In this feature, we’re opening your eyes to the real iPod touch and iPhone hardcore gaming list. Forget Wolfenstein 3D Classic, Metal Gear Solid Touch and Myst. Our list provides a selection of games that force your brain to scream and your reactions to sharpen. If you can master and beat these ten titles, then you can lay claim to being a truly hardcore gamer.
Steph Thirion’s first-rate retro-oriented planet management game is slightly less hardcore than it once was, due to lots of whiny weaklings complaining about its challenging difficulty level. (Your correspondent might actually have been one of them, but is not admitting anything.)
However, the game remains much as it was when first released: planets of varying colours pop on to the screen, and you combine them or tear them apart so they match like-coloured ‘squeesars’. Flinging a planet into a squeesar removes it from the screen and results in energy-boosting stardust being sprayed everywhere (which you ‘wipe’ up); but if planets collide, your energy soon runs dry. Tactics on one level become useless on others, so you have to learn how to defeat each stage and adapt your style accordingly.
Although released for Mac in 2007, it was on iPod that Frenzic found its true home. The rules of the fast-paced action puzzler are simple: place wedges (of six positions and three colours) into one of six discs. Complete circles vanish, and ones of a single colour provide an extra life, along with a power-up if completed in one of the three power-up spaces.
And, boy, do you need those extras, because Frenzic is mean when it comes to ramping up speed. Within a couple of minutes, you’ll frantically dump wedges wherever you can, and soon realise Frenzic’s about management and ‘risk versus reward’ - do you go for those single-colour circles and risk losing lives when pieces can’t be placed, or play it safe? Either way, only the hardcore need apply, because this isn’t a game for people who cry when Tetris pieces have the audacity to move at more than two pixels per second.
So popular it spawned an entire genre of path-dragging games on the App Store, Firemint’s Flight Control superficially appears to be a jolly walk in the park (well, sky). But under the surface lurks an experience that will challenge the most grizzled of hardcore gamers.
The rules of the game are simple - you drag craft to like-coloured landing strips/pads, and the first mid-air collision signals game over. Initially, the game is simple, but the difficultly ramps up as the number of airborne craft increases, forcing you to make quick decisions and refinements and plan ahead to ensure your craft stay apart. Although the difficulty of the original airfield plateaus somewhat, allowing for obscene scores in the tens of thousands, anyone who considers this game ‘casual’ and themselves ‘hardcore’ should try the military level, with its lazily rotating aircraft carrier. Master that and you’re a truly hardcore gamer.