Top 9 iPhone 'Twitch-Action' Games
We take a comprehensive look nine of the best "twitch-action" video games available on the iPhone, including everything from the huge iPhone hit Doodle Jump to more underrated gems like Don't Crash.
For those unfamiliar with the term twitch-action, it is gamer jargon for games that require fast response time and are dependent on great hand-eye coordination to kill, speed, avoid and score.
It's important to note the games listed here are not a listed by ranked order of quality. This list is in alphabetical order. We have taken an extra step in helping to get these games to you painlessly, so we've linked each game to their respective pages in the iTunes store. All you have to do is click the name and your browser will (probably) ask you for permission to launch iTunes, and once you agree you'll be right at the game's page on iTunes. Be sure to read our other lists of the best games available on the iphone, which feature the best of several genres including strategy-games, RPGs, shooters, and games for console gamers.
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1 Doodle Jump
Doodle Jump might be the most successful game on the App Store, so there aren't many people reading this list who don't already know that it deserves a slot on this list. Developers Lima Sky have never had another success like Doodle Jump despite having released numerous games, but they really don't seem to care -- Doodle Jump has been purchased over 3 million times since its release less than a year ago, and Lima Sky has provided minor updates for the game on a regular basis to keep things fresh since the start.
It's difficult to explain the addictive nature of Doodle Jump. What could possibly be fun about hopping upwards? Despite the simple controls, or perhaps because of them, nearly everyone who tries out the game falls in love with it. The shooting mechanic (which requires players to touch the screen in the direction that they wish to shoot) really throws players off the first time they encounter it. This game just might be the iPhone's killer app, and it's certainly worth the mere dollar its developers are charging.
2 Don't Crash
Don't Crash is a game that has never received any real attention from the gaming media, and it's probably never sold more than a few copies. We'd love to change that with its inclusion on this list, because Don't Crash has the same ability to grab players as the massively popular App Store legend Doodle Jump. The game makes exclusive use of the iPhone's tilt functionality to steer a ship that's plummeting down an infinitely deep shaft. Spinning fans have various-shaped holes cut into them, and some precise manuevering must be done to avoid plowing headfirst into a metal plate.
Don't Crash is one of those "get as far as you can before you explode" style games, so if that's not your thing it probably won't hold your attention. There's something inherently fun about slipping into "the groove" and making it way further than you were supposed to, though, and Don't Crash does an excellent job of providing that gameplay experience. There's only one mode in the game, but there are online leaderboards (albeit ones populated by precious few at the moment) and the game allows you to calibrate the tilt sensors easily. This is the definition of a hidden gem, so if you've got an iPhone or iPod Touch go do this game's developer a solid and put them on iTune's top 100 charts.
Although it was originally conceived as a flash game (play it here), Canabalt feels like it was always meant to be on the iPhone. Its one-button mechanics (tap the screen to jump) work perfectly on the device, and its industrial soundtrack sounds fantastic through headphones. The game stars an unknown suit-wearing man on a rooftop who, for whatever reason, runs to the right constantly. He constantly builds speed as he runs, but running into the various trash scattered atop the rooftops will slow him down dramatically.
While it might sound logical to always jump over trash to avoid slowing down, the obstacles are sometimes a good thing. Building up too much speed will eventually make the game far too difficult to keep up with, and players will find themselves plummeting to their virtual deaths because they timed a jump wrong. Because of this, slowing down every once in a while is a blessing. Canabalt isn't a game that one can play for hours on end, but it's fun to return to occasionally to see if a new high score can be achieved. Thanks to the global leaderboards that were added in a post-release update, sharing those high scores with the world is a possibility, so that should be great incentive for those who love nothing more than seeing their name in (admittedly tiny) lights.
4 Battle Blasters
Although comparisons to fighting games may appear to be inappropriate at first glance, a deeper look at Battle Blasters' one-on-one mechanics bring to mind the best of classic brawlers like Street Fighter, Soulcalibur, or Tekken. Each match pits your chosen fighter against a single enemy who's set up camp on the other side of a gorge. Your goal is to whittle down their health bar over the course of three rounds with an arsenal of long-range attacks, including a special attack unique to each character.
A balance is struck by the inclusion of a rock-paper-scissors mechanic that forces players to wisely choose from several different types of attacks. A slow slide of the finger will launch a powerful attack, while quickly flicking towards the enemy will cause the selected character to attack with a quicker weak attack. The slow beams override weak attacks, and quick attacks cancel each other out. After learning the complexities of Battle Blasters it's hard to stop playing. The addition of online play has been confirmed for a future update so we recommend practicing now.
5 The Raging Dead
Ever since Left 4 Dead, The Zombie Survival Guide, and 28 Days Later brought zombies to a new generation of fans, there has been an influx of zombie games, especially on the App Store. Most amount to nothing more than dual-stick shooters, but The Raging Dead brings something new to the table. The game takes place from a bird's eye point of view, and your goal is to stop a zombie outbreak before it gets out of hand. Red dots are zombies and blue dots represent humans. The red dots chase down civilians and convert them into zombies themselves, so unless you act quickly to eliminate the little red threat, each city in the game's numerous levels will become completely overrun.
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If a player is especially accurate (and has upgraded their weapons significantly) any given level of The Raging Dead can be completed in mere seconds. Not noticing a single hiding zombie, however, can result in a complete apocalypse. In early stages of the game, players will find that they need to sacrifice some humans to quarantine the zombies in a single location of the city. There's a surprising amount of strategy involved in this seemingly simple game, and it approaches the tired out idea of the zombie apocalypse in a fresh and interesting way that makes it worth a purchase.
6 Flight Control
Flight Control was one of the earliest App Store success stories, its far-reaching appeal even leading to celebrities challenging each other on Twitter to see who can get the highest score. A wave of "line-drawing" games has followed in the wake of Flight Control, but it remains as the best of its kind. For the uninitiated, the goal of the game is to guide as many planes as possible safely onto an airport landing strip. This is done simply by dragging one's finger from the plane to the landing strip, but things can get messy if lines ever overlap.
Each game of Flight Control starts out a bit slow, but once things get ramped up the game becomes a real test of the player's abilities. The sheer number of planes that can be on-screen at once is impressive, and there's something fun about slipping into the zone and successfully landing a good streak. Flight Control definitely lives up to its great reputation.
7 Bird Strike
Bird Strike isn't entirely unique in concept, but it takes the ideas of several other successful games on the iPhone (most notably Doodle Jump) and puts them to good use by combining them into something unique. Each game is kicked off by launching a bird with a vertically-facing slingshot. The goal is to avoid hitting anything at all while flying upwards, but once your ascent slows down and the bird begins to fall back to earth the opposite becomes true -- you'll want to run into as many obstacles and items as possible to gain extra points.
The "endless" mode in Bird Strike can get old fairly quickly since it can theoretically go on forever, but it is fun to pick up for a short time every once in a while. Global leaderboards improve the game exponentially and create a motivation for continued play, although some of the scores that some people have been achieving seem nearly impossible to duplicate. The best part of Bird Strike might be its aesthetic qualities; the game features an appealing Saturday-morning-cartoon art style that gives the game a polished feel.
8 Mr. Space!!
Several games in the "Mr." series have been released on the App Store, but Mr. Space is by far the best. The game takes the Super Mario series' concept of finding a safe spot to hide from a falling ceiling and expands on it dramatically, turning the idea into a frantic mini-game. Every few seconds a jagged ceiling slams into the ground, and it's your mission as the player to guide Mr. Space to a safe location in order to survive until the next round. For each crash of the ceiling that Mr. Space lives through, one point is earned, and the speed that the ceiling descends upon you increases.
Mr. Space is ridiculously fast-paced, and it feels good to slide into a safe hole mere moments before the ceiling comes crashing down. Eventually the game's difficulty reaches near-impossible levels, and managing to avoid death at that point is exhilarating. At this point, it's pretty much impossible to make it onto the leaderboards, but you'll have a blast trying.
With its bland name, one might be led to believe that Racer is nothing more than a generic, uninteresting game, but it's actually quite the opposite and is surprisingly entertaining. The game puts you in control of a speeding car on a six-lane highway, and you're driving so fast that you're passing other motorists at nearly double their speed. Dragging a finger on the screen controls the car, and quick reflexes are required to effectively weave in and out of traffic.
Some modes in Racer add in collectable stars that can be picked up for extra points. A career mode allows players to unlock new vehicles as they progress, but the cars are really nothing more than skin variants. There isn't a ton of content in Racer, but its attractive 3D art style and frenzied gameplay makes it worth the price of admission.