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Although casual gaming is definitely not for everyone, I have definitely gotten many, many hours of joy from my iPod. So this blog won't be for the hardcore. This is a blog for those who frequently find themselves wanting a more carefree, dare I say "casual" experience? If you are one of the minority who enjoy playing on a touch screen just as much as with two analog sticks, than this blog is for you.
In all honesty, I've been wanting to write this blog for several months, but I hesitated due to a feeling and an assumption that many gamers resent Apple's entry into the industry, and by default, those who support it. But over the course of my time here on GIO, I've discovered that there is a small band of us who have been willing to give Apple the benefit of the doubt.
iOS gamers are an interesting bunch. In part, because they are as diverse as the thousands of games that you can find on the App Store. Yes, there is the crowd that prefer Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies, and line-runner games like Jetpack Joyride. But you also have you're RTS fans, RPG fanatics, FPS lovers and racing aficionados too. I personally like a little bit of everything. And I am always fascinated by how often I find something new and compelling. Not every game I play is meant to be challenging or "hard-core". Sometimes the joy of mobile gaming is just being able to veg out for anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours.
Anyways, this blog series will list iOS games that have shown me some seriously good times and given me quite a few chuckles. This list comprises games both new and old. Some of the appsI'll cover just barely qualify as being a game, but are entertaining nonetheless. But hopefully, there may be a few folks out there who will be interested. And who knows, maybe you'll get turned on to something cool that you would have normally ignored. Here goes:
I'll be honest. I nearly crapped myself when I saw this for sale on the App store. I just couldn't believe my eyes. There has never, EVER been a decent Voltron game for any gaming portable that I know of. Apparently there was a Voltron made for Xbox 360 (XBLA) and PS3's PSN, but reviews were not kind. As for the experience on iOS? Well, for pure nostalgic fun, it works. You won't have any nerdgasms from the gameplay, but it's definitely a fun trip down memory lane. And honestly, that's all I think it was ever meant to be.
The Inotia Series
If there is one good secret about iOS gaming, it's that it has quietly become home to an insane number of excellent RPG's. It seems that touch controls work very well for your standard role-playing game. Even the mediocre titles are still compelling. One of my first discoveries on the App Store was Inotia. Inotia is easy as easy can be, but both beautiful and fun. The small little character sprites feature a level of detail that early JRPG's could have only dreamt of, but the classic feel is all there. With Inotia, it's standard "hero on a quest" fare. You collect ever more powerful weapons, armor, health aids, power-ups and experience as you battle your way to solving the game's various missions.You can move between worlds through cute little portals, taking on ever more interesting baddies. You have four different attacks which you can continually make stronger. But it's always satisfying to see how leveling up increases your destructive power. Granted, there is a lot of grinding required in order to get through the game. But any true lover of JRPG's should be more than used to this by now.
One thing is for sure. There is absolutely no shortage of Zombie games on the App Store, and nearly all of them involve finding ever more creative ways to annihilate those poor, brain hungry bastards. Zombie Escape is a clever variation on the line-drawing genre. The premise and plot are extremely simple. You are in a city that is chest deep in the poop storm that is a zombie apocalypse. Don't even think of trying to win back the city. All hope is lost for that. No, instead you are tasked with staging a speedy and efficient evacuation, and perhaps annihilating a few thousand zombies or so.
You have three diffferent modes in Zombie Escape, the funnest and most challenging of which is the full campaign. In this mode, survivors run on to the screen desperately trying to escape hordes of zombies that come from all sides. You must draw a line leading the survivors to safety, meanwhile using weapons like sniper fire, toxic gas, and bombs to fight off the zombies. At the same time, you have to designate safe areas for evacuating helicopters to land and transport survivors away. In the beginning, the choppers have very little space, so you have to make frequent pick-ups, but everything in the game is upgradeable.
The real joy of Zombie Escape is the sound effects, which are unbelievably good for a simple little iOS game. All of the sounds are crisp, clear and utterly believable. As the survivors run onto the screen, you'll their panicked screams and cries. Gun shots from sniper fire sound absolutely lethal. You even hear the Zombie's heads explode with an oddly satisfying "squish" sound. It's mayhem on a really big... er, small scale? I highly recommend this one. Good frantic fun.
Once you start playing Warfare Inc, you really won't believe how well crafted and balanced this little RTS is. Do not be fooled by the rather simple and somewhat dated graphics. Warfare Inc. achieves a level of polish that few games in the history of RTS's have managed to achieve. And, it has a surprisingly large and loyal following.
I first discovered this game several years ago after deciding to buy a Palm TX PDA. Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Anyways, while they still lived, Palm Pilots had their fair share of good games here and there. They were by no means a threat to the traditional portable gaming giant Nintendo, but they weren't trying to be either. And every now and then, a few gems would pop up and become instant favorites. Warfare Inc. was one of them. Well after the Palm Pilot devices were dead and gone, Warfare Inc. lived on and showed up on iOS, and somehow became even better. The controls are better, the graphics seemed crisper, and I personally noticed a lot less lag than when I had played on my PAlm TX. With a lengthy single-player campaign, multi-player, and endless expansions and user-created content, you owe it to yourself to discover this one. You will remember that good things really do come in small packages.
This is such a fantastically fun and goofy little game. Remember Trauma Center for the Wii and the Nintendo DS where you got to perform surgery? Well, this game is Trauma Center's twisted little brother. In Amateur Surgeon, you play a pizza delivery guy who has dreams of being a surgeon, but without bothering with that pesky education and medical school stuff. As you wander about town, fate smiles upon you and your wish to practice medicine. You happen to come upon one random accident victim after another, all with injuries of varying intensity. Not one to deny your civic duty, you quickly thrust yourself into the work of hurting... (ahem) helping these poor folk. You use items like a pizza cutter for incisions, a desktop stapler for sutures, a hand-vac to clean up blood, and salad tongs for removing foreign objects. The humor in the game is both perverse and ridiculous, but that's what makes it good. A clever alternative to Trauma Center, I recommend you try it.
This screenshot is from Trenches 2.
OMG, I love trenches in a sick, sick sort of way. On the surface, Trenches is just a tower defense game. But oh it's so much more than that. Think Metal Slug. In Trenches, it's World War I and you get to choose to fight as either the British or the Germans. Your enemy has set up a defense point which you are tasked with charging towards and eventually conquering. But that's not going to be any walk in the park. As was a signature of the first two World Wars, the battlefield is laden with deep trenches. These trenches can either provide safe cover from a hail of bullets and artillery, or they can be death traps where you and your fellow soldiers will be blown to pieces... literally.
You have several types of infantry men who will advance across the field. You have standard infantry, snipers, heavy artillery specialists who use mortar strikes (with devastating and hilarious effects). And then, there's the ever deadly nerve gas which is also somehow funny to see in action. You can even call in air strikes which will quite simply pulverize any of your enemies on the screen. It is fantastic fun with cute little characters that somehow bring humor to one of the worst times in history. Oh, and like many iOS games, there's a built in multi-player and skirmish mode.
I'll stop here for now, but believe me there's a lot more worth your while. As if you didn't already know, one of the greatest perks of having an iOS device is that most of these games I've mentioned can be had for less than $5. Hell, a few are probably less than $2. It's fairly safe to say that you'll have zero buyer's remorse on such a cheap expenditure. Game on my friends. Game on!