iPhone Gaming Round-Up
Along with the more traditional handheld gaming consoles there has been mobile gaming, and for the main part I don’t think anyone has really paid much attention to it as a viable platform. Sure people were addicted to Snake on their Nokia back in the day but no one has truly thought about mobile gaming on a big scale until the iPhone (or iPod Touch). More and more gaming websites are actually filling up their Mobile sections with games, reviews and features, and while there are games on other phones out there its had to deny the impact the iPhone has had â€“ You have to take them seriously when the heads at Nintendo start talking about how unafraid they are of the it. With its easy to navigate app store filled with Fart Buttons and Shakespeare E-Books alike you can certainly expect a fair amount of contrast in quality, so are any of the games out there actually worth your time (or cash for that matter)? Here’s just a few games we decided to look at in our first part of a feature on iPhone games, and not a fart button in sight.
24: Special Ops
24: Special Ops takes you through an independent episode out with the standard 24 Series where you get to play as gruff shouty man Jack Bauer on a day where he goes about shooting people that deserve it (every day actually). Each level serves as an hour, similar to each episode of the show, and yes each level starts with Kiefer telling you the time, in true 24 fashion. So each level has you roaming in a beautiful isometric environment very similar to some sort of Mega Drive game, within each area you can run about guns a-blazing or watch enemy patterns, duck behind cover and try to stealth kill everyone. You move around by tapping each of the four screen corners and shoot by tapping the middle of the screen. Enemies take ages to die unless you hold the centre of the screen â€“ until your reticule goes red and then â€“ BOOM HEADSHOT â€“ Instant death. Throughout the levels you may encounter several mini games like the driving sections al la Spy Hunter, here you may have to just survive or tail someone. Also are standard crack the computer/defuse the bomb mini-games and yes, once again Pipe Mania is ripped off, but it’s a nice diversion. The game even comes with its own achievement system (50 headshots etc) this is always welcome to see. You don’t need to be a fan of the show to enjoy this and if you’re not too sure, there’s a trial version available. 24: Special Ops is good fun and most importantly very bite size.
iDracula â€“ Undead Awakening
Not to be confused with iDracula (a shitty Dracula based soundboard) this game is actually quite good. Ostensibly a twin stick shooter in the style of Geometry Wars you play as a Vampire Hunter with a grudge against zombies, werewolves, bats and other hellish creations. This may seem pretty basic but since release the game certainly has evolved, in recent months free game updates have provided new levels (they’re all basically big arenas), modes (more on that), weaponry (rifles, crossbows, mini-guns etc) and the addition of perks (pretty much what you’d imagine, armour that slows you down, crossbow can now fire 3 darts at once, more health etc) which just makes this game even better value for money.
You control in the standard twin stick manner by touching the screen with your two thumbs but if you have big sausage hands like me, more often than not you will end up hindering your view (a minor negative). Each of the game modes has you obviously killing heaps of monsters but in slightly different ways.
Survival Mode has you killing a steady stream if increasingly difficult nasties, all the while picking up the health, ammo and weapons they carelessly drop. Perks become available the more enemies you kill and before long you’ll be praying for a quick death â€“ in a good way. There is also a harder Super Survival variation.
Wave Attack Mode has you fighting waves of enemies (really) but collecting gold instead of health ‘n’ ammo to purchase stuff at the end of each wave. Rush Mode (my fave) lands you in the middle of an orgy or hellhounds and your favourite choice of big gun (with unlimited ammo) to see how long you can survive.
The aim is to get the small amount of water at the bottom of the screen, to the top and you do this by creating bubbles. Touch the screen anywhere to start creating a bubble, the longer you hold, the bigger the bubble gets, let go to form the bubble. The more bubbles you make the more they displace the water around them and the higher the water rises, and when it gets to the top â€“ Level Win! Sounds very easy so the difficulty comes in the form of little back pointy things just there to burst your bubble (let’s call them enemies). Enemies can only burst a bubble as you are forming it, so once it has been inflated, the bubble cannot be destroyed. You have a â€œPopâ€ meter and this goes down every time they burst a bubble as it’s being inflated, if the meter depletes Game Over. You also have a Bubble meter which goes down every time you form a bubble, so clearly a few big bubbles will serve you better than lots of tiny bubbles, but when trying to form big bubbles you are more likely to get them popped by enemies. Simple, eh? Particularly skilled played can actually try and fence off enemies around a wall of bubbles, thus allowing you to inflate in peace but on the later levels when the screen is swarming with enemies, this is nigh on impossible â€“ remember the more area your bubbles take up the less area there is to form new bubbles. Just Fillin’ is perfectly suited for the iPhone with its simple controls and its bite sized levels. Not as complex as some of the other games I have played, and it does have a limited range of levels but it certainly is fun. Buy it.
Personally speaking, Peggle iPhone is my first dalliance with the world of Peggle and I honestly can’t imagine a better platform for it (take that, PC owners). You know the drill, fire tiny balls at the pegs to complete levels and score points (orange big, blue small). When you miss, then its bad luck and random aiming, but when you make that ultimate shot it was 100% pure skill. You play the story mode, trying out the different characters and power-ups (Spooky Ball and Magic Hat FTW) and once that is completed there are numerous challenges to keep you busy (score attack, duels, etc). The sound effects are limited but this just makes hitting that final peg all the more special – Beethoven’s Ode to Joy comes through perfectly on the speakers. At its currently reduced price the game is a steal, but it’s also worth the 3 quid I paid for it. Buy it and then some.
I’d be amazed if someone hasn’t played a Peggle game in some form by now. I own it on the PC, DS and XBLA. This iPhone version is Peggle Deluxe and it is pretty much the exact same as the other versions and the only thing missing is music playing during the levels. The controls are very simple, you simply touch wherever you want to aim your shot and fine-tune it with the on-screen scroll wheel, then press the fire button to shoot the ball out. It all works very well but, much like the XBLA version, the lack of a mouse is a bit of a disadvantage since this method is nowhere as near precise as it is on the PC. The DS balanced this out by extending the guide arrow from the ball launcher and it’s a shame it wasn’t added to this. One of the few complaints I have is that I’ve experienced quite a lot of slowdown when using some of thepower-ups which can easily make you mess up a shot, and strangely there seems to be a brief pause just before you hit the last peg and Ode to Joy kicks in. Overall, if you have playedPeggle before you know exactly what you are getting – one of the best puzzle games around.
From what I had played on my iPhone up to this point, I was really surprised by the amount of effort gone into this one, it could easily be made into full blown DS or PSP game. Rolando platformer/puzzle hybrid where you use tilt control to roll the Rolandos through the levels filled with physics-based puzzles. Flicking your finger anywhere on the screen causes them to jump. When you are controlling a group of them, individual ones are easily selected by tapping on them, and the whole group can be selected again by clicking and dragging across the Rolandos. I found the gameplay rather reminiscent of LittleBigPlanet due to the way physics are used. I love the unique visuals, very vibrant and bold which reminded me of Locoroco. New levels are constantly being added via free updates leading up to the release of Rolando 2. The main reason I recommend this is that it takes a simple concept and builds on it by using the iPhone’s main strengths – touchscreen and tilt control – and builds a fantastic game around them. Of all the iPhone games I’ve played, this is definitely among the best and there is a “lite” demo version to try before you buy.
Resident Evil: Degeneration
Many eyes rolled (mines included) when Capcom announced that the game based on the Degeneration movie would be released for Nokia’s ill-fated N-Gage. Thankfully it was recently ported over to the iPhone so people actually had a chance to play it. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but what I got was a pretty faithful adaptation of the current Resident Evil formula, minus the forced co-op and terrible AI partner. It’s in full 3D and uses the same over-the-shoulder camera asResi 4 and 5. Leon makes a welcome return and your mission is to explore the airport as seen in the movie, while fighting off zombies, rescuing survivors and investigate the cause of the viral outbreak. The controls can seem very awkward at first, an on-screen analogue stick is used for movement and three buttons on the right of the screen allow you to switch to aiming mode, use your knife, or switch back to walking mode. It can be tricky to aim using the touchscreen but the generous addition of auto-aim fixes that. The game is obviously held back by theiPhones technical limitations. You will only fight a maximum of 3-4 zombies at a time, the draw distance can be pretty poor and there is frequent slowdown in places. Despite this, Degeneration is a successful handheld adaptation of the franchise, and is definitely worth a look.
I Love Katamari
Price: a shocking and over-ambitious £4.99
Of all the games that seem perfect iPhone, Katamari is the one they manage to make a complete mess of. Before I bought this, I was aware there there were some technical problems with it which were supposedly fixed with an update – were they hell! While it is visually impressive, slowdown is a common occurrence and the framerate is reduced to a crawl at times. The controls are a bit of a shambles too. You tilt to move forwards and back, and touch the sides of the screen to turn (surely tilting would be better for this?) and double-tapping provides a speed boost. It’s quite amazing how Namco managed to make a complete hash of this despite the concept being so perfectly suited to the iPhone. It’s a shame, really, as this could have been brilliant. It’s playable but the slowdown is a massive problem. There is a lite version available if you fancy a try.