Little Help?: iPhone games, part 2

So you just got your hands on a shiny new iPhone. You’re thinking, “man, I sure could use a couple cool games for this thing, but what do I get?” The app store is a vast wasteland dominated by top ten charts, 99 cent firesales, and flatulence simulators. Finding your way to the diamonds in the rough is a daunting task, but there’s no reason to dive into it head first all on your own.

I’m here to help.

This’ll be a recurring feature where I highlight one or two iPhone games that are worth your time or money. In the meantime remember, Twitter is your friend. Start following some game industry types and you’ll be in the loop in no time.

In part 1 I discussed Firemint’s Flight Control. Part 2 brings two more great games to the forefront.

Critter Crunch (Capybara Games)

There is no genre that works better on the iPhone than puzzle games. The mechanics are simple and can be easily streamlined to the phone’s touch interface. Perhaps more importantly, they don’t often come with major time constraints. You can whip out your phone while waiting in line at the grocery store, play a level, and be ready to turn it off just in time for your order to start going through. They really are perfect mobile games and Capybara Games’ Critter Crunch is far and away one of the best in the app store.

Your finger controls Biggs, a toad like creature tasked with eliminating wave after wave of insects by feeding them to one another. Slide you finger across the screen to move and tap to launch your tongue. Tap again to release the critter you just swallowed up.

Eliminating the critters is a two part operation. Feed two smaller critters to their appropriate predator and it will explode, taking with it any adjacent critters of similar shape and size. The more critters you take down at once, the more points you get. Finishing a level is a matter of getting enough points before the ever encroaching critters reach the bottom. I’m sure this sounds a little complicated, but the game has a great tutorial that’ll teach you everything you need to know and get you feeding bugs to death in no time.

Eventually things start to get a bit trickier, with immovable critters, toxic critters, and a number of puzzle, clearing a board with a limited number of moves, and time based bonus stages.

http://www.youtube.com/v/BHovIjjFN4g&hl=en&fs=1&

Critter Crunch is a fantastic addition to any iPhone users app library. Two bucks nets you an addictive, unique, and well crafted puzzle game that’s wrapped in charming and beautifully drawn art. There is a version coming out soon for the Playstation 3 where I’m sure the art style will thrive in glorious 1080P, but let’s face it: a game like this is best suited for your pocket.

Critter Crunch app store link: Critter Crunch
Critter Crunch Lite (free demo): Critter Crunch Lite

And now today’s second game….

Sway (Illusion Labs/ReadyFireAim)

Sway is the first game that I’ve covered that I wouldn’t recommend flat out buying. That’s not to say it’s not a great game, it most certainly is, but you would be better served checking out the free lite version before plunking down five bucks for the full version. Reason being? It can be hard…very hard.

The game initially casts you in the role of Lizzy, a lizard doll tasked with traversing the recently destroyed World of Sway and finding her lost friends, some of which include a monkey and a ninja (pretty awesome, I know) which you can then select as your player character once they’ve been freed.

Lizzy and friends’ method of locomotion? Swinging. Your right thumb and the right half of the screen represent your character’s right arm, your left thumb and the left half of the screen its left. That’s it. Place you finger on the screen to grab onto the level with that arm, move your thumb in a little half circle, then place your other thumb on the screen and you’ve successfully swung. The physics work just how you think they would. Swing in a circle for a while and then let go and your character will be flung across the level hopefully passing an object on the way to its certain doom that you can latch onto and save your fuzzy doll butt.

The momentum based play can certainly be thrilling at times, but you will find yourself falling and slamming into insta-death spikes quite often. Luckily the game gives infinite lives, checkpoints, and no mandatory time limit. The collectibles and time factor are relegated to medals that you receive upon completing a level and serve no purpose other than extending the life of the game, giving players who’ve conquered its 15 levels a bit of extended challenge.

http://www.youtube.com/v/GOWN1ILUf-s&hl=en&fs=1&

Some wonderful music and a charming art style reminiscent of Little Big Planet top off this positively unique app. It can be very challenging, especially in the beginning, but that struggle pays off as you’re sucked in by the game’s charm and great use of the platform’s multitouch features. Like I said earlier, do yourself a favor and download the lite version. You may be charmed into spending five bucks on this little game. That’s more than the other games I’ve discussed, but let’s put that into perspective, that’s like two or three things at Taco Bell.

Think about it.

Sway app store link: Sway
Sway Lite (free demo): Sway Lite

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About Matt Gerardi
Matt Gerardi is a journalist and musician. He also happens to write about video games.

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