Get retro with these black-and-white iPhone games

by Dan Kricke

Sure, there are plenty of eye-popping games to choose from in the App Store that are filled with vibrant colors that take full advantage of the great resolution the iPhone offers. But then there are games where simplicity reigns; where a simple black and white color scheme is all you need to have a good time. Here are five interesting black-and-white app games worth checking out.

Stardash ($1.99)

If you missed out on the experience of playing an original Game Boy game with its off-white backgrounds and simple platform jumping, Stardash recreates the experience as faithfully as possible. It’s an impressive feat and its pulled off with gusto. Just don’t expect anything close to the visual tricks the present day Gameboy handhelds can produce and you’ll put yourself in the right frame of mind for this game.

:Shift: ($0.99)

The original :Shift: operates on a simple idea – players complete puzzles by turning the levels inside-out. Each level has a white portion and a black portion, and by tapping a button, the portion that the player is allowed to run through and jump on switches. This makes for some clever puzzle designs where the player is shifting back and forth between the black and white spaces in an effort to get to each level’s end goal. :Shift: is a great use of simple coloring to make a complex game.

:Shift!2: ($0.99)

:Shift!2: plays similar to its predecessor, but with a key addition – a checked style of block has been introduced that players will often times need to remove from the levels entirely before they complete them. It might seem like a small addition, but putting in literal roadblocks makes for a much tougher gameplay experience than the original :Shift: already provided. It’s not for everyone, but if you enjoyed the original, you’ll enjoy this one too.

reflow ($1.99)

Reflow is one of the coolest app concepts I’ve ever seen, regardless of this black-and-white column gimmick. The idea is that the player uses a photo of their environment that gets gray-scaled and then turned into the environment for the game. Players have to pool liquid into certain portions of each level and they do so using picture they’ve just taken. Admittedly, this is more than a simple black & white app, but because the main palette is a simple black & white photo, I’m going to count it here and recommend you check it out immediately.

Mr. Runner (Free)

Mr. Runner does a great job with little else besides tension and timing. The player is forced to run endlessly as the ceiling above drops to crushingly low heights as the player must quickly choose which gap to crouch under. When crouching, the nameless runner stops running, so for a very brief moment the player is safe and can then keep running when the ceiling rises up again. This terrifying process repeats itself until eventually the player is crushed for good. If you like your heart to race while you game, Mr. Runner will do the job.