Seven new iPhone and iPod touch games representing a variety of different genres have been reviewed this week, and rather than reprinting all of the reviews here, iPhone Gems will highlight the key points you need to know about each title.
Calling most of these titles “gems” might be a stretch, as virtually all are in the low B to C range in rating, but Ian Marsh’s free game Hanoi is definitely worth checking out if you’re a puzzle fan.
Gameloft’s Asphalt 4 Elite Racing ($10, iLounge Rating: C+) is a new driving game with impressive art, music, and cars, but also problematic controls, stuttering framerates and bugs. If you’re looking for an interesting wireless multiplayer racing experience, it might be worth checking out now, or you could wait for the inevitable bugfixes. We’d suggest the latter; this game could be really impressive if properly tuned. Read the full review here.
Billy Frontier ($6, iLounge Rating: C+) by Pangea is a B-movie-styled mix of Wild West and space alien shootout scenes, including three types of gun games and a “run away from stampeding space bulls” mode. Spotty controls, some ugly art, and limited levels make Billy Frontier less exciting than it could have been, but Pangea’s 3-D graphics engine is impressively smooth, and there’s real music here, too. Read the full review here.
Rocking Pocket Games Blue Skies Air Force Academy ($10, iLounge Rating: B-) is an overhead-view helicopter game with 30 levels and a good soundtrack. Too expensive given its roughly 20-year-old production quality, Blue Skies offers one of the most natural uses yet of the accelerometer and touchscreen buttons in these devices, as you shoot down aircraft and bomb ground-based targets. Read the full review here.
Funky Punch ($8, iLounge Rating: C+) from Solus Games is a simple cartoony fighting game with one surprising feature: 3-D graphics. Though the one-on-one fighting action is primitive and the game is too pricey for what it offers, the fact that there are 3-D character models and semi-3-D backgrounds makes it interesting nonetheless. Fans of the genre won’t be satisfied with the product in its current form, but kids may well enjoy it while it lasts. Read the full review here.
Ian Marsh’s Hanoi (Free, iLounge Rating: B) and Hanoi Plus ($1, iLounge Rating: B-) are very simple puzzle games where you have to transfer stacks of coins from one side of the screen to the other. While the free version of Hanoi lets you keep playing just long enough to squeeze the fun out of the concept, the $1 version has more backgrounds, levels, and a timer, which you may or may not find worthy of paying for once you’ve completed the demo. Hanoi is our pick of the week as an iPhone freebie, thanks largely to its beautiful Vietnamese background photos. Read the full reviews here.
Newtonica ($5) by Field System/Route24 comes from a pair of Japanese developers, one of whom—Kenji Eno—was at one point a games industry celebrity for his work on ambitious but ultimately mediocre 3DO, Sega Saturn, and Sony PlayStation games. However, this globe-spinning game bears a lot of resemblance to Radius, a previously released iPhone title that is less expensive and more impressively polished, though similarly not quite finished visually, sonically, or in game depth. Here, you move a globe so that falling colored meteors land on same-colored swaths of land. It’s an interesting concept, but feels like it’s going nowhere, fast. Read the full review here.