Platform games are not as popular on the iPhone because of game control issues. You have to use the accelerometer or touch screen to move and shoot, and these controls can’t quite re–create the feel of a physical joypad. Still, some of these games exist, and it’s a shame when a good one comes along—one that circumvents most of the control issues—and goes largely unnoticed.
This nice, little, Gauntlet clone does a great job of capturing the look and feel of older RPG games being played on graph paper. Given the retro premise of the game, the graphics in SketchDungeon are quite well done. The sound effects are also good—you get some unique and unexpected grunts and groans from some of the creatures. (I chuckle every time the main character says “yum” after gobbling up a piece of food.) The combination of using the accelerometer to move and screen taps to shoot works amazingly well. You can also pinch the screen to zoom in and out, but be careful when you do this.
In a market that seems to thrive on Bejeweled clones, it’s surprising that this one didn’t make a bigger splash in the iPhone and iPod touch community. Its graphics and music alone make it worthwhile, but the goofy-looking monsters really set Gemmed! apart. On each level you must guide the different colored monsters to exits by feeding them gems, all of which have to be of the same color. As the monster consumes the gems, its power meter at the bottom of the screen increases. When the meter is full, the monster gets an increase in power. The game has four game modes, with the “Classic” mode alone containing 75 levels. All this makes Gemmed!
Strongholds is one of the best of the few, true strategy games in the App Store. Your challenge is simple: destroy the enemy’s command center or build up yours to the required number of points.
All of your buildings are already constructed, and there are no troops to control. Instead, everything is played out using action cards that you purchase using resources you acquire as you play the game. (The cards you purchase are randomly distributed by the computer.) The action cards affect factors of either or both of the camps.
I didn’t think I’d enjoy a game in which a fuzzy, red creature juggles other fuzzy creatures; however, this one is surprisingly addictive. It lets you juggle one, two, or three of the fuzzy little “Uggles,” and the longer you keep them in the air, the faster they go. (It gets downright frantic when you have three Uggles going at full speed.) In the beginning, you get to choose from three types of Uggles, but as you earn points you can unlock others. The different types have no effect on game play, but they look cool. In fact, the graphics in general are very nicely done.
With over 50,000 applications available and scores of new ones being added daily, it’s a small wonder that many good apps get lost in the crowd. A significant portion of iPhone and iPod touch users share my interest in games; games account for over half of App Store downloads. I thought I’d review a few of the lesser-known titles in the App Store—the hidden gems!
Dig around in the App Store
The App Store provides users with a wide variety of games but buries a lot of treasures in the process. Remember that a game doesn’t have to come from a large, well-known company to be good. Take some time to dig around in the App Store—you just might find some hidden gems!