The iPhone AppStore is full of lots and lots of lovely games you can waste a lot of time on. In the sea of indistinguishable casual games and time killers, every now and then comes along a game with the vision and courage to try something completely different. Most times this works out great but quite often you end up with a game failing to deliver on all its promises. Sadly I’ve experienced my fair share of such disappointments on the AppStore. I’ve put together a list of the games that I felt could have been so much more but feel far short of the mark.
The Lost Shield
I am a huge fan of Game Stew’s various iPhone AppStore offerings. They’ve put out some truly brilliant RPG-hybrids over the years and have been a mainstay of the AppStore from the early days. Their latest release, The Lost Shield, is sadly one of the worst games I’ve ever come across despite having a rather solid concept. It combines the classic game of breakout with what should be a solid RPG journey with interesting and varied power-ups. Instead you get a lacklustre arrangement of levels, underwhelming power-ups and barely any variety to the gameplay. Their track record for successfully fusing genres makes it all the more frustrating that The Lost Shield wound up being a heap of garbage.
How Bad Is It? – There are worse apps to waste iPhone memory with
Oh what could have been. I love card games, I love rogue-likes and I love designing my own dungeons. Dungeon Marauders theoretically is all three of those things but in practice it’s a barely functional card placement simulator designed using MS Paint for Windows 98. A limited selection of cards, no actual design options and absurdly repetitive gameplay made what should’ve been a geeky ride a very tame merry-go-round. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long for someone to actually get things right, released in 2016 Guild of Dungeoneering combines all these gameplay elements flawlessly and is the perfect example of a causal game with a long-term goal.
How Bad Is It? – Avoid eye contact at all costs
The DePixelator shouldn’t necessarily be on this list but a lack of support, and the fact that it no longer exists earns it a spot. A quirky concept that played decently well the DePixelator wasn’t without its failings. Tasked with stopping an evil supercomputer from pixelating photos you, brave player, had to fight off… washing machines? rolls of duct tape? Wait a minute… Confusing artistic decisions aside I enjoyed the gameplay a fair bit though the overall package was bland and lacked real depth. The necessity of buying (not via IAP thankfully) power-ups added undue frustration as well. Fast forward to a lovely puzzle game called Paint It Back and I got the art adventure and depth that I had yearned for on the iPhone ever since discovering DePixelator.
How Bad Is It? – Mildly annoying rash
Right off the bat I just want to say that Elemantalist was not a bad game. In fact, Elementalist was a good game but the problem is that Elemantalist could have, and should have, been one of the best games ever made for the iPhone. When it released in January 2014 it was the only game of its kind on the AppStore. Fast forward to January 2017, there are no games of the sort left following the untimely demise of Elementalist. The game put you in the shoes of a sorcerer, you fought battles by casting offensive spells and defensive spells both of which worked by tracing the right symbol to cast your spell.
It was a fun little game that sadly offered no variation apart from spell shapes. It is one of the most original ideas I have seen in over two decades of gaming and it’s a real pity that they didn’t flesh it out. Elemenatlist had all the ingredients to be a stellar hit – A fresh idea, unique gameplay, cute characters, scope for multiplayer, a vast variety of updates… Sadly the developers didn’t seem very interested in actually working on the game and it eventually fell into obscurity and vanished from the iPhone AppStore. Of all the ‘What ifs’ this is the one that hurts the most.
How Bad Is It? – Like being left at the altar
Ah, the game that inspired this list. I’m not sure what on earth is going on here. This game has an excellent concept, it should be the perfect casual multiplayer game. The sort that takes the world of iPhone gaming by storm. Set in the Wild West the game has you face off against another player in a High Noon duel of sorts. You’re shown a set of 9 numbers ranging from 1-10 and either count upwards or downwards based on the prompt. Whoever knocks off their numbers first wins the round, winning 2 rounds wins you the game. Sadly the game doesn’t work at all.
You aren’t ever actually matched against another player, only AI. The AI result of the match is predetermined and isn’t even faked convincingly. You either lose before you even see your numbers or you’re given all the time in the world to win the round. So much potential flushed down the toilet. I did a bit of digging and the developer seems rather shady. This is one of those rare times I find myself hoping someone steals the concept because it’d be a shame to see it go to waste.
How Bad Is It? – It’d be less painful to shoot yourself in the foot
That’s our list! Given the hit-or-miss nature of the iPhone AppStore we’re sure you’ve experienced your fair share of disappointments and could-have-beens. We’d love to hear which games you wish had worked out a lot better on the iPhone in the comments below.