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App Store at 10 - 10 forgotten gaming gems

The old ones are the best
Product: App Store | Publisher: Apple | Format: iPhone, iPad
Happy birthday App Store! Yes, Apple's iconic digital store front is ten years old today.

We've already taken a wander down memory lane through some of the most influential games from the App Store's history. We've also taken a look at the iOS games we've deigned to give a 10 out of 10 Platinum Award over the years.

But what about all of the brilliant games that have slipped into obscurity? Those that didn't quite get the big awards or the major plaudits, or which didn't stick around in the public consciousness for whatever reason?

There are way too many such games to recount them all - which is both sad and pretty damned amazing, when you think about it. But we can bring you a selection of forgotten gems from the first ten years of the App Store.

Many of these games aren't even playable any more, but we can all drink to their brilliance on this special occasion. Or, you know, read a bit about them and then go and play some actual available games instead. Whatever.

#1 Space Invaders Infinity Gene

Product: Space Invaders Infinity GeneFormats: Android, iPhone, iPadPublisher: TaitoGenres: Retro, Shooter

Space Invaders Infinity Gene
Space Invaders Infinity Gene was one of the finest shoot-'em-ups on the App Store right up until the iOS 11 Appocalypse. It wasn't just a port of a pre-existing shooter either - it was a true mobile original.

It's like playing a history lesson all about the shmup, as the game literally evolves and deepens around you - from wireframe pew-pew bleeps to free-wheeling blaster.

It was quite wonderful. Not that you young-'uns would know it. Grumble grumble.

#2 Sword & Poker 2

Product: Sword & Poker 2Formats: iPhoneDeveloper: GaiaGenres: Card/board game, RPG

Sword & Poker 2
Look, I'm not even going to apologise for mentioning Sword & Poker 2 again at this point. Don't you roll your eyes at me!

Sword & Poker 2 was brilliant. It had you fighting turn-based RPG battles against angry mushrooms and evil gnomes, but by laying down Poker hands. You had special abilities that you could equip that would swing things in your favour.

Sadly, the iOS 11 Appocalypse - and the fact that the developer is no more - means that you can't play this game any more.

#3 MiniSquadron

Product: MiniSquadronFormats: Android, iPhone, PSPGenres: Arcade, Multiplayer, Shooter

Yes, it's another game that can't be played any more since Apple culled 32-bit support. Man, that decision sucked for gamers.

MiniSquadron was a really fresh, zippy little 2D arena shooter featuring biplanes. You swooped around each stage taking out waves of opposition aircraft, letting rip with the odd super-weapon.

What was really great about it, though, was the flight physics, which had you loop-de-looping and banking like the Red Baron himself.

#4 World of Goo

Product: World of GooFormats: Android, iPhone, iPad, SteamDeveloper: 2D BoyGenres: Casual, Puzzle

World of Goo
A fair number of iOS developers are probably glad that World of Goo has been all but forgotten by the mobile public.

Here, after all, is a casual physics puzzler that's way more sophisticated and clever and beautiful than most of its rivals. And it's ten years old. Awkward!

I was heartened to realise that 2DBoy updated World of Goo with 64-bit support a year ago. Now's your (second) chance. Play it.

#5 DrawRace 2

Product: DrawRace 2Formats: Android, iPhone, iPadDeveloper: RedLynxPublisher: ChillingoGenres: Line-drawing, Racing

DrawRace 2
Before we all started demanding instant screen-tappy gratification from all of our mobile games, the line-drawing genre was king.

This would see you patiently drawing out a path for your character/vehicle to follow, then patiently waiting for the results. Waiting! Can you imagine?

DrawRace 2 was arguably the very best example of this, as you sketched out a racing line for your little rally cars to follow. I'd argue that it was the closest thing to a native mobile racing game the App Store has ever seen. Well, it's been this and...

#6 Slingshot Racing

Product: Slingshot RacingFormats: Android, iPhone, iPadDeveloper: Snowbolt InteractivePublisher: Crescent Moon GamesGenres: Racing

Slingshot Racing
Here's another true mobile racing game original. Slingshot Racing took a different approach to DrawRace 2 entirely, with real time gameplay and one-finger gameplay.

Your little futuristic skidoo slides along each track. When you reach a bend, pressing the screen shoots a little grappling hook out to the apex and pulls you round.

It's an ingenious system, and one we can't quite believe hasn't been iterated on multiple times.

#7 Denki Blocks!

Product: Denki Blocks!Formats: Android, iPhone, PSPPublisher: DenkiGenres: Puzzle

Denki Blocks!
Here's simple, colourful, block-based puzzler that can be seen as an interesting precursor to the subsequent outbreak of tile-sliding games.

Those who remember Denki Blocks probably recall the strange fact that it was made by some of the talent behind the original Grand Theft Auto games.

They probably don't talk enough about the fact that it was a thoroughly entertaining, highly challenging puzzler.

#8 Trainyard

Product: TrainyardFormats: Android, iPhone, iPadDeveloper: Matt RixGenres: Puzzle

A sadly missed iOS puzzler classic with an aesthetic that still stands out as distinctive today.

Trainyard had you shunting and shuffling trains on a series of twisty tracks, guiding them to their colour-coded end station.

It looked as if you were playing an animated schematic, which felt both old school and thrillingly forward-thinking. I like to thing that Mini Metro learnt a thing or two from Trainyard.

#9 Joe Danger

Product: Joe DangerFormats: Android, iPhone, iPad, PS Vita, SteamDeveloper: Hello GamesPublisher: Hello GamesGenres: Action, Arcade, Conversion, Endless running, Racing

Joe Danger
Any of y'all remember Joe Danger? Some of you? Ah, good.

Joe Danger was made by Hello Games, which would infamously go on to make No Man's Sky. This was no dull space exploration sim though, but a finely honed, ridiculously polished autorunner-cum-stunt racer.

And it was fabulous. Like, what-the-hell-have-other-iOS-developers-been-doing-in-the-years-since? fabulous.

#10 Orbital

Product: OrbitalFormats: Android, iPhone, iPad, Windows PhoneDeveloper: bitforgeGenres: Arcade

I'd completely forgotten about Orbital until I stumbled upon it in my research for this piece. As soon as I saw it, though, the memories came flooding back.

This was an early App Store obsession in which you shoot balls up into a constrained field. Those balls will bounce off the walls, and then grow until their edges hit the side of the arena. The idea is to keep thinning out these planetoids with subsequent strikes before the screen gets too full.

It's tough to explain, but the good news is the game is still available on the App Store - including a free demo version. I can confirm that it still plays brilliantly, too.


Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy 10 July 2018
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