Intro to iPhone Game Reviews

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This week I will present two reviews for games released for the iPhone (and iPod Touch) — Alien Blobs and LEGO Batman: Gotham City Games — and may start to make a habit of regularly reviewing iPhone games. Games for the iPhone are different than typical cell phone games for a number of reasons – mostly because the iPhone has a high-speed processor and dedicated graphics chip as well as running a version of Mac OS X. Apple has positioned it as having at least as much gaming potential as the Nintendo DS or Sony PSP, certainly a bold claim. As such, I thought it fair to discuss why these reviews will be somewhat different.

One immediate thing: unless it is stellar or abysmal, any game that offers a free ‘lite’ version to download will automatically get a ‘try it’ from me. It is very quick and easy to grab these games and try them out, and then to remove them if you are not interested. Of course, the converse is also true – because the App Store on iTunes doesn’t offer any sort of ‘trial’ mode for programs and games, if there is no trial version you will need to ‘buy it to try it’. In these cases I will be pretty exacting, and will need to be impressed with not just the game but the value it offers.

Of course, another differentiating factor is that the highest price you will pay for a game on iTunes App Store is $9.99. Given that almost all DS and PSP new releases are in the $30 – 40 range, this is a significant difference. Therefore the ‘gaming value’ factor is also quite different. One-dimensional games that I would pan on the DS or PSP as having too little gaming for the money might be a great purchase for the iPhone. And something like the 50+ hours I put into Vay, a remake of a old Sega CD RPG, compared to the $4.99 I paid? Amazing value.

Having played games on PDA’s since the HP200LX nearly 20 years ago, a couple of other thoughts come to mind. The first I already mentioned – the ease of getting apps on the store and even from the device itself. This is such a step up from other devices – PDA’s have generally had to rely on inadequate PC based stores where you would buy the game or application and then run a separate installer to install it to your device during a synchronization. Even getting apps on cell phones is not this easy – especially in terms of organization and the ability to remove and reinstall at will.

The other thing that is wonderful in terms of iPhone gaming is the ease of patching: once you have synchronized a device with iTunes, app updates will automatically be tracked so you can grab the new versions at your convenience. You can also check for updates directly from the App Store on your device. iTunes does a great job of managing conflicts if you have an app that has updated twice since your last sync, but chose to download one on the device and one on your PC. It is a model of how things should be done and I hope more products come to use this!

I will list the price at the time of publication, but as always you should check for the most recent price on the App Store. Generally prices will drop over time, but there have been cases of very good games that were released for very cheap to gain interest and then as they were patched the price increased. Also, there have been times when ‘trial’ versions have come out a while after the initial release, and I have no intention of keep track of such things and updating reviews – if it looks at all interesting to you, check it out on the iTunes Store!

About the Author

I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!