Bounty Hunter: Black Dawn is pretty much Borderlands for the iPhone. I’m not even joking. In fact, one would think that because it’s so much like Borderlands (being an FPS/RPG hybrid with tons of loot) that it would be good. They would be wrong. Right off the bat, the biggest problem with Bounty Hunter is that the controls suck. Like Borderlands, there are a lot of different weapons and menus in the game. Unfortunately, they are all a pain to use on the small screen of a phone. I can’t even count the number of times I accidentally opened up a menu or switched guns when I was just trying to walk or adjust my aim. It’s ridiculous. The story and character design are also pretty generic and feel like they’re really missing that unique flavor that the world of Borderlands has. Hell, even if it just had its own flavor, Bounty Hunter would be a hundred times more interesting. As it stands, this game is in no way worth your time. Just stick to playing Jetpack Joyride for the millionth time or the real Borderlands games.
Batman: Arkham City Lockdown is a swipe/tap-a-thon game in the vein of Infinity Blade. Does this mean it’s good like Infinity Blade? No, not really. I came into Arkham City Lockdown expecting a more expanded roster of villains than what Arkham City offered with tight controls, and I was wrong. While Arkham City Lockdown does have a crazy large amount of villains in it (including a cameo by Kano from Mortal Kombat), the controls suck, and they suck really bad. It seems like the game only does what I want it to 4 out of 10 times, and that’s completely ridiculous. There are quite a few unlockables and numerous upgrades just like in the console Batman games, but they never feel like they make a substantial difference. Perhaps the biggest problem I have with this game is how difficult it is. No matter what you do, you’re almost guaranteed to have to replay a level at least once, because there are some random difficulty spikes and no checkpoints. If you’re looking for a good Batman experience on iOS, steer clear of this.
Soul Grinder is a sidescrolling shooter that has you killing all manners of demons, robots, and other assorted baddies. Since your character’s main mode of transportation is a jetpack, the gameplay is incredibly fast, and that’ll definitely lead you to more than a few deaths. The levels are very much trial and error based as you have to dodge not just enemies but also various dangers in the environment, and your character can only take two hits at the most. This can lead to more than a few frustrating moments, but because of the high quality of the gameplay and the animation, it’s hard to not come back to the game. The feeling you get after conquering any of the particularly maddening levels is amazing. There are tons of unlockables to give you incentive to replay levels, but there aren’t really enough upgrades or challenges to the levels to really capture your interest forever, which is fine considering this is likely a game you’ll just be playing for a few minutes here and there. Given how cheap it is, this is a must buy if you’re looking for a fun game on your iPhone.
I think I’ve played Peggle on every platform it’s available. Seriously, Xbox, PS3, DS, PC, and now iOS, and I don’t exactly know why, but I think it’s fairly therapeutic for me. Plus, every time I’ve bought the game, it is cheaper than the time before. I think at $.99 I’ve bottomed out. I can’t really play it for long; it gets boring. I can’t play it often for the same reason, but to have it there as a “go to” game when everything else looks boring and I don’t want to gamble on a new game is comforting. There’s not much to say about Peggle. If you don’t know what it is, you’ve been under a rock for years. What I can say is that the game transfers very well to a touch screen. Just tap where you want the ball to go and then use the wheel on the right hand side to fine tune it. You can eve double-tap to zoom in and get really specific. The power-ups are the same, the levels are identical. It’s a port of the game I’ve played and come to count on as a standard and is what I consider a definitive casual game. Peggle has almost no learning curve but can be hardcore enough if you want to chase the highscore.
Anyone up for some mini-DOTA? Seriously, this is like a really dumbed down version of the Warcraft III DOTA maps I used to play almost 10 years ago – without the heroes. Your goal is to break into the castle across the screen. You do this by spawning NPC lumberjacks, soldiers, archers, and knights. There is limited use of wizards and missiles thrown in the mix, but in the end, timing and strategy are everything. There is a 2-player option, but you have to play on the same device, and I don’t have an iPad. The learning curve on this game feels just right; passing a few levels at a time sets a good pace, and the final difficulty with the AI is hard, but not cheap. I beat the five maps on all five difficulties in a couple weeks at a few minutes play each session. I wish there was more, and there are rumors Arctic Mill is supposed to be doing an update, but it isn’t here yet, and frankly that makes me sad. Even though this game comes at a premium ($1.99), the graphics are kind of cheesy, and it doesn’t have as much content as it should (subjective). However, I can show you a dozen $.99 apps on my phone I like a lot less.
Pocket God is game that sounds great. You are the omnipotent god over these weird looking pygmies. You can create and kill them on a whim. You can change the weather, change the time of day, add sharks, throw them in a volcano, let them fish, and, well, dozens of things, really. There are multiple environments, and the production quality is high. It does better at taking advantage of the iPhone’s abilities than most games, using the tilt and touch practically. There are currently 47 episodes, and each episode has a half-dozen or so challenges. The problem is, I accomplished half of the “challenges” without knowing it, and the others are so obtuse or stupid that I had to look them up. Maybe it’s that I’m coming to this game with so many challenges ready to go, but they soon seem similar and, really, I only found a little enjoyment in this game past the first five minutes. It’s kind of fun, but I would have preferred a free version with less things to do. I believe I would have seen how fast the charm wears off of this average mobile offering.