Monday, June 11, 2012

My Honeymoon with the iPhone

One thing I have neglected to mention since rejoining the blogging community is that I have become quite the fan of mobile gaming. This January I got my first smart phone (because I live under a rock) and proceeded to dive head-first into the gaming section of the app store. After weeding out the ones I found boring (Farmville), the ones I found expensive (Order and Chaos), and the ones I found ridiculous (Pocket Legends), I have come up with the following list. To prevent this from being a ridiculous long post I'm going to name one feature of each game that I enjoy or stands out the most. Without further ado, my games screen.

Yes, my phone plays Horde.

Triple Town - My girlfriend has managed to school me in every way involving this game. Still, I have a fondness for strategy games and this simple one manages to tickle that fancy. 'Simple to learn, difficult to master' is the phrase I would use to describe this game. The fact that it gives you coins as a reward no matter how far you get means that there is no real 'Lose' scenario, making every game enjoyable.

Tiny Tower - I picked this one up due to its similarities to Sim Tower, which I played quite a bit in my youth. It keeps you busy with maintaining the tower and the game has an excellent sense of humor. The work of the game is presented in bite-sized chunks like a good mobile game should, and I appreciate that.

Tower Defense - I can't say this game blew me out of the water. I've kept it on my phone because I bought it. It is a decent Tower Defense game with a fun story about colonizing an alien planet. Good for TD fans.

Words with Friends & Draw Something - I'm going to lump these together because the feature I enjoy the most is one they share. Being able to pick up a turn-based game at any time and play it with a friend is a feature I'd love to see transitioned into card games or turn-based RPG's. The technology is there, and I'd love to see it used.

Angry Birds - Because I own a smart phone, this was almost a mandatory purchase. I found these games far more difficult than I had originally imagined. The later levels can be pretty brutal. The fact that you can skip many using an Eagle is fun though, and even though you need to buy the Eagle it can make your experience smoother. Paying to not play the game though has its pros and cons though. It is a classic however and I respect its success.

Fruit Ninja - It's easy, it's visceral and requires 60 seconds of your time to finish a game, tops. I had a 5 year old successfully play this game. This is another on the list of simple-yet-challenging games. It's repetitive but rewards you for getting better. The star fruit option recently added gives a great dimension to the game with exploding strawberries and bomb blockers.

Jetpack Joyride - Simple, yet fun. The customization and upgrades are a charming and fun addition to the game, but the feature I have to pick out is this: The game is free, but "buying" it gives you a permanent double coins buff on your character. You can live without it, but supporting the devs while gaining a useful bonus is an idea that is well-received in my mind.

8-bit Ninja is nothing spectacular, so we're skipping that.

Infinity Blade 1 & 2 - Besides impressing the hell out of me as to what an iPhone is capable of graphically, the best feature I can pick out of this game is making the "lives" part of many games part of the story. Bloodlines and Rebirths tie into the story in a very real way and gets players involved in the game world in a way they can recognize. Many gamers don't question that they come back to the beginning of the level after their character dies, and this game makes you ask 'why'. It's beautifully done.

Last on the list is the most recent addition to my games list, Plague Inc. The premise is simple enough: You are given a map of the world and you need to develop your virus to wipe out the world. The combination of simulation and strategy is enjoyable, and though I find some of the challenges in what kind of plague it is to be annoying at times, it is a well crafted game. Despite damning it, the challenges only play off of features already in the game rather than adding new variables, which I found to be a nice touch.

My review of mobile gaming? Alive and a very viable platform for devs to tell a story or make a game. I'm preaching to the choir here, but just because many of the games are tailored for an audience that includes people other than traditional gamers doesn't mean it no longer counts as a game. Years from now we could be praising Angry Birds as the Mario of mobile gaming in terms of its contributions to the genre, and I'm okay with that.

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