The titles reviewed in this article are recent App Store standouts. They all have excellent production values, appropriately deep and complex gameplay, and high replay value. Best of all, they are a blast to play!
Depth, beauty, and great gameplay
Every title in this article is well worth its price. Each demonstrates that the quality of the game is in the details, and each of these titles provides depth, beauty, and great gameplay.
There are other standouts that I did not have space to mention here, including The Quest, Glyder, Zen Bound, Snails, Underworlds, Galaga Remix, and Orions. Make the best use of your gaming dollars; check out my iPhone Life blog (iphonelife.com/blog) in the coming weeks for reviews of these and other titles.
Rogue is one of the most venerable titles in the history of electronic entertainment. Multiple versions of it exist for nearly every platform, and there are already several versions for the iPhone and iPod touch. ChronoSoft’s Rogue Touch is far and away the best.
Rogue Touch challenges you to move your character through more than twenty, randomly generated dungeon levels, recover an amulet, and fight your way back to the top. Along the way, you face a variety of angry monsters and collect increasingly lethal weapons and magical scrolls. Secret doors, cursed weapons, and potions of dubious value also stand between you and your goals.
As with other incarnations of the game, Rogue Touch lets you get just within reach of your goal before surprising you with an ogre or some other monster that whomps you into oblivion. In fact, many players have invested hundreds of hours in the game without ever actually seeing the fabled Amulet of Yendor.
Its intuitive controls and efficient interface make Rogue Touch an ideal game for the iPhone. Players can pick it up for a few minutes or play for hours. And it’s the desire to make it “just one level farther than last time” that keeps them coming back for more.
ChronoSoft has obviously put a lot of attention into every detail of this title. The graphics are simple but effective, and the variety of weapons, monsters, and Easter eggs keep the game interesting. In addition, ChronoSoft updates the game regularly with new content.
Rogue Touch may not be the flashiest game in the App Store, but it is perfectly suited to the platform. Just remember that once you enter the Dungeon of Doom, there is no turning back!
Once you enter the Dungeon of Doom, there is no turning back!
- Kevin Hill; ChronoSoft
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.
The game’s two modes of play (timed and untimed) as well as a host of achievements to unlock, and an appropriately challenging difficulty curve, give Bookworm the “just one more game” addiction factor that holds people’s interest in the best puzzle games.
PopCap’s usual level of polish is evident in all aspects of Bookworm. The graphics are fun and inviting. The menu and interface are smooth and quick to use. And the gameplay is fast and compelling.
Bookworm is an excellent choice for people who are looking for a more cerebral alternative to PopCap’s other popular iPhone title, Bejeweled. There is even a built-in dictionary for those who want to claim that they play the game for its educational value.
Make words, score points, and improve your vocabulary.
- PopCap Games, Inc
- $4.99; popcap.com
Chillingo has quickly distinguished itself as a leading publisher of innovative games for the iPhone. In fact, it would have been easy to populate this article exclusively with Chillingo titles. In this article I focus on one of their most popular and influential games.
iDracula – Undead Awakening has the distinction of being the first iPhone action arcade game to get everything right. Billed as a “survival shooter,” it offers constant combat that challenges your reaction time and precision—the stuff that “twitch gamers” crave. The interface is so good, in fact, that it has become the de facto standard for 2D isometric action titles published since its release.
There is more to iDracula than just innovation. Weapon upgrades and continuous waves of new monsters keep you coming back for more as you continue your quest to slay the ultimate vampire. Action games, however, are not really about character development or story. They are about slaughtering multitudes of enemies in the most creative, combustible way possible. iDracula delivers this in spades.
Most games in this genre become tedious after a few iterations, but iDracula has enough complexity and visual quality to retain its replay value for some time.
- $0.99 (free Lite version)
- Chillingo Ltd
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.
Players can choose from multiple types of ships and upgrades, and can use both combat and trading missions to improve their wealth and the capabilities of their ship. Unlike Elite and other games, being a true pacifist-trader is not an option. Combat is inevitable and essential to advance the plot line and the pilot’s career.
The iPhone version of Galaxy on Fire makes full use of the iPhone’s graphic acceleration. Make sure you have the latest version (1.1.1) because it significantly improves frame rates and corrects several glitches found in previous versions. The interface is solid and uncluttered, and some of the space combat scenes can be genuinely beautiful.
The large galaxy, variety of ships and missions, and high degree of polish make Galaxy on Fire an excellent value. There are plenty of space shooters in the App Store, but Galaxy on Fire is in a universe all its own.
Galaxy on Fire
- $4.99 (free Lite version also available)
- Marc Hehmeyer; FISHLABS GmbH Germany
There are also plenty of racing titles in the App Store, but none has generated the buzz of EA’s Need for Speed: Undercover which provides an astonishing list of twenty different cars to race in eight different scenarios (with names like “Highway Battle” and “Cop Takeout”). A wealth of car upgrades, achievements, and bragging rights provide plenty of reasons to keep coming back to the game.
Features and car choices are not the deciding factors when it comes to choosing a racing game. The only thing that matters is speed! NFS: Undercover is very fast indeed. The cars are quick and responsive on the road, and they look beautiful. The scenery and car models push the very edge of the iPhone’s graphics capabilities. The fact that EA was able to make a game that looks this good and plays this well bodes well for the iPhone’s future as a gaming platform. With a variety of ways to play, a large number of possible goals, and more snazzy cars than Jay Leno’s garage, Need for Speed: Underground will keep you in the driver’s seat for many hours to come.
Need for Speed: Undercover
- Electronic Arts