The Boing Boing 20, pt. 2: the best indie and iPhone games of 2009


34 Responses to “The Boing Boing 20, pt. 2: the best indie and iPhone games of 2009”

  1. mdh says:

    Imagine having a phone where you can only call numbers the phone company “approves” of.

    Imagine a car company covering your after market supercharger under warranty.

  2. TheCrawNotTheCraw says:

    Well, mdh, if the “after market supercharger” could make the iPhone explode, I certainly wouldn’t expect Apple to cover it under warranty. Seriously, your counter-example is dumb, to use a gentle word.

    Feel free to name a single car manufacturer whose warranty covers a third party after-market accessory which damaged the car. You can’t, because your Straw Man example caught fire. But if you want to be a Fan Boi, go right ahead.

  3. Doctor Popular says:

    Happy to see Captain Forever/Successor listed. That’s been one of my favorite casual games of the year.
    Great list!

  4. Adam Stanhope says:

    My favorite iPhone games:

    * Ragdoll Blaster
    * Scramble
    * Stuck Genie
    * The Wars
    * geoDefense
    * lilt line
    * Fieldrunners
    * WordFu

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well there is AppStore, there is also Cydia.
    Get the best of the two world or go somewhere else.
    You think it’s a monopoly? Well no one forces you to use an iPhone and buy from the AppStore.
    It’s their business, their decision and you are free to give up your free will to Apple.

    Also, this discussion is off-topic.

  6. arikol says:

    Ok, i try to stay out of the anti apple brigades way, but some of these comments are just a teensy bit.. stupid.

    Fisher-price OS
    Unix (even a freeBSD based variant) is suddenly FisherPrice?

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s actually very flexible. I can do quite a few things on my Mac that I can’t do on my PC. Shellscripts spring to mind (and don’t even try mentioning .bat files, no fledxibility).

    Ok, you may have panicked when you saw a different graphical UI, using different concepts and different ways to reach the same goal. If you code then you might have panicked when you saw the excellent free coding and UI design environment that you got (better than most paid environments on other platforms)

    I use Linux (admittedly mostly Ubuntu as I don’t really need the interesting customizations from some of the other distros and certainly can’t be bothered with anything esoteric), I use Windows (mostly XP, but a little 7. I stay away from Vista, was a techie when that came out and the shellshock is just fading now).
    All these systems have their flaws and strengths, but I can promise that I’m most productive on the Mac. It just works very nicely. That comes from their annoying habit of making the hardware and software.
    On the Windows box I spend a lot more time on optimizations, maintenance and general frustration, but it can run more games. I really like the Linux OSS philosophy but in practice I’ve spent way too much time compiling drivers from source and trying to figure why something simple is complicated. When you get linux (and all drivers) up and running it works pretty decently, but it can just be too complex to get it to work.
    So, instead of mucking about with all that I mostly use my Mac. Money well spent. Maybe not, but I have a bunch of time freed from maintenance duties which I can spend on earning money to pay for the computer ;)

    Three family members and a few friends have switched to Mac. This means that when we meet, we actually chill and talk in the living room, instead of the computer room (where I was often fixing something). Much nicer.

    • Kimmo says:

      If I knew what to do with a command line (it’s been a long time since DOS) I’d prolly love MacOS.

      But I prefer a useful GUI. Sure, M$ stuff is poorly-designed under the hood, but at least I can make things happen with it, in a choice of several ways, and the apps that run on it tend to offer a number of useful configuration options…

      Yes, Fisher-Price – at least as far as non-ubergeek users go. The existence of a one-button mouse in this century should tell you something… I spent three weeks trying to figure out how to perform the most basic operations on a Mac, and was frustrated at every turn because I didn’t just want to hit the big shiny one-touch button; I wanted some actual control without resorting to a damn command line.

      It’s like a choice between pre-school and a post-doctoral degree on Macs, as far as I can tell.

      And while PC users can (or know someone who can) build machines on the cheap from swap meets and footpaths, the old big-endian Mac gear is relatively useless due to its obscurity.

      Sure, you can make a whole bunch of arguments in favour of Macs, and I acknowledge them, but aside from the gorgeous packaging, the advantages of Mac stuff don’t speak to me. I prefer the advantages of a relatively huge user-base along with all the attendant apps, parts and widespread expertise, and yum-cha knockoff compatibility versus exclusive proprietariness.

      Call that a teensy bit stupid if you like, but since I did qualify my usage of the term ‘better’ in the first place, here’s a mirror.


      So, how about those awesome little games, eh?

      ; )

  7. arikol says:

    About the iPhone being a so-so phone…. well, yeah.
    It’s only an ok-ish phone, but just so darn nice as a general handheld device that you forgive its other shortcomings.

  8. kattw says:


    Sadly Apple has made it very clear since, well, forever, that you do not so much own their products as you pay them a certain amount of money, and they give you permission to use an Apple product under certain very restrictive conditions. The iPhone is just more of the same.

    Mdh also makes a reasonable point, though. It’s the same as any video game console (since the Atari, anyways): only vetted applications are allowed on. Of course, most companies don’t seem to censor nearly as badly as Apple does, and simply make sure the program won’t crash their hardware…

    • Anonymous says:

      insane comment. apple opens the platform up to devs, provides a storefront that brings their bedroom developed apps to millions and brings into a place a method of them being paid for their apps and they get accused of the iphone being locked down…….

  9. iamcantaloupe says:

    Wow, the look of Captain Successor just blows my mind, I can’t wait to wrap my head around the free version.

    Also Drop7 will be getting tons of play time for me, or rather the Flash version called Chain Factor, which was referenced but not linked:

  10. Anonymous says:

    Rolando is decidedly not creative or innovative. It is a straight up ripoff of Sony’s LocoRoco and the game’s “author” should be ashamed. It felt “blindingly polished” because Sony had already made it once!

    Maybe for an encore Hand Circus could make a tactical rhythm-based 2D realtime tactics game. They can call it Smata-Smon. Im sure it will be a big hit. Oooh, and then maybe a futuristic hovercar based racing game, they can call it Smipeout.

    • Anonymous says:

      It wasn’t intended as a rip, that’s for sure. I know the folks behind the game and in terms of aesthetic and gameplay I know that it wasn’t their intention.

      Whatever you want to call it, they did a damn good job.

  11. salsaman says:

    “Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor” sounds very cool! I purchased it on my phone, though, and it was taking a while to download. Using iTunes instead, it’s clear why it was taking a while– it’s 56.6MB..:o That sounds really big for an iPhone game… but it’s on the way.

    BTW it’s a shame that EDGE is not currently available in the store– that’s the most amazing game I’ve played in a long time.

  12. SamSam says:

    Can we stop the OS wars here please?

    Anyway, the Machinarium game looks great. I’ve played through the demo, and I thinking about getting the full version.

    The iPhone games also look good, pity I can’t play them. I hope someone ports them to Android soon — lack of great games is one of the ‘droid app stores major weaknesses. (Though I was hoping Rob would find one or more good ones to post here).


      The full version of Machinarium was just so awesome, I’d definitely recommend it. My only advice is that, whatever you do, don’t cheat by watching the walkthroughs on YouTube, because the solutions to every single puzzle in the game, even the tricky ones, are so delightful that you’ll feel like you missed out on an interesting experience. Take your time with the game.

  13. SamSam says:

    Rob? I mean Brandon. Apologies!

  14. When you say PC, you actually mean Windows, right? I’d welcome some info on price / opensourceness.


  15. franko says:

    i freely admit to using and loving apple products ever since the apple II, but man… the anti-apple wingnuts are just really too much. seriously – i use their products and put up with some of their questionable decisions because in the end, the products and the experience itself outweigh all else. i’m not a blind, drooling “fan boi”, and i certainly don’t feel like i’m under some jackbooted, draconian oppression. i just like to get stuff done in a pleasant to use environment that just works for me. sheesh.

  16. Kimmo says:

    That you can download Wiki onto an iPhone almost made me want one… pity about the fact it doesn’t always work so well as a phone.

    And despite the otherwise sexy hardware, I really don’t want much to do with Apple… their Fisher-Price computer OS leaves me cold, as does their whole ‘no user-serviceable parts inside’ high wank-value ethos.

    I’ll stick with Lego-like PCs and eminently hackable Motorolas, thanks… until something genuinely better (more useable, repairable, moddable) reaches my notice.

    • doggo says:

      “Fisher-Price computer OS”? Really? “More usable, blah blah, blah blah”? Uh. Huh. In the Linux community we call this FUD.

      So what you’re saying is, you’re a masochist. Or that you’ve never actually used a Mac. The room I’m sitting in right now has computers running WinXP Pro, RHEL 5, and Snow Leopard. Guess which OS is running the browser I’m using to post this reply?

  17. guernican says:

    I’d also just like to namecheck Demon’s Souls (sic), a JRPG by From Software.

    PS3 exclusive, only got an Asian and US release, and bloody brilliant. If you’re in Europe, I highly recommend trying to get your hands on a Korean import copy. It’s in English and the online players are much more polite than their American counterparts.

  18. Colin.Drake says:

    Canabalt is one of my all time favorite games. This is because it is essentially an infinite random “building” generator. I also love the retro graphics!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Don’t get me wrong – Machinarium was breathtakingly beautiful.

    HOWEVER: It was too short! Also, part of the game required me to play a boring version of Space Invaders for five minutes. If the game only had a bit more meat to it, I would have been 100% happy!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Great article. Windosil was one of my top gaming experiences of the year, but that has been such a good year for indie and for experimental games that mix old, often retro-style familiarity with something with novel and often abstract or surreal ideas.
    Definitely nice to see new venues like the app store + steam, XBLA, etc for developers to make some money for a change off of these labors of love. Hopefully this will encourage and continue to polish the talents of these guys.
    Very exciting to try some of these others now, especially Secret of Bryce Manor and Machinarium!

    Other Highlights for me this year – Osmos, And Yet it Moves (was that last year?), Tag, Zenbound, and Dig it Expediations. The Point and Click comeback has been for the most part brilliant as well.

  21. maxoid says:

    dugg for Captain Forever

    wait, this is boingboing? my bad, i saw the inane platform-war comments and just naturally assumed…

    (the world is a pretty neat place when you give up having to always be right, by the way)

    anyone played captain successor? is it as good as it looks?

  22. Anonymous says:

    Yay Farbs! I can’t wait to see what he makes next!

  23. TheCrawNotTheCraw says:

    Personally, I don’t consider the AppStore to be a marketplace; it is a monopoly. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble.

    1. Apple alone decides whether your App will be placed on the AppStore.
    2. You can’t download or buy iPhone Apps from anywhere *but* the AppStore.
    3. If Apple decides not to list your App, you have no recourse. Too bad, so sad. Guess all the time and money you spent developing your App is wasted. Doesn’t even matter if you took pains to develop the App with Apple’s feedback; just ask Google, which did that, and then had their App rejected.
    4. Apple practices censorship. It doesn’t matter if you are an adult. If Apple disapproves of your song lyrics or other content, you don’t get approved; just ask Trent Reznor.

    If Microsoft did this, there would be howls of protest, not that I am defending Microsoft’s other egregious practices. But they *don’t* control, or try to control, which programs you can put on your PC (DRM excepted, and Apple has that, too).

    When will someone have the “stones” to sue Apple over this travesty?

    Imagine having a phone where you can only call numbers the phone company “approves” of.

    • Anonymous says:

      A bit like a normal shop then.

    • EvilSpirit says:

      “If Microsoft did this, there would be howls of protest…”

      Microsoft *does* do this (except for the censorship part, thanks to the ESRB). It’s called Xbox Live Arcade.

      Every other major game console manufacturer does basically the same thing.

      There are fringe grumbles of protest.

    • EvilSpirit says:

      Oh, and before anybody points out that you can buy games at retail as well as through Live Arcade (or the equivalent services on PlayStation or Wii), I’ll note that the console manufacturer gets their cut, approves what does and doesn’t go to print, and such at retail as well.

    • mdh says:

      Yes, we all know this.

      Do you understand that many of us simply do not mind buying things that work the way they say they will? (and that this fact is not even slightly related to german trains running on time).

      Go forth, buy your other gadget, and shut up about it already.

      • Conexion says:

        Works? Do you know the number of times my various iPods over the years have crashed or died? My PC crashes far less than my iPods have.

  24. Doctor Popular says:

    maxoid, I shelled out $20 for Successor and was pleased. It’s filled two weekends of my life. Well worth $10 a weekend so far… Can’t wait till multiplayer is added.

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