It’s almost impossible to open up the App Store and not stumble across about two dozen tower defense games in the span of a few seconds. Sure, this strategy genre has been milked to death, but the truth is, the tower defense gameplay does lend itself quite well to the iPhone, and no developer has taken more advantage of this natural fit like ngmocco. Star Defense puts a science fiction spin on the mundane tower defense game, thanks to its use of a 3-D plane of action. The controls are sublime, the tower and enemy balance is perfect and the classy presentation is the cherry on top of what is an effort that is head and shoulders above all other tower defense games. Star Defense is a great title to pop in and pop out of, but don’t be surprised when you find yourself playing this for long feverish stretches on your iPhone.
When you think of the type of games that would play well on a 3.5-inch touch screen phone, FPS are probably the last genre to come to mind. For the times when you are away from your Xbox 360 or PS 3, and are just craving some Halo-like FPS action, the iPhone has you covered with N.O.V.A. If you compare Gameloft’s N.O.V.A. to other shooters offered on the iPhone today, there really is no contest. Excellent pacing, epic set pieces, and most importantly the quality controls, N.O.V.A. is a graphically impressive, fully competent mobile FPS title.
Beneath A Steel Sky – Remastered
One of the best gaming trends on the iPhone has been the conversion of classic p&c adventure games. While we have seen more famous titles such as The Secret Of Monkey Island and Myst make the transition over to iPhone games, the best of the bunch so far has been a long-lost cult favorite from the early ‘90s. Beneath A Steel Sky takes the term retro remix to a whole new level, offering up a load of impressive new polished features, none of which are as obvious or appreciated as the updated cut scenes that were animated by Dave Gibbons of Watchmen fame. For just $4.99 you can score a slick adventure title that manages to not only conjure up nostalgic bliss, but also make perfect use of the iPhone’s cutting-edge control schemes.
Be forewarned before you purchase Peggle for your iPhone – this puzzle game is highly addictive and has been known to make gamers fiend for a fix at all times of the day. PopCap’s sensation may have previously been a huge hit on the PC, but Peggle feels like it was always meant to be an iPhone game, and this is probably the best version. The touch-screen controls of the iPhone are a perfect match for the slide-and-shoot action of Peggle, and the quick game nature makes it ideal for mini play sessions on the go. In addition to online multiplayer mode, there are 100 unique levels to play through in Peggle, and each one presents a multitude of challenges and high scores to shoot for. If you have never experienced Peggle, get ready to say goodbye to all office productivity, and even if you have played it to death on another console, this is still a must-own App for your phone. Download it now, and book a stay at Peggle rehab later.
A massive original role-playing game on the iPhone would have seemed like both an impractical and impossible achievement, that is until you play Zenonia. Gamevil has crafted a world that is easy to get lost in, and with a sequel already on the way, Zenonia is looking to become the first name in iPhone RPGs. After just a few moments playing Zenonia, you will feel yourself being transported back to that genre’s 16-bit golden age on the Genesis and SNES as the game will remind many of a classic Final Fantasy or Dragon Warrior title. Don’t be fooled into thinking this game is watered down on any level just because it lives on the iPhone. Zenonia features solid graphics, a detailed skill tree for customizing your hero and even a day-to-night system. With potentially 40 hours worth of gameplay, there is a lot to keep you busy here.
Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor
Spider is a very easy game to fall in love with. From the stunning hand-drawn art to the iTunes-worthy musical score and even the surprisingly emotional story, this is a little game that would be a crime to overlook. On the surface, Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor appears to be a standard puzzle game, albeit a creative one where you control a tiny arachnid as it weaves its web to catch flies and bugs. However, playing out in the backdrop of Spider is an impressive mystery that is easy to miss, but turns out to be the highlight of the game. The Secret of Bryce Manor conjures up more sensations of sadness, dread and uplifting spirit than that of games 50 times its size on much more powerful platforms. With 28 rooms to explore and re-explore as you try to unwind this brilliant story, Spider offers a lot of lasting appeal and a mega value.
Any gamer who grew up in the 1980s probably has at least one fond memory of the arcade and laser disc classic Dragon’s Lair. While ported many times over throughout the years, and sometimes to less than stellar results, the beautifully animated Don Bluth game really soars on the iPhone. Including both the arcade and home version, Dragon’s Lair should be a fixture on everyone’s iPhone. The visuals are about as crisp and bold as ever, and in a game that solely relies on split-second controls, Dragon’s Lair is extremely responsive. While the game ultimately boils down to trial and error memorization, the $5 price tag alone is worth it for the stunning animations that harken back to the Disney heydays.
Every great console has an iconic figure, whether it’s Mario on Nintendo, Sonic on the Genesis or now Rolando on the iPhone. From the moment you first dive into this puzzle-based adventure game, it will be next to impossible to keep a smile from forming on your face. Everything about Rolando is finely tuned to equal gaming bliss. The animations ooze charm and the gameplay has that timeless hook of starting off simple, and then building into a challenge that actually feels difficult as opposed to being cheap. There is just so much to gush about when it comes to Rolando, as there is not a single weak moment in the entire package. The sequel, Rolando 2: The Quest For The Golden Orchid is available now, so it would be advisable to grab both titles in the series and start rolling and tilting your way through Rolandoland.
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
If there was some preconceived notion that the iPhone was only good for playing mini games and crossword puzzles, think again. Originally a critical smash on the Nintendo DS, Rockstar has brought over Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars almost completely intact. The virtual controls and on-screen buttons may take some time to get the hang of, but the reward once you get past that learning curve is well worth the early struggle. This is a total Grand Theft Auto game, from the creative missions to the original narrative to the outstanding production value, and of course the shooting of pedestrians in the face. For $9.99, you get the same game that is retailing on other portable platforms for nearly three times as much, and with close to 20 hours’ worth of replayable action, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars will make you a believer in serious gaming on the iPhone.
Zen Bound is a funny game to try and pin down. It’s more relaxing than a yoga session, yet it also inspires hardcore, old-school arcade game-style determination as you try and topple your best scores. Labeling Zen Bound as a casual game would be doing this wholly unique and magical experience a major disservice. The concept is simple: You manipulate your iPhone to wind a rope around a carved wooden object. Yet the execution reaffirms every hope you ever had for playing top quality games on a mobile phone. The graphically amazing Zen Bound is a meditative experience that displays more creativity, art style and sound than most major budget titles. This is a game that needs to be on your iPhone, and for $4.99 there is no reason to not own this. Go buy it now, and tap into Zen Bound whenever you feel the need to escape from a crazy day.
And, finally, the game that made me think of making this article. I actually haven’t try it, but reviews around the net are, I don’t know… something like ” funny little puzzler about flightless birds that attack egg-stealing pigs via a slingshot” – but, everybody just love the game!