Pretty much everyone has been buzzing about "Pacific Rim" this month. The movie has been doing quite well from what I understand (plus it's freaking awesome), but like most summer blockbusters that popularity also equates to some tie-in games across multiple platforms. While I found the Xbox Live Arcade game to be pretty enjoyable, the iOS iterations - yes, there's more than the one - were both extremely disappointing. However all hope is not lost. While the Pacific Rim iOS title may have been a colossal (*rimshot*) letdown, there are still a fair number of great games on the platform featuring giant robots and giant monsters that can be quite a bit of fun. GiganderX (Prodigy Co. Ltd, $0.99)
I've sampled a fair number of "giant robot" games across multiple platforms but none have managed to capture the oversized and plodding nature of these massive engines of destruction quite like Robot Alchemic Drive or Remote Control Dandy. And no other iOS games have managed to capture a similar feel of either title better than GiganderX. It's fairly simplistic - there's an extremely basic combo system, one special attack, and only a handful of levels - but it does an admirable job of making you feel like you're piloting a slow, lumbering, oversized toy as it combats other slow, lumbering, oversized toys.
Giant Metal Robot (Poppy, $0.99)
Giant Metal Robot is a bit unorthodox, but that's a big part of why I like it. You have to tilt your device to steer the young girl (and later her dog, too) along a rooftop, while swiping down to make the robot smash its fists. Flatten the little girl or her companion and it counts as a loss. Fail to smash all the skeletons that are chasing them around before time runs out and it's a loss. Accidentally launch the little girl off the roof after smashing something and you lose. It's deceptively tough, and yet it's easy enough to play that it should keep you entertained for a while.
As a long time fan of giant monster movies, I can't not find the idea of raising and training my own to be both awesome and oddly charming. And that's before taking the adorable and weird characters, goofy skills, and ridiculous hats into consideration. It's an odd hybrid of virtual pet and simple action game, but it's also a neat distraction for any kaiju fan.
RoboCat Rampage (Luke Turvey, $1.99)
Some robots are more interested in preserving nature than in protecting humanity; and that's exactly what RoboCat Rampage is about. You move the enormous mechanized feline around each stage attempting to squish anything that looks industrial while also trying to avoid stepping on anything green (i.e. trees, etc). The more smoke-belching factories and vehicles you smash before reaching the end of the level, the higher your score and the happier the little woodland creatures will be.
Giant robots aren't a genre; they're a subject. So while The War for Eustrath may not seem quite as "typical" as the other games on this list, but it's definitely relevant and possibly one of the best. The characters are quirky in an eye-rolling kind of way, but it's a very competent strategy game. One that features some pretty cool-looking mechs. Cool-looking mechs that fight each other. It's like Xenogears crossed with Fire Emblem, and I can't think of a single thing about that description that isn't awesome.
OFFWORLD (6waves Lolapps, FREE)
I wasn't expecting to enjoy OFFWORLD's Rock-Paper-Scissors style combat as much as I did, honestly. But enjoy it I did, and I think it adds a fair bit of strategy to what could have otherwise been a very basic game. Not only is there plenty of mental back-and-forth as you try to predict your opponent's next move, there are also lots of customization options for various weapons and attachments. Plus it looks and animates gorgeously.
I happened upon Monster Jam Jam accidentally, but I have to admit I was rather impressed by its no-frills simplicity. Each match is random, and the only difference between monsters is their appearance, so all you have to worry about is out-thinking your opponent (AI or otherwise). It uses a fairly simple combat system wherein each combatant picks an action (attack, power up, heal, defend) and attempts to guess what the other side is planning. No scores, no leaderboards, no upgrades or unlockables; just a bunch of quick pick-up-and-play kaiju action.
Roar Rampage (FDG Entertainment, $0.99)
What is it most people think of when they think about giant monsters? Property damage. And property damage is you'll get when you start playing Roar Rampage. The giant boxing glove-toting lizard moves along automatically, so all you have to worry about is flinging his fist all over the place in order to bust through buildings and knock helicopters out of the air. It's simple, destructive fun.
Destroy Gunners ZZ is a freemium/social sequel of sorts to the original Destroy Gunners; the latter of which has been one of my most preferred mech combat games to date. I decided to list the sequel over the original simply because it looks a little better, has a little more variety, and has had a few control refinements but the first game is also totally worth a look. Especially for any early series Armored Core fans hoping to find a comparable experience on iOS.
Robot Rampage (Origin8, FREE)
Just like people, not all robots are friendly. In fact, the robot headlining Robot Rampage is a total jerk. All it does is stomp around smashing everything in sight, while occasionally blasting stuff with lasers. Of course when you get to control the giant robo-jerk as it smashes up buildings and fries all military resistance with heat beams it's actually pretty cool.
Not all vicious giant monsters walk around on two legs. In fact, some of them don't have any legs at all! And while watching a giant radioactive shellfish level a city can be pretty intimidating it can be just as bad when dealing with a subterranean horror you'll never see coming. Being said subterranean horror, rather than running from it for dear life, is a lot cooler. Especially when you can evolve new traits between levels.
Super Monsters Ate My Condo! ([adult swim], FREE)
Super Monsters Ate My Condo! is admittedly a bit of a stretch, but it features plenty of giant monsters so I figure it has a place on the list. Plus it's a lot of fun. The odd physics-based match-3 puzzles coupled with the quirky kaiju waiting to gobble up each high rise floor are a great match. It's the kind of game that could very easily make an hour disappear if you give it half the chance.