The App Store is a funny place. Though Apple loves to talk about the sheer volume of apps you can buy, a lot of them are junk, and we’d be happy to see many of them go away. But once in a while, one of our favorite iPhone games will suddenly disappear, leaving an impression only in our memories and hard drives. Here’s our tribute to the departed.
Sword & Poker
Sword & Poker combined two powerful addictions: RPGs and gambling. As you progressed through a lengthy dungeon, you’d fight monsters in a head-to-head variation on poker. With nine shared cards in the middle, you had to make poker hands by placing two more cards on the outside. With game-changing spells, fancy weaponry, and a harrowing tradeoff between progress and danger, Sword & Poker was a masterpiece. We don’t know why GAIA pulled it from the App Store (possibly because they went out of business) but we hope it and its equally superb sequel come back soon.
Our Bottom Line: Sword and Poker captures the essence of a few genres, blending them into a lengthy and satisfying puzzle game.
Judgment Day War
It’s been altered and re-released as Modern Conflict, but we still wish people could buy the original version of the game, called Judgment Day War. Based on the Six-Day War between Israel and its neighbors, the original version of this game made history more exciting by recasting it as a Galcon-style strategy title. The country names have been changed in Modern Conflict, but you may notice the map of Israel is still the same. We wonder if the Vietnam War add-on pack was what sealed Judgement Day War’s fate in the App Store.
Our Bottom Line: If you want to know how the Six-Day War was fought, this isn’t your game. It’s a fun strategy title, but completely divorced from historical reality.
Strip X and O
A sexy game that you’d probably want to avoid playing in public, Strip X and O featured buxom anime chicks who loved to take off their clothes. Amazingly, it was also a quality tic-tac-toe game, with strategy tips from the captain and a great incentive to keep playing. Strip X and O was considered too sexy for Apple, but we’ll never forget the game’s lessons in love and logic.
Stoneloops! of Jurassica
Though it sounds like a kids’ brand of cereal, Stoneloops! of Jurassica was a fast-paced, extremely fun Match-3 shooting game. It was also very similar to the game Luxor, and Luxor’s developer Mumbo Jumbo formally complained to Apple. While there are countless Match-3 clones, Stoneloops was singled out, and the App Store lost a fantastic game that was original in its own ways.
Our Bottom Line: A stellar, original take on the Match-3 popping game, Stoneloops! lets you take your house from Prehistoric project to Jurassic party pad.
League of Epic Heroes
Another casualty of Apple’s crackdown on unauthorized clones, League of Epic Heroes was recently removed for mimicking Desktop Dungeons. We still enjoyed the puzzle-like dungeons, which required you to save your potions for when you needed them the most, and felt this game was a good introduction for roguelike newcomers. Still, until Desktop Dungeons comes to the iPhone, we’re feeling epic loss for this game.
Our Bottom Line: Though it has a few drawbacks, League of Legendary Heroes is a great introduction to roguelikes.