Top iPhone games of the week revel in gaming history

Sep 2, 2010
Games

As the cliche goes, you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. And that’s probably as true in iPhone gaming as it is in anything else. This week’s best games list features plenty of where we’ve been, including a remake of the classic RPG Phantasy Star II, a port of the […]

As the cliche goes, you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. And that’s probably as true in iPhone gaming as it is in anything else.

This week’s best games list features plenty of where we’ve been, including a remake of the classic RPG Phantasy Star II, a port of the arcade shooter Dodonpachi Resurrection and an app version of the board game Samurai.

Then there’s the latest Spider-Man game and the unique Dead Runner, and if those are signs of where we’re going, I have a feeling this iPhone gaming thing might just work out.

Phantasy Star II

Anyone who’s tried one of Sega’s Genesis ports on the iPhone can know that Phantasy Star II $2.99) is more of the same – and that’s in no way a bad thing. Like the Sonic apps and Ecco the Dolphin, among others, this is basically the exact same game that was released in 1990. So while it’s definitely dated, most notably in its graphics, this is also the same Phantasy Star II that has made a number of all-time best games lists and was one of the first games to include storyline and strategy-heavy battles that so many later RPGs adopted. That means, despite its archaic look, the game plays much like Final Fantasy or any similar, more-recent RPG. And while Shining Force remains my favorite Genesis role-playing app, Phantasy Star II is certainly a classic and recommended for any enthusiast of the genre.

Spider-Man: Total Mayhem

Hot off the presses, Gameloft’s Spider-Man: Total Mayhem ($6.99) not only borrows its storyline from the Ultimate Spider-Man comic series, but the game’s fantastic graphics also seem a little more comic-influenced than other Spider-Man games we’ve seen. The game offers just about anything fans of the series would hope to see: wall climbing, web slinging, extensive use of spider sense and familiar villains. Throughout the game’s 12 levels, you’ll square off with Sandman, Rhino, Electro, Venom, Dr. Octopus and the Green Goblin using the typical d-pad and action button control combo. Score this one as yet another hit for Gameloft, and while casual fans can probably wait a few months for the price to drop, die-hards probably won’t regret dropping seven dollars on the latest Spidey-themed hit.

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Dodonpachi Resurrection

CAVE Co.’s Dodonpachi Resurrection does so many things well, but before proclaiming this a must-have for anyone looking for an iPhone shooter there are a few conditions. First the good: The game includes a port of the arcade game as well as an iPhone-specific mode. The controls are both unique and spectacular, with you holding and moving your finger on the touch screen to maneuver your fighter while there are buttons along the side to change your attack mode. And I haven’t even gotten to the display yet, which is a colorful explosion that will please even the pickiest gamer. On the downside, it only works with newer devices (3G and up), it’s a massive download (366 MB), and it’s priced much too high ($8.99). The iTunes page mentions a lite version, but no such thing exists yet, and until that becomes a reality or the game goes on sale, Dodonpachi Resurrection probably won’t get the attention it deserves.

Reiner Knizia’s Samurai

Having just heard of the game, I might not be the best person to describe Reiner Knizia’s Samurai ($4.99), but I’ll give it a shot. Originally a board game that was released in 1998, the game board is a map of Japan that’s broken into hexagonal pieces. Players place tokens on these pieces, with different tokens earning you influence over different figures. Your goal is to capture as many of these figures as possible, though there are multiple ways to win the game. The app allows you to do all this by simply tapping the map, and while it will take you a few turns to grasp the strategy behind the game, it’s very easy to play it. Most importantly, Samurai includes multi-player options that allow you to play human opponents via pass and play or online. Fans of the original board game shouldn’t hesitate picking this one up, as, though pricey, it’s one of the better board game apps available.

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Dead Runner

While it’s far from the greatest thing to come to the app store, Dead Runner (99 cents) from Distinctive Developments is an amazingly simply game that is great at what it does. The game places you in a spooky forest, and has you run as far as you can without running into something. Its first-person view has elicited more than a few “Blair Witch Project” comparisons, and admittedly this title does an excellent job of setting a mood. There are two game modes, one in which you run as far as possible and another that challenges you to capture glowing orbs, earning as many points as you can. The controls are entirely tilt based, while the gameplay moves smoothly through a never-ending forest. I don’t see too much replay value here, but this is a cheap download that has an undeniable appeal.

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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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