While this week’s top iPhone games have a very retro feel, I can assure you they’re brand new – to the iPhone at least. The list includes remakes such as Phoenix Wright, Karate Champ and Spectre 3D, as well as a rally car-racing iPhone game that might as well have been made 20 years ago. Don’t worry, though, as these classics will never go out of style.
1. Phoenix Wright
Capcom’s Phoenix Wright ($4.99) is, I kid you not, a lawyer game in which you guide a rookie defense attorney through five cases. It may not sound all that intriguing, but this Nintendo DS port (minus one case) manages to be compelling, humorous and an all-around good time. The game is broken up into two gameplay modes, the investigation and court phases, and includes both over-the-top characters and dialogue. There are five cases in all, and though they can take a while to get through, there’s little (if any) replay value involved. The interface is also difficult to get familiar with; though it’s been altered to be friendlier to the iPhone, it can also be quite annoying to deal with. Both of those complaints are small when you consider the number of things Phoenix Wright does right, though, and this game is sure to be a hit in the iTunes App Store.
2. Karate Champ
Karate Champ ($1.99) was first released in arcades in 1984, and as of last week the game is now available on the iPhone thanks to Revolutionary Concepts. The most striking thing about this game is its controls, which consist only of two virtual arcade sticks. They occupy the bottom of the screen in what can only be described as the perfect layout for a retro title like this, and are much different than the control schemes we’ve grown accustomed to. Still, the controls are pretty easy to get started with, but difficult to master, leading to a very pleasant gaming experience. The graphics and sounds aren’t really impressive, but that’s not why you’re getting this game anyway. This probably goes without saying, but Karate Champ is a must buy for retro gamers and something any avid gamer should try out at least once.
3. Cubed Rally Racer
While it may not stand up to the new generation of racing games in many regards, Cubed Rally Racer ($1.99) is certainly one of the cooler iPhone racers we’ve seen. What the game lacks in new-age graphics and deep storylines it makes up for with originality, and I mean that literally; every level of the game is randomly generated so you won’t be faced with the same challenges over and over again. The goal of the game is to finish each level as quickly as possible before running out of gas. In addition to avoiding obstacles, you also have to pick up gas cans along your route to replenish your supply. Once you complete a track, you can retry it in hopes of getting a better time or send it to a friend (via OpenFeint) and challenge them to beat your time. Cubed Rally Racer is the perfect iPhone racing game for casual gamers not interested in spending hours upon hours at a time completing challenges, and chances are you’ll hear plenty about this title in the coming weeks.
4. Spectre 3D
When released in the early 1990s, Spectre was notable for being one of the earliest multiplayer games. So as you would expect, Brilliant Bytes’ Spectre 3D ($4.99) is full of multiplayer options as well, allowing both cooperative and versus modes, and up to 16 players via Wi-Fi. The game has you control a tank around a virtual environment, with the goal being to capture flags and blast enemies. There are two single player modes and four multiplayer modes, so there’s a surprising amount of content for such a retro-style game. It has pretty standard controls for an iPhone shooter – a virtual d-pad and action buttons for things such as shooting and jumping. Everything considered this is a solid game, even when compared with newer competitors, but it really shines due to the number of multiplayer options.
Bowmaster's (99 cents) ascension to the top of the paid games chart should come as no surprise. Hunting games have always done pretty well on the iPhone, as have games that only cost $1. Throw in an icon that’s very reminiscent of Robin Hood -- as well as solid controls -- and you’ve got a sure-fire iTunes App Store hit. The game’s storyline has you play as an aspiring member of a group called the Merry Five, and you challenge each member of the group across five levels in hopes of becoming their leader. The game is controlled with a floating bow and arrow that you control with your thumb and index finger and aiming that is accelerometer based. You shoot at animal-shaped targets in environments that, while not being the best the device can visually produce, won’t bother most gamers. In fact, when compared with other games on this week’s list, the graphics are positively spectacular. Bowmaster is a solid, but not quite great. game and well worth not only $1, but your time as well.