Platform games form the backbone of retro gaming. Ask anyone, gamer or not, for the stereotypical image of a game and it will most likely be a platformer. Donkey Kong started it and now the iPhone is continuing that great tradition of aimlessly leaping from level to level, jumping on the heads of bad guys.
The touchscreen and accelerometer in the phone mean plenty of opportunities for creativity with play styles and game types. Some get it right, others don't. Below are the ones you want to have stored on your phone.
Robot Wants Kitty
Apart from the ludicrous storyline (robots with cat fetishes have rarely been documented, and where a fetish has been found in our mechanical cousins; 99 per cent of the time it's dormice that get the brunt) the game pretty much gets everything right. Graphics are simple yet effective and controls are highly responsive, meaning any frustration is due to your lack of skill as opposed to any unfair in-game mechanic.
The initial download consists of a variety of game modes, as they don't seem varied enough to call them different levels. These game modes develop the theme of getting your hands on the cat by changing the way you interact with the environment (teleportation, etc) and at the point powerups are made available. The whole thing adds up to a very enjoyable experience and what's more, it's free. Read More
This highly stylised and polished game has clearly been influenced by previous successful iPhone games, such as Tiny Wings. This is not to say, however, that it's not original - there are plenty of innovative ideas - but the simple gameplay, controls and sound are nothing if not reminiscent. Game mechanics are simplicity itself: pressing and holding anywhere on the screen makes the whale rise, whilst releasing brings about a swooping action - the aim being to collect bubbles in order to fuel your flight.
The game has a nice easy flow to it, making it accessible to all; and while its focus on high scores should ensure its appeal to those who take their games seriously, those who want to play for the fun of it are catered for too. And fun it certainly is: Whale Trails visuals make playing very appealing, all working well with the perky sound track. Read More
Contre Jour HD
Contre Jour HD is a game that uses both a sumptuous graphical style and touchscreen controls to maximum advantage. If we were to describe its gameplay in comparative terms, it's like the software house's other A-lister Cut The Rope run in reverse, with a dash of Bumpy Road, World of Goo and PS3 fave Loco Roco thrown in. The graphics are even Loco Roco-like, but in black and white/shilouette, Limbo style (indeed, contre jour, in French, means "against daylight").
You control a blob that consists mainly of just an eye (named Petit), but not directly. Instead, you manipulate the jelly-esque ground at its feet to move it in a specific direction, and there are numerous tentacles scattered around each level which can be attached in order to swing or spring the wee fella to points you'd like him to pass. If you think eye blob equals sweety, and exit equals Om Nom, you get the idea. Read More
Platform games can be hit or miss on mobile devices, often requiring pixel perfect leaps over death-dealing chasms, and therefore not ideal for a 3 to 4-inch screen. However, Sticky is perfectly created to suit a smaller display size, and has simple yet highly effective touchscreen controls, to boot. Instead of giving you control over the titular character, your digits can manipulate the environment instead, asking you to pull and release the orange jelly-like platforms in order to fling Sticky through the air. And as there are sections of gloopy material in all directions, he can grab onto them whether they be on the ceiling, walls or under foot (actually, he doesn't have any feet, but you know what we mean).
The best thing about Sticky, apart from its cute and colourful graphics (obviously tinged with a copperesque hue), is the simplicity. It's cunningly easy to pick up and play, and yet fascinatingly difficult in the strive for perfection. Read More
This app is named Tiny Wings, and there's a good reason it's called that as you control a rather plump bird who's a bit short in the wing department and needs the help of the local terrain in order to help him/her fly. This terrain almost exclusively consists of hills of varying degrees and using the one touch control to fold your wings, and therefore gain speed on the downhill sections, you can hopefully launch yourself into the air on the uphill section; the higher you fly the faster you go and the more points you get.
The gameplay is pretty similar to past classics like Canabalt and Robot Unicorn attack, although it's more forgiving as the scroll rate is determined by your speed and you won't be immediately penalised if you slow down, although it will make for a shorter game. Altogether a classy little title, and well worth the 69p download. Read More
Elite Collection Vol. 1
Available on iTunes now, ZX Spectrum: Elite Collection Vol. 1 features six emulated Speccy games from its, and others, back catalogues. And the company plans to release regular additions to the range. On the first outing, we're treated to pixel perfect renditions of Durell Software's classic games, Saboteur!, Turbo Esprit and Harrier Attack, Elite's own arcade conversion of Buggy Boy and Frank Bruno's Boxing, and, leaving the best until last, A&F Software's original Chuckie Egg.
The last of these is worth the entry price alone. Apart from the spot-on emulation, there's little more to the app, although you can choose to have the keys from either the rubbery 48k Spectrum or hard key 128k equivalent (as released by Amstrad later in its life). Plus, there's a little bit of preamble about each game and an online news section to let you know what other volumes may be on the horizon. Read More
Like most of Sega's Sonic apps on the iPhone, you get the usual game pad on the left, with A and B buttons on the right. They are responsive enough to make it feel like you don't have any cheap deaths and usually send Sonic running in the right direction.
Any other platformers we have missed? Let us know in the comments below ...