July 15, 2009, 1:03 PM — Picking out the five best and worst games for any particular medium is always going to be tricky. The criteria I used here is a combination of how well the game works with the iPhone's interface and the interest I have in returning to the game after trying it out. Think the opposite for "worst". A subjective process to be sure, but I did promise I'd find the best and this method seems as good as any.
Don't like what's on my list? The nifty part of this age of interactive media we call "the inter-net" is that you have the ability and opportunity to respond. List your favorite game. Berate me for my crappy taste in mobile gaming. Whatever works. Let your voice be heard (well, read).
So. On with the list:
1) de Blob by THQ Wireless ($3.99). This is an odd little game that I enjoyed on my Nintendo Wii. The gameplay is fairly simple: you are a blob (not just a clever title) charged with the task of bringing color to the black and white city that you inhabit. This game is a tremendous port from the console version, as if it were made for mobile gaming. If you bought this game when it first arrived, there is a new version that takes full advantage of your iPhone's accelerometer. So you can tilt your way around the town. I know I'm not making this sound as appealing as the game really is. But you should check it out. de Blob is quite addictive.
2) Tornado Mania by Digital Chocolate (free version, full version $2.99). Somewhat the opposite of de Blob. Instead of saving a city, you control a tornado to destroy it. Well, to be fair, there's also a "Utopia" mode which allows you to pick up and reorganize buildings. But like all good red-blooded Americans, I like the destructo mode. And who doesn't like the idea of abducting cows? This game has been around for years, but it remains high on my list for addictive, fun games. Plus, there's a free version. What's not to like?
3) Zen Bound by Secret Exit ($4.99). I just didn't get this game at first. Yes, the graphics were stunning. The 3D animation engine is excellent. But...what's with the rope? The idea of the game is to wrap various three-dimensional objects in rope. Yep, that's it. Seriously. Needless to say, I'm hooked. This falls into the puzzle game category, I suppose. But it's really not frustrating like other puzzle games. It's just ... different.
4) Prey Invasion by Machineworks Northwest ($2.99). At launch time for the Xbox 360, there were few great games available. "Prey" was one of them and remains one of my favorite 360 games. Imagine my delight to find "Prey Invasion" available for the iPhone. This is not exactly a port, but rather a new adventure using the feel of the console game. For $2.99, no less. If you're in need of some stress relief via shooting rather than by zen, this is a cool app for you. The touch-shoot gameplay takes a little getting used to, but ultimately a fun game to play in the grocery line.
5) Tiger Woods PGA Tour by EA Mobile ($6.99). I can't tell you why, but playing golf games on a mobile phone has long been a love of mine. Perhaps it's because I play better virtually than I do in real life (I'm a terrible golfer). Be that as it may, this new version of the PGA Tour with our hero Tiger is tremendously fun. Taking a swing and aiming for the pin is very fluid and intuitive. I love that you are offered 100+ holes to keep the scenery changing (although it doesn't change all that much). The challenges are challenging and you will find yourself practicing to get better. Or maybe that's just me.
Next up: Worst Games
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1) Mega Man 2 by Capcom Mobile ($4.99). Mega Man is a Capcom property which is available on a number of platforms. With this knowledge, go forth and play Mega Man on anything but the iPhone. The gameplay is awkward (and that's a word I've searched for that didn't need to be censored by my editor), the graphics are basic and the appeal to play this game more than once is practically non-existent. If this was a free game, I would encourage you just to see how bad it is. But there are better things to spend your $5 on.
2) Metal-Angel by JadeGame ($1.99). Since Space Invaders, I've been a fan of 2D blast-em type games. I still love, for example, Xevious...mostly because I can't ever seem to master the dang thing. I always manage to die right before a continuation point. But I digress. Metal-Angel is a 2D shooter which has potential for a decent game to play while waiting for your take-out. But it's just boring. The same backgrounds, the monotonous gameplay -- even with the accelerometer-based movement of your ship -- just makes for a slightly frustrating day trying to save a one-screen universe. $1.99 is overpriced.
3) Worms by Team17 ($4.99). Worms is one of the most addictive games I'd ever played on a Playstation 2. The thought of a port to the iPhone was very appealing...until I played the game. The graphics are excellent...probably better than the PS2 version, and the Saturday-morning cartoon lettering make this a great game. Wait, what? You mean it's not about the pretty graphics? Dang straight. Now, the shooting aspect is fine. It's the movement that stinks. Worms was frustrating because I wanted to love it. Maybe I expected too much?
4) Myst by Cyan Worlds ($5.99). Myst is in my top 5 all-time favorite games. The graphics were (and are still) gorgeous. Solving the puzzles was challenging. And solving the game was a true feeling of accomplishment. On the iPhone, Myst looks even better than I remember. So why is it here on the "worst" list? Because this is a game you sit down and make an evening of. You do not play this game while waiting in line. You do not casually take a moment and solve a puzzle. This game is meant to be seen and played on a big screen and enjoyed like the work of art it is.
5) DJ Mix Tour by Gameloft ($1.99). If you are looking for the polar opposite of the thought-provoking Myst, here is your game. Two words: Bor. Ing.
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