Gaming & Technology

Apple backs up its boasts with great touch-screen games

Apple's boast that the iPod Touch and its elder cousin, the iPhone, are the best hand-held gaming devices on the market today seemed foolhardy at first. Now, thousands of games later, the Apple App Store is brimming with tons of swipe-worthy video game purchases.

Here are some of our favorites:

Enigmo (Pangea Software, 99¢): One of the very first puzzle games for the iPhone is still one of the best. Use your fingertip to manipulate the flow of various liquids by moving around items (such as cups, drums and sponges) on the level and toying with their angles so the water, oil or lava reaches its designed target. An understanding of physics and speed helps because bonus points are awarded for fast completion. More than 50 of these Rube Goldberg-style contraptions are included, and gamers can download additional player-created levels for free.

Edge (Mobigame, $4.99): Mix Marble Madness and Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions, and you have Edge. Spare, geometric landscapes are dotted with floating gold cubes, which you have to collect by flipping a larger cube end-over-end across each level. Controls are simple and intuitive, but the game isn't overly simplistic. Soon you'll be balancing your cube on ledges and trying to make precisely timed movements to catch a sliding platform to your next destination. The fact that those precision moves are possible, combined with the stark and beautiful presentation, makes Edge a must-play.

Fieldrunners (Subatomic Studios, $4.99): Winner in two categories for the Independent Games Festival Mobile competition, Field runners belongs on every iPhone. Other tower defense-style games might be flashier or deeper, but none is as easy to pick up and play as this one. Gameplay spans three maps and features multiple tower types and enemies to destroy. Strategic placement of the different towers keeps you glued to the screen while you try to stop the "runners" from getting to the other side. Well-designed defenses give rewarding results as the gorgeous 2-D sprites journey along your paths of doom. It's quick and easy entertainment with perfect touch-screen controls.

Crayon Physics Deluxe (Hudson Soft, $4.99): The charms of the PC-size physics game are all intact for this port. The crude aesthetic still works perfectly for a physics-based puzzler in which you can draw just about anything to move a red ball into contact with a shiny yellow star. All that prevents this version of the awesome PC title from being more of a touch-screen champ is the imprecise controls; it's just slightly difficult to draw precise objects on the iPhone/iPod Touch screen if you have lumpy fingertips. I had to do a lot of panning and zooming (using the standard iPhone pinch controls) to draw the series of pivot points and small objects that made for my favorite puzzle solutions, but that's a small concession to have such smart physics gameplay in my pocket.