March 10 iPhone Picks
It's our first iPhone roundup of the year and we're starting with a bang. With the likes of Broken Sword: Director's Cut, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars and Plants vs. Zombies, the iPhone is finally worthy of being referred to as a competent gaming system in the same breath as the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS. Besides the increasing number of gaming ports, there are also signs of some great original titles such as Cogs and X2 Snowboarding. Without further ado we begin with my personal favourite iPhone game of recent months, Broken Sword: Director's Cut.
Broken Sword: Director's Cut (2.99 GBP)
Broken Sword has been around quite a few years in various forms. Originally on the PC, its director's cut came across to the Nintendo DS and Wii last year, and now we see it for the iPhone. So what makes it a cut above the rest in the point and click adventure genre? It's many things. Broken Sword's story is compelling throughout with much of this thanks to the vulnerable main character, George Stobbart, being instantly endearing. Throw in more twists than you can shake a stick at and it's memorable to say the least. The director's cut has made a few minor tweaks to existing puzzles while also adding extra scenes involving Nico, the female protagonist, as well as extra touch-based puzzles which fit well into the style of the game. The iPhone adaptation is actually stronger than the Wii and DS version which is credit indeed when you bear in mind the significant price difference. An essential addition to anyone's iPhone game collection.
Cogs (0.59 GBP) (extra puzzle packs available for 0.59 GBP each)
Cogs is really rather clever. You have to build machines using sliding tiles in various 2d and 3d environments. Like so many before it, its Cogs simple nature that makes it so addictive. For the initial fee of 59p you get 10 puzzles with additional sets of 10 puzzles for further investments of 59p. It might put some players off slightly but its well worth the price considering it only works out at 6p a level. The early levels are rather easy to complete but its not long until youll be scratching your head trying to solve the challenging and ever perplexing conundrums. Dont expect an easy ride but do expect to feel very satisfied once youve solved each level. One for the old grey matter.
Giana Sisters (2.99 GBP)
Older gamers may remember Giana Sisters from once upon a time. It was released originally on the Commodore 64 but quickly pulled from shelves due to an extremely obvious similarity with Super Mario Bros which made Nintendo none too happy. However those who did get a chance to play the game remembered it fondly as a terrifically enjoyable platformer. So to see an iPhone port of this cult classic is excellent news indeed. Much like the 8 bit version all those years ago, Giana Sisters is brilliant, traditional platforming fun. With 32 retro levels and 80 brand new levels to traverse, there's plenty to do at an excellent price.
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (5.99 GBP)
It was only a matter of time before we saw a Grand Theft Auto game appear for the iPhone and I'm so pleased to say it's Chinatown Wars. It was already phenomenally great on the DS and PSP, and in many ways more enjoyable than the almighty Grand Theft Auto IV. The very fact that you can buy this for a mere 5.99 GBP makes it an utter bargain. Returning to a graphical style more reminiscent of the first two GTA games was an inspired touch. The control system has been ably converted to the iPhone's touch based controls. Everything about Chinatown Wars oozes class that belies its low price. Nothing vital has been missed out with hundreds of missions, two complete islands to explore and plenty of weapons and cars to acquire. You'd be mad to miss out on this brilliant slice of gaming.
Plants vs. Zombies (1.79 GBP)
Plants vs. Zombies is another stunning example of a brilliant PC port. It's a ridiculous concept: a mob of zombies are about to invade your home so you must use zombie eating plants to stop them in their path. But it works so, so well. It appeals to both casual and 'hardcore' gamers for good reason, it's very addictive. You'll play it for 'just' five minutes then realise that 3 hours have passed and you're still playing. With 50 levels of tower defence style fun, as well as exclusive iPhone based achievements, there's plenty to keep you busy. Just keep an eye on the time, you don't want to overstay your lunch break, your boss might not understand the importance of destroying zombies.
Warlock of Firetop Mountain (1.79 GBP)
If you were a child of the 1980s like I was, you must have read a Fighting Fantasy adventure gamebook. They were perfect fodder for young gamers who couldn't afford the latest and greatest of games. Plus your Mum couldn't complain because you were reading! Warlock of Firetop Mountain was the first, and arguably most famous, book in the series so it makes sense that a revival of the books should be started here. The iPhone version isn't perfect with the annoying lack of an automatic mapping feature but it is excellent, nostalgic fun. Recently another book in the series has been released, Deathtrap Dungeon, but currently it's rather bug prone. However reportedly a fix is in the works and should turn out to be as important a must buy as Warlock of Firetop Mountain is. Go on, go relive your youth. It's really quite a wonderful, rose tinted joy.
X2 Snowboarding (3.99 GBP)
We end on X2 Snowboarding, a game that shows just what the iPhone's technical prowess can actually produce. The graphics are sublime for such a small system and even the tilt-based controls work perfectly. A surprise considering how often tilt controls don't quite work as well as hoped. There's no sign of any graphical slowdown even when playing friends across Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The longevity is certainly there with 6 different locations and snowboarders, and the licensed soundtrack is perfectly in touch with the target audience. Most importantly its brilliant fun and makes a great change of pace from the usual stream of RPGs and puzzle games.
If the amount of strong iPhone releases continues in this fashion, iPhone gamers are in for a brilliant year. Now if youll excuse me, Ive got some drug dealing to partake of. Chinatown Wars of course