Gaming 2008: The iPhone

A year ago, if you had asked me what platform I was going to be doing most of my portable gaming on in 2008, I wouldn’t have said my iPhone.

But not only has the iPhone replaced my standalone iPod, it’s replaced my DS and my PSP on the train, late at night, and during life’s lulls. Sure, there’s a lot of junk on the store, but there’s also more than enough great games. Gamers who scoff at the iPhone should be weary that they may, in fact, be missing out on something.

I am constantly asked what apps people should buy for their new iPhone and/or iPod Touch. Through sale sniping, testing games other people have bought, and a lot of Coinstar redemption, I’ve tested a lot of games. But I try to avoid clutter on my phone, so I’m limiting myself to two pages of games at any given time. This is a list of what’s staying on my phone after six months of iPhone gaming.

**2 Across** – every phone needs a fantastic crosswords client, and this one has a polished UI and lots of puzzle sources.

**Doctor Awesome** – ngmoco’s first masterpiece. Qix with tilt controls, crossed with Phoenix Wright, Trauma Center, and your address book. No one should be without this game.

**Fieldrunners** – a great Tower Defense game, with intuitive controls and great polish. Very easy to pick up and put down.

**I Love Katamari** – I have ties to Namco’s mobile gaming division, and I remain a huge fan of Katamari Damashii. The recent patch fixed the performance issues you may have heard about.

**Marple** – I had played a different version of this called Einstein on my Mac a few years back, and the iPhone version is better. If you like logic puzzles, try this one.

**MazeFinger** – ngmoco’s free Flamin’ Finger play-a-like. Quick, maze-based fun.

**mondo solitaire** – Ambrosia’s solitaire title remains the most flexible one I’ve found, although I wish the performance was better.

**Pajatzo** – a hidden gem pointed out by the GAF iPhone Games thread, Pajatzo resembles one of those arcade machines where you use tokens to win other tokens. It’s a pretty fun way to burn a few minutes, and it keeps lots of statistics.

**Pass the Pigs** – it would seem like a digital version of Pass The Pigs loses something, but I disagree. Very odd graphical style, though.

**Pop** – the same game that’s on Wii Ware. I think it works better with you having to actually touch the bubbles than waggle at them. Pretty relaxing.

**Rolando** – ngmoco’s latest masterpiece. It looks like Loco Roco. It’s better than Loco Roco. Listen to the critics: this is the most fully-realized game for the iPhone right now.

**Samurai Puzzle Battle** – I grabbed this after hearing about how shoddy the Puzzle Quest port was. It’s complicated, but it’s a Match 3 puzzle crossed with Risk. If this doesn’t sell you, there’s a lite version available.

**Scrabble** – EA’s having a great year on the iPhone too. Their Scrabble port still sets a very high bar.

**Snail Mail** – a tilt-based racer with really smooth cel-shaded graphics and fun gameplay. I am horrible at it, but I can appreciate it’s genius.

**Space Deadbeef** – the best free game you can get for the iPhone. A twist on the shmup genre, it’s a fantastic little arcade experience. Give it a try, it’s free!

**Space Ninja** – a very recent release, but a brilliant bullet dodging game using tilt controls. Really well implmented – Touch Arcade has more gushing.

**Space Out** – I can only describe this as a mashup game. Space Invaders is crossed with Breakout for some kind of wonderful retro experience.

**Star Trigon** – another Namco title, this one a little known title from the Mr. Driller team. (I wasn’t even aware it existed until the iPhone version came out.) Really simple controls, really enjoyable play experience. Perfect for the phone.

**Strategery** – it’s Dice Wars. On your iPhone. RUN TO THE STORE QUICK.

**Texas HoldEm** – Apple’s Poker implementation is still the best.

**Trism** – best block-slidy color-matchy hair-pully game in town.

**Wordabble** – (still) my choice for best Boggle-style game, featuring a daily ranked game that everyone who owns the game can compete in.

**Yahtee Adventures** – while I was originally leaning towards Five Dice, EA’s licensed Yahtzee game has a lot of extra game modes and just generally feels like a fuller experience.