Some people hate gaming on a smartphone, citing poor control options as a major reason. Hear, however, I will discuss some of my favourite games that I play on my iPhone that have simple controls and can be played comfortably on a touch screen. Whilst I now have an iPhone XR with its large screen, for the past couple of years I’ve used an SE and so can confirm these games play just as well on all the various sizes of iPhone. For the sake of this article I will ignore games that inherently play better with a controller.
HoPiKo – As the game loads it recommends using headphones, and it’s a sound recommendation. A thumping soundtrack accompanied a one-finger game that responds to taps and swipes to control the direction in which your avatar will leap. If you’re doing it right, each leap will take you around the varied obstacles and onto the next platform towards the goal. Fast reactions are needed here as there is a target to beat each stage in a (tight) time limit. Five stages are grouped together, and any failure takes you back to the start of the group. Also available on PS4, and pairs well with a nice sound system!
Flick Kick Football – A simple enough premise, this fun little game has you flicking a football at a goal. That’s about it. Various stationary defenders get in the way of your free kick, a goalie may be moving from side to side along the goal line, and the ball will be dropped at various positions around the field. The longer you swipe your finger the higher the kick, and you can curve the ball by tracing a curve in the screen. Simple, yet addictive.
Super Mario Run – Oh come on, you’ve played this haven’t you? Haven’t you!? Well, in case you haven’t here’s the basic idea. Mario runs ever onward, and a tap of the screen causes him to jump. He will leap over small enemies (Goombas and Koopas) automatically, with a tap causing him to leap off them with some flair and earn bonus coins. The main game mode has you tackle sets of four stages. Each stage has 5 coloured coins to collect to “perfect” it, with subsequent attempts (after collecting all 5) moving the coins to more difficult locations. Other game modes have you face off against the ghosts of other players in a game against the clock. The winner is the one who has collected the most coins and impressed the most toads with their aerial acrobatics. There is even a third game mode that remixes random sets of 10 stages as you seek to rescue Daisy. All in all this is a fun take on the Super Mario series. It is made to the usual high standard of Nintendo’s first party titles, and condenses the formula expertly onto the format.
Lifeline – How would you update the choose your own adventure genre for the modern age? Whilst Charlie Brooker is exploring his own ideas with Bandersnatch on Netflix, Lifeline came along a few years ago with its own plans. A sci-fi story in which a crashed spaceman contacts you and asks you to guide him along the surface of a strange planet, the real twist in the gameplay mechanic comes with real-time waiting. When Mr Spaceman says he’ll be in touch when he’s walked to a distant landmark, the game is paused. Some time later (perhaps hours) you’ll receive a notification that he’s contacted you again, allowing you to continue the tale. Clever, and at times frightening and even moving, it’s well worth a play through (or a couple more when you inevitably fail). There are numerous sequels, and whilst I’ve downloaded several – at very low cost – I have yet to delve into them.
Rayman Jungle Run – My comments regarding this game can largely be thrown at its sequels, which are fine games, but it’s the original that has the most purity in its design. Another auto-runner, this one has a little more complexity than most. Initial stages allow you to control Rayman’s jump as he runs ever onward, but later on you gain the ability to float along and punch at enemies. These abilities are only available from the levels in which they first appear, and the level design reflects this. Collect 100 lums on each stage and you’ll collect teeth for Death. Enough teeth and you unlock that world’s “final” stage, which ups the difficulty significantly. It’s an older game now, but so much fun.
Alto’s Adventure – Infinite running games are dime-a-dozen in smart phone App Stores, but how about… an infinite snowboarding game! Beautifully crafted, Alto’s Adventure starts off simple enough. Snowboarding to the right, your basic goal is to get as far as you can whilst collecting coins. Adding depth are rocks to avoid, bonus items that can help for a limited time, large chasms to leap over, and as you progress further you will upset some fellow camping in his tent, who then takes chase for sometimes quite some time, until you get to the next chasm and leave him behind. The risk factor during these chase sequences is high. You must keep performing tricks (grinds and backflips) to maintain your speed and avoid capture, all the while avoiding rocks that bring an instant game over. As each new game begins you have up to three extra goals, such as to collect X coins in one run, or to leap over X rocks. Simple targets to begin with, but increasingly difficult as you unlock the next trio. This one would almost be relaxing if it wasn’t for the ever-present threat of failure.
One More Jump – I love this game – enough that I’ve recently repurchased it on Switch. Your little square avatar slides along the white patches of ground, and is killed by just about everything else. Tap the screen the jump (a popular mechanic in this list), with gravity changing according to the platforms around you. Make your way around increasingly complex stages to the goal, collecting 3 blue spots along the way if you are a perfectionist. Various mechanics are introduced as you go on, with platforms changing around you to add to the challenge. Another thumping soundtrack helps to keep you focused. A polished game this one.
Crossy Road – Another one you’ve probably heard of. Crossing (pun intended) the basic gameplay of Frogger with the infinite running genre, you wind up here. Tap the screen to progress one space further, and swipe left, right or down to move one space in those directions. Vehicles move at different speeds, and the threat of the creeping screen means you need to keep moving. Collect coins on the way to play a bonus game to win new characters, many of which will change the entire game board with different themes. Simple, yet compelling, this one is quite essential. A Disney version will satisfy fans of that particular media giant.
Super Stickman Golf 3 – One of the very greatest smart phone games, Super Stickman Golf is a deceptively complex game that keeps introducing new game mechanics with each new course. Aim your shot, set the power, and thwack! Set in 2 dimensions, you’ll encounter plentiful obstacles including sand traps, sticky surfaces, water and more. Besides this there are special ball powers than grant various bonuses, such as sticky balls that stick to the first surface they hit, or ice balls that make water traps solid. There’s so much depth in the gameplay, and I’d like me you have a natural compulsion to better your course scores, you can play this for hours.
So, there you have it. A selection of the games I most enjoy playing in my iPhone. You can’t go wrong with any of these. I’m sure there are plenty of great games that have come to the App Store in the last couple of years (I haven’t bought one for some time), so if you know any let me know – either in the comments below, or on Twitter @BitlandComic.