iPhone Apps store is the devil

Kristie recently got an iPhone and we have been wrestling for control over it for the last week. After taking recommendations from friends who already have iPhones and downloading most of those, I’ve also spent some (too much) time browsing the apps store and grabbing anything which looks cool. There’s some really amazing stuff available and while the iPhone has some limitations (no MMS, no copy & paste, no multitasking, WTF Apple?!) they are more than made up for by the support of the apps developers who keep producing an unprecedented number of apps for the iPhone platform. It’s true that 95% of the 22205 applications (current count as of 24 Feb 2009 according to appshopper.com) are complete garbage, even if that rate is 99% that still leaves 100ish gems in the rough, if you can find them.

So, I present here a list of my favourite app store games (I’ll make a new post some time for other non-game apps) from my first week or so of using (ok, borrowing) an iPhone:

Paid Apps

My impulse buy threshold is $1.19 (the lowest cost of paid apps, which is our equivalent of the US apps store $.99 and strangely much cheaper than US$.99) but I have on occasion stretched it to $2.49 for the right app/game (noted below).

I originally had the second page of icons on the iPhone reserved for the games we’ve spent money on (so I know not to delete them without thinking), I’ve had to add a second page for paid apps and I’m getting towards needing a third (but shuffling the pages around is a pain), it’s just too easy to click BUY when it’s only $1 (slightly easier when pre-paid iTunes cards are on sale for 25% off – and even easier when the apps are free).

The amazing thing is, I don’t think I’ve paid for a dud yet, the quality of the games which are coming out at this price is just amazing (prices in the app store change frequently, most of the below are $.99 at the time of writing):

  • Flick Fishing – Exactly what you think it is, a well implemented fishing game making full use of the accelerometer and touchscreen.
  • Pocket God – torment your followers on a small island with natural disasters, coconuts and gravity, mindless fun, updates which add new features are frequent and free.
  • Alphabetic – sounds lame, but isn’t. You are presented with a jumble of animated letters on the screen and you need to tap each letter in alphabetical sequence, harder than it seems and with additional game modes (try the Z-A mode!) to add longevity.
  • SlotZ – (just went back up to $2.49 but still worth it, use appsniper to get it when it drops to $1 again) a slot car racing game with downloadable player made tracks, simple controls, nice graphics and challenging AI.
  • Heavy Mach – side scrolling shooter, think Metal Slug where you’re never on foot.
  • iDracula – twin stick shooter with amazing graphics and shallow gameplay, it was hoped to be the first decent Diablo clone for the iPhone but didn’t quite deliver, still, worth a dollar!
  • Enigmo – build an incredible machine to transfer drops of water from one container to another, very challenging, very pretty.
  • Bebot Robot Synth ($2.49) – polyphonic musical synthesizer with a cute robot, what more could you want for 2 bucks?
  • Scoops ($2.49) – Simple yet addictive pick-up-and play with about the best implementation of the accelerometer I’ve seen so far. The aim is to add ice cream scoops to your cone to progress higher in to the sky, great kids game.
  • Lux DLX ($4.99) – There is a free version of this but this game is so good I figured it was worth paying the (relatively) high price for, it’s a RISK clone but a very well done RISK clone.

Free Apps

The list below are “lite” free versions with corresponding paid upgrades (with more levels or features or whatever), the lite versions of these are great but the paid versions cost too much at the moment (this is where Appsniper comes in – see below):

  • Yard Sale: Hidden Treasures – Essentially a “find the hidden item” game, without any twists but it’s very pretty and Kristie like it, but $4.99 is too much for the full game (thanks to the 1Up podcast for the recommendation on this one)
  • Textropolis – This is a goon made game (as is Scoops, noted above, from the Somethingawful forums) where the aim is to create words from letters which makes up a set of nine letter city names, with some additional game player features like how your city population grows as you progress (as does the picture of the city in the background) and you can “spend” population for hints. I love the graphical style and how there is no time limit.
  • Puzzle Quest – the classic originally from the Nintendo DS ported to just about every platform on the planet and now iPhone, from what I can tell there’s only a free version available via the apps store and I’m not sure if it’s crippled until the full version is released.

Even the truly free (non-lite) ones are great:

  • Space Deadbeef – stupid name, great game. R-Type clone but with very good touch screen implementation of weapons and movement.
  • Dactyl – defuse the bombs before they go off, seems to induce a trance-like state, my highest score is 370, somehow! (there is paid version called Dactyl 2 which I’ve added to my appsniper for when it drops to $1)
  • Trace – use the touchpad to guide your little guy around obsticles by drawing your own steps, ramps and barriers, hand drawn graphics add to the charm.

This list is entirely made up of games, but it’s interesting to note that my most used application isn’t actually a game, well, I treat it like a game of sorts, what is it? Appsniper. Appsniper allows you to set up a watch list of applications/games and a price threshold, when that threshold is met by a price drop Appsniper highlights it on the Appsniper icon so you can snap up the bargain. Appsniper also has a very well put together top listing for all the genres in a much nicer interface than the app store.

I think part of the reason I have been able to wade through the 21000 crap apps is due to the user reviews on the app store, sometimes they’re clearly bogus but my bogus radar is getting pretty good and they are usually a pretty good guide to tell if an apps lives up to the description.

My only bad purchase so far has been Fast Contacts (not a game)– It’s harder than you’d think to find a contact management app which doesn’t suck, or isn’t just a complete rip off the of built-in contacts app, this one is a complete rip off but with the added feature of a birthday reminder function and some nifty filtering options. NOT WORTH the $4.99 I paid since there are plenty of free birthday reminder apps and a good example of how the description for the app and the reviews are a complete deception. It does do a good job with the birthday reminders but it’s not worth 5 bux just for that.

ScoopsFlick FishingDactylEnigmoAlphabetic
TraceBebotYard SaleLux DLXiDraculaHeavy MachSlotZPocket God

Discuss this on the AOB forums