The iPhone is quickly becoming synonymous with smartphones, or maybe even handphones. What sets apart the iPhone from most other platforms is that the iPhone is just brimming with sensors (GPS, accelerometer, touch screen, camera). These sensors don’t usually amount to a game, but game designers are quickly learning to take advantage of the hardware inherent in an iphone to produce a novel gaming experience. Most of these are relatively old games, but it’s interesting to see what designers will are coming up now, and the new interactivity.
When I found out about Locoroco, and then the accelerometer on the iPhone, I couldn’t wait for a port to appear. Cute rolly blobs of cute! Slipping and sliding! Portable console! Bright colours and songs! It seemed like a match made in fluffy heaven.
Considering it’s owned by Sony, Locoroco might never make it to the iphone, but Rolando has currently stepped up in its place. Like Locoroco, Rolando has you controlling a similar set of coloured blobbies and trying to make their way in the world. However, the combination of finger swipes, tilting the phone and multiple interactable objects makes this game a lot more intellectually complex than the colours and abstract world lets on.
2) Crayon Physics Deluxe
Part doodling, part The Incredible Machine, Crayon Physics Deluxe excites the tinkerer in all of us. Draw shapes that help you solve puzzles. These shapes interact with the environment and follow the laws of physics; a larger shape has more mass, etc. Keep shapes simple or join them together to make a complex Rube Goldberg type design. You’re only limited by how fine a control you can get from your fingers.
3) Sketch Nation
A vertical scrolling shooter, Sketch Nation has the additional draw of being able to import your own scribbles by using the iPhone to take a photo of a drawing, and having the program convert it to a usable in-game object (be they planes, enemies etc). Sketch Nation allows you to import these objects and make your own levels, even whole games! The sketchy paper look (like Crayon Physics) is also an interesting visual effect not seen in most games.
Sketch Nation is currently in development.
4) Cooking Mama
Quite a few people have played this surprisingly addictive minigame series on the DS, but the iphone port of Cooking Mama comes with a few culinary tricks up her sleeve. There’s the traditional tapping on the phone to simulate chopping, dragging your finger to stir or to mix up the ingredients, but what really got me was the use of the accelerometer. You can shake the phone to simulate shaping/shaking meatballs, or tilt your phone just like it was a pan. Make sure nothing chars!
5) Parallel Kingdom
There are much less games that use the iPhone’s GPS system as an intergrated part of the game (vs finding friends or opponents nearby), but Parallel Kingdom is one of the few. It uses the GPS maps to form a real-time and location-based MMORPG world for your character to interact in. Run around, kill monsters, collect loot and make allies (not necessarily in that order). Parallel Kingdom is a bit low on the graphics but I think it succeeds as an intellectual idea. Hopefully it won’t be long before game designers put up exciting mirror-worlds that your in-game avatars can interact in.