Choosing the most influential gaming iPhone apps of the past year isn’t the easiest thing. Games continue to dominate many top iPhone app lists, and given the number of releases this year, there are literally hundreds of them that could be described as influential.
Influence isn’t necessarily a good thing, either. While some of these iPhone apps marked the beginning of a genre, other’s signaled the beginning of trends that are far from popular.
But one thing you can’t argue is that each of the following games is important for reasons beyond simply being fun to play. And these iPhone apps not only mark some of the highlights of 2009, but also show us what’s in store for the future.
Flight Control is not only one of the most popular games to come to the iPhone, but also the first iPhone app in the ‘line-drawing’ genre that has spawned others such as DrawRace and Train Conductor. And despite mundane graphics and incredibly simple controls, it may even be the most critically acclaimed iPhone game of 2009.
It also reinforces my theory that, above everything else, gamers on this device want their games cheap and unique. Flight Control only costs 99 cents and offers game play that the Xbox and PS3 can’t, so it definitely fits that description.
The game can be described in one word: addictive. If you disagree, you’ve either got very lofty standards or you’re playing games on the wrong system.
Based on the popular Facebook game Mob Wars, iMob Online was the first free massively multi-player mob game to come to the iPhone. There are a number of similar games for both this device and others, and this game clearly shows just how huge the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) genre can be.
It’s not even clear if this is the best game of this genre anymore, as it has been passed by iMobster and Mafia Wars on the top free apps chart. But iMob was the first, so it gets the nod as the most influential.
EA Sports’ release of a free version of NBA Live earlier this month marked a huge moment in the company’s history on the iPhone. One of the game world’s top developers, EA didn’t release free, lite versions of any of their previous sports iPhone apps, though they did do so for non-sport releases such as the Sims 3 and Spore.
Hopefully this signals a change in the company’s iPhone app philosophy and gamers will be able to play demos of Madden, Tiger Woods PGA Tour and FIFA before shelling out $10 for them.
NBA Live is also the first full basketball game available for the iPhone, a fact that’s even more staggering when you consider the number of football, soccer and baseball games released on the device. Not to mention the game is also pretty fun, which never hurts.
Need For Speed Undercover
Need For Speed Undercover ($4.99) topped my list of best games of 2009, so I feel I owe the game a mention among the most influential games of the year as well. Not only is Undercover a model for what racing games can be on the iPhone, but for what console versions of games can be.
The game boasts top-flight graphics and loads of content, enough of which make you forget you’re playing a game on your iPhone. Its control scheme makes use of the iPhone’s accelerometer, a refreshing change from its console counterparts.
More than anything, Need For Speed’s success proves there is a market for high-end games on the device when they’re done right. There’s already a sequel to the game – Need For Speed: Shift was released a week before Christmas – and early reports are that it’s just as good as its predecessor.
Tap Tap Revenge
Like iMob, Tap Tap Revenge is a game with plenty of competition. But despite being faced with the unenviable task of going up against Rock Band, a game with considerably better name recognition, it is thriving.
Tap Tap also brings one of the most controversial elements of gaming to the iPhone – the option to buy additional features. Even though Tap Tap Revenge 3 is a free download that includes a number of free songs to play initially, you have to buy many tracks.
Like it or not, this is becoming a more popular trend in the video game world and something we are sure to see more of – on the iPhone as well as other gaming systems. Not the best way to make a most influential list, but Tap Tap makes it nonetheless.