As the iPad and iOS format has made great strides to be considered a legitimate gaming system in the past few months (even if we mostly just play it on planes, trains and the toilet), we here at EGM have decided to take a look back at some of our favorites.
Samurai II: Vengeance
I admit that my experience with iPad games is very limited—mostly because I’m poor and can’t afford one right now. And I’m not really compelled to make it a priority to get one—as someone with fat, sausage-like fingers, the touchscreen controls just never seem to work right. Even a digital button pad doesn’t seem to solve the issue, so I still see it as a flawed gaming device. But, of course, I’ve crossed paths with several more casual titles in one form or another, and one I really enjoyed was Samurai II: Vengeance—partly because it reminded me of Samurai Jack from Cartoon Network, and partly because you’re just slicing dudes in half for most of the game. Blood plus guts plus simple controls equals a winner in my book.
Space Invaders Infinity Gene
Though I’m still not completely sold on Apple’s iDevices as hardcore gaming platforms, Space Invaders Infinity Gene went a long way to start changing my mind. I expected it to be nothing more than a light experience good for only a session or two—but instead, I found it to be a game that did for Space Invaders what Pac-Man: Championship Edition had done for Pac-Man. Infinity Gene offers fast-paced action, an amazingly satisfying level of depth, and control that feels as precise as any console shooter. For those who continue to argue that iOS is only good for playing host to throwaway shovelware, Space Invaders Infinity Gene is a shining example of what can—and should—be done.
-Eric L. Patterson
Final Fantasy III
Like Eric, I’m still not fully onboard this newfangled “mobile game” initiative—I’m not exactly enamored with battery-sucking applications—but if this trend means you can tote around classics like Final Fantasy III on your iPad, it can’t be all that bad, I guess. And I’m talking the OG Final Fantasy III—the one we never got on the NES back in the day. Or a port of the enhanced DS edition, at least. This game saw the debut of the famous Final Fantasy job system, a surprisingly diverse world to explore, and one of the best battle themes in series, so it’s really an intriguing history lesson for fans. It’s also always been a bit of a forgotten entry, so if you haven’t given it a shot yet on the DS or iPhone, fire up the iPad and give it a try.
While I’m not the biggest fan of microtransaction-driven gaming, NimbleBit’s charming slice of pixeldom offers the sort of unstoppable cuteness that makes a bucket full of kittens green with envy, as this portable people simulator does its best to take digs at everything from Facebook to the gamer behind the controls at every turn, making the task of running an ever-growing tower filled with random commercial and residential floors a welcome chore. Add to this a ton of customization options, random appearances by funny little “bitizens” in random attire, and some compelling social-sharing options, and it’s easy to see why Tiny Tower can quickly transition from a downtime distraction to a time-swallowing vortex that’ll absolutely destroy your free time if you let it.
Plants vs Zombies
The iPad’s got its share of great games, but there’s only one that immediately stands out as my favorite time-stealer—Plants vs. Zombies. This isn’t even the kind of experience I’d normally gravitate toward, opting instead for more atmospheric sophistication like Sword & Sworcery or World of Goo. But the hopelessly addictive nature of employing plants to fend off zombies from decimating a bright little suburban home couldn’t be avoided, and I spent more hours obsessing on perfecting the game’s mechanics than most console efforts since then. When I think of some of the great moments in gaming, defined by masterful simplicity, I think of Plants vs. Zombies—with a touchscreen!