If you’re one of the millions of people around the world who rely on public transportation to get around, you’re often looking for new ways to kill time. Even if you’re not a gamer at heart, there are a multitude of games available on your iPhone, ranging from the casual to severely geeky.
One catch: many trains cut passengers off from precious data services, restricting their mobile options. Another caveat is that the best games for commuters need to be playable with just one hand, in case you find yourself clinging to any available handlebar space. (Bonus points if you can play these games while balancing your morning coffee — I’m not that good.)
You’ll notice that this list excludes the ubiquitous Angry Birds because I found I can’t achieve perfect trajectory while holding my phone sideways and swiping with one hand. Neither will you find more advanced games, like Cut the Rope, since some stages require multiple fingers for three-star accuracy. However, this list includes games from many different genres, so you’re bound to find something that helps make your morning commute whiz by.
What are your favorite ways to kill time while commuting? Did we miss any of your favorite games? Let us know in the comments.
The Last Rocket
Recently released, The Last Rocket, created by Shaun Inman, is a puzzle game with a cute, retro feel -- probably because your little rocket ship has eyes and ears. The goal is to navigate 64 levels to help the computer AMI collect all her gears that were scattered by a wayward solar flare.
This game is great for a commute because the levels and controls are simple -- you only have the ability to blast off and change directions, but the number of ways it's iterated as you fly past drones and dodge spikes is impressive.
I'm sorry for introducing you to Jetpack Joyride, because it's iPhone crack. This simple game relies on the rails principle: the screen constantly moves forward, as does the hero, Barry Steakfries, while a simple tap activates his jetpack. Your job is simply to give the jetpack the proper amount of juice as you pick up coins, grab crazy vehicles and wrack up achievements.
This game is the brainchild of hit-maker Halfbrick Studios, which also created Fruit Ninja, a game that sprung from iPhone to Xbox Kinect due to its popularity.
For another simple rails game, try Tiny Wings, made by Andreas Illiger, in which you control a little, pudgy bird whose wings are too small to fly. Thankfully, you can shoot up and down hills with lightning speed.
You only need one thumb-tap to make your bird gain momentum to soar to great heights. As a bonus, the style of this game is delightfully whimsical, and feels like the pages of a Dr. Seuss book.
Shape Shift may look like many other puzzle games you've played, but it has a unique angle. Swap shape blocks with any other matching block on the board to eliminate groups of four or more of the same color. This gets tricky once bombs are added into the game, which you must eliminate before time runs out. It's a time-convenient game you can play for 60 seconds or the whole commute.
Now for a puzzle game with a twist: Shibuya. This game, apparently inspired by the neon awnings in one section of Tokyo, has you match bricks of color to eliminate them. Furthermore, you get to assign the color to the blocks before they fall, based on a queue in the top corner of your screen.
It took a couple of tries to learn, but was very fun once I got into it. And if you're able to play with headphones, the soundtrack is wonderful.
If you're a fan of trying to take over the world, you need to download Strategery. It involves trying to take over a whole continent populated with monochrome countries, all waiting to be stomped by the Blue army.
The game takes thought and planning, but it only takes one tap to declare war against your neighbors, and you'll find yourself wanting to continue even after you've reached your destination. The game offers a range of difficulty settings as well, so even when you think you've mastered it, you'll have another level to tackle.
If strategy games tickle your fancy, you might want to try geoDefense, a tower defense game in which you'll prepare for an invading army of "creeps" by setting up weaponry along their route. And just when you think you're out of the woods, another, more difficult wave comes at you.
Tower defense games, in general, are great for commutes or long waits because they usually involve simple, drag-and-drop setup, but still have a high level of action. geoDefense was made by Critical Thought Games, which totes it as a "Thinking man's Action Tower Defense" -- and it definitely delivers.
If you want to combine a love of numbers with a love of visual puzzle games, Drop7 will be addictive. The game has been out for a couple of years; it was originally published by area/code, then was purchased by game giant Zynga.
The concept is simple: Drop any of the numbered circles on a grid, and create a row or column containing that number of circles to make it disappear. So, dropping a "5" circle on top of a column of four circles would eliminate that column. There is serious strategy involved though, as you'll soon learn -- making combos of disappearing numbers helps you wrack up the points and keep the board clear. I highly recommend playing in Hardcore mode for the most action, but any of the game's three play modes are just as fun.
If I learned anything from Game Dev Story, it's that building video games takes a lot of time and resources, yet all problems can be solved with a helping of Red Bull. Game Dev Story is a simulation of a game development studio, where you have to hire and fire talent, allocate resources, and pick which genres and consoles to develop. It's a complex, extremely addictive game, with a lot of customizable options that will keep you engrossed for a long commute.
It also has many references to real video game history, for those of us geeky enough to recall it. If not, don't worry -- app-makers Kairosoft seem to be cranking out a variety of clever, equally engrossing sim titles for you to wile away the hours.
The last game is actually a port from the world of Nintendo DS, but I feel like it is just as successful on the iPhone. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, made by Capcom, has you battling the forces of evil in a courtroom. You control Phoenix, a rookie attorney who, along with having to interrogate witnesses on the stand, has to simultaneously investigate the crimes and win the favor of every underdog in town. The game has five chapters and takes you on a pretty engrossing story, and requires you to actually do a bit mental work along the way.
Did I mention it was also funny? There is the added bonus of getting to make Phoenix yell "Objection!" all the time. This game is five bucks, but will keep you entertained if you stick with it.