At the beginning of this year, Angry Birds was knocked off it’s perch at the top spot in the iPhone App Store after months and months ruling the roost. Of course it’s presence (which includes the original Angry Birds and a few of it’s many variations) in the App Store Top 25 lists, smartphones of all shapes and sizes, and now in children’s board games is still extremely strong. I’ve tried it, and I think it’s alright, but certainly not one of the best iOS games out there. Here’s a few of my picks that I think shoot Angry Birds out of the sky!
#5 – Fast Striker – $.99
NG:DEV.TEAM has been credited with keeping now obsolete consoles like the Neo-Geo and the Sega Dreamcast alive years after they were discontinued by their respective companies. “Fast Striker” is their first game on the iPhone and their first foray into mainstream gaming. It’s a port of their Neo-Geo game of the same name, (also available on Dreamcast) which pushed the 20-year old console to it’s limits. Of course, the iPhone has no problem keeping up, and it looks gorgeous! It’s a shoot-em-up in the same vein as “Star Soldier” where the goal is to score as many points as possible. With four game modes, this game has plenty of replay value long after you make it through the game’s 6 challenging stages. Using pre-rendered polygonal models, the game creates a metallic landscape with tons of enemies shooting hundreds of bullets, which all move smoothly on-screen. It’s definitely something that the simple screenshot I posted won’t do justice to. At 99 cents, it’s easy to see this for yourself, and hear the rocking techno-trance soundtrack that’s sure to make people want to look over on your iDevice’s screen. It might take you a few tries to really get the feel for this shooter, but give it a chance you’ll be blasting entire armadas of ships in no time!
#4 – The Texting of the Bread – $1.99
This game is, in a sense, a parody of “The Typing of the Dead,” which itself was a parody of “The House of the Dead,” a series of zombie shooter games by Sega. In this game you must fend off wave after wave of evil zombie-like gingerbread men by typing the words that appear above their heads using the on-screen iPhone keyboard. Sounds easy, and if you’re a fast texter you’ll breeze through the first few levels, but then you start encountering the enemies that take two or three words to kill, followed by the giant gingerbread boss that takes a short paragraph to kill! No one said surviving the gingerbread apocalypse was easy, right? After getting through the story-mode, you can see how long you can last in Survival Mode, where they literally just… keep… coming! This game from ScrewAttack is a must-have for the txt savvy iPhone gamer.
#3 – Bit.Trip: BEAT – $.99
When this game by Gaijin Games first hit WiiWare, it won tons of indie game awards. A jump to the iPhone, which at the time was a growing platform for indie developers, seemed like a match made in heaven. If you owned an Atari 2600 or played some variation of Pong or Breakout, you’ll feel right at home with this game. Using you paddle, controlled by tilting your device for that nice retro controller touch, you have to hit back the incoming bits. It starts out easy, but gets mind-blowingly challenging towards the end of the game! To help you out, the bits come in time with the music, that you’ll probably find stuck in your head hours after you’ve played this game. (The soundtrack, believe it or not, is also available on iTunes.) Like most games of this sort, it’s easy to learn, difficult to master, and you’ll find yourself trying to beat the scores on the game center leaderboard. You can also co-op with up to three people either locally or online. This game brings back the fun of yesteryear, mixed with a bit of modern flair to make a game you’ll be coming back to a lot!
#2 – Chu Chu Rocket – $2.99
10 years ago, Sega released Chu Chu Rocket on the Dreamcast as the one of the first console games to feature online multi-player. Since then the servers have closed, but the game received new life when it hit the App Store last Fall. This is a complete port of the Dreamcast game, but with the newly implemented touch screen controls, this game feels like it was made for the iPhone! The goal is simple: you need to direct the ChuChus (mice) from their hole into the rocket, but at the same time you must avoid the evil orange space cats! You do this by placing arrows with a swipe of your finger to direct them around the game’s 500 mazes and challenges. But this game really shines in the multi-player modes. It’s fast-paced, frantic action that you and three others can enjoy, by either local bluetooth or online. Sega designed this to be a party game, so this means the tables can turn at the drop of a cat… err, hat. When you get this game, you’ll be partying like it’s 1999!
#1 – Street Fighter IV – $4.99
Truth be told, this isn’t the best version of Street Fighter IV, but for an iPhone game this is one of the best looking, and one of the case-makers for the iPhone as a serious gaming handheld. As I mentioned in my review of Capcom Arcade, one of the biggest obstacles in the way of iPhone gaming is the fact that it has no buttons, but finally, someone did it right! The onscreen controls work extremely well. As a veteran Street Fighter, I was able to jump right in and hurl a few hadokens at my opponent! For new players, the game is inviting with special move assists, but still has the depth of a Street Fighter game that experienced players should enjoy. The animation is extremely smooth, perhaps not as much as its XBOX360 and PS3 counterparts, but for iPhone standards, this works great. If you’ve wanted to get into the Street Fighter franchise, this is a great place to start.
The iPhone may not have as good a library as a dedicated portable game console such as the Nintendo DS or Sony PSP, but it’s certainly has some titles not to be missed if you own an iDevice. Games in the App Store are designed for intermittent gaming sessions on the go. They’re easy to pick up and play, and are easy to put on hold. Big name game developers like Capcom, Sega, Namco, and a myriad of indie developers are just beginning to get below the surface of what this device is capable of, and many industry journalists such as myself will be keeping an eye on it for years to come.
* all prices accurate as of the time of writing