The Brand-New All-Purpose Apple iThing Games Thread
(Financing Steve Jobs's private island retirement getaway, 99 cents at a time.)
Welcome to the jungle! That iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad you just bought has a ridiculous number of great games available for it on the App Store, but for every great one, you're going to find 10 shitty ones. Separating the wheat from the chaff is a dirty job, but that's what you have us for. I'm going to attempt to wrangle the general PA forum consensus on our favorite games on the App Store, but this is also a general spot for us to talk about our current obsessions, upcoming games and penny-pinching debate about spending $1.99 or waiting for a price drop.
A Note to iPad Owners
You are completely free to buy and enjoy any iPhone games that you wish, but note that upscaling the games to the iPad's larger screen makes most games look pretty janky, unless they have a pixely, blocky art style (games like Space Invaders Infinity Gene and Eliss look awesome on iPad).
Basic iThing Games Protocol
For those of you new to the iThing scene, be aware that discovering and buying games with it has a different rhythm and flow than with a regular handheld or console. Here are some loose ground rules for sucking the marrow out of your Apple whoredom:
1. Help me help you!
Friend Lists for Online Networks
Note that new games come out every day, often with little to no fanfare, and outside of a handful of websites that I've found, word of mouth is generally the best method I've found to discover new obsessions and infect others with your current ones. So if you've found a great new game, please let us know about it!
2. Prices are moving targets.
The App Store is a crazy bargain bin, and prices fluctuate all of the time. There's a general ceiling of $9.99 on games, although so far only one game (Square Enix's Chaos Rings RPG) has broken past that, but prices can and will drop and rise without warning. It's very common for a game to release at an "introductory" 99 cents and then rise up to $2.99 or so after a week.
3. Traditional gaming sites are useless.
The regular kinds of sites you visit for gaming news will likely ignore all but the highest-profile iPhone releases. So far my favorite resources are Touch Arcade
and Slide to Play,
but more often than not I discover games and hear reviews from forums like this.
4. Think tapas, not entrees.
There are definitely iPhone games that can suck away dozens of hours of your life, but generally games on these platforms lend themselves to quick, arcadey, pick-up-and-play kinds of experiences. So for the price of even a budget-conscious DS game ($20), you can get 10 to 15 really great iPhone games that give you a huge variety of gameplay.
5. Shilling and bribing are encouraged.
If you're a game developer who wants to let us know about an iPhone/iPad project, also feel free to post—just please be upfront about your role in the project, and have a thick skin about any criticism people have toward your work. Some free trial codes or other tchotchkes can't hurt, either!
Kind soul Xaviar has started a a master list of PAer handles for iPhone's various online networks
(OpenFeint, Plus+, Agon and Crystal). If you want some leaderboard chasing or other online connections, add your info here!
iPhone Games that PAers Generally Like
Here's a loosely organized list of games that people here enjoy. Search YouTube for videos of the titles in question, and games often have demo or free versions (usually marked with "Lite" in the name, so "Angry Birds Lite" is the free demo version of "Angry Birds"). If you have any additions you'd like to make, please post and give us your opinions! Crowdsourcing is the best way to discover great iPhone games.
- Bit Pilot: A twin-stick shooter without the shooting; a dodger? Great trackball-esque controls, badass chiptunes and neat little unlockables.
- Tilt to Live: A great arcade pick-up-and-play game that uses tilt controls fantastically. Sort of plays like Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2's Pacifism mode.
- Espgaluda II: A gorgeous, smooth port of the Cave shmup classic. A vertical bullet-hell shooter that will burn through your battery like crazy, but it's worth it.
- Space Invaders Infinity Gene: Awesome reimagining of SI that plays more like a modern bullet-hell trance/electronic shoot-em-up. Tons of unlockables, killer soundtrack, great controls, the works.
- Space Miner: Space Ore Bust: "Asteroids meets Diablo" is a fair description. Scratches the lootwhore itch with dozens of hours of play.
- Minigore: This is a pretty by-the-books twin-stick shooter that's more than doubled in content due to free updates. Fun art style.
- Real Racing: One of the first iPhone racing games to really make a splash; great graphics, perfect controls and AI all combined to make this one of the best iPhone racing games that still holds up today.
- Pac-Man Championship Edition: A port of the sexcellent XBLA legend, the controls are a little finicky and some content is held behind paid DLC, but the core game is still worth a go and very addicting.
- Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars: A full port of the DS/PSP game, plus you can use your iTunes library as a radio station!
- Edge: An embattled blocky puzzle-platformer that pops off and on the App Store due to bullshit legal disputes. If it's up, grab it, because it's great.
- Spider: Secret of Bryce Manor: A low-stress puzzle-platformer with plenty of secrets and really subtle, mature storytelling elements. Made by some of the people behind the original Thief!
- Canabalt: Play for free here to see what the deal is. I always think of this as a 99 cent game with two dollars' worth of polish.
- Soosiz: Sort of a 2-D Mario Galaxy, plus the controls avoid any awkwardness by abolishing the D-pad.
- Hook Champ
- Peggle: It's freaking Peggle. Great as ever.
- Bookworm: Another of PopCap's casual classics that makes the port to iPhone really well.
- Angry Birds: A physics-based fling puzzler that has you knocking down enemy structures with ... angry birds.
- Drop7: A clever mathy spin on the block-dropping motif
- Eliss: Still one of my favorite uses of mulitouch; gets really hard midway through, but the BitGenerations-esque aesthetic never gets old.
- Words with Friends: Asynchronous online multiplayer not-quite-Scrabble that can either be played for free with in-game ads or without for a couple bucks. Has Push notifications to tell you when it's your turn. Cheaper than the real Scrabble!
- Unify: Kind of like playing two games of Tetris simultaneously, with the pieces falling into each other.
- Flight Control: Trace lines and lead airplanes to their landing strips without crashing them. So simple and stupid, but yet it's perfect for the platform and spawned a whole genre of line-tracing games.
- Word Ace / Card Ace / Card Ace Blackjack: Word Ace is a great mashup of Texas Hold 'Em and Scrabble, while Card Ace is straight Hold 'Em and Blackjack is, well, blackjack. These online multiplayer-focused games are 100 percent free, though you can make donations to the developers (Self Aware Games) for extra chips and plain ol' generosity.
- Chaos Rings: If you can stomach the $12.99 price, you'll uncover an excellent RPG that feels like a lost PS1 classic. Square-Enix's most impressive iPhone endeavor yet. An iPad version is expected to come down the pipeline.
- Final Fantasy 1 & Final Fantasy 2: Well-done ports of the "updated" PSP ports of these ancient RPG classics.
- Puzzle Quest: The ubiquitous Puzzle-RPG hybrid fares extremely well in the iPhone port.
- 100 Rogues: A roguelike that I don't know too much about, but has been recommended by genre fans.
- Sword of Fargoal: By far the most approachable roguelike, Sword of Fargoal is a classic dungeon crawler with randomly generated levels which provide nearly infinite replay value. Great as an "intro" to the genre.
- Sword & Poker / Sword & Poker 2: Think Puzzle Quest, but replace the Bejeweled gem-swapping with creating hands of poker.
- Zenonia / Zenonia 2: It's a grindfest, but Zenonia still seems to be the benchmark that most action-RPGs are compared to. The game will take you around 40 hours to complete, not including the multiple character classes.
- Plants vs. Zombies: Tower defense with the infamous PopCap style, polish and heroin injected in. Missing the minigames and endless modes from the PC/iPad versions, but still highly recommended.
- Geodefense Swarm: A brutal tower-defense game with Geometry Wars-ish graphics and no mercy.
iPad Games that PAers Generally Like
- Beat It!: A true "music" game in the sense that you're tasked with listening to a beat and then replicating it using a simplified Pro Tools/Reason/Ableton Live-ish sequencer.
- Words with Friends HD : This excellent not-quite-Scrabble game plays exactly like the iPhone version, just with a big, gorgeous board in front of you. You can use the same login between the two versions.
- Plants vs. Zombies HD : The flower-growing, zombie-killin' classic in all of its glory. Has the mini-games and extra content missing from the iPhone version.