DoubleDragon leads iPhone Games of the Week

Mar 10, 2011
Games

Ever since I heard that the iTunes App Store was getting its own version of the 8-bit classic Double Dragon, I’ve been waiting in excitement for it to come out. The game finally dropped this week, and it doesn’t disappoint — it’s as difficult as ever, but so similar to the original that it calls […]

Ever since I heard that the iTunes App Store was getting its own version of the 8-bit classic Double Dragon, I’ve been waiting in excitement for it to come out. The game finally dropped this week, and it doesn’t disappoint — it’s as difficult as ever, but so similar to the original that it calls up lots of nostalgic feelings. But it wasn’t the only game that came out this week: DoubleDragon is flanked by four cheaper, somewhat simpler games, but they’re all very impressive, starting with their graphics and moving on from there. Read all about them in this week’s best games.

DoubleDragon (iPhone, iPad) $3.99

A graphical update, refreshed music, some unlockable characters and other features mark the iOS version of the arcade and Nintendo Entertainment System smash Double Dragon, but under the new veneer, this is exactly the same game I loved years ago. That’s more than enough to make it worth checking out — it’s just as hard as it always was, with lots of gangsters to beat up on the 2D, side-scrolling path to finding your lost girlfriend as one of the two street-fighting brothers. The combat system has been amped up some to include new combos and controls, and you can also take on hordes of fist-throwing bad guys with a friend using the game’s Bluetooth multiplayer. Game Center is even on-hand to preserve the points-based arcade feel and provide DoubleDragon with leaderboards.

Collision Effect (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Collision Effect is one of those puzzle/action games that gets under your skin and keeps you restarting to see if you can do any better. It carries two equally interesting game modes, both with the same premise: there are orbs of multiple colors on the screen, and by tapping one of each color, you draw the other orbs to it and combine them to clear them and score points. But orbs of different colors can’t touch. In the game’s action mode, orbs move across the screen toward each other, and it takes fast thinking and reflexes to tap the orbs in the right sequence or with the right timing to avoid them crashing while trying to clear as many as you can quickly in order to rack up a high score. The puzzle mode, on the other hand, is exactly the opposite — you’ll need to take your time and work out the correct order and speed with which to clear the stationary orbs from the screen so they don’t impact with one another. Collision Effect looks great and is extremely simple, yet difficult to master — but it’s also the kind of game you can feel yourself getting better at playing, which is highly satisfying.

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6th Planet (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

The fate of mankind rests in the hands of you, a monkey trained to fly a space pod. You’re tasked with exploring one of Saturn’s moons to determine if it can be inhabited by human life, which translates into a 2D gaming experience in which you have to very carefully navigate your pod through obstacles and past asteroids using only two thrusters — one to control vertical movement, the other horizontal. 6th Planet excels in challenging you to be precise and careful as well as a skilled pilot. It also has an interesting, comic book story with a great art style.

The Labyrinth (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

The App Store has seen labyrinth games before — the tilt-based titles in which you guide a marble carefully past holes to a goal. What’s different about The Labyrinth, though, is its sci-fi art style and wealth of puzzles: 50, to be exact. Each level is like a small-scale version of the at-home classic. The Labyrinth is a new take on an old game, but it’s handled very nicely on the iPhone, with great graphics and four different balls to choose from. But those are aesthetic qualities — play-wise, The Labyrinth controls well and brings a lot of precision challenge to its puzzles, using curves as well as straight corners to mix up the experience and keep you busy. It also has achievements and leaderboards through Game Center, so you can measure your abilities against other players.

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Air Supply – 1bit Run (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

I’m not a big fan of endless running games, but Air Supply is endearing with its highly minimalistic graphical style, which uses white line drawings on a black space background. It also has an interesting addition to the standard “run till you can’t” genre conceit — while you’re running, you’re also suffocating to death and have to jump to collect oxygen in order to stay alive. Also floating in the air are stars, and if you can collect enough of them, you start to unlock new additions to the gameplay. Air Supply is a challenging game to be good at and will keep you coming back, especially since it throws in hostile aliens on top of avoiding running into walls or off cliffs and trying to keep breathing. Simple but somewhat elegant, it’s not a bad way to spend a buck.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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