They say you gets what you pays for. I’m not sure why ‘they’ felt the need to add those two rather superfluous esses, but the sentiment’s spot on.
While the App Store has been taken over by fun, bite-sized 59p gaming morsels, sometimes you want a little more. Sometimes, nothing less than a full-on console-like experience will do.
Contrary to popular belief, such experiences can indeed be had on Apple’s wonder device. Each of the games listed below offers a fully fleshed out gaming experience for a relatively premium price (between £3.99 and £5.99).
Of course, that makes each of them a fraction of the price of your average DS or PSP game, so we could justifiably label this feature ‘Top 10 iPhone bargains’.
Think we’ve missed something from the list? Let us know in the comments section below.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms
An early mention has to be made for this just-released strategy game from Koei. The RotTK series stretches back decades across multiple formats, perhaps most popularly on Nintendo’s NES and its successor the SNES.
Sitting at the opposite end of the spectrum to such light bites as Flight Control and Pocket God, it’s a series of epic scope, but early signs are that this is a faithful update of the empire-building franchise.
Set during the second and third century of Chinese history, the games charges you with making far-reaching administrative and strategic decisions on behalf of your people.
It’s all too rare to find a game of such depth on the App Store, so budding strategists may well find the £5.99 asking price to be a snip.
As part of the hallowed Doom series, it’s perhaps unsurprising to learn that Doom Resurrection offers an intense, claustrophobic blaster for your £3.99.
What’s more surprising is the level of visual fidelity that has been wrung out of the iPhone, as well as the variety of gameplay on offer.
While it’s ostensibly and on-rails shooter, Doom Resurrection packs in plenty of surprising twists on the format. Just as you think you’ve nailed a foolproof combat tactic, something new and unexpected is thrown your way.
It all adds up to an impressively realised arcade blaster that wouldn’t look out of place on much larger hardware.
Another game that retails at £5.99 at the time of writing, FIFA’s App Store debut merits its place on this list by providing a startlingly well featured footy experience for your iPhone.
While the game has been sympathetically adapted for touchscreen control, it retains the highly-polished feel of its console and handheld brethren. Meanwhile, both Management mode and the incredibly involving Be A Pro mode make the transition intact.
The on-pitch action feels just right too, playing a slow, technical passing game that will be familiar to owners of the recent console versions.
Resident Evil 4: Mobile Edition
Resident Evil 4 is one of the most technically impressive and influential action games of recent times, so a faithful iPhone version may have been considered too much to ask.
Mobile Edition fully justifies its premium status, though, expertly distilling the formula down to its essential components.
It’s an arena-based shooter, taking a number of environments from the host game and requiring you to blast your way out. The core blasting action is expertly realised, while the graphics and controls are exemplary.
Resident Evil 4: Mobile Edition is a true console shooter made palatable for the mobile gamer.
Rally Master Pro
Fishlabs is well known for its ability to wring stunning 3D performance from mobile handsets. Rally Master Pro stands to prove that, creating a convincingly mud-soaked approximation of the against-the-clock sport.
As well as impressive visuals, the feel of driving a rally car has been expertly captured. Accelerometer control sees you drifting around corners convincingly, while the subtle differences in handling across various surfaces are expertly replicated.
The unique nature of rallying makes Rally Master Pro a worthwhile purchase regardless of what other racing games you own. Besides that, the game has an unmistakably premium feel that’s worth paying a few extra pounds for.
Modern Combat: Sandstorm
One genre iPhone developers have struggled with is the first-person shooter. It’s a technical challenge on both a visual and an interface level. If your game doesn’t provide a convincing, weighty action experience that controls impeccably, you’re onto a loser.
Modern Combat: Sandstorm does both with aplomb. It’s obviously aiming at replicating the Call of Duty formula in the palm of your hands, and it pulls the trick off with startling accuracy.
While tightly scripted, there are enough visual fireworks and enjoyable set pieces to carry you through each breathless stage, while the first person controls perform admirably.
Gangstar: West Coast Hustle
Grand Theft Auto on iPhone. It has to be the holy grail of iPhone development, and Gameloft has pulled of the best attempt yet with Gangstar: West Coast Hustle.
Not only has the developer managed to create a convincing 3D world in which to partake in various anti-social (and devilishly fun) activities, but it’s also managed to make the whole thing control like a dream on the iPhone’s touchscreen.
Rounding out the console-standard experience is a compelling story that always supplies context for your illicit dealings. Make no mistake, Gangstar: West Coast Hustle is the complete premium package.
There aren’t too many epic RPG adventures on iPhone, and still fewer with the production values and sheen of Dungeon Hunter. Gameloft has produced a classic hack ‘n’ slash experience for the price of a pint of beer and couple of bags of peanuts.
The developer hasn’t skimped on the RPG trimmings, either. There are three classes to choose from, each with four key areas to level up and nine equipment slots to fill.
Numbers aside, though, Dungeon Hunter simply stands as the best game of its kind on the iPhone, with a perfectly judged progression curve and satisfying hack ‘n’ slash combat.
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
One of the best loved games of all time, The Secret of Monkey Island made its name thanks to an expertly written (and thoroughly hilarious) script and fiendishly inventive point ‘n’ click gameplay.
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition puts the full adventure in your pocket in a new and enhanced package. The visuals have been improved and the control system adapted to the touchscreen.
Nostalgic types can even bring back the original version with a swipe of two fingers across the screen - a nice touch that really speaks to this game’s premium status.
We’ve granted Real Racing ample coverage on Pocket Gamer for being the best racing game on the iPhone, not to mention one of its best games of any genre. It makes it onto this list for the simple reason that it puts a number of PSP racing games to shame.
The visuals are stunning, for a start, with car models and lighting that have kept the game at the bleeding edge of iPhone development for months.
But it’s the gameplay that truly reeks of console quality, with an impressive driving model and sterling AI opposition.