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Top Ten Games Missing from the App Store

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 by

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Apple’s App Store is home to many terrific games, most of which make terrific use of touch controls. It’s also home to many ports across many different genres, be they mainstream or indie. There are a lot of great games, however, that have yet to be ported that probably should.

I made a the original top ten list back in 2011. Two games from that list were later ported in Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective and Scribblenauts: Remix.

In my top ten list from 2012, three games made the cut in Final Fantasy IV, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, and Theatrhythm. Theatrhythm wasn’t even out when I made the call, but I’m glad it made it to the App Store, though Square-Enix definitely overcharged their mobile fans for the privilege.

Without further ado, I present to you the “Top Ten Games Missing from the App Store.”

#10 – Torchlight / Torchlight II
2012 Position: Unranked

Picture from Game Informer. Not their property, but credit where it's due and all.

Picture from Game Informer. Not their property, but credit where it’s due and all.

A couple of years ago, there was a game called Armed Heroes Online that created a bit of a fervor when it ripped off art assets from Torchlight and the good people over at Runic Games. After a few more stories hit, the game was taken down and marked yet another time that a no-name developer made the App Store a home for dubious cloning.

That’s not entirely important to the story, mind you, but it begs the question: Why isn’t Torchlight on iOS? Yes, the system lacks native buttons and demands touch controls. Yes, the control may end up being a bit wonky. But the market is clearly there and this is a very doable game.

There are plenty of hack-and-slash games in the App Store. None of them are particularly competent. This would change things.

#9 – Final Fantasy VII
2012 Position: Unranked

These cleaner models from the high-resolution fan patch would work for me.

These cleaner models from the high-resolution fan patch would work for me.

Final Fantasy VI is coming. You’ve surely seen the screenshots or lousy videos that Square Enix has put out thus far. It’s sure to start up a debate between purists who just wanted a straightforward version and newer gamers who would be scared of pixely sprites all pixelating up some pixelazation on their pretty Retina displays. That plus has anyone ever thought about how Sabin is going to input his blitz commands on a touch screen? That “Bum Rush” is surely going to get a whole lot harder.

However, Final Fantasy VII needs to come out. It deserves to come out. It’s time to come out. We all know why Cloud dressed up at the Honey Bee Inn. Just come out, already!

Final Fantasy VII is beloved by millions of players who either accepted it for what it was or had never played an RPG before and were amazed that you could do more than run or jump in a video game. Yeah, I’m kind of down on Final Fantasy VII as the most overrated game in the series, but that doesn’t mean it’s not great. It’s terrific and could do really well without all the annoyances that came with the original.

Think of all the improvements that would be made instantly in the transition. No load times. No disc swapping. Anti-aliasing. Maybe tone down the cursing, even.

Then, to really sell it, consider upgrading things that haven’t been upgraded, yet. Increase the polygon count for characters and monsters. New textures for backgrounds. High-definition backgrounds for all the pre-rendered stuff. Maybe even include some of the tricks you learned later, such as video playing on the background in games like Parasite Eve 2, or re-make cut scenes using newer models or real-time graphics.

You keep acting like you have to do a lot to impress those who played the game and loved it. You fear what happens when the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia has worn off or that tinkering with it would be like repainting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Well, stop. You’ve got no problem crapping all over the SNES ones. How about you start crapping all over the Playstation ones, now?

#8 – Trauma Center
2012 Position: #8

Amateur Surgeon is fine in a pinch, but I want something a little more refined.

Amateur Surgeon is fine in a pinch, but I want something a little more refined.

Out of all the games that Atlus could release on iOS, Trauma Center is the biggest no-brainer. Why it’s not already there is beyond me. The only thing I can think of, honestly, is that most players don’t use a stylus when playing on iPhone, which then takes away the sensation of making a scalpel incision. That, my friends, would be a truly horrific reason not to bring the goods when it comes to Dr. Stiles and Nurse Angela.

Trauma Center has all the goods and increased precision would just further immersion in an outstanding game. The iPhone is more than capable of handling both Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii ports. This would certainly sell.

How is that a bad thing, Atlus? It’s like you’re adverse to making money.

#7 – Game Dev Story 2
2012 Position: Unranked

Those Famitsu-style review scores. Those isometric sprites! I MUST have them!

Those Famitsu-style review scores. Those isometric sprites! I MUST have them!

Game Dev Story, the game that made people into Kairosoft fans was originally released on PC in 1997. It wouldn’t really come into its own until over a decade later when it landed on iPhones across the world in 2010. However, before that, Japanese gamers got to tinker around with its sequel back in 2001.

Game Dev Story 2 is likely more of the same, but the same was a the best game development simulation in the world. The same had with a quirky sense of humor and addictive gameplay that stole hour after hour of my time for days. The same was full of pop culture references and charming sprites that made the mundane feel fun.

It’s been years since we heard anything about the sequel being ported. In the meantime, Kairosoft has pumped out tons of simulations on Android and iOS. We keep buying them in hopes that you’ll get around to Game Dev Story.

Well, it’s time to pay the piper, Kairosoft.

#6 – Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies
2012 Position: Unranked

The hour-long cases aren't built for mobile, but that wouldn't stop me from buying.

The hour-long cases aren’t built for mobile, but that wouldn’t stop me from buying.

Last year, Capcom brought the Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD to the App Store. Having played two of the three (and owning the original app, which they promised to update and never did… the jerks), I passed on it.

However, the latest game in the series looks delicious in all its 3D cel-shaded glory. Imagine how much better it would look on iPhone with anti-aliasing and Retina Display. I mean, that text would be beautiful.

Sarcasm aside, there’s really no reason to keep this exclusive other than loyalty to Nintendo. The series isn’t popular enough to warrant an actual retail cart in Western markets, but it digital download makes this a whole new ball game. I don’t know about all of you, but I’m willing to pay a premium for Phoenix Wright. Your objections are overruled. Take that!

#5 – Skies of Arcadia
2012 Position: Unranked

It'll need a fresh coat of paint, but this cult classic could use a new audience.

Skies of Arcadia will definitely need a fresh coat of paint, but so did Jet Set Radio.

I originally was going to go with Dragon Quest or the Tales series here. Then I found out that Dragon Quest VIII and Tales of Hearts R were both available in the Japanese App Store. So, while I’d love both games, there’s a good chance they’ll make the transition at some point anyhow.

With Jet Set Radio and Crazy Taxi (not to mention Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Soulcalibur) already available worldwide, I can’t see any reason not to port the best RPG on Sega Dreamcast over to the iPhone.

Originally released near the end of the Dreamcast’s all-too-short life span in November of 2000, Skies of Arcadia seemed far different from everything else at the time. Their was no angst-ridden anti-hero. Random combat was frustratingly high. Success required paying attention to the ridiculous VMU unit. Yet, it was a treat for pretty much anybody who played the game.

Through the wonders of GameCenter, I’d imagine Sega could even bring back “Pinta Quest,” the VMU-based minigame that unlocked items in the main game, through a separate app. No reason not to get quirky here.

Why let Square Enix pick up all the RPG ports, Sega? Let’s get Vyse back in the Skies.

#4 – Harvest Moon
2012 Position: #6

No doubt, controls will need to be simplified. But something's better than nothing, Natsume.

The controls will need to be simplified, but something’s better than nothing, Natsume.

I know it’s not the manliest thing to say in the world, but I simply adore the Harvest Moon series. From the dating and farming simulation to the cast of cute animals, I can’t help but feel like a kid again as I try to make the pretty girl like me while managing my time and chores.

Harvest Moon is the perfect game on the go. It, like the Sims, often can steal hours away from a person. Progress is made. You chant to yourself “just one more day” so many times that you start to feel like the reluctant smoker who simply can’t quit. They’re selling something cool on TV. You’re stuck inside because of a hurricane. You’re really close to leveling up your watering can. You finally get to own a sheep. Her heart changed colors. You’re going to present a Blue Feather. You’ve got a kid on the way. The Harvest Goddess has won. Each and every hook has kept you playing. It’s time for work, and you haven’t slept.

Yes, Natsume, I want you to take away my sleep. I beg you, please make 2014 the year I finally lose sleep to Harvest Moon on iPhone.

#3 – Bookworm Adventures / Bookworm Adventures 2
2012 Position: #3

Mirthful? Yeah, I know what that means. You're... full... of mirth...

Mirthful? Of course I know what that means. You’re, uh… full… of mirth.

I’m not going to say much of anything on this. PopCap and Electronic Arts should have already made this game happen. While the letter box would likely be too small on an iPhone (debatable), it’d fit right at home on the iPad and iPad mini’s larger real estate. The fact that Bookworm Adventures is not in the App Store makes you wonder just what PopCap has against the iPad.

I know there’s already a PopCap word battler in the App Store. Bookworm Heroes was a decent attempt at getting more cash out of the people while co-opting the Writer Rumble formula. As far as I know, it failed miserably.

Give us the purest form of the gameplay. Bookworm Adventures and its literal sense of knowledge is power should already be on iPad and iPhone.

Using words as weapons is kind of all that a nerd like me can really do.

#2 – Elite Beat Agents / Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan
2012 Position: #5

Last week, I finally bought a Nintendo 3DS. While it was primarily purchased to get newer games like Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon into my grubby mitts, it also allowed me to reunite with games that I hadn’t played since my DS Phat fell to its untimely death four years ago.

Elite Beat Agents was the first thing that I played. Instantly, I fell back into old habits. For instance, and I know I can’t be the only one who does this, I wave my stylus back and forth with the Agents as they wave their arms between rhythm and story sections. I do it almost involuntarily because the game, even with its piss-poor song selection and questionable covers, is nothing short of pure joy.

Then there’s the elephant in the room of the superior Japanese games in Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and Moero! Nekketsu Rhythm Damashii: Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2. There aren’t a whole lot of Nintendo DS games worth importing for people who can’t read Japanese, but the Ouendan games most certainly were.

I am guessing Nintendo owns both the Elite Beat Agents and the Ouendan characters, but the gameplay itself is purely the work of iNiS Corporation. Their two Square-Enix published games, Symphonica and Demon’s Score, didn’t exactly light the world on fire.  That said, they know their way around the rhythm world.

The formula is set. Do more of the same, create new characters, throw in some silly stories, and give the people (mainly me) what they want.

#1 – Peggle 2
2012 Position: Unranked

Just looking at this screen, you can hear "Ode to Joy", can't you?

Just looking at this screen, you can hear “Ode to Joy”, can’t you?

As far as I know, Peggle 2 hasn’t been announced for iOS, yet. However, it’s a foregone conclusion that Peggle 2 will end up on mobile devices in some capacity as soon as their Xbox One exclusivity period is up. Money is being left on the table, and that’s not something Electronic Arts is really known to do.

PopCap’s follow-up to the game that made pretty much everyone fall in love with PopCap should be a good fit on iPhone and iPad. I honestly haven’t looked up reviews for Peggle 2, not having an Xbox One, but I can’t imagine it deviates far from the original’s unique blend of pachinko and happiness. Give me whimsical characters, pegs to gle the heck out of, and Ode to Joy every time I clear a stage, and you’ve already got my money.

Off the List this Year

You can call these honorable mentions if you want, but I call them healthy scratches that just didn’t make the cut this year.

Meteos, the #7 game on both previous lists, is a terrific game. It would work terribly well on iPhone. However, between having a virtual clone in Mini Meteors and an absolute glut of terrific match-3 games, it’s simply not that necessary anymore. I’d still love to see it, but how would it ever compete with Candy Crush Saga? We’ve come too far.

Maniac Mansion, the #8 game on the previous list, and its sequel Day of the Tentacle were terrific games at the time. However, Telltale Games is kind of taking over the adventure genre with The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. Plus, with LucasArts tanking, the chances of this ever happening are slim to nil.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, the #10 game in 2012, is a hell of a game. I just don’t have time for tactical RPGs. Really, who does? Also, in retrospect, if I’m going to go with any tactical RPG, some form of Disgaea may need to make the cut over FFTA.

About the Author

Fade to Slack is a founding member of Delta Attack, an American expatriate in South Korea, and a true believer in the legitimacy of mobile gaming. Keep up with him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Fade2Slack so he can justify having a Twitter account.

Fade to Slack has written 339 posts on Delta Attack
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  • http://deltaattack.com/ Mark A. Brooks

    I’ve only scratched the surface of it, but Skulls of the Shogun seems like a tight TRPG. It feels like Disgaea adapted for touchscreen.