Four Simple Social iPhone Games: the Fun, the Overpriced and the Inane

There are a lot of simple, social apps available on the iPhone — games that are fun to play with friends, but may not be fun for all that long. Or maybe even not that fun, actually. Since these games typically cost money, buying them can be a tough call. Here’s a look at a few we’ve come across while perusing iPhone social platforms including OpenFeint, Plus+ and Scoreloop. They include: Drawbridge from Nucular Games, NBA Hotshot from FreverseHello Kitty Parachute Paradise from ZIO Interactive, and Hotwired from Kankado.

Drawbridge: This game certainly looks interesting enough, using an almost Little Big Planet art style consisting of simple graphics intended to look like cardboard cutouts. However, the game only has one objective, lower the drawbridge of your castle to let in allies and raise it to deny enemies. Each of the two character types are represented by either being unarmed or holding a spear respectively. In a Lemmings fashion, they all walk toward the end of the bridge and clear off the edge. Their only hope for survival, lies in the hands of the player letting them cross.

Controls, or the control (singular), rather, consist of touching the screen to lower the bridge and releasing to raise. For each ally that crosses into the castle keep, the stream of stick figures speeds up, forcing the player react quicker with each passing moment, and after three mistakes (letting an ally fall or an enemy in), the game is over.

Sadly, this is all there is to the game. One, infinite, never-ending level. Granted, the game is integrated with OpenFeint, so there are leaderboards of high score (score is based on how many allies you let in) systems so you can share with friends. Unfortunately, this isn’t nearly enough to make up for the listless game play, proving that the addition of social elements is not enough to salvage everything.  Frankly, it’s $0.99 cost was… upsetting.

NBA Hotshot: While medieval stick figures got a drawbridge slammed in the face, we had high hopes for the NBA licensed NBA Hotshot. The app is basically a digital version of the arcade game where players try to shoot X amount of basketballs into a hoop. Like Drawbridge, this game, too, only has one control mechanic, but whereas the former title only has one tap, Hotshot makes use of a flicking motion to pick up direction and strength, as well as basic physics to influence the path of the ball.

This simple mechanic creates a decent amount of depth that is actually fairly fun to play. Using just this flick, users can participate in Classic Play to shoot as many shots as possible within 40 seconds, with the hoop moving back after 20 seconds, and Three Strikes, where users shoot until they miss three times. Each shot made is worth one point, and two if the ball is flashing.

Unfortunately, the physics does feel a bit off, and it can be a bit hard to get the game to pick up your flick strength, but overall, NBA Hotshot was fun to play. In fact, the game comes with some nice social elements as well. Beyond its bluetooth enabled head-to-head mode, this application is socially empowered via plus+. This adds a decent amount of longevity through leaderboards and achievements. Couple this with the unlockable NBA licensed basketballs, and many players might find themselves playing this $0.99 app whenever they’re looking to kill a little time.

Hello Kitty Parachute Paradise: The third application on our list goes to that overly cute, Japanese kitty from Sanrio in Hello Kitty Parachute Paradise. This is another simple game, yet is easily the best looking out of the apps we’re looking at today. Visuals aside, this cute game has the players controlling virtually everything with the iPhone’s accelerometer. Players touch and drag a slingshot to send Ms. Kitty as high as she can go and tilt and turn the iPhone to collect apples and special items while she parachutes down.