Posts tagged orbital
Here’s a list of ten games to play during this month. They won’t be the ten best iPhone games – any list without Angry Birds, Doom and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is not a list of the greatest iPhone games – but they’ll be selected based on a mix of quality, novelty and relevance to the month’s events.
Mostly excellent conversion of the classic board game. The interface is lovely, playing against the AI is fun and it’s a wonderful conversion. It’s let down a bit by what appears to be a completely broken online implementation – many games I’ve tried to play have been full of baffled chat messages and no actual game – but when it works it’s excellent. Easy to pick up, but brain-twisting in the best possible way as you try to make long-term plans based on hopes and educated guesses. Buy it as a single-player or local-multiplayer game with a possibility of bonus online multiplayer against friends and you won’t be disappointed.
The App Store is built on novelty. Games appear for pennies, are the best thing ever for ten minutes, then disappear. Civilization Revolution is different. It eats both hours and battery life with equal abandon and is almost impossible to put down once you’ve started a game. You start with a small, wandering prehistoric tribe capable only of building a small settlement. You end up with tanks and fighter plans and nuclear weapons as you struggle to dominate the world through your military, cultural, economic or scientific might. It’s all incredibly absorbing and doesn’t deserve to be left to rot as you devour the latest, greatest arcade novelty.
Cubed Rally Racer
Of course, there’s a lot to be said for arcade thrills and Cubed Rally Racer is one of the best of the newer games on the App Store. Essentially it’s an isometric driving game, where the aim is simply to make it to the end of the randomly generated course with as many points as possible. You simply choose how long you want the course to be – ten sections for a commercial break, twenty-five sections for a serious challenge – and then try to get to the finish line without crashing. Hard to put down, seemingly infinitely replayable, this is a serious bargain.
Fed up of traditional Solitaire? Has even Spider Solitaire got tiresome? Try this. It’s very much a Solitaire game – it’s all based on a deck of cards and the shuffle is as important as the strategy – but you’ll also have to engage your brain. It’s a great game with the default deck, but there are numerous expansions that add new cards, often with new rules. It’s nothing like Magic The Gathering, despite the screenshot suggesting otherwise, but it is the best Solitaire game I’ve ever played.
FIFA World Cup
This would not feature in a list of the ten best iPhone games, but you can’t really get more topical. And if you do get swept up in World Cup fever and want to play with real players on your iPhone, then EA have had the decency to put a decent game in this bit of merchandise. Nice features like arrows showing where your passes will go and excellent replays mean that this is a very solid game. Will you be playing long after the World Cup is over? I doubt it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good game to have right now.
It’s always good to get free games. It’s especially good to get free games when they’re absolute classics. Initially baffling, if you can work your way inside NetHack, you’ll be rewarded with a deep, endlessly-replayable roguelike. You move through the dungeon, killing monsters, trying strange potions, attacking shopkeepers by mistake and, inevitably, dying. Just don’t get too attached to your pets.
An absolute, stone cold classic. This should be preinstalled on every iPhone. Today, for example, the queue in Spar was huge, so what did I do while I waited to buy my Mini Cheddars? Yes, I played Orbital. Three game modes, all worth playing, all sorts of high scores and a cold, yet beautiful, aesthetic. Absolutely essential.
Robot Unicorn Attack
This is one of those arcade novelties. Maybe you won’t play it forever. Maybe it’s not as good as the free Flash version. Maybe it’s overpriced at £1.79. Whatever. Right now, today, this is great fun. And it makes a change from Canabalt.
If Civilization Revolution seems a bit too much, play Slay instead. Games are quicker, military conquest is the only option and, well, it’s not even remotely the same, apart from being turn-based and based on conquering territory on a map. It’s been around for many years, but the fact that it’s the same as the ancient PC game shows how well the mechanics have stood the test of time. Easy to overlook if you’ve not played it, this really deserves your attention.
Trucker’s Delight: Episode One
And let’s finish off with another novelty. Beautiful graphics, simple yet addictive gameplay and a fairly worrying backstory based on a music video. I played it solidly for two days and haven’t been back since. I keep meaning to, but somehow things get in the way.
Smashed my old Gravity high score into the ground with great force, but unfortunately just missed taking the top spot on Friends leaderboard. Highly annoying.
Also played for a while in the waiting room at the dentist today, but we’re not talking about that.
Going for the record for the most time played without getting a new high score.
A break from the usual list of the ten iPhone games I judge to be the best, here’s a list of ten games to play during this month. All will be great games, but they’ll be selected based on a mix of quality, novelty and relevance to the month’s events.
Angry Birds is one of the very best games you’ll find on the App Store. You pull back a catapult to launch birds at structures set up the evil, egg-stealing green pigs, aiming to knock them and destroy the pigs inside. The levels are wonderfully designed, for the most part, with luck playing a much smaller part in proceedings than you might think when you first play. It’ll take a few days to get through all the levels – there are about a hundred of them now – and there’s tons of replay value in trying to get all three stars for every level and get good scores on the global leaderboards. A huge, well-deserved success.
The devloper’s next iPhone game, Gravity Hook, is coming out soon, so what better time to revisit Canabalt? Not that you need any excuse. Canabalt is a masterpiece of one-touch gameplay and atmosphere. Perfectly playable without sound, the soundtrack nevertheless heightens the tension and makes the simple act of running and jumping feel like humanity’s last hope for survival.
New to the App Store, this is a fantastic solitaire game, based around fighting with fantasy-themed cards. There are monsters, zombies and dragons stacked up against your band of heros. Though the luck of the draw is important, as in all solitaire games, a wide variety of cards and tactical options make this much more interesting than your standard solitaire game. Very highly recommended.
Also new to the App Store, but a long, long way from being a new game, here comes the game that started it all. Updated graphics and toned-down difficulty make for a much friendlier game than the NES original and the lack of story and cut scenes means you’ll be able to spend a lot of your time actually playing the game. It may be simple compared to later games in the series, but that doesn’t hurt a bit on a mobile platform.
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
A giant of a game, this towers over the other games available on the iPhone, puts its hands on its hips and roars with laughter. An absolutely huge game, with great controls, this brings the humour, the carnage and the city you love to the iPhone. Alongside the story, there are all sorts of side missions, along with a hugely addictive drugs economy that you can use to earn money. It’s pretty much perfect and, for my money, is the best game on the App Store by a country mile.
Noby Noby Boy
Not, perhaps, the best game you’ll ever play on your iPhone. In fact, it’s not really game at all, simply a suite of little toys and mini apps. Think of it as a toy, though, and it’s brilliant. You can mess around stretching, flicking and breaking BOY, check the time, import photos, even browse the web. It’s all very silly and lightweight, but has a huge amount of charm. If you’re anything like me, you’ll keep coming back every now and again, just for the joy of it.
Everybody loves Orbital. Well, okay, not quite everybody. It’s a harsh mistress, where a single mistake spells death, so some lily-livered types find it off-putting, but most people play a couple of games and fall in love. It’s all about angles and sensible shooting, wrapped up in neon explosions in the emptiness of space. It’s horribly addictive – especially if your Facebook friends are also playing it – and all three modes offer something different. It’s not got the humour and scope of Grand Theft Auto or the cartoon charm of Angry Birds, but it’s got claws of cold steel that grab you and won’t let go.
It’s March, which means baseball is back. There’s a whole host of baseball games on the App Store and most of them have something going for them, but at the moment I’m playing Konami’s Power Pros. It’s easy to pick up, well-presented and cute. It may not have real players, but it feels right. Go Panthers!
If you’re playing Canabalt, you might as well play this, too. It’s the flip side of that game, where instead of being an escaping human, you’re a giant robot bent on destruction. Why you’ve been programmed to be unable to move past a city block unless its been completely destroyed I don’t know, but that’s the situation you find yourself in. You stomp through the city, destroying everything in your path. Buildings, trees… and the army. Soldiers are fried and squished, tanks explode, helicopters fall in flames. Eventually the armed forces will bring you down, that’s inevitable, but it’s great fun to see how far you can get before you fall.
Words With Friends
You always need Words With Friends. It’s a bit unstable at times and not as balanced as Scrabble, but it makes up for it with a huge userbase and ease of use. If you’ve got any interest in word games, you need this. There’s no single player, but that doesn’t matter given how easy it is to start an online game. I’m always up for new challengers and I’m easily beatable, so if you want a game, I’m ThatRevChap. So good it’s got a permanent space on my dock.
One of my friends beat my Gravity high score, so I had to try and reclaim by top spot on my friends leaderboard. Unfortunately I failed, so he’s still there, taunting me. I’ll get him one day, though. One day…
Right then, kids, that’s a new high score for Pure mode. I’m now top of my Friends leaderboard, so I guess I better move on to Supernova mode, where I’m only joint top. (It actually lists me as second, which seems unfair, as we’re both on 118 points. I’m just going to have to beat that, then.)
I’m definitely getting better at Gravity mode and I’m sure my average score is climbing, but I couldn’t get another new high score yesterday.
I think I might move on to Pure mode for a while. It’s unpopular and scores are low, so I’m hoping I can get some decent points there.
Supernova mode is where most of the action is these days, but it’s a bit too competitive right now.
Spent hours – hours! – last night trying to beat my high score in Gravity mode. Some of my Facebook friends have got this now, so I can see exactly how bad I am compared to people I know. I don’t mind being worse than strangers, but it’s different when it’s your own chums.
Anyway, after hours and hours I got a slightly better high score… and then proceeded to destroy it, getting me a score of fifty-four and putting me top of my friends list.
It’s still not as good as the score I had before I had to change my iPhone, but it’s respectable now – and will be until my friends beat it again.
According to my stats page I’ve spent about nine hours on the game now, not including the time I played on my old iPhone. That’s not bad value for, um, however much I paid for it. I think I bought it when it was £1.79. Not that it matters. 59p, £1.79, there’s not a lot of difference when a game’s this good.
A lot of play over the weekend in all modes – though Pure got neglected compared to the other two – and no new high scores. I got close to my Gravity high score a few times, but messed up when I noticed how near I was to a new best. Supernova was worse – I didn’t even get close.
At least now one of my Facebook friends has got the game, so I’ve got someone to compare my scores to on the Friends leaderboard – and last time I checked I was winning in all modes, so even better.
Orbital is, as I’ve mentioned before, something of a harsh mistress. Mistakes are punished with instant death. Sometimes I’m tempted to feel like I’ve been unlucky, but, of course, luck doesn’t have anything to do with it. The rules are there and the only reason to die is that the human thumb and the human eye simply aren’t capable of judging the angles in sufficient detail.
The game’s not at fault; it’s just us…
…and sometimes a cat, if it decides to head-butt the iPhone just as you’re taking a shot.
You know, that’s probably how wasps were invented. God was making a nice, friendly insect and just as he pressed the button a cat wandered over and nudged his hand.
Universe creating deities: make cats last.