Cheap Fun: Solomon’s Boneyard (iPhone)

What can $0.99 buy you? Disgusting amounts of fun if you have an iPhone. I haven’t discussed any games on the phone yet, but I figured that now is the best time to do so because I simply cannot stop raving about one game I picked up a couple months ago: Solomon’s Boneyard.

The premise is really simple: pick a wizard, stand in a cemetary, and kill as much as you possibly can. Take a game like Resident Evil 5 and strip it down to its survival mode and that’s exactly what you’ve got here. One concept, brilliantly executed and polished for disgusting replayability.

Each wizard in the game starts with his/her own set of specialized magic: fire, magic missle, lightning or frost, and each set of magic has a subset of skills that further allows you to cut down all the undead enemies that Solomon (literally) digs up for you. For example, Morth the Icebinder has a frost beam that can be upgraded to push enemies away from you or deal damage in a wider radius. Aliss the Witch shoots lightning from her fingertips that can be upgraded to stun enemies and link to adjacent baddies. The best part? Welding two spells together earns you the combined properties of both. If you weld magic missle (think of auto-targeting orbs) and lightning, you’ll end up with lightning orbs that stun and chain to enemies. Again, it’s a really simple concept by the sheer variety of spells and welding allow for a completely customizable experience. You may find that you can kill a 1,000 enemies with fire spells, 800 with the lightning spells, but then 1,600 when you weld the two together for giant fire-beam fun!

To add to the potential for destruction, you can also earn “perks”: unlockable rewards that you use to customize your character and give him/her greater advantage on the battlefield. Find that you don’t have enough health? Purchase a health power-up. Want to have more firepower? Just purchase the skill and equip it to your character. All of the perks are purchased by collecting gold within the cemetary, which means that the game encourages and rewards you with more options the more you play. And new perks are added whenever a free update to the game is available for download!

As a gaming system, the iPhone has massive potential for games (paricularly indie games if you read my entry about Gamercamp 2.0). The more I get myself into the mindset of a game designer, the more appealing the iPhone becomes. Just think about it: you don’t need to spend thousands of hours creating a story that spans 20+ hours of playtime, your limited by graphical capabilities, and by wanting your product to sell on the AppStore, you’ll probably want to keep the cost of the game to less than $4.99. This means that almost anyone with a little bit of time can develop a game for the iPhone and sell it without the need for a huge team, a massive production budget, tons of marketing and the like. Just look at the wild success of Angry Birds and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

On the other hand, if you want to see evidence of how crazy the iPhone (or iPad, I suppose :P) can be when it comes to game development, just have a glimpse at the website for the recently released and high acclaimed Infinity Blade, which rivals most console games in terms in terms of graphical quality and playability.

Having received a gift card for the iTunes store from a co-worker just yesterday,  you shouldn’t need to ask what I’m doing when I don’t answer my phone calls!

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