The roguelike is far from dead, as this stunning new iPhone release happily illustrates. Crawl through monster-infested dungeons as you hunt for loot and explore floor after floor of danger and intrigue. Tons of items and equipment can be found, which is kind of the point of a dungeon crawler, and your character slowly gains experience and new skills as you play. Don't die, though, because if you do, you're gone for good. 100 Rogues is a tightly-crafted game that draws you back time after time with its casual-friendly gameplay.
Dungeon crawling-style role playing games have found a mini-resurgence on mobile devices. Along with that re-emergence has come a decidedly more casual slant, with Deep Deep Dungeon being one of the most casual so far. The game strips exploration and role playing down to its basics, allowing you to move in four directions through increasingly difficult floors of a dungeon. Battle enemies, unlock treasure chests, manage your equipment, and return to camp to spend your cash on new weapons, armor, and other goods. The battle/chest unlock system is perhaps the game's biggest strength. At the bottom of the screen is a moving weapon/key that slides across a bar. Tap the screen to stop it while it's over the orange part to score a hit. Stop it over the red for a critical hit. Different weapons have different length bars and unique placements for the crit spots, creating quite a bit of strategy in choosing how to arm your hero. A very captivating game that's ripe with that "just one more level" addictiveness!
Making games is hard. But playing a game about making games is anything but. Game Dev Story is a lighthearted sim that's lets you run your very own game development studio, doing everything from negotiating licensing deals with console makers to choosing the genre and theme of the games you're going to make. It's the type of game that you pick up to play for a few minutes before realizing that a few hours have already passed. Fixing bugs in a game has never been so fun.
If Super Metroid starred a magical flying squirrel, it would be this game. Every bit as enchanting as the idea sounds, Phoenix Spirit is an exploration-based "shooter" (it's not really a shooter, but it controls similar to one) where you roam the forest searching for the cause of Mother Tree's illness. You'll unlock new areas and gain access to new abilities as you play, and the free-form exploration experience is heightened by the fact that you can fly in any direction. A beautiful game that draws you in right from the start.
From NimbleBit, the creator of Textropolis and other excellent iPhone games, Pocket Frogs is the next app that will steal little chunks of your time a hundred times a day for the next month. To get an idea of what Pocket Frogs is like, think We Rule plus Flower Garden plus frogs. You have a few different habitats, each capable of holding eight frogs. You can tame these frogs and then breed them, mixing the two parents' appearance to produce a unique species with its own color patterns. Then, head to the shop to buy new habitat sceneries, backgrounds, and items that speed your game along. You really won't be able to stop playing the game, as something new always appears right when you're about to call it a day, and it's so much fun to hop around lily pads and amass a collection of cute little frogs to call your own.
Adventure game fans with an iOS device, it's time to saddle up. Scarlett and the Spark of Life, a brand new "point and click" adventure from Launching Pad, creator of The Pretender series, has arrived, and it's got more humor than you can shake a pair of reclaimed fenceposts at. Princess Scarlett has been kidnapped by a pair of meatheads, but she's clever and snarky enough to get out of the situation on her own. Her sister, on the other hand, needs her help, so it's time to break free, find a horse, and gallop off to the rescue!
The freemium games continue to pour in to the iTunes App Store, delivering titles such as We Rule and GodFinger. Now, Capcom gets in on the action with Smurf's Village, a village building sim starring those tiny little blue characters from the cartoon! On the run from Gargamel, the Smurfs decide to set up a new village in a secret location. In order to survive, they must grow and harvest food, and in order to attract their smurf kin back to the village, they need to keep expanding. Just like other freemium games, it takes time to grow crops, build buildings, do research, etc. Time that progresses just like in real life, so when a shop needs two hours to function again, you have to wait two hours. To speed things up, you can purchase smurf berries that instantly complete any project, though these cost real money. Smurf's Village is a lot like We Rule in design, though the added bonus of the Smurfs' visual style might just win you over.
The dungeon crawler is a classic role playing "genre" that seems to be lost to the modern gamer. Sword of Fargoal aims to change that with easy controls, intuitive gameplay, and a perfect pick-up-and-play style that suits casual gamers just fine. Randomly-generated dungeons are ripe for exploration, and each time you open a treasure chest, you're taking a chance to spring a trap instead of finding gold. A superb game (that also looks great) you'll play over and over again.
Another release from Myst creator Cyan Worlds, The Manhole was first released back in 1988 on a set of floppy disks as a point and click adventure game for kids. Now, a quick iPhone download and anyone can enjoy the remade adventure game, complete with quirky voice acting and plenty of things to experience. Just like Myst, tap on things you want to interact with, and move from screen to screen by tapping passageways. Interestingly, The Manhole has no ending. The object is to simply walk around and explore, and you'll have an amazing time doing just that!
A very well-tuned freemium building game along the lines of We Rule and Smurf's Village. This one, however, offers a greater degree of customizability and has a more simulation feel to it, along with a gorgeous art style. Build cottages to attract villagers, build places to harvest wood and grow food, then assign each villager a task. Harvest resources so you can make your village a sprawling town, then trade goods and services with your friends to grow even more. You can speed up tasks by purchasing magic beans, otherwise you'll wait for things to happen in real-time, as Trade Nations is active even while you aren't playing. There are tons of buildings and decorations to play with, and the friend sharing is a more integral part of the game than in other building titles on the iPhone.
Hey there retro gamer, whacha doin'? Hankering to play an old Apple ][ game released in 1982? Wow, what a coincidence, because that's exactly what Transylvania is! A graphical text adventure, you are on a quest to rescue Princess Sabrina from the desolate countryside. Unfortunately there's a vampire, a werewolf, a goblin, a witch, and an alien space ship hanging around to cause you trouble. The game is completely faithful to the original with the addition of a few sounds and a touch-friendly interface (which is surprisingly well-done). Created in collaboration with the original author, Antonio Antiochia, which gets a massive high-five of approval from us.