There’s a brilliant line in This is Spinal Tap (amongst many), where they’re all being interviewed by Marty DiBergi, and he tells them of the review of Shark Sandwich. Marty informs them, much to their incredulity, that the review was ‘merely a two word review, which simply read “Shit Sandwich”’.
If I were being unkind, this would pretty much describe my feelings towards the iPhone app store, or more specifically the games which inhabit it.
To mix up my movie quotes, the iPhone app store games section is the most wretched hive of scum and villainy that has been visited on this earth since some of the 8-bit arcade conversions I suffered as a small fresh faced child during the 80s (I’m talking to you, arcade Return of the Jedi).
And don’t even get me started on Aurora Feint – MMO my arse. It’s just another bloody match the ‘king squares game.
Its like being trapped in a dysfunctional version of Mame, where there are only two genres.
If the lack of variety isn’t a Crane Kick, then the staggering crapness of all the different versions is – for the love of iPhone owning 80s arcade game affectionados everywhere, can someone not just rip off Arkanoid (online DHTML version) properly?
Thankfully, amid the dross, I stumbled across a gem. Yes, it’s Breakout, but in possibly the only interesting twist in the iPhone app store games section (despite many games stating otherwise), its also simultaneously Space Invaders. Spaceout is my iPhone Episode iV. A New Hope.
How so? Because in one fell swoop it nails all of late 70s and early 80s game culture. From the retro graphics to the sampled speech, it hints at a decade gone by where gameplay, simple, undiluted gameplay, was King amongst the gaming world.
The developers of Spaceout also just get that it’s the little things that make or break these simple games – for instance how many iPhone game have you played that don’t leave enough space for your actual finger to move across the bottom of the screen? Spaceout provides ample room, whilst not making the space feel intrusive to the gaming experience.
It’s also the perfect fit – you can play it unassumingly on the 20 minutes or so of public transport that starts your day if you live in a large city. Playing any sort of accerlerometer game usually puts my fellow tube or bus travelling commuter ‘friends’ at risk of my elbow connecting with their face (if not the legendary elbow tit), such is how much movement is required.
So if you’re looking for a way to while away a tube journey, or to wash away the bitter taste of iPhone Super Monkey Ball, I’d heartily recommend it. That is until Kai and myself get our collective bitmapped fingers out of our line vector arses (Kai just needs to roll a 4 on the d20 before he can, and I’m stuck on finger out of arse level 1 as I’ve not got enough experience points) and produce something ourselves.