iPad reviews of the week: VidRhythm, Radballs, DrawRace 2, Serious Sam: Kamikaze Attack!

Game: DrawRace 2 HD
Price: $2.99/£1.99
Size: 281MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store: US / UK

Most readers likely know developer RedLynx from its work on Trials HD, the immensely addictive side-scrolling Xbox Live Arcade motorbike hit. But the Finnish studio has developed a lot of different on-wheels experiences over the years, including this week's MotoHeroz Unleashed on WiiWare, along with a handful of original iOS releases. One of those, 2009's DrawRace, varied wildly from the studio's oft-used 2D approach by using an overhead perspective – and more notably, taking active control out of your hands, letting you instead guide the vehicle by drawing a path around the course. Now, two years later, DrawRace 2: Racing Evolved ups the ante with a very thick slate of content, as well as more realistic visuals and improved design. And this time, it's also available for iPad in this HD iteration.

Does DrawRace 2 really evolve the racing genre, as its tagline so proudly boasts? We wouldn't go that far. Rather, it's a distinct alternative that works especially well on touchscreen devices; and while we still get more amped up by a really well done traditional racer, this app definitely has appeal. Prior to each race, you'll simply draw two laps worth of a racing route for your vehicle to follow, with the speed of your drawing determining the same for the vehicle – which is especially important around turns, as these wily cars are liable to spin out when mishandled. From there, the race starts and the events are no longer in your hands – at least, that was the case with the original, cartoon-stylized entry. Now, you'll have access to a boost button, which offers a meager burst of speed that may just be enough to push across the finish line during a tight encounter.

The (mostly) hands-off approach definitely takes some getting used to, but there's still a level of skill involved in finding the right lines and speed to take the checkered flag, and the meaty single-player campaign helps bring it out of you. With more than 180 challenges, including varying races and item-collecting minigames, DrawRace 2 can keep you playing for a long time, and it's a challenging run that'll require regular re-dos. Active online multiplayer isn't really an option here, but you can match up your lines against those of three other players chosen based on your skill level, as well as compare times with friends. DrawRace 2 melds racing and strategy in a unique and iPad-centric sort of way, and while we're not quite ready to crown this approach the future of racing, it's certainly an intriguing option.

Game: Serious Sam: Kamikaze Attack!
Price: $0.99/£0.69
Size: 17.8MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store: US / UK

Props to Croteam for doing something unique and interesting to help promote its upcoming release of Serious Sam 3: BFE. Rather than blow its cash on marketing stunts or other wasteful measures, the studio decided to set loose three noted indie developers on the shooter franchise and let them dream up distinct and unfamiliar Serious Sam experiences to drop in the weeks leading up to BFE's release. First up was last month's Serious Sam: Double D for PC, which built on Mommy's Best Game's celebrated side-scrolling design seen in Xbox Live Indie Games favorite Weapon of Choice, and actually let you stack numerous guns atop each other for one ridiculous barrage of firepower.

A third entry, Serious Sam: The Random Encounter – a role-playing experience from indie dev Vlambeer – is still in the works, but right in the middle of the pack is Serious Sam: Kamikaze Attack!, a universal iPad and iPhone running game that switches up the familiar series formula by putting you in command of the iconic Headless Kamikaze foes. Developed by Be-Rad Entertainment, the app lets you chase Sam down across 2D desert and jungle stages by tapping the left side of the screen to jump and double jump, and the right side to trigger a flying kick that'll clear any enemy or hazard in your path. Rather than present one endless challenge to conquer, the game includes 40 missions – each with varying obstacles and hazards, as well as optional bonus objectives – which uniformly end with Sam exploding into chunks. Or your grisly death; whichever comes first, really.

Kamikaze Attack isn't particularly refined or robust, even by App Store standards, with much of the game relying on the same handful of visual assets, plus one looping song used for background music. And it can become frustrating at times thanks to a Rage meter that limits your attacks – with overuse punishable by explosion – and leads to what can feel like some cheap deaths. But the colored pencil-esque art design is an amusing fit for this franchise, and while this simple (but challenging) affair isn't likely to hook non-existing fans, folks who are counting the days to BFE's release should find this a suitable distraction for a buck.

Sep 17, 2011