This week, Zero Punctuations reviews some of the popular iPhone games at this time.
You find me, listeners, in a slightly melancholic mood. See, I was going to do Sonic Colors this week 'cause it actually left a good first impression by opening with gameplay rather than tortured cutscene bullshit. But then after two levels the game went: "Aha! You fell into my trap! Tortured cutscene bullshit away!" Afterwards I felt angry and ashamed of myself for falling for it yet again. Sega plonks Sonic the Hedgehog on the front of something and swindles another 80 bucks of The Escapist 's money. For shame.
So much of AAA gaming these days is endless sequels, rip-offs, and wank. I'm beginning to wonder if looking for quality and innovation in mainstream console gaming - an industry where no game escapes the Heath Robinson machine of marketing and committee design with its bumhole unsullied, and where companies still insist on producing gimmicky, motion-controlled fatted calves to stroke the fleeting, indecisive erections of casual gamer prodigal sons - is like looking for the last unscabby patch on the vagina of the village whore.
Perhaps I just need a break or, at least, another week to play Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, so before we get too far into the Christmas period I thought I'd devote a video to a sphere of gaming where interesting things are happening.
iPhone games aren't exactly ssspptcinematic, but I've definitely played more of them than mainstream console games, generally while waiting for mainstream console games to fucking load. It amazes me how much variety there is in the iPhone game Top 25. Ordinarily, if number 1 was Angry Birds, I'd expect numbers 2 to 25 to all be stuff like Furious Mammals or Perturbed Marsupials or Incensed Lamellibranches in the noble name of the opportunistic buck, but no. It honestly seems to be the only market driven by actual gameplay innovation, where the next big seller is almost impossible to predict.
Which is why I'm loathe to dismiss it as a casual gaming platform (although there is no shortage of that). It seems to be a great place for small developers without the resources to render Marcus Fenix's left nipple to get innovative ideas out there and earning money, as long as they don't mind taking it up the arse from Apple. But hey, if developing for iPhone means taking a cock up the arse, then developing for, say, the Wii means taking a fucking humpback whale.
So let's start with the aforementioned Angry Birds by Rovio Mobile. The game is set in a cartoon world after some apocalyptic pandemic leprosy has robbed everything of limbs. A community of limbless pigs have stolen the eggs from a community of limbless birds, perhaps believing them to contain the much sought-after secret of cement. You see, the pigs all live in houses made from unconnected blocks and bits of wood that can be knocked over by looking at them too hard or, more practically, by launching wingless birds at them bodily with a catapult.
It's quite fun in the "jumping on the sand castle your brother spent hours on and laughing as the tears roll down his stupid, fat face" kind of way, but the one thing I've never figured out is the scoring system. On some levels, I can use just one bird to destroy all the piggies, tear down the building, and erect a monument in memory of my fallen comrades with the debris, and the game still only gives me one star. What the fuck do I have to do to impress you, Angry Birds? I tried playing with my head in a bucket of spiders and they just spun webs in my mouth.
Cut the Rope
Next up, Cut the Rope by ZeptoLab, an example of the genre uninformatively termed "physics puzzlers." The simplest ideas are the best, and you can't get simpler than a game whose title is also its instruction manual. There is a big sweetie dangling from a rope and the objective is to navigate that sweetie into the mouth of a small lizard by increasingly roundabout routes (but a rope will certainly have to be cut at some point).
I much prefer this star rating system to Angry Birds 's. Each level contains three stars, and if you collect them all you get three stars, so that's much more quantifiable. But either it's a tad on the easy side or I'm the god-king of space, because I got all the stars on every level within one hour of play, so some more level packs that explore the flinging physics a bit more would be nice.
My other objection is that the little lizard thing is the most entitled little shit in gaming since Ashley from Resident Evil 4, and at least she had a rack on her. He just sits there on his fat little arse with his mouth hanging open, expecting his divine majesty's breakfast to just drop in, like a Half-Life barnacle without the charm. How about an alternative gameplay mode that replaces the sweetie with a breeze block.
Completing the iPhone game chart top 3 at time of writing is Fruit Ninja by Halfbrick Studios. This is about as simple as games get. There isn't even the paltriest context for what you're doing; you're not exacting revenge on limbless pigs or feeding your pet bitch-lizard. You're a ninja, fruit is flying up in front of you, and fuck fruit. Sitting around all smug on trees and in pies. There are gameplay modes that add bombs and powerups if you really need them, but the mere act of cutting up flying mangos and pineapples has this almost Zen-like appeal in a popping bubble-wrap kind of way. The fruit gets cut up in visceral sprays of juice and satisfying squelches, like a velvet fist withdrawing noisily from a moist--
Hey, wait a minute. Halfbrick are based in Brisbane? The same city where I live? I, with my well-documented close ties to the local games industry? Yahtzee, are you using your privileged position to big up your mates again, you nepotistic shit? Let me assure you that, historically, being my mate has been no guarantee of safe critical passage. Don't forget my other friend who worked on the chariot racing sequences in Prince of Persia: Two Thrones. He certainly hasn't.
And, finally, there's Doodle God by a company who apparently unironically call themselves JoyBits. You combine elements together to create other elements, and that's pretty much it. It's a popular title, but frankly I don't see the appeal. Hardly seems like a game at all, just the most frustrating aspect of point-and-click adventure games taken out and put in a big, annoying spotlight that keeps calling you thick.
It starts off all right, when you don't have many elements. Fire and earth equals lava, lava and air equals rock, fine. Little bit roundabout, but never mind. But then, after a certain point, you have so many elements that the combinations that actually do anything are so rare and obtuse that all you can do is wait for the hints to come up. Fish plus knowledge equals octopus? That's not logic, that's fucking batshit on a sandwich. And I'm a little disappointed that cat plus Internet doesn't create YouTube.
Anyway, that concludes this scratching of the surface of iPhone games, which are well worth getting into. You do need an iPhone, of course, but if you don't have one by this point then please let us know how you found a way to breathe on Mars.
Dedicated follower of fashion: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
For what it's worth Sonic Colors is better than Sonic Unleashed, but then so is pushing a rusty spoon right through the palm of your hand
Find the more info : http://www.appleiphone5deals.co.uk/
Sequels, Ripoffs and Wank will be the title of my autobiography
Cut the Rope