Tomb of the Mask
Do you like arcade games? Do you like retro graphics? Do you like barely restraining yourself from hurling your iOS device out a window while shrieking in incoherent rage? Happymagenta's free Tomb of the Mask may be for you! You're racing upwards through a randomly generated temple, avoiding everything from spikes, bullets, and enemies to the ever oncoming wall of instant death. Just swipe to go flying in that direction and you'll stick on whatever surface you land on, but watch out, since a single hit will be a game over. The coins you gather along the way can be used to by powerups like temporary shields or magnets, while the little dots increase your score and can eventually unlock different masks with various bonuses. You can choose to watch ads from time to time for extra coins or to keep going during a run if you hit danger, and for 200 coins, you can spin a wheel that can give you a shot at great rewards, or puny returns.
While it's not the sort of game I can play for long periods of time without getting shaky and sweaty, Tomb of the Mask still feels like the perfect mobile game for arcade fans who want to be able to pull out something fast and challenging at a moment's notice. While the near-total silence feels like a missed opportunity to have a really snazzy and catchy old school soundtrack, Tomb of the Mask's pixel presentation goes perfectly with its simple but brutal gameplay, and there's a surprising variety of enemies and obstacles to contend with the farther you go. Power-ups feel nice but not necessary, so you're not pressured to shell out for them, though I always recommend throwing any developer of a free game a few dollars when you enjoy it to show your appreciation, and being able to think and react fast to everything onscreen is appealingly hard. The swipe-to-move mechanism can sometimes be fiddly enough that an optional onscreen directional pad would have been nice, but you'll at least typically get one "free" resurrection per run if you don't mind watching a short video ad. Tomb of the Mask is old school action on the go that classic gameplay fans looking for something unforgiving will find a lot to like about. Just remember... if you must throw your phone, aim at something soft, like a pillow or the molten heart of the sun.