November 09 iPhone Picks
November has brought iPhone owners an interesting mix of great games ranging from simple yet addictive puzzlers, to homages to R-Type and finally a very ambitious 3D adventure title. That's not forgetting an appearance by the legend that is Chuck Norris, skateboarding tricks on your phone and some old school RPG action. Without further ado, on with the show.
365 Puzzle Club (1.19 GBP)
There's no denying that there are many Sudoku applications on the iPhone, an almost bewildering number in fact. So just what does 365 Puzzle Club offer that makes it worth paying attention to? Variety. As well as offering a huge number of Sudoku puzzles, it also offers Kakuro and Tenpenki puzzles, one for every day of the year in fact! All three puzzle types follow the same rough structure where logic counts most towards your chances of success, with basic mathematical skills useful for Kakuro which involves adding up numbers in a Sudoku-esque puzzle. Offering a Calendar Tour mode which unlocks a new puzzle for every day of the year as well as a Season mode to work your way through, there's plenty to do here. The variety of being able to switch from one puzzle type to another whenever you want is particularly welcome and keeps the old grey matter busy. 365 Puzzle Club is the ideal companion for any iPhone owner in need of filling time on their daily commute.
Cell War (1.19 GBP)
From a game that challenges you cerebrally, we come to a game which challenges your reactions, Cell War is distinctly reminiscent of the arcade classic R-Type. It's another formula that's been done before on the iPhone but for such a low price Cell War offers a lot of fun. Using a mixture of tilt controls and touch firing, Cell War is simple to get to grips with but also challenging depending on which difficulty level you set it to. The difficulty is set perfectly with lower levels providing slower and fewer enemies, while Hard provides a decent challenge for the more experienced gamer. The bosses offered fond memories of previous shoot em up bosses of the past and are guaranteed to put a satisfied smile on your face as you traverse your way through the game. Ideal fodder for when you want something a little more violent and excitable on your iPhone.
Chuck Norris: Bring on the Pain! (0.59 GBP)
Yes you read that right, Chuck Norris is starring in a game now. And guess what? It's actually really good fun! Harking back to the days of arcade beat 'em ups such as Double Dragon and Streets of Rage, Bring on the Pain is simply about Chuck Norris destroying mostly everything around him. As you would expect from such a legend. It's a very tongue in cheek affair with a great dash of humour to it but it's also extremely good fun. The combat is simple yet effective, while there are a number of mini games which show off the accelerometer and touch controls well. In an innovative twist you can even take a picture of your friends to add to the game, thus beating up your friend if you so wish. Bring on the Pain doesn't take itself seriously yet in doing so it makes for an ideal game to play, especially at a mere 59 pence.
MiniSquadron (1.79 GBP)
It's time to showcase another frantic shoot em up for the iPhone, this time around the slightly cutesy MiniSquadron. Offering a slightly simpler control system to Cell War, with pure touch based controls; MiniSquadron offers a surprising level of depth thanks to the careful balance required when controlling your plane. You see as a twist to the usual 2D shooter arena, you can fly upside down as well as fly so high that you stall. It takes a little adjustment to get used to but works well in the long run, and it's nice to see that enemy planes can suffer the same fate. Besides the interesting physics engine, MiniSquadron also features many, many different types of plane to collect to keep you hooked. The use of classical music such as Ride of the Valkyries and The Nutcracker is an inspired touch as well. Crucially it's all about the simplicity of such a title and MiniSquadron really is just good old fashioned fun.
Ravensword (3.99 GBP)
Who'd have thought that the iPhone could produce an Oblivion clone? Well don't get your hopes up too much, Ravensword isn't quite an Oblivion clone as it's much, much shorter, but it certainly reminds you of the classic Bethesda RPG. The ambition is immediately apparent just from the declaration on the App page that this is just the first title in the series and I sincerely hope that future titles continue to innovate in this way. Ravensword isn't currently perfect; it suffers from some limited character development which is rather crucial to the RPG way of doing things. However there are plenty of places to explore in the game despite a short storyline. The graphics are quite detailed for the small screen and the choice of first or third-person perspective is very welcome. It might not be the cheapest of titles on the App Store but the potential is strong and there are enough quests to warrant the cost. RPG fans should especially take note of this game as it's sure to keep them hooked to the end. Just a shame that the end is only 3-4 hours away.
RPG Quest - Minimae (1.79 GBP)
Showing that RPGs aren't all about graphical prowess, RPG Quest - Minimae is right at the other end of the spectrum when it comes to technological advances. It's old school and proud of it. 8 Bit gaming fans will feel particularly at home here with RPG Quest - Minimae offering both retro graphics and synthesised old school music. It even offers a fair amount of longevity with a surprisingly long storyline considering its file size is a mere 0.7Mb. With turn-based combat and random battles abound, RPG Quest - Minimae is perfect for those of you who adored the likes of the original Final Fantasy titles on the NES.
The Settlers: (3.99 GBP)
Gameloft are quickly establishing themselves as a consistent iPhone developer with some great conversions and original titles. They've excelled themselves with The Settlers, which will be of particular interest to fans of the PC series. The Settlers has always been a fantastic building management game and it has been ably converted to the iPhone. The learning curve may be initially quite steep for newcomers to the series but not unforgivingly so. The user interface has been optimised for the iPhone making it simple to place buildings and units. With three different nations to control and plenty of missions, The Settlers really does offer a lot for such a relatively modest price.
Skater Nation (3.99 GBP)
To round off our monthly round up, we come to the most ambitious game of the selection: Skater Nation. When I first downloaded Skater Nation, I was suspicious of just how well it could work. It was the controls that I doubted most. I assumed Skater Nation would use the accelerometer making pinpoint accurate turns difficult to achieve, but instead it uses touch-based controls which work incredibly well. It takes a bit of practice to master, but with more than 30 tricks to learn, there's plenty of motivation to persevere. There's even a well rounded career mode besides the 10 different environments in which you can explore. It might lack the finesse of the Skate or Tony Hawks series but the sheer fact it can be compared to such great skateboarding games is a true sign of just how much fun Skater Nation is. All in all, it's a great example of what the iPhone technology can really offer for the gaming world.
That's it for another month. Don't forget to let us know what you would recommend for November.