My Top 7 iPhone Games
With the iPhone whipping gamers and developers alike into a frenzy, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about the games I’ve been playing.
For me, the iPhone is the first phone I’ve ever owned where playing games actually seemed like a worthwhile pastime. Previously, cell phone games have been dodgy at best, with relatively few titles to really score a home run and make them worth a purchase. Not so with the iPhone and its AppStore! Apple has already seen a fair bit of money out of my pocket, and if developers keep it up with games like these, there’ll be plenty more to come.
Must. Eat. Birds! by Mediatronic
Must. Eat. Birds! is one of those games that is relatively simple, but is all about the presentation. Using a makeshift slingshot, players must launch hungry meatball-looking critters called “nomsters” at the birds descending on a cake-laden picnic. The nomsters dutifully devour the birds, leaving the picnic free for snacking.
Some birds come armed with eggshell shields, which require a nomster to break before they can be eaten. Other birds are just too big for a regular nomster to eat, which requires the creation of a super nomster, which is accomplished by eating other nomsters.
Eating enough birds in rapid succession causes a giant cake to rise in the background, and triggers Maximum Bake mode, in which every nomster on the screen continues to bounce around until the mode ends, eating more than their normal share of birds.
It’s got its flaws, of course. The input is sometimes laggy, resulting in missed shots. And it doesn’t manage memory too well either, I haven’t tested it on the new iPhone 3Gs, but on the iPhone 3G it is prone to crashing. And the music does get repetitive after awhile, though that can easily be turned off.
The game’s nothing new, and on a touch screen we first saw it as a minigame in Nintendo’s Super Mario 64 DS. But never has it come across this colorful, or this crazed. And for a dollar, it’s a pretty good buy.
Peggle by Pop Cap
What can I say about Peggle that hasn’t already been said a hundred times elsewhere? This delightfully addicting mixture of pinball, pachinko and plinko adds up to one fantastic game. It’s on pretty much every platform known to man, because people are willing to pony up for it every time, which says something.
Some have griped that there’s no music, but for me, it goes unmissed.
The big deal is its price – I picked the game up for a dollar, when Pop Cap was running an experiment/sale. It’s not that cheap anymore, nor was it to start with, and it’s left a lot of customers hot under the collar. But whether it’s one buck or five, it’s a great game and worth the money.
The Oregon Trail by Gameloft
Gameloft’s version of the classic edutainment game is a real solid game that is worth the time and money. It is also easier than it used to be, in some respects.
Back in the old days, food and supplies came easy, as those of us who grew up on video games steamrolled every hunting opportunity and came back with nearly a ton of meat, allowing us to save our money for equipment and travel. Not so, in this new version. Hunting isn’t as easy, and food is more scarce. But supplies do get used up less, depending on the player’s skill at a number of fairly simple minigames.
It’s fun for a few minutes here and there, great for commuters, and evokes all the nostalgia of the old games. And sometimes, that’s all you need.
Mafia Wars by Zynga
The popular Facebook game gets ported to the iPhone in this stat-building game. It’s pretty good for killing a minute or three every so often, if you like pressing buttons and making noise like I do.
The hook of the game, as one might suspect, is building up one’s own mafia and using it to commit various crimes, get into fights with other gangs, make deals with the Godfather and amass weapons and wealth.
For the most part it seems like one might run out of things to do, but it seems that Zynga is looking to keep the game fresh by adding new jobs to do, and there is a special level 99 weapon you can buy, and for a free game it isn’t a bad diversion.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether the game will hold up over time, as of right now I’m simply grinding experience to get to that level 99 weapon, but it’s not bad to spend five minutes poking at buttons.
Vampires: Bloodlust by Zynga
It’s Mafia Wars with Vampires. There’s not much else to say other than that – but it’s about as entertaining. More so, if you like the color red.
The main difference between Vampires and Mafia Wars is that instead of property, you are hiring minions who harvest blood for you. The issue lies in that these minions are far more expensive to purchase than the various properties in Mafia Wars, for significantly less payout. There is a threshold where that changes, but in the meantime they’re barely worth the up front cost, aside from managing upkeep for your weapons and skills.
This minor difference does bump up the difficulty just a little bit, but the game plateaus once you get over it – and there are fewer jobs so you cover all the game’s content much, much faster than Mafia Wars, and there doesn’t appear to be a special level-based weapon at the end of the tunnel.
Is it worth the price?
Well, it’s free, so sure. You do get what you pay for.
Zenonia by Gamevil
In Zenonia, Gamevil (pronounced Game-ville, not Gam-evil) looks to produce an action RPG on par with Diablo or perhaps the Legend of Zelda. While it’s certainly an interesting attempt, and does well on a number of levels, it just doesn’t stack up to the games that inspire it – and that is not necessarily bad.
Zenonia is a fun game in which you control the archtypical young hero out for adventure, rescuing villagers, solving puzzles and slaying monsters.
The game is marred by a manky control scheme, namely, a virtual d-pad and action button built into the screen, awkward localization and awful music – it’ll loop about 50 times in the first three minutes of gameplay: you’ll want it off quickly.
Issues aside, Zenonia is an entertaining game that’s fun to play, and absolutely makes me look forward to what future developers do with the platform.
Trism by Demiforce
Trism is Demiforce’s first commercial release, after the aborted Drymouth – a picross clone – from years back. Having made their name in the ROM hacking and translation scene over the twelve or so years, Demiforce’s Steve Demeter decided to take his gaming ambitions in a more commercial direction.
Developing the original game on jailbroken iPhones before the official SDK was released, Trism was one of the first iPhone games to be released – and is to this day one of the best.
It’s a new twist on the falling puzzle piece genre, using the iPhone’s motion sensing technology to determine which direction the pieces will fall, and that tilting makes all the difference between a big score or ultimate failure. Hours of my life have already been lost to this game.
Of course, the AppStore is relatively new, and there will be plenty more games to come out in the device’s lifespan. Already developers are hard at work creating the next generation of iPhone games, to take advantage of the new hardware in the iPhone 3Gs – a device beefy enough to handle PlayStation emulation if YouTube videos are to be believed.
So this list will certainly see updates with time. Meanwhile, what’re your favorite iPhone games and apps? Let me know in the comments!