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Three iPhone Games

Entry 1573, on 2013-09-18 at 16:16:46 (Rating 1, Computers)

The iPhone is a great gaming platform. It has an excellent, hi-resolution screen, nice sound (through the phones, not so much the built-in speaker), a really powerful graphics processor, a good CPU, and a huge collection of different game apps.

A friend recently criticised it by saying the screen is too small and he prefers his tablet, to which I replied "OK, let's have a look at your tablet games then". He had to admit "I don't have it with me, the screen is too big to carry around". Exactly. That's my point. If I wanted a gaming device I could use at home I would use a computer or console connected to a big TV. But I prefer a device I always have with me and that means the screen must be small (I do have an iPad but use it a lot less).

The biggest problem with gaming on the iPhone (and this applies to all categories of apps) is that there is just too much choice. I have apps I have bought (luckily they are all very reasonably priced or free) and never used, and this especially applies to games. But there are a few iPhone games which I not only play, but play a lot: every day in fact.

I don't have hours to play games but I do have numerous short periods of time when I want to "waste" a few minutes, so I am a "casual gamer" from that perspective. So now I will cut to the chase and list the games I have spent more than a few minutes playing. This could be seen as a recommendation but it really depends on what you are looking for. If you want to avoid wasting time every day playing addictive games then stop now!

Game 1. Clash of Clans. I have played this game every day for well over a year. That has to be some sort of recommendation, doesn't it? The game has been near the top of the paid charts of iTunes for a long time so I guess many other people are hooked as well!

The game is free but it is difficult to progress without making some in-app purchases of "gems" which allow you to buy upgrades (you can do this without buying anything but it takes a lot longer). I figured the game was worth about $10 so that's how much I bought. However I do know some people who have spent hundreds!

And that's the problem. Not only is it a somewhat devious way to make people pay (get them hooked on the free game but force them to pay to make progress) but it does disrupt the balance of the game-play as well. If you are defeated it could be because your opponent is really skilled - or more likely he has just spent a fortune on upgrades!

But I guess I should describe what sort of game this is. It is basically an empire building, cooperative, strategic combat game. The player builds a village and after progressing to a certain point builds a clan castle and joins a clan (of up to 50 other players) where he can swap troops and chat.

Different village buildings can be used to train troops, or gather resources, or defend against attacks. When the player has sufficient forces he can attack other players and win trophies from them. The purpose of the game is to gather trophies (although there are strategies used when building capabilities where players deliberately lose them).

Many processes take a long time (my last town hall upgrade took 2 weeks) and there is usually a 12 hour shield period after a defence so there's no need to play continuously for long periods of time. It's just a few minutes to swap troops, a few more to tidy up after a defence, and a few more to attack someone.

The game has a lot of subtle strategy and doesn't need to involve a huge amount of time so it suits me fine. The fact that I am still playing it after all this time shows how addictive it is!

Game 2. Real Racing 3. I love racing and flying simulations but most of them are too hard to control on a phone. Also, after a few races there is generally nothing new to try in most racing games. But RR3 is different because of several innovative features.

First, there are three driving assists available: steering assistance, traction control, and braking control. If the player turns all of these on all he really needs to do is steer because the car will always brake at the corners to get around them at the right speed. I use the phone like a steering wheel and just tilt it to steer. It works really well. Of course you can go a lot faster if you turn some or all of the assists off, but you need to concentrate or you'll be off the track at the first corner!

Second, RR3 has a feature called Time Shifted Multiplayer. It's usually not practical to get 20 people together to race against each other, but with TSM various players races are gathered together and you can race against them after they have played. How it works exactly I don't know but it's very effective and more interesting than racing against computer generated opponents.

Finally, the game has an excellently paced way to progress to better cars and events. Every event pays the driver a certain amount and that can be used to pay for new cars or to upgrade the current car. I started with a Nissan Silvia and now have an McLaren MP4-12C. Unless you upgrade your car you will get trashed in the next race!

The events themselves are also quite varied. There's the short drag race in a straight line to test acceleration and fast gear changes, conventional multi-lap races on many different courses, time trials of single laps, top speed on a lap, elimination events where you must stay out of last place, chase down the lead car, racing against one opponent, and others.

The tracks are quite realistic. After watching the real racing at Mount Panorama on TV the same race on RR3 seems very familiar. The same applies to the cars. They have similar capabilities to the real thing and different cars are better or worse at different types of events depending on their top speed, acceleration, braking, cornering ability, and other factors.

Like Clash of Clans, RR3 is free but some people buy in-game bonuses to advance more quickly. I have progressed reasonably far without spending anything yet but I will probably spend what I think the app is worth because I think the developer should be rewarded for producing such a great game.

Game 3. The Simpsons Tapped Out. Back in the day I must admit I was one of those really lame people who played Farmville. There, I have admitted it! But to move on... The Simpsons is like a more modern version of Farmville where you must build a community (in this case the town of Springfield instead of a farm) by giving the characters tasks to do to earn money and experience which can then be used to get more buildings, characters, and other features.

This is another game I play for a few minutes at a time a few times a day. I just start the app (which I admit takes away too long) and give a few characters some tasks to do, collect some resources, and maybe start building something. There is also a small social element where the player can visit other people's towns to collect resources in return for some extra experience points.

I suppose the best thing about this game is its sense of humour. The Simpsons is one of the most humorous TV programs ever and that is transferred quite well into the game. The characters have the same personalities and catch-phrases as they do on the TV program and do some of the same wacky things.

For example, currently I have Cletus de-lousing the young 'uns, the Sea Captain telling a tall tale of the sea, Chief Wiggum collecting bribes, Lisa playing the sax, ... well, you get the idea.

Apart from the humour this game is a fun creative outlet because you can rebuild Springfield (did I mention it needs to be rebuilt because of a nuclear accident?) your own way, either crazy or elegantly depending on your personality.

Again, this is a "freemium" app, meaning it is free but some people may choose to buy in-app purchases to make progress faster. So far I have avoided this and because there is no real competition in this game the people who have spent heaps don't have an unfair advantage over the rest.

So those are my three iPhone game recommendations. Now I must get back to my iPhone because my village just got attacked again, I have a fully upgraded and repaired McLaren ready for racing, and I think Cletus has finished doing the de-lousing!

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