iPod freebie: Hellkid
This one guzzled an entire battery charge this morning.
Basically Canabalt meets Hook Champ, Hellkid: Hook & Jump is a really nicely put-together stab at the "running man" genre.
You play a little devil whose job is to collect "souls" which some fool has carelessly littered all over Hades. Simple one-button control enables you to jump or, with a second tap and hold, to fire a hook if there's a "bone column" nearby and use it to swing over gaps and collect souls suspended in midair.
The diabolically clever and sneaky twist in the game is that while the souls will often be arranged in patterns that conveniently coincide with the layout of the stages, sometimes they won't. Sometimes a little arch of souls will appear which, if you try to collect them, will lead you straight down a hole to your fiery death. (Can you actually die when you're already in Hell? One for the metaphysicists, there.)
You have plenty of time to spot the trap, and you don't have to collect every soul, but you'll constantly find yourself tempted to try to get them anyway – particularly the juicy clutches of "golden" souls which are often hanging around the bone columns. The game therefore requires twofold skills – quickly judging which souls are reachable, and then being adept enough to actually get them.
Hellkid is incredibly easy to play yet kills you with incredible frequency, usually through your own greed, which is the classic recipe for addiction. And in a super-cute touch, you can play it in "2010 Soccer" mode, which doesn't change the gameplay at all but gives your little imp a football which he kicks along with him as he goes.
The levels are long and challenging, and the whole thing's fast and slick and stuffed with powerups and bonuses and unlockables to collect along the way. (The use of sound is especially good too.) It's one of the finest games in the genre, and it's yours today for nil pence. Go now.
Remember, if you don’t have an iPhone or iPod Touch yet with which to enjoy the now-est gaming of the modern zeitgeist, you can still grab the games anyway with iTunes while they’re free, and upload them to your iPod when you get one.
And if you’re ready to join in the fun, you can do it at a giveaway price by subscribing to WoS, where subscribers learn how to pick up a brand-new 32GB 3rd-gen iPod Touch for just £6 – no strings, no contracts, no referrals, no getting other people do do anything, just a fun bit of exploiting capitalism for half-an-hour’s effort.