iPhone Game Review Agglomeration Pt. 2

Continued from Part One.

Bookworm by Popcap

Bookworm is no Peggle. In fact, Bookworm really isn’t that original. You search a board full of letters for a group that is connected and forms a word. Shorter words increase the chance of fire blocks. If a fire block reaches the bottom of the screen, game over. I’d played it on the PC and it was all right, but not that interesting (especially compared to the Bookworm Adventures variant they later released.) But what grabbed me was actually their unique take on achievements. Instead of the standard “Score 1000 points” style of achievements, when you completed a word from a hidden list, the list would be unlocked and checked off (say I played the word “beige”, the colors list would be unlocked). I found that trying to complete these lists was much more fun than the actual game itself.

Chocolatier by Playfirst

It’s worth disclosing that I’m a Chocolatier fanboy. I thought Chocolatier 2: Secret Ingredients was one of the best casual games of all time. So when I heard they were porting the franchise to the iPhone, that was an insta-buy at any price. This port contains pretty much all of the features of the original.

While the good news is that the factory minigame is much more intuitive using touch controls, the bad news is that the interface that works well on a big PC monitor doesn’t work on a tiny cell phone screen especially when you have fat fingers like YT. As it stands it ends up feeling unpolished and cheap. While it is still Chocolatier, it isn’t the best introduction to the series.

ESPN Cameraman / ESPN Zoom by EpicTilt

Free games that are worth the time to download? I can count them on one hand. This is one of them. For some unknown reason (copyright? Did Langdell sue them?) the name has been changed to ESPN Zoom, yet I downloaded it as ESPN Cameraman. This is essentially a repackaging of the MegaTouch game that requires you to touch five differences between two photos before a timer runs out. It is made more challenging my the resolution of the pictures, but overall it is a painless, fun time-waster.

Mafia Wars by Zynga

An embarrassing portion of the traffic to my site comes from people searching for my posts on Mafia Wars. I was thoroughly enthralled in it for a while and during that time I downloaded the mobile app. Now you would think that a company that is focused on playing games on the quick from anywhere would be hip enough to know that folks who pay for imaginary doo-dads for their avatarless characters would not want to start from scratch with a new version. Not the case. The iPhone version doesn’t connect to your profile on either Facebook or MySpace. You start from Level 1. Your friends aren’t there at all. Instead you can connect via number like the failed Wii Friend Code system. What good is that?

On the good side, the interface is much more slick and attractive on the phone than it is on the four gajillion visitor per day Facebook site. How about that?

The Price is Right by Ludia

I grew up watching The Price is Right. I’m sure some psychologist could dig deep into me and find that my obsession with games has some root in the television show. I tried the dreadful DS version of this that recently came out and assumed that the iPhone version was just as bad. When the price dropped to 99 cents, I figured it was worth the gamble.

The game relies heavily on video clips from the actual show and whiz-bang graphics. As such, there are long loading times for almost every way to play and the phone chugs when having to do simple tasks like dragging and dropping Plinko chips. Despite only having a subset of the pricing games, the games that do exist are fairly faithful to the originals. Some of the choices are odd. Why have Hole in One and make an awful putting mechanic when you could have something as easy to implement and popular as the Clock Game or my personal favorite, Pathfinder?

Regardless, I keep coming back to it even as it sucks my battery dry. My lack of memory lets me continue to forget the price of the paper towels that I KNOW was in a pricing game yesterday.

Inside Trader by Jeff McFadden

Besides Doom, I think Drug Wars has been the game on every platform created since the beginning of time. The premise is extremely simple. Create some random goods, have them fluctuate in price randomly, attempt to buy low and sell high. While it was dumb in Drug Wars, it is stupider in Inside Trader. Take the mature and Apple-censor-tickling drug theme and replace it with a stock theme. Take that to the bank.

Here’s the dominant strategy: look for the variable with the wildest swings. Buy when it swings low because it was always come back. In the real world, this just doesn’t happen. Sometimes when prices crash, they stay crashed. Look at GM stock. In the game, the only way to buy low and stay low is to simply run out of time. Unfortunately, the game simply doesn’t have enough depth to be interesting.

Civilization Revolution: Lite by Firaxis/2k Games

Maybe it runs swell on a 3GS, but on my 3G the interface lags horribly and the game chugs along. I can’t give a real review (or enjoy the game at all) if I have to try three times to drag my army because it is still trying to decide to scroll the map. Thumbs down. I even tried FreeMemory to see if it could help the problem, but to no avail.

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