Yet some titles have left me thinking that there's something in this iPhone gaming lark. I'm prepared to stand corrected, but so far Freeverse Inc.'s Moto Chaser seems to be the best racing game on the phone, sacrificing scenic beauty for a decent lick of speed, and concentrating on the simple pleasures of getting from point A to point B within a time limit with a spot of traffic avoidance and Road Rash-style violence on the side. The difficulty curve isn't perfect, but the accelerometer controls work well and it's kept me entertained on several dull journeys. Puzzle games are another strong area. Enigmo, a kind of variant on the old 'Incredible Machine' school of brain-bender is a great case in point, with decent 3D graphics, nicely implemented touchscreen controls and lifelike physics sprucing up a game that's all about guiding drops of water from source to receptacle. At £1.19 it's a steal.
You don't even need to pay that much for JellyCar; a sort of platform/puzzle game where you get a little doodled car from one side of a sheet of graph paper to another, using whatever platforms and mechanisms have been put in your path. The trick is that the car, the environment, and the objects all sport the same weird jelly consistency and obey the laws of physics, and while your car can grow or shrink within certain limits, it's still a challenge working out what to do where. Sounds strange? Well try it. Being that it's free, it won't cost you anything to have a go.
The same goes for Tap Tap Revenge, the iPhone's take on the Guitar Hero/Rock Band genre. Sadly, the AudioWave style ability to tap out beats over your own music collection has been lost in this official release, but you can download tracks from a variety of (mostly US indie) artists, not to mention a few more familiar names like Katy Perry and the Kaiser Chiefs.
As a fan of pinball games, I've also been taken by the lifelike simulations of Zen Pinball Rollercoaster and Inferno. Being picky I might moan about the fact that touchscreen controls aren't ideal for juggling flippers, and concentrating on a tiny ball on a relatively small, non-scrolling screen is hard on the eyes, but it still makes for an entertaining way to pass the time, and the actual pinball action is surprisingly authentic.
As we've found with Nintendo's DS, however, the games with the most promise are those where the idiosyncrasies of the platform become an advantage, not an issue. I'm a big fan of ngmoco's Topple, for instance. The game is a simple arcade puzzle game with shades of Tetris and Jenga, but it has a gorgeous cartoon style and uses the touchscreen and accelerometers to brilliant effect. The basic aim is to drag and stack blocks to the bottom of the screen and try to pile them as high as you can, but you need to drag the different shapes with one finger and rotate them with another, while carefully tilting your iPhone or touch left or right to keep your increasingly unsteady tower in one piece. It's not the sort of game that will occupy you for days, but it is the sort of game that will comfortably keep you busy for hours - and how many mobile phone games can you say that about?