The exclamation point can be a powerful thing!

It can spark a revolution! Fight for change! Rally a hockey team! Start a war! Bring U2 back out for an encore! How awesome is that?! It’s really REALLY awesome!!! THAT’S how awesome it is!!!!! WOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

It can also be really annoying when used excessively, as I’ve just proven, or inappropriately, as I’m about to prove further. This month, I’ve followed the shouting… I dug through the app-sack and pulled out anything with a ‘!’ in the title. Hey, a guy’s gotta have a theme, no matter how tenuous.

I’ve got Lucky Generals! I’ve got Burst!, Bigfoot, Go Home!, Hang In…Go! The Oh!BURGER and Oh!SUSHI double combo pack, plus Oh!Monster (not associated with Oh!BURGER nor Oh!SUSHI). Also, the gutsy triple-bang RoomBreak: Escape Now!!! and a mysterious app simply entitled ‘!’

As usual, I’ve stuck to the freebies, so nobody finds themselves shouting, ‘Gimme back my frickin’ frackin’ money!!!!!’ (although I wouldn’t say no to forcefully demanding compensation for the time wasted on a few of these beauties).

Hey, I know! Let’s knock off the duffers first! Then we end on a positive note! Nice!!!

‘!’ is more of a ‘…’ when it comes to excitement, and barely registers a ‘,’ for the amount of time you’d play it. How fast are your reflexes? Oh, they’re that fast. Then you delete it. I’ve spent more time on this paragraph than it did on my iPad.

Burst! is a Bloons knock off. You know how sometimes when a blockbuster movie is about to come out, a third-rate TV station will try to mooch off its predestined success by dumping out a paler, low budget version of the same thing? Tonight on ABS: the Revengers! And, like most people offered this choice, I would much prefer to pay full price for Bloons than play this knock off for free.

Lucky Generals! I’ve still yet to figure out the details. Best I can describe it is a tank war fought by paper-rock-scissors. You choose one of your tanks, the opponent chooses one of his, and you take a pop at each other until there’s only one tank left. You could probably take the time to learn which tank beats which other tank, but since when has war had anything to do with strategic planning? Good old dependable rock, nothing beats that. Did I mention that the battlefield is a bathroom floor? Yeah.

I’m sorry to report that Bigfoot, Go Home! is about Bigfoot the monster truck, and has absolutely nothing to do with Harry and the Hendersons. As tilty-truck 2D racers go, it’s fine animation and physics, but I’ve made it to the seventh level so far without any need to use the brake, or even take my thumb off the accelerator. Challenging it ain’t, which must be why my kids like it so much.

I keep trying my best to like Hang In…Go! because I think it’s got a lot of potential, puzzle-wise. You’re a bit of primordial ooze making its way through a bunch of sewer pipes, dealing with part maze, part swinging, part stretching, part slingshot. Lots of ways to get around, and the physics are pretty decent, only… the act of swinging about is so frustratingly slow and ungainly, and touch controls are so sketchy that I’m having trouble getting past the tutorial. If the slime-swings were, like, twice as long and the tunnels to match so you could get some satisfying speed on, it could be really fun reinvented as a fast-paced reaction game. But at the moment it moves at the speed of evolution. Don’t give up, guys! One more generation ought to do it.

Oh!SUSHI is definitely worth a free grab. What begins as a shining example of fit-inducing random manga colour that the Japanese seem to excel at, continues with a bit of shrug-n-tap through the menu system, and ends with you chucking raw fish onto the sushi train as fast as fast food can be. A customer walks in, says “!” and tap-flick, it’s in his mouth in under a second. He gnaws away graphically at it, then his face lights up surrounded by roses and happy symbols. He pays you a few hundred yen and leaves. Success! Quick shot of you, the Dragonball-Z of sushi chefs, then onto the next level. A good chef can please 20 customers in under 2 minutes.

It’s the customers that make the game though. When I say ‘customer’ I mean anything from puckered old African sourpuss in a muumuu to Mexican pro wrestler man-child. It’s hilariously random and fun in a DudeWTF sort of way. Also, because it’s packed with Japanese weirdness, you feel more culturally robust.

If you need to ease into your cultural robustness, there’s also Oh!BURGER for the American Market. Same thing, but translated into burgers and fries and more normal looking people (presumably because Americans are reputed globally for how normal they are).

The Oh! has obviously not been trademarked, because Oh!Monster has nothing to do with serving food to monsters (nor Harry and the Hendersons, for that matter). No, it’s about serving WHOOP-ASS to monsters… TOWER DEFENCE STYLE!!! To be honest, Tower defence isn’t really my thing (though I must confess a fondness for Bloons TD – what is it with me and Bloons today?), but the time I spent in here I enjoyed. Go on and grab this one too, the intro cutscene’s worth the price of, er, free.

And finally… RoomBreak: Escape Now!!! As you’d expect, it sits squarely within the escape-the-room genre of games. Because of this obvious fact, I cringed as I opened it for the first time…

Now, personally, my stance on the Escape genre is that it’s the neglected stepchild of the golden boy of gaming genres, the Point-&-Click (hence my own self-serving need to remind people of how good adventure gaming can be when done right – ahem – Hector: Badge of Carnage). The Escape genre seems to be this generation’s pale imitation of P&C, with all the obtuse puzzle illogic and none of the wit, charm, design or character interaction. I won’t go on about it or it will put me in a grumpy mood.

However… I liked this one! There’s a story, and great artwork, and if you throw yourself into the obtusity of the genre it’s actually pretty fun and challenging. The dialogue translation leaves something to be desired, but I channeled this into the charm of the whole thing. Plus, you get 5 episodes, each with 5 rooms to escape from, free. Totally worth the download, and totally worthy of the three !!!s in the title. I may even buy Episode 6!

So there you go!!!!!!!!!!!! Incidentally, how many ! is too many? I’ve always gone with the rule of thumb that five exclamations is a sure sign of insanity, whether in anger or joy. Facebook should put in an auto filter based on that rule.

Anyway, hopefully a few of these gems will have you shouting with joy, shouting with frustration or shouting with laughter (unless you’re one of the aforementioned developers, from whom I will expect to hear shouts of verbal abuse in the next few days).

And if I’ve missed anything obvious, don’t hesitate to give me a, well, you know. If you need me, I’ll be over here playing Bloons.