By: Brian Crecente, Michael McWhertor and Leigh Alexander Click to viewThe iPhone Games are here. The iPhone Games are here! Things are going to start happening to me now! As of this morning you can download iTunes 7.7 and add the App Store to your iPhone. Why would you do that? So you can check out the spiffy new games they have available. Yeah, I'm sure some of the games currently available will be shovelware, but that doesn't mean there won't be some gems. Hit up our guide to what's to come on the jump. We'll also be updating this page throughout today and tomorrow with hands on impressions of the games as we play through some. Feel free to make requests in comments.
Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D Price: $5.99 Developer: Polarbit Details: The nefarious Nitrous Oxide has joined forces with evil genius Dr. Cortex and his demented side-kick Ripper Roo, in a plot to beat the Bandicoots into submission once and for all, and at long last clear the way for world domination. In order to lure Crash and his gang out in the open, they stage a Kart tournament. The winners will be crowned "Kings Of Kart Racing For All Eternity", the losers will be banished from N. Sanity Island. Impressions:The best racer on the iPhone to date, hands down. In the game you guide Crash, or a slew of other unlockable drivers, around a course by tilting the iPhone back and forth. You brake the vehicles by tapping under the kart and drift by tapping above and to the right or left as you turn. You can also collect power-ups which you use by tapping their icons. The two races I ran through on the game were seamless and even managed some fairly fun graphics. The one downside? You guessed it. No multiplayer.
Tetris Price: $10 Developer: Electronic Arts Description: Drag, flick and poke your way through 15 challenging levels. Push your touch screen to the limit in Marathon Mode and earn amazing powers in new Magic Mode. Give your fingers a workout by clearing rows to rack up points. Impressions: I'd love to say that this is a great use of the iPhone's touchscreen or that Tetris on the iPhone was fun, but the fact is everytime I tried to play the game it crashed just as the menu loaded up. This is, so far, the only iPhone game I've ever had crash on me.
SEGA Columns Deluxe (with Puyo Pop) Price: $4.99 Developer: Sega America Description: Return to ancient Phoenicia and behold the jeweled Columns as you strategically align falling gems across, down or diagonally. Let the screen fill with gems and its game over. In Puyo Pop, race against the clock to match color groups of cute gelatinous Puyo's and create chain reactions as they fall. Go for the highest score possible as the Puyo's falling speed increases. Impressions: The Columns half of this Sega puzzle collection is based on Columns III, but is strictly single-player only. It's far more playable than the Puyo Pop side, which borders on uncontrollable via the iPhone's touchscreen. Faithful ports that lack any semblance of fun due to painfully slow, unreliable controls. Carbuncle's cute, though!
Trism Price: $5 Developer: Demiforce Details: The Bejeweled-esque title uses the iPhone's accelerometer for a hardware appropriate block matching twist on the genre. Impressions: OK I've got a new addiction, and I can carry it around in my pocket. Trism's slight tweak on the Bejewled game play is so profound that it changes the way you have to think about puzzle gaming. The basic premise, as with most puzzle games, is really simple. You have rows and columns of mutli-colored triangles. You slide them around to line at least three up and clear a space. The twist? The iPhone can detect which way you are holding the phone and drops the triangles into recently filled holes from the proper direction. So now you have to think carefully about which way to hold the phone before making a move. The fun basic play is backed up by three game modes, 22 unlockable achievements and an online international ranking board (I'm currently number two.) They even included a colorblind mode. One of my favorite iPhone games so far.
Chess and Backgammon Price: $10 Developer: Gameloft Details: Chess and Backgammon on the iPhone. Impressions:Chess Classics is fairly robust for a portable version. It includes single player chess, quiz, pass-the-iPhone two-player and even a way to read about classic games and then watch them unfold on a board. There are nine levels of difficulty (ranging from monkey to master) and four board themes. During play you can choose to move the camera around in a 3D view or play in 2D. The Backgammon in the game is also a fun take on the game, with three board types, a bit of a tutorial and the chance to play against a friend. You can roll the dice by touching the dice cup or shaking your iPhone.
Super Monkey Ball Price: $9.99 Developer: Other Ocean Details: Play Super Monkey Ball with title controls. Impressions: The iPhone's title controls are a perfect match to the monkey-in-a-ball gameplay. The game responds quickly with no noticeable slowdown. While you can pause the game in mid action with a touch to the screen, leaving to the iPhone's main menu shuts it down completely. The game includes five locations each 11 stages. You can also choose to control four different monkeys. Lots of pick-up and play fun.
Moto Racer Price: $9.99 Developer: Freeverse Details: Ah, the wind in your hair, the bugs in your teeth and the open road stretching out in front of you! Using the iPhone's cool accelerometer, (you know, that doohickey that knows when your iPhone is sideways or not), you can steer your motorcycle to victory in this wild racing game. Awesome characters and a touch of humor, its a Freeverse game after all, will add to the fun. Impressions: Freeverse's tilt racer tries to do a lot of different things. It has tilt controls, a single button you press on screen for gas and the ability to feed nearby motorcycle adversaries a knuckle sandwich. But the controls are a bit too responsive to handle the course at times, the lack of a brake is a total turn off and the ability to drive through some graphics makes the game not so much fun.
Cromag Rally Price: $9.99 Developer: Pangea Details: In Cro-Mag Rally you are a speed-hungry caveman named Brog who races through the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages in primitive vehicles such as the Geode Cruiser, Bone Buggy, Logmobile, Trojan Horse, and many others . Brog has at his disposal an arsenal of primitive weaponry ranging from Bone Bombs to Chinese Bottle Rockets and Heat Seeking Homing Pigeons. In addition to single-player racing where one player races against the computer, there are also several different multi-player modes (available only when running on OS 9) including Tag, Capture the Flag, and Survival. Two players can play on a single computer in split-screen mode, or up to 6 players can play over a network. Impressions: It's no Mario Kart, but it can be a bit of fun to play. The tilt controls are well adjusted and you have the option to make them more or less sensitive. Gas and reverse are controlled by touching and holding an arrow pointing forward or back. Brakes can be applBied by touching a wheel icon and you can throw the game's few weapons forward or backward by pressing on the top or bottom of a bone picture. Yes, that's a lot of touching, but the game is still very playable. I just wish they had better avatars and more than the male or female you get to choose from. There's a straight up racing mode and a collecting mode, which has you racing while trying to find arrow heads. No multiplayer, which makes me very, very sad.
Zen Pinball: Rollercoaster Price: $4.99 Developer: ZEN Studios Details: 3D touch-based pinball simulator.
Impressions: This single-table pinball sim is amazing. The amount of sound, action and graphics they managed to pack into Zen Pinball simply blows me away. This game stands right up there with some of my favorite console versions of pinball. Flippers are controlled by tapping either side of the screen and you can even move around the camera angle and then lock it back in place while paused. The only thing the game seems to be missing is the ability to bump the table, which is slightly annoying.
Bomberman Touch: The Legend Of Mystic Bomb Price: $7.99 Developer: Hudson Details: Lost in the jungle after a plane crash, Bomberman must rescue an ancient treasure from KA-BOOM Temple. Impressions: Bomberman, a classic looking, classic feeling Bomberman, can only be a good thing, no matter what platform it shows up on. In this case, it's a great thing. The crisp graphics, the upbeat music, the hand-drawn looking cut-scenes, it all comes together nicely on the iPhone. You control Bomberman, once he whips off his Jungle Adventurer costume, by holding a finger on the screen, anywhere on the screen, and moving it around. You drop bombs by touching a bomb icon and use special abilities, like kicking a bomb or remotely detonating a bomb, with other action buttons. Quite a bit of fun on the go.
Texas Hold 'Em Price: $5 Developer: Apple Details: Offline and online Texas Hold 'Em. Impressions: This version of Texas Hold 'Em is packed with options and a delight to both play and look at. If you hold your iPhone sideways you can play the game from a top down perspective, but twist the phone upright and you get a full motion video showing the current player considering their hand or the dealer if it's your turn. Not only can you play through the game's multiple rooms, and choose from four pages of personal avatars, but you can also play against up to seven players via WiFi. If you're into poker this is a must buy.
Motion X Poker Price: $4.99 Developer: Fullpower Technologies Details: Casino game where players shake the iPhone to roll dice. Impressions: Motion X Poker is really just a poker dice game, but man, is it impressive. The ability to shake well-rendered 3D dice by shaking your phone, coupled with the rumble feature, is amazing. You can also choose to just roll a set of five dice. The game comes with 38 total different dice sets, though only eight are available at the start. The ability to roll dice and play whatever game you'd like is cool, though I wish they made it possible for you to select how many dice are on the screen. Also, wouldn't it be great if they added different types of dice, like a 20-sider, to it down the line?
Sudoku Vol. 1 Price: $5.99 Developer: Hudson Details: Classic Sudoku gameplay oriented for the touch screen. Impressions: Volume one of this fairly workable version of Sudoku includes 15 puzzles. The game is straight forward and includes both the ability to get hints in a puzzle (which is tracked) and the ability to use place marker numbers, a must for any serious puzzle solving. I like the presentation, but not the rather small number of puzzles, though even the first is fairly hard.
Critter Crunch Price: $9.99 Developer: Capybara Games Details: IGF Mobile 2008 winner and IGN Mobile Best Puzzle Game of 2007. Lets players control Biggs, a friendly forest-dweller with an unending hunger for tasty critters. Using his long tongue, Biggs must set the food chain in motion by launching smaller creatures into the mouths of larger ones, clearing the screen and filling his belly. Impressions: It's pretty clear why this game's won so many awards. It's accessible, polished, easy to play and has a fantastically adorable art aesthetic, albeit a little twisted in the context of feeding cute little blob guys until they explode into jewels and money. The core concept is simple — organize the critters stacked in columns from one side of the screen to the other by grabbing them with a long tongue and then spitting them out where you'd like to place them. If a critter lands on one bigger than itself, it gets eaten, and you can create chains to clear the board. But different types of challenges, special items and cool strategic complications give it continually surprising depth and keep it interesting.
Enigmo Price: $9.99 Developer: Pangea Details: Physics based game that has you trying to move water droplets into a container. Impressions: Enigmo is a fairly simple physics-based puzzler that has you moving objects around to try and divert falling drops of water into a container. The touch screen is used to place, move and rotate the objects. The game's basic graphics and fairly straight forward premise really didn't grab me.
Bubble Bash Price: $7.99 Developer: Gameloft Details: Toss multi-colored bubbles into the sky to pop three or more of the same color. Impressions: This Hawaiian-themed Puzzle Bobble (aka Bust A Move) clone is one of the slickest iPhone games we've played. Aiming is simple and reliable courtesy of a touchscreen slider and an optional accelerometer control scheme. Fantastic presentation with plenty of variety and unlockables makes this one of the must-buys (if you must buy an iPhone Puzzle Bobble clone).
Aqua Forest Price: $7.99 Developer: Hudson Details: Particle physics-based puzzler. Impressions: This physics based puzzle game goes for zen appeal, with a soundtrack that should appeal to the nightly Echoes listener and straightforward iPhone tilting gameplay. You'll draw and erase portions of the playfield with the touchscreen to guide water or a little will o' the wisp into the safe zone. For the price, we expected better than a chuggy framerate, sloppy English and a confusing interface. Aqua Forest has potential for fun, if you can get past the half-baked presentation.
Crosswords Price: $9.99 Developer: Stand Alone Details: Download and solve crossword puzzles from many newspapers. Impressions: An expertly crafted Crosswords application that pulls in puzzles from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Sydney Morning Herald and The Onion AV Club, among others. The interface borders on perfect, with informative progress bars for each puzzle, multiple hint options, a familiar Edit feature for deleting old puzzles, and smart touchscreen interaction. Only quibble? No obvious way to turn off the click sound during typing. Excellent.
Etch a Sketch Price: $4.99 Developer: Freeze Tag Details: Classic Etch a Sketch drawing using the touch screen. Impressions: Etch-A-Sketch is pretty much Etch-A-Sketch, sure you can TOTALLY CHEAT by using your finger to draw on the screen, but besides that it's just like the real thing. There are two knobs on the bottom of the red frame which you can use to sketch out images if you don't want to TOTALLY CHEAT. You can also add shapes and change the color of the image. There are options to save and send your pictures, which you probably created by TOTALLY CHEATING and you can even add background pictures to sketch over. The game also has a place holder for sketching by tilting, which it says is coming in the first free update. The best part? You erase your image by shaking the iPhone. Yes, I'm easily amused.
Ms. Pac-Man Price: $9.99 Developer: Namco Networks America Description: It's Ms. Pac-Man. On an iPhone. Impressions: A faithful rendition of an arcade classic, Ms. Pac-Man looks and sounds just like it did in 1983. Unfortunately, none of the three control scheme options work very well, making it difficult to play an honest game. The touch screen D-pad and accelerometer are both unreliable with the "Swipe" mode your best bet for dodging ghosts. The presentation is solid, but trying to make it to level 256 with an iPhone would require Sisyphusian effort.
Rolando Release Date: Holiday 2008 Price: Not Yet Announced Developer: Handcircus Details: Looks to be a Locoroco-esque puzzle title using the touch screen for movement.
Raging Thunder Price: $3.99 Developer: Polarbit Details: Not a realistic racing simulator, Raging Thunder is a game based on tried and true arcade values. Speed, accessibility and fun, in other words, trump the limitations imposed by so called ‘real world physics'. In the world of Raging Thunder there are no such things as ‘too narrow turns' or ‘impossible overtakes' (and luckily, definitely no such things as ‘traffic control officers').
Tap Tap Revenge Price: Free Deveopler: Tapulous Details: Tap Tap Revenge, originally created by the incredible Nate True, is super-awesome mega-fun for the whole family, and we know you're gonna love it. We can't divulge too many details, but suffice to say it involves tapping, tapping, and revenge!
Kroll Price: $4.99 Developer: Digital Legends Entertainment Details: An action adventure game that uses touch screen for movement and the accelerometer to jump. Impressions: Hands on with the iPhones First Fantasy Action Game
Frogger Price: $5.99 Developer: Konami Details: Frogger revisited with improved graphics and touch controls. Impressions: iPhone Frogger Impressions
Pole Position: Remix Price: $5.99 Developer: Namco Networks America Details: Racing game that uses tilt-controls.
Lux Touch Price: Free Developer: Sillysoft Games Details: Risk knock-off for the iPhone and iTouch.
Guitar Rock Tour Price: $4.00 Developer: TransGaming Details: The first musical game for mobile phones totally devoted to the guitar and rock music. Impressions: Guitar Rock Tour Blows the iPhone Away
Adventure Price: Free Developer: Peter Hirschberg Details: iPhone adaptation of the Atari classic Impressions: Adventure, Yes Adventure, Comes to iPhone
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords Price: $9.95 Developer: TransGaming Release Date: December 2008 Details: Puzzle Quest, but for the iPhone and iPod Touch
Aurora Feint II: The Arena Price: $9.99 Developer: Aurora Feint Inc. Release Date: November 2008 Details: Asynchronous MMO focused on arena-style combat.