The five best iPhone games that make use of the accelerometer

Feb 8, 2010
Arcade

The iPhone game library is still in a relative state of infancy. For every undercooked and half-baked console port or adaptation, there’s a growing undercurrent of games that actually embrace what the iPhone is capable of beyond touch-screen capabilities.

The iPhone game library is still in a relative state of infancy. For every undercooked and half-baked console port or adaptation, there’s a growing undercurrent of games that actually embrace what the iPhone is capable of beyond touch-screen capabilities. Though it’s far from being as “amazing” as Apple touts, the fact that the iPhone responds to motion and rotation is a unique feature of the device that games are slowly starting to utilize.

It’s hard to go wrong with Cube Runner (free). There isn’t much to it, but it’s free and compelling in a way that all iPhone games should be. You simply fly your ship across an endless landscape of stationary, nefarious cubes, steering by tilting the iPhone or iPod touch back and forth. If you crash, it’s your own fault—the accelerometer implementation is perfect. There are only three different levels of packs/difficulties at the outset, but you’re also able to download and create more levels. Not bad for the price. If you’re the sort of person who likes setting records and then trying to beat them, this is a no-brainer.

Cube Runner
Cube Runner
Developer:
Price: Free

I Love Katamari ($4.99) is the iPhone game twist on the popular and very Japanese console game where you play as the minuscule Prince who must perpetually clean up after the King Of All Cosmos’ messes, which always involve your rebuilding all the stars in the skies. How? By rolling up earthly miscellany with a sticky ball called a katamari. Sometimes you’re given specific tasks in each level, like merely getting big enough as a cat, but you’re also given free reign in all levels with different modes like the “eternal mode,” which lets you roll up for as long as you’d like. Still, the accelerometer as the sole way to control is a misfire: You must actually tilt the entire screen away from you to go forward, meaning you’ll have to strain to see what the heck is going on. It makes little sense, since controlling with two thumbs on the screen would feel completely natural and analogous the console experience.

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Rolando ($2.99), similarly, feels an awful lot like the PSP’s cheery “LocoRoco,” but improves on it by adding touch-screen capabilities. You tilt the screen to guide a group of happy-go-lucky balls from the starting point to the ending point, avoiding obstacles by swiping the screen to jump over them. The later levels involve more puzzle-solving elements, like using the spiky circle to scale any surface in order to activate switches, while also working in tandem with yellow objects like bumpers and wheels which can only be triggered with your finger. There’s little to dislike here—the only real hitch is its insistence you sign up for some service that can award you points every time you boot the game up. But once that sunny soundtrack kicks in, your frustration will easily subside.

Cro-Mag Rally ($1.99) can frustrate also, but more so from its sheer difficulty. A spot-on caveman-centric “Mario Kart” clone, the only thing that’s really missing is a tournament mode. The steering is incredibly responsive to the accelerometer, and while the graphics don’t really pop, it’s still a lot of fun. There are two different modes: hunting and gathering. The former is all about picking up items and using them to sideline your opponents, while the latter requires you pick up a certain amount of arrowheads while making your laps. It’s kinda odd that it doesn’t save your best times, but the core of a good game is here and $2 isn’t a huge investment.

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Cro-Mag Rally
Cro-Mag Rally
Developer:
Price: $1.99

The same can be said about Blue Defense! ($1.99), a simple “Space Invaders”-like game where endless waves of red ships (which occasionally have tails and look suspiciously like sperm) are approaching your circular blue base (which, uh, looks like an ovum) and your only recourse is blasting them by tilting the iPhone. Bullets keep blasting straight up on their own—and while you’re just in control of aiming, it doesn’t mean the game is easy — far from it. If you can get over the weird pregnancy visuals which are impossible not to see, there’s a neat, simple, and challenging package here.

Blue Defense!
Blue Defense!
Developer:
Price: $0.99
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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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