Flash gaming has long been an Internet staple. With the advent of Apple’s App Store, however, many successful Flash games have been making the leap to the iPhone. Ported games include the recently well-reviewed Canabalt and Bloons TD, as well as games such as Shift, Bloons, Boxhead: The Zombie Wars, My Brute, Totomi and more.
Some users gripe that games they used to play for free in their browsers, they now have to pay for on their phones. But it’s actually in the best interests of everyone to finally be paying these guys. Game development takes time, and when developers are able to reap profit from their work, it better motivates and enables them to continue work on their products. That means more games for gamers, and more incentive for developers. Everybody wins.
But there is a general disconnect between Flash gaming and the iPhone, namely being that the iPhone does not support Flash media. Ports are great, but few developers have the time, resources or background necessary to bring their games over to a new platform. Most of these guys work in other fields, and develop games in their free time. Just when are they supposed to find the time to move their code over from Actionscript to Objective-C?
And so, many Flash developers have remained reliant upon online gaming portals such as NewGrounds, Kongregate and Armor Games to get their work out, and were sometimes able to subsidize their work with exclusivity contracts, advertising, or whatever other monetary incentives those sites provide. And while some developers have become well known and have gained larger opportunities, I’ve not heard success stories the likes of which surround the App Store. For just a moment, consider the tales of Trism or Rolando. Now ask yourself why Flash game developers, a group comprising one of the largest pools of talented, independent game developers in the world, shouldn’t have a piece of that pie.
There are a lot of really amazing Flash games out there, and the App Store could give those game developers the opportunity to stand toe-to-toe with industry juggernauts like Konami, Capcom and Electronic Arts. Given that many of these indie developers could put the mainstream developers to shame with their eccentric and innovative gaming ideas, it’s a cage match I’d like to see. And soon, we just may see it.
Adobe Systems Incorporated has recently revealed that the next version of their Flash authoring software, Flash Professional CS5, will enable development of iPhone apps. “Flash Professional CS5 will enable you to build applications for iPhone and iPod touch using ActionScript 3. These applications can be delivered to iPhone and iPod touch users through the Apple App Store,” says the information page at Adobe Labs.
And what that means, I reckon, is that we will soon be seeing a lot more Flash games making their way into the App Store. A public beta of Flash Professional CS5 is planned for release later this year, so the wait should be short. Several Flash-based apps are already available for download, including Red Hood and Chroma Circuit. Red Hood is a post-apocalyptic find-the-difference game based on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, while Chroma Circuit is a color matching game in which you must rotate pieces to make matches.
The following video from Adobe Labs introduces some of the apps already available, developed using Flash Professional CS5, and serves as an introduction to this new technology.
And so, with Flash games — actual Flash games, not Flash ports — on the horizon for the iPhone, it’s time to ready your wish lists. What Flash games would you most like see make the transition from web browser to iPhone? I’ve got a few in mind, and here they are.
Fancy Pants Adventure
Brad Borne’s uber stylish platformers, Fancy Pants Adventure: World 1 and World 2 give console legends Mario and Sonic a run for their money. Fancy Pants Man is fun, fast and oozing with personality. Fancy Pants Man also comes with a pre-installed fan-base of massive proportions. Fancy Pants Adventure on the iPhone would make bank, so how about it, Brad?
Monster’s Den: Book of Dread
Biclops Games’ Monster’s Den: Book of Dread is a party-based dungeon crawler with a focus on loot collection, and with old-school running through its veins. Including three campaigns, seven character classes, random dungeons, strategic enemy encounters and countless items and spells to be found, it should come as no surprise that the game makes my most wanted list. This is one to rival the PC RPG classics of yore. I love it, and I want to have it in my pocket.
Distraction Beast has made two Brute Wars games, Brute Wars and Brute Wars: Mecha Nation. In the games, you construct an adventuring party of adorable combatants each with an elemental affinity determining strengths, weaknesses and available magic spells; brutes also have specific attack patterns, requiring strategic placement in your combat grid. The game is spent navigating a node-based map, fighting randomized groups of opponents in turn-based, strategic battles, and collecting ability upgrades. It’s a solid gaming formula that should appeal to Pokemon fans, and gamers enjoying S-RPGs, and I would desperately like to see both Brute Wars titles make their way to the iPhone.
That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of Flash gaming, nor does it even scratch the surface of my list of Flash gaming favorites. But it’s a start, and I could carry this article on and on into infinity just as easily as I could end it here. What are some of your favorite Flash games you’d like to see making their way in the App Store? Post your picks in the comments.