It’s time to delve in to the App Store and take a look at a select few releases that could find a happy home on your iPhone. This week I’ve selected four games that I’ll be zoning out with this weekend.
Of course there are scores of games out for the iPhone, but we’ve been lucky enough to have a few really excellent titles released in the past week or so.
My top pick for this week is 8-bit rhythm-action game Ninja Honda Karate. Plus, I’ve also been looking at Eliminate Pro, Horror Racing and Minima.
Ninja Honda Karate ($2.99)
Amongst the endless generic game clones constantly arriving at the App Store, Ninja Honda Karate is a true breath of fresh air. It takes 8-bit video-games, Japanese culture, chip music and rhythm action gameplay, mashing it all together into a multicolor milieu of awesome.
The game premise just barely makes sense. You play as Karate Alberto Honda, a very Mario-esque but nonetheless cute hero. The aim is to karate chop coins in time to the blippy bloppy beat. Occasionally you’ll tap a mushroom, triggering a psychedelic rocket launch across the screen. At the end of each level, before the scores are tallied, you’ll also deliver a giant mushroom to the princess.
While the premise is gloriously nonsensical and convoluted, the gameplay is plain simple. Coins come out of various tubes on the screen, as they emerge, you simply tap the coin in time with the music. In effect, you end up performing the soundtrack as you play the game. The game certainly isn’t innovative, but that’s the point: it’s a beatific mashup of everything else.
Eliminate Pro (Free)
Developed under the apt codename FPS, this might not be the first first-person shooter to hit the iPhone, but it’s certainly the most polished. Eschewing a proper plot, or even single player mode, Eliminate is all about big guns, futuristic robotic suites and online multiplayer death matches.
The game certainly looks the part. Inside the immaculately designed arenas — all shiny metal-plating and steel walkways — you’ll face competitors in customised power-suits, armed to the teeth with explosive weaponry. Eliminate is, in essence, the pocket-sized lovechild of Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament.
However, a word of warning about the game’s price. It’s free to download and free to play, however your character is given a limited amount of energy per day. When your energy runs out, you’re no longer allowed to compete. You can either wait 24 hours for your energy to re-charge, play a few practice rounds or buy more.
And that’s where some of the more frequent players may take issue. Purchasing energy cells, starting at a dollar a pack, just isn’t good value. It’s a great quality game, certainly worth downloading, but don’t expect to play for free more than a couple of times per day.
Horror Racing ($2.99)
Halloween is over and Horror Racing was released around three weeks ago, so this almost didn’t make the cut. Horror Racing’s saving grace though is that it’s actually a really fun little game. The game brings to mind old-school arcade racers, viewed from above the track you have the perfect vantage point to observe the havoc and wreak devastation.
The game has very little to do with horror, though. The characters are more cute than scary. The circuits are awash with browns and greens, making it look like a muddy mess. The sound helps remedy the situation. The constant RC car buzz as you speed your way around the circuits is perfect.
And then there’s the gameplay itself. The races, a mix of explosions and skill, are downright fun. There are several gameplay modes, including an excellent on-going Championship Mode. As you play through the game, you’ll earn money which can then be spent upgrading your car’s engine, armour or weaponry. All that’s really missing with Horror Racing is a multiplayer online mode.
Minima (99 cents)
Clearly I’ve got a bit of a think for anything wrapped in retro visuals. I suppose I miss the glory days of my old BBC Micro and Commodore Amiga. My final pick for this week takes the retro aesthetic a step further, reducing the graphics to a grid of giant glowing pixels.
Minima takes after its name and keeps the gameplay incredibly minimal. You control a color-changing pixel. The objective is to avoid other pixels by changing color and blending in with them. Further enhancing the game’s retro-vibe, each of the nine levels is styled after a particular classic video-game.
That’s all the picks for this week. I’ll be back in seven days with a fresh selection of App Store recommendations.
In the meantime, what apps have you been using this week?