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24 January, 2014

12 Best Nintendo-Like Games on iOS

Update: If you are excited about the upcoming Nintendo Switch console, we have created an entire, hands-on guide that can be enjoyed on an iPhone or iPad - you can get it here. It's also available at Amazon for the Kindle app here. Cover below:

If you haven’t caught the news, Nintendo has hit a rough patch. The legendary Japanese console maker has failed to hit expectations with the Wii U and as its share price drops, analysts have called on Nintendo to “do a Sega,” drop out of the hardware space and to move their rich catalogue of games to greener pastures. The booming iOS market being the most consistently mentioned alternative. 

More Nintendo is a good thing, and we think most iOS gamers would love to collect some coins and rescue some princesses on a beautiful retina screen. But if Nintendo may need the App Store, the App Store may not need Nintendo. Here are some Nintendo-like experiences you can enjoy on your iDevice right now:

While you're on the App Store, why not try our free sample issue of Grab It Magazine, too.


It’s Like: The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
Oceanhorn is a lovingly made and finely crafted adventure game from developer Cornfox & Brothers. It’s a love letter to classic JRPG’s like Secret of Mana and The Legend of Zelda series and casts you in the role of a young boy travelling across a vast ocean to defeat monsters, solve puzzles and find his father. Despite its sense of familiarity, Oceanhorn is a fantastic game in its own right that raises our expectations for the kinds of games that are possible on iOS. 
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Note: Oceanhorn made our 50 Best iOS Indie Games of 2013 list.


Zenforms: Protectors
It’s Like:
Zenforms is a fun alternative to the Pokémon series of games, allowing you to run around and collect pocket-sized monsters (called Zenforms) to your heart’s content. There is a large variety of Zenforms to collect, evolve and battle, and a large open-world to explore. It feels wholly unoriginal at times, but there’s still a good amount of fun to be had in this mobile adventure.
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Low Grav Racer 2 HD
It’s Like:
Fans of high speed anti-gravity racing will feel right at home with Low Grav Racer 2 HD. Tear along at breakneck speeds in an anti-gravity racer along winding and looping futuristic tracks. It’s a neat little racer with super tight controls and crisp HD graphics. There are tonnes of tracks, various power-ups to mix up the gameplay, a fantastic soundtrack and online leaderboards, all for $2.
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Ant Raid
It’s Like:
Ant Raid is a charming real-time-strategy game where you help a hill’s worth of ants survive the tough conditions of the insect world. Using simple touch commands, you send your ant troops into battle against countless insect invaders. There’s a classic story mode (with quirky animated cutscenes), 40 challenge levels to complete and various survivor modes to endure, which will all keep you busy as a bee (err…ant) for hours on end. Weird side note; I think the guy who voices the ants, is the same guy who voices the worms in Worms.
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Ittle Dew
It’s Like:
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Ittle Dew is the second Zelda-inspired title to make this list and I wouldn’t include it if it weren’t just so different to Oceanhorn. Ittle Dew relishes in having fun with the Zelda franchise and making light of the endless fetch quests and switch-hitting tropes our lovable hero is so known for. With a great art style, hilarious story and dialogue, and a game world that’s fun and interesting, Ittle Dew is a game for the Zelda fan with a sense of humour.
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Note: Ittle Dew made our 50 Best iOS Indie Games of 2013 list.


It’s Like:
Super Metroid
Megatroid (as its “only just different enough for legal reasons” name implies) is a game in the style of the classic SNES Metroid titles. Megatroid will see you traversing the endless corridors of a dangerous space station as you shoot and platform your way to victory. It’s very Metroid inspired from a gameplay perspective, but it does offer some distinction in its highly differentiated 3D graphic style.
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Lep’s World 3
It’s Like:
New Super Mario Bros.
Leps’ World is the App Store’s answer to the early platforming days of Super Mario. Instead of featuring the stereotype of an Italian plumber in its lead role, Lep’s World features a stereotypical Irish leprechaun. All the hallmarks of a classic Mario title are there; bricks that break when you hit them, enemies that die when you jump on them and countless perilous platforming sequences that will have you pulling your hair out and throwing your iPhone across the room. But Lep’s World often feels like cheap flattery at best and awkward imitation at worst. With that aside, it’s a free game and it’s a lot of fun. 
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Banana Kong
It’s Like:
Donkey Kong Country
If Lep’s World is the Mario of the App Store ecosystem, then Banana Kong is (unsurprisingly) the Donkey Kong. Despite the similarities in name, this actually doesn’t feel a lot like a classic Donkey Game really, with bright cartoony vector graphics and more simplified platforming than the simian heavyweight it borrows from. In a lot of ways Banana Kong is really just a fun little platform game that happens to star a gorilla, its fair share of bananas and barrels, but it remains a unique and free arcade platforming title.
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Front Wars
It’s Like:
Advance Wars
Literally just a few days old, this turn-based strategy game is still finding its feet, but one glance at the screenshots is all it takes to know which Nintendo game inspired it. The legendary Advance Wars is all over this game, from its aesthetic to its gameplay, as you move your units forward, capturing cities to increase your income and ensure that you use the terrain to your advantage. It’s already fun, but a few updates to tighten up things like spelling errors will be welcomed.
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Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
It’s Like:
Mario Kart
Sorry Mario, Sonic has got the jump on you in the App Store. And how! This is a robust console-like experience that has ported across to the touchscreen admirably. It’s a classic Mario Kart clone, complete with multiple characters from the Sega universe, power-ups and inventive tracks. However, it takes it up a notch by offering multiple transformation points during a lap where the character’s vehicle converts between a car, a boat and a plane. In fact, that part recalls Diddy Kong Racing. It’s a tricky idea, but well implemented - finally the spikey one gets a leg up on the mighty moustache.
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Paper Monsters
It’s Like: Paper Mario meets Kirby
A lot of the games on this list are heavily inspired by specific Nintendo titles, but these last two get a special mention. They have the charm and heart of classic Nintendo titles without feeling distinctly like any one in particular. Paper Monster has you jumping, swimming and battling giant bosses in a cute and colourful paper world (not unlike Kirby, but with the paper style of Paper Mario. The visuals are bright and fun, and the platforming is challenging and addictive. If you want a Nintendo feeling game that distances itself from a specific Nintendo’s first party IPs, Paper Monsters is sure to please.
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Cordy 2
It’s Like:
Cordy 2 is yet another platformer that feels like a Nintendo game, but manages to stand on its own. Cordy 2 is a huge adventure with unique and exciting level design and a host of power-ups and abilities that add challenging layers to the classic gameplay. Where it really differentiates itself is with its shiny, futuristic setting, which is unlike the other platformers on this list. As a sequel. It will be no surprise to discover Cordy 2 builds on the original’s foundations wonderfully, resulting in one of the best and unique platforming games on the App Store.
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