Name recognition can play a huge role in an iPhone game's success. If you don’t believe me, just check out the iTunes App Store’s top paid iPhone games. Normally, the list is littered with console remakes (such as Madden and Call of Duty), classics (Frogger and Tetris), board games (Scrabble and Life), and versions of games like Skeeball or bowling.
What you don’t normally see is a unique-to-the-iPhone war-themed game like Trenches, which was released in late December and has quickly become one the most popular iPhone games so far in 2010.
Military games will likely never be as successful on the iPhone as they are on the Xbox and Playstation, but as Trenches has shown, it’s not exactly a floundering genre either. This list of war-themed iPhone games ranges from strategic masterpieces to shoot ‘em up button mashers to the completely ridiculous, but all bring the battlefield to your iPhone.
Trenches iPhone game
One of the most appealing things about the Trenches iPhone game ($1.99) is the number of different genres it borrows from. The game includes line drawing and tower defense elements, requires tons of strategy and though it’s far from your typical arcade-style shooter, it’s got plenty of action.
Trenches is set in 1914 Europe during World War I. Your goal is pretty simple: using different soldiers and weapons, you guide your troops across a battlefield full of trenches and kill the bad guys before they kill you.
You can’t talk about the game without mentioning its presentation, either. Thunder Game Works clearly put loads of time into both the game’s graphics and soundtrack, and both really enhance the game experience.
Battle Bears 1.5 iPhone game
And know for something completely different. While it may be tough to pigeonhole Trenches, the Battle Bears iPhone game (99 cents) clearly falls into the shooter category.
In this game, you use outrageous weapons such as flame throwers and ‘bearzookas’ to destroy an army of cute, cuddly teddy bears. If you’re lucky enough to score a head shot, you’ll even see a rainbow escape from the beheaded bear.
As you may be able to guess, this iPhone game isn’t for every military enthusiast. It’s a very light-hearted take on the combat game genre, but all kinds of fun at the same time.
StickWars iPhone game
The StickWars iPhone game (99 cents) starts off easy enough, as you are given plenty of time to "flick" away enemies that are storming your walled fortress. But the very simple game quickly becomes not-so-simple, as the enemies multiply and you are given strategic options, such as taking prisoners and building advanced weapons.
Everything about this game screams successful iPhone game, from controls that make use of the iPhone’s features and crude -- yet charming -- graphics. This formula has worked countless times, and it works yet again for StickWars.
Modern Combat: Sandstorm iPhone game
If you’re looking for console-type first person shooter for the iPhone, then look no further than Gameloft’s Modern Combat: Sandstorm iPhone game.
Unlike similar games such as Metal Gear Solid, Modern Combat: Sandstorm ($4.99) actually allows you to move around your desert environment as you fight a terrorist group. This freedom of motion leads to a detailed control scheme (to put it nicely), but it also sets it apart from other iPhone games.
The game also sports nice graphics, 10 missions and a storyline full of cut-scenes. All told, it’s the perfect iPhone app for the military gaming fan without a game system.
Fieldrunners iPhone game
One of the most popular tower defense games to come to the iPhone, the Fieldrunners iPhone game ($2.99) already had a place in iPhone app history before a late December update. While some may complain about the addition of downloadable content (two new expansion packs cost 99 cents each), the big news is that the game now features a multi-player mode.
Even though it’s not the newest game, Fieldrunner’s cartoonish -- yet crisp -- graphics are some of the best you will find. As far as military strategy games go, it remains near the top of the list.
Age of War iPhone game
The Age of War iPhone game (99 cents) is reminiscent of the Civilization series, just without the pesky nation management options and all of the fun war ones. It is set in the fictional land of Azonoth, and challenges you to build an army and take over the world.
In terms of graphics and controls, this real-time strategy game may lag behind others on this list. Still, it’s a fun game with a good deal of replay value.
Kingdoms at War iPhone game
The Kingdoms at War iPhone game (free) isn’t exactly a military game, though the premise of the game is to build armies and battle other kingdoms. Instead, it’s a MMORPG (massively multi-player online role-playing game), so it has more in common with the iMobsters iPhone game than it does with other games on this list.
The game is set in medieval times and, considering the type of game it is, it has nice enough graphics and a pretty solid design. My only warning is that those looking for a traditional shooter or military game should look elsewhere, as Kingdoms at War is a completely different kind of app.
Coast Defense – Reloaded iPhone game
I mentioned earlier that Modern Combat is similar to Metal Gear Solid, with the main difference being that you can move around your environment. The Coast Defense-Reloaded iPhone game ($1.99), on the other hand, is a game that restricts you to a bunker, with victory only coming when you shoot all your enemies.
So, yeah, chances are you’ve played a game similar to this. But Coast Defense-Reloaded is one of the better war shooter games, due to its nice look and smart controls – you can scroll across the battlefield by tilting your iPhone.
It won’t win awards for originality, but with 11 weapons and 30-plus levels, this game will satisfy fans of the genre.