On iOS, developers are constantly trying to recreate big-name games that thrive on PC and consoles. But when the original brand isn’t available, sometimes they’ll create an unofficial knock-off. With your help, we picked the ten best console clones you can buy on iOS, including four by that ultimate imitator, Gameloft.
10. Snowboard Hero
Fishlabs, creators of the epic space combat game Galaxy on Fire 2, got tricky last year with their SSX-style snowboarding game, Snowboard Hero. Just like in EA Sports’ popular series, you play as one of several funky boarders who like to shout out catchphrases as they pull off impossible stunts. There are several types of slopes, including races, trick runs, and time trials, and performing well will let you unlock new snowboarders, gear, and tricks. It’s not a perfect replacement for SSX, but for a 3D extreme sports game on iPhone, it’s very good.
Our Bottom Line: Snowboard Hero may not be SSX on the iPhone, but it’s a quality snowboarding game with plenty of challenges.
9. Starfront: Collision
Starfront: Collision is a real-time strategy game where you play as one of three advanced races: the tech-reliant humans, the organic alien bugs, and super-advanced cyborgs. Sound familiar? Starfront looks and plays very similarly to Blizzard’s StarCraft, but its real achievement is translating PC RTS controls to a touchscreen. And just like in StarCraft, you can play against your friends in online multiplayer mode once you’ve beaten the main campaign.
Our Bottom Line: Starfront: Collision is deep enough to appeal to hardcore RTS fans, but also approachable to newcomers.
8. Mole Kart
A lot of the games on this list take their inspiration from other games, but at least they try to do their own thing. Not so with Mole Kart, the most unabashed clone we’ve found on the App Store. Mole Kart’s levels, power-ups, and characters all look like they’re ripped straight out of Mario Kart for the Wii, with just a few minor adjustments. The old “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” defense must not have worked for Mole Kart, because the game was removed from the App Store earlier this year.
Our Bottom Line: Mole Kart looks and plays just like Mario Kart, but it’s not as charming.
This ambitious third-person shooter could have given Gears of War a run for its money. After all, it has a muscle-bound protagonist with a gigantic gun, and it has some of the most spectacular visuals on iOS. Just like in Gears of War, you can slam yourself into cover and pick off enemies one by one, but the weak artificial intelligence and lack of gameplay variety took off some of the sheen. It’s still a fun game, and later this year, you’ll be able to buy a multiplayer version separately.
Our Bottom Line: For gamers who want a Gears of War-like experience on the go, this stunning-looking shooter is the only game in town.
6. Aralon: Sword and Shadow
Aralon sets the standard for 3D mobile RPGs, but it also offers a challenge to console RPGs like Oblivion and Skyrim. In Aralon, you can take a wide variety of quests, and customize your character’s appearance and abilities however you like. You can even call for your horse to appear for faster travel. The incredible scope of the world, along with relaxing details like fishing in the river, make Aralon an unmissable, console-quality game.
Our Bottom Line: Aralon: Sword and Shadow offers just about everything you could want in a gigantic open-world RPG. If you have the time to invest, you’re going to love it.
5. Star Marine: Infinite Ammo
Contra is a shooting-game classic on home consoles, but where’s the iPhone version? While we wait for Konami to make a real Contra game, we’re happy to enjoy GlitchSoft’s loving tribute, Star Marine. The visuals are straight out of the SNES days, but Star Marine adds clever extras like unlockable abilities and weapons, plus a unique way to earn more in-game currency by watching ads. It’s such a close match for Contra, you’ll want to input the Konami code for extra lives.
Our Bottom Line: Star Marine: Infinite Ammo isn’t perfect, but it’s such a gorgeous, amazing retro shooter that you’d be doing yourself a disservice by passing it up.
4. Real Racing 2
One of the first games to demonstrate iOS gaming’s potential, Real Racing and its sequel are a great alternative to Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo on Xbox 360 and PS3. Real Racing 2 has lifelike visuals and physics, tons of cars and tracks, and online racing with up to 16 players. Now that Firemint is owned by EA, maybe we’ll see Real Racing 2 actually end up on consoles someday.
Our Bottom Line: Real Racing 2 singlehandedly redefines racing excellence on the iOS platform.
3. NOVA 2
Gameloft knew what they were doing when they reverse-engineered Halo’s success to bring the sci-fi first-person shooter to iOS. NOVA 2 has everything we’d expect from a Halo clone: rechargeable shields, high-powered energy weapons, and plenty of clever aliens to blast. NOVA 2 also has upgradeable weapons and crate-opening minigames, plus online deathmatch that gets hectic with 10 players at once.
Our Bottom Line: It’s not leaps and bounds beyond what we’ve seen before, but as far as first-person shooters on the App Store go, N.O.V.A. 2 is the grandaddy of them all.
2. Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation
If sci-fi shooters aren’t your style, Gameloft has another FPS knock-off for you to try: Modern Combat 3, their version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Instead of aliens, you’ll fight terrorists, but a lot of the controls and gameplay mechanics still feel the same. Modern Combat 3 only came out late last year, so the graphics are top-of-the-line and online multiplayer can support 12 players.
Our Bottom Line: Buy Modern Combat 3 for the multiplayer mode, not the by-the-numbers campaign.
1. Dungeon Hunter 2
Arguably Gameloft’s best console clone so far, Dungeon Hunter 2 is a Diablo-style role-playing game where you can collect more loot than any one adventurer realistically needs. In the epic, far-reaching storyline, you’ll travel the world trying to stop the evil reign of your brother, the king. You can master a variety of weapons and spells, and plunder 3D dungeons for loot. But steer clear of the sequel, Dungeon Hunter 3— it’s less of an epic journey and more of a freemium time-waster.
Our Bottom Line: Dungeon Hunter 2 takes everything that made the original a great Diablo clone, and makes it better.