iPad reviews of the week: Tiny Tower, Continuity 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Galaga 30th Collection

We're creating and destroying in pretty equal amounts this week. On the former end, we've got free-to-play management sim Tiny Tower and path-making puzzle platformer Continuity 2: The Continuation, while our more aggressive side is sated with the surprisingly decent Transformers: Dark of the Moon HD and the four-in-one Galaga 30th Collection. And aside from Transformers (which has its own separate iPhone app), these apps are universal releases, so iPhone users can get in on building and bashing, as well.

Game: Tiny Tower
Price: Free
Size: 14.5MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store:US/UK

Tiny Tower is the latest free-to-play sensation to hit iPad and iPhone, and while the simple mechanics and premium enhancements might send shivers down some gamers' spines, this streamlined building management sim is actually grabbing some folks that wouldn't give the time of day to FarmVille or Smurf's Village. Maybe it's the sharp pixel aesthetic, or the fact that it feels like a game that we would play even if it just had a singular entry fee instead of optional microtransactions. Perhaps most importantly, Tiny Tower isn't ravaged by the free-to-play structure, and while it's potentially worth dropping a few bucks to speed things along, you can still enjoy it without spending a penny.

You'll start out with a fledgling skyscraper-in-training, using your starting funds to set up a couple floors and let the residents work and shop at a restaurant, retail store, recreational facility, or one of a couple other options. Along the way, you'll build up both coins and bux; coins are used to purchase stock to fill up your stores and add floors to the establishment, while bux can speed up the building and restocking processes, and can also be exchanged for coins. Much of your time with Tiny Tower is spent managing stock and building onto your contraption, while also guiding folks to various floors by controlling the elevator. Coins are earned for shop sales and rent from tenants, while you'll pick up spare bux here and there as tips from elevator users and bonuses for completing little objectives that pop up.

Without spending a few bucks on bux, simple tasks like building and restocking can take up to a couple hours each of actual time. But here's the upside: the game continues to play when the app is closed, letting you queue up some objectives and go about your day before checking back in on your little world. As such, it's an ideal game for filling in the little gaps in your life; plus, you can view the towers of your Game Center friends, which should serve as swell motivation for anyone with a little tower envy. Tiny Tower's simple approach to time and resource management is strangely satisfying, and it's one of the only free-to-play games we've felt compelled to spend a few bucks in. But the fact that it's not required to still have fun is a huge benefit.

Game: Continuity 2: The Continuation
Price: $0.99/£0.59
Size: 18.8MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store:US/UK

It's always a pleasant surprise when an App Store puzzler stands out as something really fresh and original – and in this case, it's actually a sequel! Granted, the original Continuity was a student-made Flash game, but it was a damn strong one; after all, it won Best Student Game at the 2010 Independent Games Festival. But for the sequel to a game that wasn't even designed for iOS devices, Continuity 2: The Continuation adapts rather well to a touch-screen interface, as you'll swipe your fingers to move pieces of the level around to create pathways for your hero to traverse. It's a seemingly straightforward concept on the surface, but sure enough, the challenges turn quite devious in no time.

Initially, you'll start with just three pieces to move around, and the solutions are quite obvious. Swap this one up, move your guy; swap that left and down, move the guy towards the key; then perform another simple swap to get your hero to the doorway. Easy, right? Continuity 2 doesn't burn too many levels on introductions, though, as you'll start encountering stages with several more pieces, as well as rules that force you to perfectly match paths to progress from one area to another. Before long, you're encountering spike-covered stages that force you to physically rotate the iPad to traverse, as well as others that have complicated switch arrangements to activate.

Continuity 2 isn't bafflingly difficult, but it's a definite head-scratcher. The solutions often seem just out of grasp, and you'll need to undergo a lot of trial and error movements to discern the way through each multi-tile maze. The game doesn't build up much of a fevered tenor to the action, despite speed goals in each stage, but it's an ideal game to cruise through a few levels at a time as an entertaining aside from your other iOS fixes. Intelligent design and suitable use of the iPad touch screen make this interesting original game a winner, and at just $0.99 for a universal iPad and iPhone app, even occasional puzzler solvers should dig into this indie gem.