March saw the arrival of a glut of top-tier apps, games and distractions for the iPhone - too many to sift through for the busy iFans amongst you. But because we like you so much, we've handpicked the ten best, so you can spend less time searching and more time playing.
1. Great Little War Game
Great Little War Game is a turn-based strategy title that teams eye-popping 3D visuals and deep, visceral gameplay to make any genre purist proud.
For the newbies out there, your main objective is to effectively wipe out the enemy side before it wipes you out, by tactically placing your military units, commandos, troopers, tanks, ships and whathaveyou on the map based on their different strengths and specialties. You take turns to make your moves, much like a game of chess, but with a lot, lot more firepower.
There are different modes on offer too, such as capture the HQ, where you must occupy the enemy base by any means, Escort the Generalissimo, which tasks you with chaperoning the army general to safety, and Defend your Base, where you guard your strongholds against enemy attacks.
Of course, the cute, charming graphics are a far cry from the real thing, even with its endless supply of cartoony blood. But the lavish production values of the game, incredible attention to detail and excellent animation gives you a sense of aerial, naval and land warfare that gets as good as you can expect on a small screen. This is a game that genuinely does every word of its name justice.
Double Dragon is a classic side-scrolling beat ‘em up that took arcades in a storm in the '80s and eventually made its way to virtually every console released in the golden era of gaming.
The iPhone remake adds revamped graphics that retain the nostalgic charm of its 8-bit iteration, complete with a responsive control scheme designed specially for the touchscreen.
You fill the shoes of twin brothers, Billy and Jimmy Lee, who are both martial arts experts in a dystopian New York City where crime never sleeps. Bill and Jim’s common love interest Marian has been kidnapped by the notorious Black Warriors gang, who have kindly asked them to bring along a rare ancient fighting scroll in exchange for her freedom. As you might expect, instead of giving in to their demands, you’ll be laying down some serious damage to Marian's dastardly captors in a bid to rescue her.
Rest assured, you won’t have to do it all alone. There’s two-player co-op via Bluetooth so your chum can join in on pummeling Black Warriors thugs to hell and then some. And if you’re the one on the receiving end of the damage, there’s a lower difficulty setting suitable for even the most casual of players.
Game Center support is also onboard, which means you can compete against friends for bragging rights in the high-score department. If you’re in the market for a good beat ‘em up, look no further.
3. Land-a Panda
Pandas are cute and cuddly, but they are slowly dying out – mainly because they are really just too fat and lazy to make the first move when it comes to mating. That’s not the case with Yang Guang, a lovestruck young male panda who only yearns to be with female panda Tian Tian.
It’s essentially a platformer with puzzle-based mechanics. Each level starts with Yang Guang on the opposite end to where Tian Tian is. The levels are also littered with floating cannons with which you can fire loverboy ever closer to his special gal, while avoiding a number of hazardous obstacles along the way.
Certain cannons can be manually rotated prior to firing, while others float in different directions perpetually and require you to time your shot to take their movement into account. Failure to land on a cannon or a platform will result in Yang Guang’s untimely demise, followed by a heart-wrenching weep from Tian Tian to amplify the magnitude of your incompetence.
Land him next to Tian Tian, however, and you’ll progress to the next level to repeat the process with increased difficulty.
The graphics are colourful and charming and look stunning in HD on the iPhone 4’s retina display. It may not be a complex game, but it is doubtless an excellent time-killer for players of all age. For just 59p, you’d be foolish not to pick it up.
4. Pocket Informant
Pocket Informant is a highly customisable personal calendar application that sports a gamut of functionality that you won’t find on the iPhone's stock iCal.
Not only do you get a more detailed view of all your agenda for the day, week or month - all of which can be customised to your liking - events are also colour-coded based on their type and importance, making it quicker and easier to sift through what’s more or less important. Plus, there are timebars that allow you to quickly glance at any free time you might have.
It syncs directly with push-based calendars, such as Google Calendar and Toodledo, meaning you’ll be able to access all your events with you even when you’re not using the app.
New events may be recurring and allow you to enter a wide range of information, such as attendees, which you can select from your contacts list. Searching for events is simply a matter of typing the task, event or contact related to an entry. And that’s only the start.
Although at £7.49, it’s certainly not the cheapest organiser app around, the investment will pay off handsomely if you’re the type of person with a jam-packed schedule for which the standard calendar app is simply inadequate.
5. Memorable Meals
Ever wish you could revisit all your favourite meals in an instant or recipes you liked without struggling to remember the important details off the top of your head? Memorable Meals allows you to overcome unnecessary mind blanks and focus more on the cooking. And eating.
In essence, it’s a voice recorder application, but one that’s been specifically designed to create and organise anything and everything food-related.
Eaten something mind-blowingly deelish that you don’t want to forget? Or perhaps you saw a recipe that you don’t have the time to write down? Simply tap the ‘add a meal’ button to create a new meal.
Here, you can name the meal in question, add a picture of something remind you of it, which could be the meal itself, the restaurant where you ate it, or better yet, the person you ate it with. Then select where or when - as in breakfast, lunch, dinner - you enjoy to eat it most, add a voice memo to record any and all information about the meal, such as specific toppings or flavours you liked. And finally, add any additional notes or tags that are relevant and save the info. Now all you have to do to access the gen again is simply tap it from the My Meals.
If you’re a food-loving sort, or like me, a forgetful type, then this appetising little app is eggsactly what you need.
6. Max and the Magic Marker
Max is a kid like any other: small, ginger... okay, so maybe not like any other. But he's an average kid whose life changes completely when a magical marker pen arrives at his doorstep.
Why magical, you ask? Because Max can use it to freely draw anything he desires in his world. However, that’s when the trouble starts, as the first thing he decides to draw is a monster, which unsurprisingly, given the magical nature of the marker, comes to life and is now threatening to destroy all of Max’s other drawings. It’s up to our hero to go after the beast and do everything in his power to stop it.
Your role is to help Max overcome myriad obstacles and go places he’d otherwise never be able to by putting the marker to good use. But be aware that the magical ink is not infinite. You must keep an eye out for golden sphere to refill it with. Along the way you must learn and prepare the best you can to take down the evil monster once and for all.
The cartoony, hand-drawn graphics ooze charm and the gameplay evokes titles such as Scribblenaut and Line Rider, with puzzle solving and platforming all rolled into one – meaning that you’re in for a real treat with this little gem.
Socialcam is a video recorder-cum-uploader that enables you to quickly and easily share your clips on a variety of social networks.
Nice day outside? Load up Socialcam and start shooting. When you’re done, add a title to your video and tag any Facebook friends you may want to share it with, and Socialcam will post the clip directly on their wall once it’s been uploaded. After that, select whether you want to share via Facebook, Twitter, email or SMS, press 'done' and it’ll be on its way.
Sure, there's no shortage of apps that let you do just that. But what sets Socialcam apart from the pack is that your videos can be unlimited in length and you have unlimited storage too. Better yet, videos can be uploaded as you record them so that you don’t have wait around if there’s something important you need to share with the world.
You can also browse videos uploaded by your friends, ‘like’ them and comment on them. You’ll also get instant notification when you’re tagged in a video, making it a truly social video sharing experience. The best part, though, is that it’s completely free, meaning you have nothing to lose by giving it a try.
8. LogMeIn Ignition
Wish you could control your PC or Mac from anywhere on the go? With LogMeIn Ignition, you can.
It enables you to remotely log-in to your computer at home or work, access all your files and puts all your important information and favourite applications at your fingertips - even from thousands of miles away.
View files in an instant, edit them, or simply and copy them to your iPhone and vice-versa. This is especially useful if you need to transfer files between multiple computers. So, for example, let's say you’re at work and you forgot to bring that all-important report you were working on all night at home. No problem. Just fire up this baby, grab what you want and put it where you need it.
It’s also immensely handy if you work in IT support, allowing you to directly fix your client’s machine instead of telling them ‘have you tried turning it off and on again?’ a thousand times.
Don’t baulk at the £17.99 price tag, though, because if you need to do any of the aforementioned activities on a regular basis, or even occasionally, then this is well worth the investment for its convenience and sheer ease of use alone.
9. Get Outta My Galaxy
You’re Waka, an ugly looking alien creature on a deserted planet who just wants a bit of peace and quiet and to eat rocks between naps and stare at the cosmos.
But your sanctuary is being threatened by the arrival of a new alien species, the irritatingly energetic Wikus, who want to bring a strong work ethic and all that uptight stuff in Waka’s home planet.
Understandably, the under-employed Waka is infuriated by the Wikus invading his space and wants them out. It’s your job to travel with him throughout the solar system and rid them off the menacing creatures.
Explore your xenophobic tendencies as you slap, literally, each and every Wikus off the face of the planets you visit. You can also collect power-ups, such as the ability to grow into towering heights, spin around like a tornado - Taz the Tasmanian Devil-style, and many more.
The graphics are gorgeously detailed and in full 3D. The level designs are almost reminiscent of Super Mario Galaxy. You control Waka by tilting the iPhone in the direction you want him to move, and to slap a Wiku, just tap the screen. Once you’ve cleared a planet, visit a ‘beacon’, which will transport you to the galaxy map, where you can choose your next destination.
Pick it up right away for just 59p and get ready to slap like you’ve never slapped before.
10. Operation Wow
Operation Wow is an homage to the old-school arcade classics such as Operation Wolf that caused an entire generation of gamers to blissfully part with an unhealthy amount of ten pence pieces.
The enemy is on the march, invading various locales around the world and occupying your bases. Your job is to blow them to smithereens before they completely overwhelm you.
Simply tap on the screen to fire, or flick forward to toss a grenade when things are starting to get crazy – and, believe me, they will get crazy. Some enemies are more resilient than others and need to be shot more than once to take them out. But don’t go all-out John Rambo on us. Conserve your ammo and keep an eye out for supplies, because once you're out of bullets, it’s all over.
Each stage has its own locale that you'd expect to find in a military themed shooter, such as an army base, jungle, warehouse and airport. As the level progresses, the difficulty will also ramp up, and you’ll need to use multiple fingers to stay on top of the action.
Not fast enough? Don’t worry, as it also comes with two mini-games to train your reflexes. The first involves a session in the shooting range as you try to shoot the green targets as fast as possible and avoid shooting the red. The next is the aptly named ‘Meat Ninja’, which involves shooting various meat products that have been tossed up in the sky for you to splatter while avoiding anything that may be part of your five-a-day.
It may not be an original title. But for what it is, it's ace. And that's plenty good enough for us.