Thankless Answers: Transmission 18
Between Uncharted 2, Modern Warfare 2, Halo 3: ODST and Shadow Complex, I've seen the end credits to quite a few of last year's big releases recently. Far from ploughing all of my time at home into Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games, I've increasingly found myself turning to the iPhone for extended gaming sessions; an activity which I would normally reserve for train journeys or prolonged waits at the bus stop. I think that this is mostly due to the leap in quality that the App Store's ever growing catalogue of bite-sized offerings has seen over the last few months, and I'm continually surprised just how absorbing something which initially appears to be a 59p timewaster can be.
I'm fairly selective in what I download. Whilst the App Store's top rated categories often feature some real gems, a great deal of them aren't representative of the experiences that I want out of Apple's platform. The remakes of Final Fantasy 1 and 2 have been highly praised, but a sprawling RPG isn't necessarily something that I want to play on my phone. Similarly, I have a low tolerance for anything that provides control through a virtual d-pad or attempts to shoehorn a console experience onto the 3.5 inch screen, so recommendations of Call of Duty: Zombies are lost on me. With that in mind, today's instalment of Thankless Answers is in service to anyone who finds themselves in the same predicament I was in when I got my iPhone last November.
Question: What is the best iPhone game?
Answer: Doodle Jump
Since its release just under a year ago, Lima Sky's multi-million selling Doodle Jump has become synonymous with gaming on the iPhone and has been referred to as the platform's answer to the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt cartridge. Such is the game's success that it’s even been referenced in sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Despite the hyperbole, Doodle Jump is in fact a great game which neatly demonstrates all of the things that make gaming on the iPhone so appealing, incorporating the device's touch screen, accelerometer and constant connectivity. At the same time, the purity of its design might easily give the impression that it was conceived over two decades ago for the ZX Spectrum or Commodore 64.
The objective is quite simple; propel Doodler as high as possible by leaping between a series of platforms. Trampolines, propeller hats, springs and a host of other power-ups can be used to expedite your progress. Whilst these aren't essential, anyone who's played the game will testify that accidentally missing the jetpack (which propels you some 4000 feet unabated) is a heartbreaking experience. Whilst the peril of a mistimed jump is ever present, there are other hazards which make for trickier traversal and threaten to send your tiny green avatar plummeting to his doom. In addition to disappearing, exploding and movable platforms, a number of hovering enemies occupy Doodle Jump's graph paper world. These can be nimbly negotiated or destroyed by simply tapping the screen in the appropriate direction to fire a shot from Doodler's trumpet-like snout.
Although the immediacy of the game's action is best suited to short opportunity-based sessions, you may also find yourself playing for much lengthier amounts of time. Like me, you may get hooked on attempting to best not only your own high score, but also those belonging to other people; something which appears as part of the game world during your vertical adventure. If you require further persuasion that Doodle Jump is the best game on the iPhone, it's worth considering that the game is continually bolstered with free updates, the latest of which added a rainforest theme featuring sporadic weather effects and new enemies.
Since discovering Doodle Jump, I've found a great deal of other iPhone games that I enjoy playing on a regular basis; Canabalt, Orbital and Angry Birds to name a few. However, Doodle Jump remains the one that I return to time and time again. With the massive growth that both casual and mobile gaming have seen over the last few years, it's interesting to consider whether in 20 years time the collective gaming conscience will be able to recall the sound of Doodler hopping onto a spring just as easily as the sound of Mario collecting a 1-Up mushroom.