Notable Mobiles: iPhone’s Best Games of the Week

A bunch of big titles were released in the iTunes App Store over the last few days, and some of them were pretty great. Some of them are not so great (looking at you, Devil May Cry), but that’s why you’re here — because we’ve slogged through the App Store’s crap to figure out which games are diamonds and which are just polished turds.

NBA Jam

EA Mobile really has a good thing going lately — first it published a really great port of Dead Space for iOS, and now it’s back with a spectacular mobile rendition of the updated NBA Jam that was released late last year. NBA Jam looks great and plays even better on your iPhone, with simple virtual buttons or gesture controls that are highly responsive and easy to use. Just about anybody can pick up NBA Jam and be pretty good at it, which is nice because there are a lot of games to play. It’s a highly rewarding game, too, packed full of unlockables and challenges, including new characters. The experience isn’t really that far off from the console version, really, with a lot of the same perks included. The only downfall — no multiplayer! It hurts, but maybe EA Mobile will come around with an online mode if enough people buy; and you definitely should. Oh, and here’s our review.

It goes for $4.99.

League of Evil

Super Meat Boy is the comparison most people draw to League of Evil, and it’s probably a pretty apt one. Here you’ve got some 8-bit platforming action of the timed, extremely difficult variety. Each level has you using wall jumps and platforming skills to reach a scientist at the far end, whose head you need to punch off. League is the official iPhone port of the Flash game by Ravenous Games, and the controls on the iOS version seem even more responsive and useful than playing the game on the web. League has a character cross-over update on the way to link it with Halfbot’s The Blocks Cometh, after one of League’s characters was used in a iTunes ripoff version of Halfbot’s game. It includes a whole lot of short, addictive levels, and is filled with the frustrating kind of difficulty that will try your skills and patience — but in a good way.

It goes for $0.99

Karoshi

This was a week filled with great Flash games ported to iOS, I guess. Karoshi is a slightly altered version of Karoshi Suicide Salaryman and Karoshi 2.0, a puzzle-platformer in which the goal is to find a way to kill yourself. There are 50 of these puzzles in which suicide is the ultimate goal, but they get fairly challenging and require some out-of-the-box thinking. Sometimes restarting the puzzle is the only way to solve it. Sometimes you need to walk off one side of the screen so that you’ll appear on the other. Sometimes you need to jump around and find hidden blocks Super Mario Bros.-style. But the ultimate goal is always to find something hazardous to throw your body on to save your character from another day of listening to his boss and working at his awful office job. Karoshi has a lot of personality and can be kind of hilarious, as well as challenging. The iPhone port is solid, with good controls and lots to do.

It goes for $0.99.

Cardboard Castle

With a great cardboard art style, Cardboard Castle find some smart ways to be a fresh point-and-click adventure. You’re helping a knight cross from one end of the screen to the other, but obstructions like pits and enemies lie in his path. To dispatch them, you need to look around the screen for tools and objects to interact with — drag the sun behind the background and the scene changes from day to night. That makes the enemy fall asleep, releasing his grip on the ax, which you can use to cut down a nearby tree, the lumber from which can be used to build a bridge to the end of the level. Creative, step-by-step thinking is required to push through all of Cardboard Castle’s levels, and it’s art style is as a lot of fun, as well. The game’s not extremely long, which is a bit of a letdown, but at this price, that’s not such a big deal.

It goes for $0.99.

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