the 80 included stages progress, you'll discover new modes of transportation – including teleportation phones between rooms, plus subway cars – as well as fresh hazards like water and explosives. Rooms: The Main Building also has a bit of a storyline to guide things along, complete with a talking book as a narrator. (Yes, a talking book.)

Rooms has a tendency to drag at times, with the process of solving yet another similar-looking puzzle feeling a bit monotonous in the middle of the adventure. But fans of mind-bogglers and simple touch-screen interfaces should appreciate this inventive puzzler, which feels right at home on the iPad and is also playable on iPhone. But like Pac-Man, this one's also limited to the U.S. App Store as of this writing.

Game: Resident Evil 4: iPad Edition
Price: $6.99/£3.99
Size: 94MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store: US/ UK

Capcom recently dropped the price of several of its iOS releases to just $0.99 – though the sale may be done by the time you read this – so we jumped on the opportunity to revisit Resident Evil 4 via the discounted iPad version. On GameCube (or in the subsequent PlayStation 2, PC, or Wii versions), the game redefined the fading survival horror franchise, generating arguably one of the greatest action games of all time and setting the series up for a new generation of consoles and gamers. On iPad… well, let's just say the iPad version of Resident Evil 4 is notably compromised.

Resident Evil 4: iPad Edition isn't unplayable or even a particularly bad experience on its own – it's just a sad rendition of one of the recent all-time greats, taking the taut, lengthy horror adventure and condensing it into bite-sized nuggets that exclude a large portion of the campaign. Nearly all of the cut-scenes are dropped in favor of blurry screenshots with subtitles, and the missions slice out much of the exploration in the game and instead focus solely on 10-15-minute, action-oriented segments. The over-the-shoulder, stop-and-pop approach works decently on the touch screen, despite lacking whatever minor fluidity a physical controller provides, though Resident Evil 4 looks pretty rough all around on the larger iPad display.

Granted, Resident Evil 4 was one of the early iPad releases, making it little more than a lightly enhanced version of the older iPhone version, but it's a very tough sell for anyone who has experienced the game on a non-mobile platform. Gamers new to the franchise might enjoy the deliberate pacing and last remaining vestiges of console design, but otherwise, we'd only recommend this as a training ground for handheld-only players looking to bone up on the series before Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D hits Nintendo 3DS.

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