The best games on the iPhone take advantage of the touchscreen and other advanced functions. However, platformers—where you jump across caverns and fight baddies on a horizontal plane—are sometimes not a good fit because you have to use a virtual joystick to move the game character.
9: The Mobile Game—spun off from the recent animated movie of the same name—does not break this mold. Awkward controls, overly simplistic graphics, and a tie-in to a movie that never really captured much attention make this $4 seem like a cheap marketing ploy, even if there are suspenseful moments. (The free 9: The Mobile Game Lite lets you try out the game with fewer levels and bosses to see if it’s to your liking.)
The movie tie-in to 9 is a bit lame: you control one sword-wielding character, fight spiders and other creepies, and avoid getting squashed like a bug. The main problem is that, as an action platformer where timing is everything, the controls are just not precise enough. And, while the game has cool background graphics that look like they might have come from the animated film, the foreground graphics look like they were created quickly.
There are a few moments in the game where you have to jump and attack quickly, and it makes for some harried predicaments. Most of the game, though, comes off as rather dull.
[John Brandon is a 20-year veteran Mac user who used to run an all-Mac graphics department.]