When it come to casual action games on iOS, one company has found incredible success: Australia’s Halfbrick Studios. Every one of their games is simple to pick up and play, with bright colors and appealing characters, and they’ve resonated with App Store gamers. Fruit Ninja alone has become a best-selling phenomenon, but Halfbrick has continued to innovate and expand with each new game.
One of the first successful “high score” casual-action games on the App Store, Fruit Ninja makes perfect use of the iOS touchscreen as a cutting board for chopping fruit. Instead of calmly placing fruit in front of you to be sliced, though, Fruit Ninja tosses the fruit in an arc, adding an element of timing as well. This winning design has also inspired numerous imitators. Over the years, Halfbrick expanded Fruit Ninja to include multiple modes, including online multiplayer, and released a movie-tie in for Puss in Boots. There’s even an Xbox Kinect version if you want to chop and slice in front of your TV using motion-sensing controls.
Key Quote: “It’s a simple game that benefits from its simplicity. If you play it for 10 seconds, then you’ll know everything there is to know about Fruit Ninja. You’ll know it’s fun, and you’ll know you want to keep playing.”
Similar to the auto-runner Canabalt, Monster Dash is a timing-based platformer where you have to jump to survive. You play as Barry Steakfries, a tough dude wearing a sleeveless business suit. As you battled a variety of monsters, you’d also have to time your jumps over pits of spikes and unlock creative weapons, like the machine gun jetpack. Along with the twin-stick shooter Age of Zombies, Monster Dash was just a prelude to Halfbrick’s second-most successful game, Jetpack Joyride.
Key Quote: “If you aren’t already a fan of these one-button casual titles, Monster Dash isn’t going to change that for you. But if you like Canabalt, you should give Monster Dash a try.”
Barry Steakfries returned in Jetpack Joyride, an auto-running high-score game with a unique flying mechanic. Barry’s jetpack is powered by machine guns, so anything directly below him dies in a spray of gunfire. His attempts to escape from a secret science lab are hindered by electric beams, lasers, and rockets, but you can always try your luck in a slot machine minigame for a second chance. The fantastic vehicles, which all have unique movement controls, make Jetpack Joyride an unforgettable game.
Key Quote: “Jetpack Joyride has a lot in common with another Halfbrick game, Monster Dash. The two games both feature the grizzled action hero Barry Steakfries, and both games are similarly well-suited for short sessions, relying on satisfying core mechanics and procedurally-generated levels rather than a sweeping narrative or meticulously designed puzzles.”
Fish Out of Water
Halfbrick’s latest game is very simple, but once again, the charming design wins the day. Fish Out of Water is a simple flicking game where you pick up a fish (or dolphin, or whale), and send them flying over the top of the water. When they hit the surface, they’ll skip, like rocks on a lake. The goal is to travel as far as you can, or to rack up skips, and then join with your friends in global leaderboards. Although the mechanics aren’t tough to master, we were impressed with the game’s beautiful weather system, which changes throughout the day.
Key Quote: “No one wants to play high intensity games all the time. Sometimes you crave action, while other times you want to kick back, enjoy the breeze, and listen to the sound of the surf lapping at the shore. That’s exactly what Fish Out of Water delivers.”
Tomorrow, we’ll continue our 50 Best Game Series with an original iOS RPG series from Square-Enix, Chaos Rings.
This article is part of a series about the best games on iOS, 2008-2013. You can read the rest here.