That’s enough work for this year then. Instead, let’s check out a selection of our top iPhone games courtesy of many happy hours spent thumbs a-tapping, when we should have been doing something sensible.
APP OF THE MONTH: Tiny Wings, PRICE: 69p, RATING: 5/5
Of course there had to be an iPhone game with birds in it – just not the one you may have been expecting. We’ve always found Angry Birds too panoramic to play comfortably on the iPhone, hence we’ve plumped instead for Tiny Wings, a sideways scroller with beautifully simple controls (tap and hold the screen to close the little fella’s wings so he slides down the hills more quickly, then release so his wings flap and he shoots up the other side) a wonderful, deeply hummable soundtrack and great, lasting gameplay.
You can collect various power-ups and tokens, three perfect down-and-ups are rewarded with a ‘fever’ mode which earns double points. The object? To move over as many islands as you can before the sun goes down. Having mastered the controls in seconds, we’ve been playing Tiny Wings at least once a day for a year now, making it that rare thing – a perfect bus stop game, both undemanding and rewarding.
SpellTower, PRICE: £1.49, RATING: 4/5
Wonderfully simple word search game which includes various modes which introduce a time-based lement – and plenty of tension. Play it straight in Tower Mode and simply make as many words as you can from the 150 available letters, watching out for the special black and blue characters which also remove the letters around them or entire rows respectively; alternatively, try one of the Puzzle or Rush Modes and the whole playing area inches its way up the screen either as words are completed or as time ticks by.
It’s extraordinarily addictive, recognises gazillions of words (though disappointly, not ‘shamen’ which would have yielded a belting score) and requires much more strategy than you think at first – which is when you get stuck at the bottom with all Q, the Z and the X. Only docked a point for the incessant Game Centre prompts and occasional imprecision in highlighting letters – oh and an undo would be nice for when you make a genuine finger slip. Otherwise, top, top word action.
Dark Nebula 2, PRICE: £1.49, RATING: 4/5
It’s essentially a tilt-to-play marble game set on an alien planet – or it could be a spaceship, or it could be a planet inside a spaceship – where your objective is simply to complete the course and stay alive. The controls are everything a game like this should be – tilt the phone in the direction you want to the ball to move and off you go.
The graphics and animations are smooth and detailed, the perspective (when you hit a rocket powered spring or tumble off a platform to a fiery death) absolutely stunning; and the soundtack is so cinematic (think Game Of Thrones levels of orchestral strings and clanking) that it’s available to buy separately on iTunes.
There’s so much to enjoy – moving platforms, savage, spiny enemies, power-ups that whirl round you like a dervish, strange mechanical dragon-worms – and the 19 levels are so cleverly constructed that you’ll quickly forget it’s a marble game. This sequel was even better than the first game and number three is in the pipeline. Can’t wait.
Godville, Price: £FREE, RATING: 3/5
Traditionally, God games attract a certain kind of player – megalomaniac with a forensic eye for detail – usually thanks to their depth and complexity, not to mention endless setup screens. We’re delighted to report that Godville requires a more hands-off, laissez faire approach, where having created a character, you cut them loose and let them make their own way in an imaginary, text-based world populated by the usual collection of cod-Medieval innkeepers, goblins, brigands, monsters and warriors.
You literally leave the game to play itself, popping back occasionally to read your hero’s diary (sample entry: “01:02: I’m just going to copy and paste some previous entries. Hopefully the Exalted One – i.e. you – won’t find out.”); although Godville is the ultimate slacker’s treat, it’s also worth pointing out that heroes respond well to either threats or encouragement which can be issued via the ‘voice of god’ mode.
There’s loads for heroes to do – they get a personal motto after level 7, can fight other players after level 10, join a guild after level 12, acquire more skills and tame pets and so on; and you still won’t have to lift one of your Godlike fingers.
Zombieville 2 USA, Price: £0.69, RATING: 4/5
This Zombieville re-boot features fancy new graphics, super-smooth scrolling and hordes of gruesome zombies (some of which come with their very own green cloud of stink – yeuch) waiting to be taken out by your gun/shotgun/baseball bat-toting redneck.
Missions couldn’t be simpler – land in a district, take out as many zombies as you can, collect cash and make the chopper pick-up point within the alloted time and without getting eaten; the more cash you earn, the more weapons and skills you can purchase from the shop, which allows you to go back and replay levels using different equipment – or you can play co-operatively with a friend via Bluetooth or wifi.
The movement and positioning controls are a bit imprecise for our liking and atmosphere-wise, it’s not exactly the Walking Dead, but there’s a fantastic amount of gameplay squeezed into such a shallow premise, and playing along with other people is particularly enjoyable in a bloodthirsty kind of a way. (If you’re feeling squeamish, just imagine they’re politicians and bankers and you’ll do just fine.)
Broken Sword II Shadow Of The Templars: The Director’s Cut, PRICE: £2.99, RATING: 4/5
Arch, tongue-in-cheek, point-and-click adventure that was originally a big hit on the PC in the 90s, then transferred to the Playstation before arriving here in the palm of your hand as a very playable, highly enjoyable whodunnit.
By turns realistic (the murder victim is a Parisien politician and famous lothario) and absurd (where did the mime hide the ladder?) you play the role of honest, crusading journalist Nicole Collard (there’s the absurd element again) who determines to sleuth her way through the hundreds of clues scattered throughout Paris by diverse colourful – and seemingly careless – characters.
The iPhone’s great for games like this, the graphics are colourful and effective, the controls simple and don’t impede gameplay and Nicole (along with the American tourist George who gets mixed up in all this) is a charming and even funny protagonist.
The puzzles are rewarding but not impossible, the help and hint system provide a nudge when needed and the plotting (which takes the characters over to Ireland at one point) is deft and never predictable. Broken Sword II will appeal to old hands and newcomers alike and although relatively expensive, has real staying power.