An iPod Touch was handed to me earlier this week (the platforms are cross-compatible; games will work on both), loaded with a number of iPhone games, ranging from accelerometer-powered “Cro-Mag Rally” to an addictive (and pretty) puzzler called “Critter Crunch.”
By far my favorite was “Critter Crunch” from Publisher X. The concept is a little disturbing, as you’re tasked with grabbing creatures and feeding them to others. Connecting food chains in the right order creates bonuses and combos.
Thankfully, because the game’s so addictive, you forget its questionable morals. The beautiful 2D art style looks phenomenal on the iPhone’s screen, and I had no problem moving my character from side-to-side by moving my finger across the bottom. But, I was whisked onto the next game just as I hit my groove.
“Cro-Mag Rally” was the most visually impressive of the bunch; it’s a fully 3D racer. You tilt the iPhone back and forth to control movement. It only took a single lap before I was cutting turns with ease. Acceleration is handled by holding down a finger in the bottom left hand corner of the screen, however, which is a little awkward because of the lack of tactile feedback. It only took a few moments to forget about it, though.
Published by Pangea Software, “Cro-Mag Rally” is currently available for $9.99. It’s a very simple racer that features no multiplayer, but acts as a good way to show off the 3D capabilities of Apple’s gaming platform.
I also briefly tried “Zen Pinball: Rollercoaster” and “Enigmo.” Not being a fan of pinball, I couldn’t tell you whether it was a good table. However, I did have some trouble hitting the flippers on the touch screen. There are no clear indications where to touch and my fingers kept getting in the way.
“Enigmo” was an interesting brain teaser in the vein of “The Incredible Machine,” but my limited time meant I failed to grasp its nuances. For puzzle fans, though, it definitely looks like one to keep an eye on.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try the gambling titles — “Reel Deal Video Poker,” “Reel Deal Blackjack,” “Reel Deal Texas Hold ’Em,” and “Reel Deal Slots” — also being released by Publisher X on launch day. The iPhone I was playing around with had accidentally been loaded with trial versions of the games. They sounded straightforward, though.
I walked away impressed with my iPhone gaming experience so far. It’s no Nintendo DS or PSP just yet, but it’s still early on. Launches are always rocky. But based on what I’ve seen so far, I’ll be paying close attention.