Games invade this week’s free iPhone apps list

Jul 13, 2010
Games

This past week I included the Super Mario-inspired Omino in the Games of the Week list, but it’s not the only free game making noise in the iPhone app world. Just this month, free games such as Farm Story Summer, Tap Birds, Minesweeper and 3Letter have all been released, making it much easier for you […]

This past week I included the Super Mario-inspired Omino in the Games of the Week list, but it’s not the only free game making noise in the iPhone app world. Just this month, free games such as Farm Story Summer, Tap Birds, Minesweeper and 3Letter have all been released, making it much easier for you to spend time on your iPhone without spending money.

In case you couldn’t figure out where this is going, this week’s free apps will consist entirely of games – and not lite games, but full, free games.

Become a real estate tycoon

Build-a-lot from Glu Games may best be described as HGTV meets iPhone gaming; ideally, this game would be called Real Estate Tycoon, though apparently Donald Trump and Activision already thought up that title a few years ago. The game features two modes, “casual” and “career,” with the latter being the more interesting of the two. You are faced with challenges, such as drafting blueprints, building specific types of homes and raising your rental income. The challenges are timed, though the only really difficult thing in the beginning levels is trying to beat the levels in a shorter amount of time to get a star. In all, Build-a-lot includes eight neighborhoods, 35 levels and 14 types of buildings. Fans of simulation games should jump on this one, if they haven’t already.

Or an aviary tycoon

If real estate isn’t your thing, then you may be more interested in BayView Labs’ Tap Birds. Like Build-a-lot, this is a sort of simulation game; instead of buying and selling homes, you buy and sell birds. You also have to feed your birds and clean their environments, tasks that can earn you both experience points and money. But the biggest feature in the game seems to be the breeding one, with the main challenge of creating exotic birds. While the game is free, it does allow you to purchase extras to get the game moving a little more quickly, but this is by no means necessary. Tap Birds includes more than 40 birds, 80 levels and 25 backgrounds, among other features. I would say this game just appeals to a niche audience, but given its impressive showing in the iTunes App Store, it’s recommended any gamer at least check it out.

Or even a farm tycoon

Are you noticing a theme here? Yeah, there are plenty of free, simulation games in the iTunes App Store — and apparently every single one of them is doing well. Like We Rule and FarmVille, Farm Story by TeamLava puts you in the role of a farmer, planting crops and plowing land to get by. The series’ latest release is Farm Story Summer, which isn’t so much a sequel or anything like that, but instead is a kind of special edition – you get 12 free gems with the download. The game includes more than 150 plants and vegetables and allows you to decorate your farm with trees, buildings and fences. One warning: It is an online game, so you have to be connected to the Internet to play, but this also allows for cool features, such as visiting your neighbors’ farms. Farm Story boasts a vibrant, cartoon-style presentation and is incredibly simple to pick up and play, so it’s no wonder it currently tops the suddenly crowded farm simulation genre.

The Minesweeper saga

I was excited to discover Minesweeper by PlayMesh, a graphically updated version of the classic single-player computer game. Unfortunately, the game is having issues with some operating systems, mine included, so I had to go elsewhere for my Minesweeper needs. The good news is there are plenty of alternatives, including Minesweeper Classic 2. The trickiest part of the game is that the iPhone can’t replicate the right/left mouse clicks, so you have to tap or tap and hold to open boxes or mark with flags. All in all, though, this is a fine representation of the original and one that will feed your fix, just without the nicer graphics of the PlayMesh version. One more caveat: Minesweeper Classic 2 includes the beginner and medium modes, but it will cost you 99 cents to get the expert and custom modes.

3Letter

3Letter from West River is pulling no punches with its title; when it says three letters, it means three letters. This word game consists of a board of letters, and you have to make three-letter words with adjacent tiles. While that may not sound original or all that entertaining, the addition of specials such as bombs (which blow up tiles and give you new letters) and time specials (the game is timed, so these add time to or pause the game clock) add some strategy to the game. The game also has a nice enough presentation, though being limited to three-letter words is, well, limiting. Regardless, 3Letter is a fun game is short spurts and one that wordsmiths will appreciate, even if they have to limit their vocabulary.

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David Lister

David Lister is a freelance writer in Chicago. He is a former editor and writer at the NationalSportsReview.com and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. 

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