April 28, 2010

Apps Weekly Special: One Handed Games

Sometimes, you just don't want to play overcomplicated games that require you to use both your hands and in this tradition I've compiled a laundry list of iPod touch and iPhone games you can play using one hand, so your free hand can go do something else, if you so wish.

The first thing that comes to mind is pretty much Canabalt.

It popularized the "tap-to-jump" gameplay mechanic, and its simplicity is perfect for people who want to play a brief game during a commute. And it's perfect for those who only want to play with one hand.

But another game that builds upon Canabalt is the more colorful Hellkid.

The well-made visual style and simple gameplay are nice, but some parts are not as well executed as Canabalt, especially the sense of speed. Still, building up your high score and collecting "souls" can get pretty addictive, and the best part is, you can also play it with only one hand.

The game also offers a free version, if you want to try that out.

In addition to those obvious games, there are also a few other games that don't really require you to play with two hands.

Tap a symbol. It vanishes. Tap a symbol and put it on top of a symbol that looks the same. The two merge and vanish. Tap a symbol and put it on top of a different symbol. You lose. It's that simple, but I'll be damned if I didn't say the app was addictive and easy to play with just one hand. If you want my full review of this app, click here.

Suffice it to say, I've obviously logged in enough hours with this app enough to obtain a relatively high 80,000 score.

geoDefense series
In the same vein as geoSpark, the visual simplicity of the tower defense game series geoDefense is part of the appeal, but the two games could not be any more different gameplay-wise.

Basically, you'll be tasked to protect the base by putting in some towers so you can combat the creeps. You can do so with one hand, but for maximum strategery you might want to give your full attention to this game, because it gets real hard. geoDefense has your enemies following a linear path while geoDefense Swarm has your enemies conforming with the path that is open to them. You're afforded an arsenal of various weapons and you can upgrade each of the weapons you put in the field. It's one of those tower defense games that just nails it, because every win feels rewarding, and every win (and loss) will make you want to play more.

Also quite rewarding is Tumbledrop, which is essentially a physics-based game that's so cuddly you could kill your iPhone.

But behind the adorable facade is a pretty hard game that'll challenge your brain and imagination. The physics are pretty solid, there are over hundreds of levels and the gameplay is simple: touch a block to make it disappear and get the star down safely to the ground. You'll be able to get a star medal if you finish a level in a set number of taps.

You can try out a free version as well.

Speaking of a set number of taps, this puzzle game Trixel is definitely a brain teaser. Basically, you're tasked with matching the colors of each square to the picture shown in the upper-left corner.

It only requires you to tap the adjacent square to flip the color. However, the game also spices it up with bombs and nuclear weapons. The interface doesn't look particularly inspired, but the game features more than a hundred levels and it really is suitable for one-handed play. And oh yeah, it gets kinda hard too.

Ragdoll Blaster series
Another game that could get pretty hard is the physics-based Ragdoll Blaster series. These games basically have you shooting ragdolls to the target at a precise time to pass to the next level.

I'd advise that you get the second one though, and that's because it's definitely more aesthetically polished, and it features so much more gameplay mechanics and achievements.

But if you really like the game, I don't see anything wrong with purchasing the first one as well, which I reviewed.

Both games have a lite version, which can be found here and here.

Stair Dismount
But if you don't like hard games, and you don't like to follow an objective, why not relax with a little game of "push your Facebook friend down the stairs because they keep spamming you with invites to Farmville"?

Stair Dismount basically has you pushing a mannequin down a set of stairs, and for every bone you break, you get a bonus multiplier (as well as some bone-crunching sound effects). It's not particularly an actual 'game' as it is a 'simulation', but the fun is really in embedding your friend's (or enemy's) face on the mannequin and then pushing them down. You can even fetch their Facebook profile picture if you want. (More features elaborated on my review, but since then the game has gone on to support online leaderboards, as well as possess new levels)

There's also a lite version for you to try.

Paper Toss
If Stair Dismount is too sadistic for you, you could always write down your frustrations and symbolically throw them to the trash.

But I don't like to waste paper, so why not just pretend you wrote down your anger and digitally threw that paper down that digital garbage bin?

Now this is where Paper Toss comes in.

Basically, you throw paper down the trash. Nothing too hard about that, right? Well, the immovable force that is the electric fan will want to bother you in all ways possible so you won't get that shot. But you can always find a way around that fan by looking at its wind direction and velocity. Now you can hypothetically dictate the direction and speed of your throw so you can actually put that crumpled piece of paper in the bin.

For more information, check out my review of Paper Toss. If you hate ads though, you can buy the ad-free version for $0.99, or put that money into Paper Toss World Tour which basically lets you throw paper somewhere else in the world, like Japan. It also costs $0.99.

Plants vs. Zombies
Speaking of Japan, I wonder if that girl who sang "Zombies on Your Lawn" is Japanese?

Whatever the case, Pop-Cap's tower defense opus is definitely an excellent fit for the iPhone (moreso the iPad) and you'll be surprised at how you'll be able to play it one-handed.

I'm guessing a lot of you folks at home already know how to play this charming game, so I won't really need to elaborate on this any further. Hell, I suspect you already have the game on your iDevice anyway, so what's the use in giving Pop-Cap more free publicity? If you just really don't know though, you can take a look at my review.

Also reviewed is this game, Spirit. As basic as it is, it can still be quite addictive and like the point of this special, you can definitely smoothly play this game with only one hand.

The level of polish found in this game is definitely surprising once you find out that only one man did all of this. The controls are simple, but the AI can be a bit tough to evade sometimes.

For $0.99, you don't have much excuse to get this game and enjoy all of its several levels. To make the package better, it even has OpenFeint integration (which was not available during the time I reviewed this).

Tower Bloxx Deluxe 3D
Spirit is arcade-y, but the ubiquitous mobile game Tower Bloxx is definitely so much more like an arcade game.

Basically, you're tasked with stacking several floors together to form a building that, depending on how accurately you stacked the floors together, tends to be very, very high. It features a lot of interactive social features like Facebook Connect and competitive play.

A free version is available, along with a few derivations like New York and Egypt.

Super Ramen Brothers
If you're running away from the cash register however, you'll need to be cooperative instead of competitive.

Developed in a mere 24 hours, Super Ramen Brothers is a free game that looks surprisingly polished. The gameplay is simple: move the two ramen brothers left or right to evade obstacles, and make them jump by tapping the screen. Simple enough to be played with one hand, right?

Normally, I'd say that the game will be a waste of money because you'll delete in within 3 days, but hey, it's free.

Doodle Jump
So next time you download an app, you better make sure you keep it, and what better app to keep than Doodle Jump?

Always addictive, always entertaining, and definitely playable with one hand, Doodle Jump is a game that only relies on basic tilt controls for navigation. While the game puts a few obstacles like monsters and movable platforms in your way, you can avoid the former and briefly use your other hand to address the latter. On the whole, the game can be played with one hand though, so there's not much problem.

And here ends the Apps Weekly special. I might not be back for a few weeks, but I'll definitely be back to regular programming to review the Square Enix epic Chaos Rings which is exclusive to the iPhone, the iPod touch and the iPad (in future).

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