Galaxy on Fire is another multi-platform port that excels on the iPhone. A 3D space shooter in the tradition of Elite and Wing Commander, Galaxy on Fire provides more than just a chance to step into the cockpit and blow away a few alien bogies. It offers a great way to scratch both your science fiction and trigger finger itch.
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Another title that is well-suited to the iPhone format is PopCap’s port of its popular word puzzle game. As with many of the best iPhone titles, gameplay is straightforward. You are presented with a screen full of letter tiles; your task is to make the best word you can from a series of contiguous tiles. The more sophisticated or obscure the word, the better your score.
Some of my favorite action games are scrolling shooters, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t include at least one in this lineup. As with the platform games, scrolling shooters have been somewhat ignored on the iPhone. Like Ignite, iFighter does a decent job of overcoming the lack of physical control buttons and even provides the user with three different control schemes from which to choose.
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!