I often get excited about upcoming app announcements, but very few make me giggle with joy. That was the case with Backflip Studios' (the maker of games such as Paper Toss and Ragdoll Blaster) announcement that Army of Darkness will be coming to the iPhone in 2011.
As fantastic as that is, it's also a long way away. If only there were five games released this week to bide my time …
Real Golf 2011
Gameloft's decision to release another golf title so soon after Let's Golf 2 at first seems a little odd, though it's quickly apparent that Real Golf 2011 ($6.99) is a whole other animal. As the name suggests, this is an attempt at bringing simulation golf to the iPhone, going as far as to include real players such as Greg Norman, Sergio Garcia and Annika Sorenstam. In addition to the 10 total players, there are 10 actual golf courses from around the world, and while the player representations may not be what you're used to in console games, it's certainly easy enough to tell people apart. The game conveniently allows you to choose from a control scheme in which you swipe down and up, and the more common double tap system (once for power, once for accuracy). The game has typically solid Gameloft graphics, and given that we haven't heard anything from Tiger Woods PGA Tour since an early December update, Real Golf has to be considered the leader in the clubhouse.
As a big fan of SimCity, I can spot a knockoff of the classic city simulator from a mile away. And friends, I can assure you that Virtual City ($2.99) is no SimCity knockoff. Sure, there are similarities, and that's probably the game this G5 Entertainment app will most often be compared with, but Virtual City has a distinctive feel and charm all its own. The game is more about maintaining a city than building it. For instance, you're responsible for routing trucks between different businesses to keep the city's production up, and tasks like that. There's also more detail put into buildings and the overall environment, though the overhead camera that's used is typical of all city sims. There are 50 levels across five states, and a badly needed sandbox mode has been advertised for a future update. The best news of all is there's a lite version to download, and this is a must-try for sim enthusiasts.
There's no doubt a big part of Pocket Frogs' popularity is because of it being a free app. But I can assure all the doubters out there that there's much more to this app than its price. The game is typical in one sense; you breed, grow, and sell frogs, an idea you've probably run across in the app store before (though probably with a different animal). But there's also an ingenious mini-game that takes place in a pond. You can select a frog to take to the pond, where you then jump from lily pad to lily pad, collecting dragon flies, discovering gifts, and mating with other frogs. So there's a nice mix of gameplay involved, and though I've never been a fan of a game like this, I could instantly see the appeal in Pocket Frogs. There are paid add-ons, but they will only be needed by those of you who are hopelessly addicted to the game (and there will be plenty of you). For those looking for a free, casual experience you'd be hard-pressed to find a better one than Pocket Frogs.
ACNE Play's Pizza Boy ($1.99) is a platformer that is both wonderful and bewildering at the same time. The game, not surprisingly, has you control a pizza boy who must collect slices of pizza – and strawberries. Oh yeah, and don't forget to look for lost kittens while you're avoiding evil birds and dogs (which you can, naturally, combat by throwing soda bottles). Fortunately, the actual game is quite fun and boasts a nice retro look, two traits that more than make up for a convoluted storyline. Your character is controlled by two action buttons and a left/right stick, a simple system that works seamlessly. The big downside is it's a short game, as most gamers should be able to complete the entire things in less than an hour. Aside from that, this is a really solid platformer, and regardless of whether more content is added, it is recommended.
NCIS: The Game From the TV Show
First things first, NCIS: The Game From the TV Show ($4.99) is easily one of the worst names for a video game. And though it's a terrible name, it at least let's you know what to expect from this GameHouse release. The game is all about solving crimes, with you searching through environments and interrogating suspects in hopes of cracking five cases. The environments are visually very well done, and a hint system is included, in case you get annoyed by all the random searching involved. When talking to suspects, you are given options as to what approach to take, from friendly to aggressive to even showing evidence in hopes of getting the desired response. All told, it's a decent-enough adventure game, though there are better options out there. With that being said, followers of the television show will probably eat this game up, even when you consider the price tag.