My recent take on two higher-profile games over the last couple of weeks have left many of you resentful or sore. And while this isn’t a perfect place to explain a simple belief of mine that informs my critical analysis, it’ll do.
I do not think that our touch devices can recreate the feel of a controller in a satisfying way. On-screen UI, the common “workaround," is a lazy and irritating aspect of an endless list of App Store titles attempting to ape console experiences. The simple fact of the matter is that our touch devices can do two things really well: touch and swipe — not A, B, X, or Y and analog sticks.
What makes the iPad and iPod cool is that they can offer something our Xbox 360s and PSPs can’t; they can allow us to directly interact with mobile games in meaningful, totally unique, and sometimes particularly active ways. We can’t, after all, stick our hands into our HDTV sets, physically tap on menu options, or carry our consoles in our pockets.
And I believe we should celebrate our touch devices because they offer a fresh and interesting way to play games that no other platform at the moment can. The good games are the ones that take advantage of our hardware. The bad games are the ones that forgo good design by pulverizing our eyes with impure UI elements or other pointless workarounds.
This was a long way of just saying this: here are five of my personal favorite iOS games of 2010, all of which use the platform as I believe it is best used.
Solipskier, $0.99 - [Review] – [Forum Thread] – I love indie games because they’re often minimal games that present a single intriguing and polished hook. No flair or filler. Solipskier is a perfect example of this, as it’s game about creating Technicolor ski slopes as you ski. It’s a wild and fun idea that actually comes together to create an entertaining game.
Game Dev Story, $0.99 - [Lite] – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – I’ve been writing about games and talking to dudes who make games for a little under five years now, so I think GDS hits me in a spot that it can’t for people who haven’t devoted their lives to games, games design, and sales. Still, GDS is a remarkable and upbeat simulation that pretty much represents the game development process in an entertaining and streamlined way. And, oh, man, are there carrots that keep you invested in GDS for entirely way too long.
Robot Unicorn Attack, $0.99 - [iPad] – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – OK, I should probably use this space for Infinity Blade or Monkey Island Tales 1 HD, but damn do I love me some Robot Unicorn Attack. It’s perfect for on-the-go play, getting a laugh from friends, or even scratching the itch to listen to bad euro synthetic music for a few minutes.
The TowerÂ®, $3.99 - [Review] – [Forum Thread] – A lazy bit of shorthand for Yoot Tower is to describe it as “SimCity in the Sky," and I’ll continue using that because I’m lazy. But I guess I’m also using it because it’s so accurate — this is SimCity in the sky. The balancing act of keeping guests happy coupled with the need for financial gain and continuous building is satisfying and you’ve got to appreciate the small touches of humor and personality.
Civilization Revolution for iPad, $6.99 - [Review] – [Forum Thread] – The iPad version of Civ Rev hit earlier this year and I’ve yet to put it down. I think, actually, I’ve spent more than 60 hours with this one. Like a good Civ, Civ Rev for iPad is complex, yet careful streamlining makes this accessible for even the most unfamiliar with the series.
Image via my pal @nasluks! Embarrassing, but fun!