Connecting the dots of the iPhone’s line-drawing games

Jan 3, 2010
Games

Some iPhone game apps try in vain to recreate an arcade stick or directional pad, but there’s no denying that even the best imitations are filling in for what the iPhone was built around: Touch-screen capabilities. With that in mind, here’s a look at five games that fully embrace the iPhone and iPod Touch’s spirit […]

Some iPhone game apps try in vain to recreate an arcade stick or directional pad, but there’s no denying that even the best imitations are filling in for what the iPhone was built around: Touch-screen capabilities. With that in mind, here’s a look at five games that fully embrace the iPhone and iPod Touch’s spirit by building games around smearing your greasy digits across the screen.  

Flight Control (99 cents) credits itself for starting “the whole ‘line-drawing’ genre,” a bold claim for an awfully rudimentary game that has you play air-traffic controller for a variety of aircraft. You touch and drag the planes and helicopters to their respective landing zones, and should any two flying vehicles collide, you’re instantly deemed unfit just because you accidentally caused hundreds of deaths. Maybe if those passengers understood how chaotic it can be when you have to repeatedly reroute planes last minute when new planes keep entering the screen, they’d be a little more understanding.

Harbor Master (99 cents) has a more nautical take on the same sort of action, with ships needing to be drawn to their ports to unload cargo. Bigger ships take longer to unload, which means you’ll be doing a lot more juggling of ships. Wandering whirlpools can make the ships veer off course, but there is a cheat-y option to make vessels automatically dock if they’re close enough—so it ultimately just depends if you’re looking for more of a challenge.

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Space Master ($1.99), again, has you playing parking valet, but this time to super-sophisticated spaceships that somehow can’t park themselves. With a side view of the action, a greater emphasis is placed on combating gravity while maneuvering the ships onto the lander. Like in the above titles, you want to avoid having two ships collide, but this will appeal much more to anyone who just loves a sci-fi slant on anything—even parallel-universe parking.

Peter Und Vlad ($1.99) positions you as Peter, a simple farmer who must protect his sheep from Vlad’s mysterious weather machine, conveniently powered by wool. This all happens on a single screen, and while the game does pass time through all four seasons, there’s no getting around the fact that you’re herding the same sheep into the same barn at all times—meaning it’s repetitive visually and in game play. Its soothing nature shines through in the “Zen” mode, which lets you just herd sheep in peace—something sorely lacking from most other games.

Boom Brigade ($2.99) breaks the mold a bit with more mixed results. At first, you can control a single soldier, who either wields a shotgun, minigun, bazooka, or flamethrower, as he tries to defend the base against invading waves of violent alien scum. They automatically fire at will—your job is to move them in real-time by dragging your finger across the screen. Where things get tricky, however, is when you’ve earned enough cash power-ups to hire multiple soldiers. To be truly successful, you’ll need to be ambidextrous and cross-eyed, so those looking for a challenge in the simple task of line-drawing need look no further.

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David Wolinsky

David Wolinsky is the Chicago city editor for The Onion's A.V. Club and is also the  undisputed 1994 Blockbuster store champion at collecting bananas in Donkey Kong Country.

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