Friday Slide: Confessions of an iPhone Noob: My Five Favorite Games

When I hooked up with my iPhone last fall, I was nervous. I wondered, would we work well together? Would he understand that I wanted an open relationship, and he would therefore have to give me some time to be alone with my Nintendo DS and PSP?

I can safely say my iPhone has been patient and accommodating. We go to the park, we take long bus rides, we interact quietly while old people in front of us yell slowly at bank tellers. I still feel a little overwhelmed by the relationship; I know that there is still so much more we need to do together. At the same time, we’ve found some great games to play despite being a couple for a mere half-year.

My five favorite games for the iPhone (so far) include:

Harbor Master

Price: $1.99

The App Store has no shortage of line-drawing games, most of which involve drawing a path that will guide hapless creature or vehicle X to safety. Firemint Games’ Flight Control is a favorite example of the genre, but I prefer the sea and Imangi Studios’ Harbor Master.

The premise between the games is almost identical: Instead of landing planes on runways, you must dock ships, unload their cargo, and send them on their way. If two ships collide and do the Titanic thing, the game is over. Over time, weather conditions become an issue, too.

True to most line-drawing games, the action in Harbor Master starts slowly, but escalates into insanity pretty quickly. You’ll crash, crash, and crash again, but it becomes harder, not easier, to resist starting up a new game.

The Deep

Price: $3.99

Two of my very favorite games in the world include Super Metroid for the Super Nintendo and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the Playstation. The Deep’s inspiration is obvious, but its heritage is still noble. Instead of exploring the depths of Zebes or Dracula’s bachelor pad, you paddle around the briny depths, unlock passages, gather weapons, and backtrack to clean up earlier stages.

While The Deep’s puzzles aren’t very, er, deep, it’s more than worthy as an adventure-based distraction. And the underwater exploration eliminates problems with inaccurate jumping and slippery controls, which tend to plague iPhone adventure games.

The Oregon Trail

Price: $4.99

Gameloft’s re-creation of the Apple II edutainment classic would be in big trouble if it relied only on nostalgia. Beyond hunting for food, did anyone actually play the original Oregon Trail? Like, did they even try to get to Oregon? All I can remember is dying, typing a swear word on my tombstone, and calling it a day.

But Gameloft’s version of Oregon Trail rebuilds the game from the ground up and is very playable thanks to selectable difficulty, tons of minigames, branching paths, plenty of humor, and some bizarre deaths. My daughter was carried away by a giant eagle. Mommy loves you, Thundercat.

Glyder 2

Price: $0.99

IIIIIIII just wanna fly. Put your arms around me baby, put your arms around me baby. Actually, I don’t know how Eryn would react if I tried to hug her. She’s a busy inventress; she probably wants to be left alone to develop new flying machines that’ll let her explore new dimensions. Oh well.

On the plus side, her sense of exploration gives the rest of us access to some laid-back flight simulator games that are perfect for winding down at the end of a hard day.

Final Fantasy

Price: $6.99

I never finished the original Final Fantasy for the Nintendo. In fact, I couldn’t stand it. I held this secret shame inside me for years until I found out I had good reason to feel smoldering hatred towards the game that saved Squaresoft’s bacon over two decades ago.

Apparently, the original version of Final Fantasy is so broken and so bugged-out, it’s nearly unbelievable. Half the characters’ stats are useless, and a large portion of the Mages’ spell roster does doodly squat. Squeenix eventually released “Final Fantasy: Dawn of Souls” for the Game Boy Advance, which fixed those grievances and much more. Final Fantasy for the iPhone retains those fixes and offers up some gorgeous high-resolution sprite work. Don’t attack those imps ’til you see the warts on the tips of their noses.

So concludes this list of my five favorite iPhone games. The contents of this list are subject to change tomorrow.