Mobile Games – The 10 Most Innovative Titles of 2008

The most innovative mobile games are rarely the best-selling, and technical innovation often comes at the expense of great gameplay. Yet innovation is what drives gaming forward. So with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most innovative mobile games that were released in 2008, including iPhone, N-Gage, Java and iPod titles.

1. Reset Generation (Nokia)

Platform: N-Gage

Reset Generation scored a perfect 10 when reviewed on Pocket Gamer. The spin-off Facebook version was one aspect, but it was the wider Web 2.0 aspects around that which truly impressed, with players able to embed their profile in blogs and social networking profiles and view replays of any game played online via a widget.

2. Spore Origins (EA Mobile)

Platform: Java / iPhone

Sensibly opting against trying to cram the entire Spore PC game into mobile form, EA Mobile focused on the relatively simple cell stage of the game. The innovation came with the connectivity in the Java version, allowing players to customise their spore throughout the game, then upload it to EA’s server and fight asynchronous battles against those of other players – complete with a website tracking their stats.

3. Super Boom Boom 2: Space Adventure (Gamevil)

Platform: Java

Super Boom Boom 2 let players purchase virtual ‘G-Points’ which could then be spent on extra levels, items and mini-games. It’s not the only Gamevil game to use this feature in Korea, but in the west it’s a marker of what may be to come in 2009.

4. Rally Master Pro (Fishlabs)

Platform: Java

Rally Master Pro is probably the best looking mobile racing game yet. But its innovation was as much about connectivity and some of the distribution models behind it. For example, publisher Fishlabs seeded the game on various pirate websites, allowing people to download and install it for free in an effort to rapidly build a community of players. That went hand-in-hand with the way players paid to download extra tracks for the game, through a system of credits on the myFishlabs community.

5. Chess with Friends (Newtoy)

Platform: iPhone

Chess with Friends is an important game in showing what’s possible with iPhone (and, indeed, connected mobile games on any platform). Gameplay is entirely asynchronous, so you make your move and then wait for your opponent to make theirs at their leisure – which could take seconds, hours or days. But you can have several games going at once, ensuring there’s likely a move to play whenever you fire up the game.

6. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (THQ Wireless)

Platform: Java / N-Gage

The Force Unleashed makes it into this list for Universomo’s imaginative approach to the controls, based on tracing symbols on the keypad to perform attacks. Not all gamers warmed to the idea, but it’s praiseworthy for seeking a control mechanic that’s not a poor relation to console controls and which fits well with the game’s subject material. In case you’re wondering, yes, the game itself was really good, too.

7. TV Show King Online (Gameloft)

Platform: iPhone

The concept behind TV Show King Online isn’t innovative – it’s essentially PlayStation quiz franchise Buzz!. It’s the connected features that make this so interesting, with the ability to play real-time quizzes over the network, as well as uploading scores.

8. Scene It? (Namco Bandai)

Platform: Java

Here the innovation came in the weekly question packs that players could download to keep their interest up. By September, more than 26 million questions had been downloaded in this way – and since this is the US, the publisher is reaping the rewards of that in longer subscriptions. Namco Bandai launched four new puzzle categories for the game in September, to further freshen up the experience for players.

9. Tap Tap Revenge (Tapulous)

Platform: iPhone

What started as a free music game for jailbroken iPhones has now become the premier iPhone music game brand. The ability to ‘download’ songs from within the game – a clever technical workaround, since Apple doesn’t officially allow it – was one feature. Persuading major labels like EMI to make songs available for the game was another. Plus there’s multiplayer and community features being built around the core game.

10. UEFA Euro 2008 (EA Mobile)

Platform: Java

You could see EA’s licence to make a football game based on the Euro 2008 tournament as an obvious cash-in. Instead, they took the opportunity to enhance the gameplay, introducing skill bars used when players want to shoot, cross, tackle or perform skill moves. The idea was to test a control mechanic that would be more accessible than traditional fiddly button-pressing. It worked well, with some elements making it into the next FIFA game.

Free Mobile Phone Games Come to the IPhone

Ever since the advent of the personal computer, people have looked to them for entertainment just as much as for business use. This holds true to this day, and portable devices are no exceptions. When the work is done, here are a few iPhone games that will provide hours of fun and won’t cost you a cent.

Sol Free Solitaire (Smallware) – One of the ultimate time killers ever to come to computers, it’s only natural that it would come to the iPhone. Sol Free Solitaire contains five games in one: Klondike Deal 1, Klondike Deal 3, Baker’s Game, Demon and Spiderette. The perfect, age old way to pass a little or a lot of time.

Bejeweled (PopCap Games) – One of the most popular games ever created by PopCap Games, Bejeweled is a simple puzzle game that’s fun and highly addictive. Match three or more jewels of different colors and shapes by swapping two at a time to clear them from the board. Creating combos by matches falling into place creates special gems that can clear several around itself or clear all of one color from the board.

TapTap Revenge (Tapulous) – Rhythm games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero have become very popular lately. Many software companies look to create similar games to provide a variety of choices. TapTap Revenge is one such game. Catch the falling arrows synced to its own music by tapping the screen or shaking the iPhone from side to side. Also includes a two player mode to compete with your friends.

Duck Hunt (Nintendo) – A classic console game emulated for the iPhone. Tap the screen to fire up to three shots at the duck flying around (two ducks in later rounds) before they fly away. Ten ducks advances you to the next round, which start flying faster. A great game for coordination or a bit of nostalgia (stop laughing at me, dog!).

The Battle for Orion’s Belt (Cellufun) – A unique game out of the bunch, The Battle for Orion’s Belt is a top-down action game that pits your spaceship against others in an engaging story where you rise from the ranks and eventually command a squadron of your own. Upgradeable ships, customizable controls and unlocked trophies will have you coming back again and again to put your top score in the game’s community.

Of course, this list only scratches the surface of the available free mobile phone games for the iPhone. There are literally hundreds of games in every genre imaginable: sports, action, adventure, card games, board games, pet simulators and some which defy all categories. Quite a few of them won’t cost you a cent, but you should always be careful. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for. But these are few and far between. For every game that feels like it was thrown together in an afternoon, there’s another that has an unexpected amount of detail and work put into it. With enough time, you’re sure to find games that you’ll play over and over again.

Things You Need to Consider When Your Children Play Mobile Games

With the increase in entertainment facilities on mobile devices, including music, video and gaming, it is becoming more common for children to be given mobile devices, either permanently or for a short while to keep them occupied, and usage of these devices can often be unrestricted, unsupervised and unmonitored. With games in particular there are risks you need to consider in order that you can make a more informed decision regarding the online safety of your child.

When you go to the cinema or buy a movie from a shop there is often parental guidance ratings to help you make an informed choice however, whilst it is beginning to emerge, there is still very little found on computer based games and even less so on casual mobile games. With little parental guidance on offer for games you need to thoroughly check the content of an intended application so you can make your own assessment of its suitability, for your child, prior to allowing children to play.

Free casual games in particular, such as those available from mobile vendor application stores, which are often advertising supported should be treated cautiously as the included advertising is often either quite subtle or designed to attract the players attention which means a child could access services that were unexpected and potentially unsafe. Activating a click through service could be a simple action of clicking an icon or, on more recent mobile devices, just touching a specified area of the touch screen.

An increasing number of games, including those found on mobile phones, are being supported by phone dialling advertisements which, when activated, dial a destination number which, again, potentially puts your child into unexpected situations such as direct contact with unknown people.

In-game advertising is big business and helps support the developers and publishers of games – but the developers often have little say, or control, in the advertising materials which appear as a result of including the hooks for the advertisers code – this advertising material can include text phrases, images, sounds and videos and lead to web based links, hidden features, or other actions.The advertising doesn’t just appear at the start of the game either. Interstitial ads can appear between levels of a game whilst leader-boards and ranking tables at the end of a game may also include advertising potential.

To be safe you should check games carefully and seek any developer documentation in order that you can make an informed choice as to the suitability of an application for your child.