These days enough of us have these gadgets already that I don’t think I will be guilty of being an Apple pitchman if I hype a couple games. The fact is, after months of using my phone to service my email addiction, record sounds, and read the news, I thought games on my device were a waste of time until I discovered these evil gems. The few bucks these games cost are worth every cent. The developers are brilliant. Each of them has a cool, retro-futuristic aesthetic that is worthy of notice in and of itself, aside from the gameplay.
When you start to see the shifting patterns of Drop 7 on the back of your eyelids as you go to sleep, you know you may have a problem. It looks, at first glance, kind of boring. Little bingo-ball looking things dropping into a grid like those discs into Connect – Four. Since when were numbers anything I dealt with by choice? Yet the hypnotic simplicity of this game draws you in. It’s easy to pick up and hard to put down. The design is elegant and seductive, and the gameplay is deeply satisfying. It is, as one reviewer on the iTunes store says, the best puzzle game since Tetris.
You are a cube, exploring a cube world. Traps, trolleys, catwalks, elevators, and platforms of huge variety compose the eerie landscape, floating in space, that the cube navigates. Right in between Super Mario Bros. and Tetris, there lies Edge. Why? Because it is half platformer, half puzzle. Because it has a cube-based design. Because it is composed of tons of mini-levels. Because it is addictive. Edge might be the best iPhone game yet in terms of pure entertainment, because it strikes a near-perfect balance between being easy to pick up and play a quick game and offering continuity with lots of gradual stages to increasing levels of difficulty.
A gorgeous interactive art piece that is also a game, Eliss is completely unique. As a work of design, it is flawless. As a game, it is challenging. Basically you move colored cells around the screen, splitting them apart and grouping them together, then mating them to a network of light that dissolves them. It’s sort of like cellular mitosis. The music is great, and the ease of the interface and simplicity of the concept, combined with the difficulty of execution, is something I’ve seen 3-year olds entranced by and 40-year olds frustrated by.
Over a crumpled piece of graph paper, you solve puzzles by blasting a ragdoll out of a cannon. The object is to get the ragdoll to the target, but elaborate traps and obstacles make this a challenge. The flawless physics, super cool aesthetic, and plenitude of levels make this kinetic puzzler a solid damn game.
What can one say about Enviro-Bear? It’s ridiculous, it’s a joke, it’s a horrible game, yet it’s one of the best games ever invented. It’s a lucid dream, a strange hallucination. It might be a meta-game. I can’t play it without laughing, wanting to throw it down, then finally have a kind of quiet uneasy feeling that makes me wonder what I’m missing – not in the game – but in life.
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