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Apple shows off iPhone gaming chops

Mat Lu

While Apple did not release any games at today's event they did begin to show what's possible with several tech demos. Apparently the SDK has only been available for the last two weeks or so, even inside Apple, which makes what they showed that much more impressive. First up, a team inside of Apple cooked up "Touch Fighter," which appears to be a kind of space-based shooter that you steer by tilting and aim by pointing. The game is 3D and uses OpenGL graphics.

Next up was Travis Boatman from EA who showed an iPhone version of the eagerly-awaited game Spore (also shipping for Macs later this year). It's clearly cut down from the desktop version, but as Johnson said of the dog walking on his two hind legs: "it is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all!" Considering that EA had two weeks, this suggests the iPhone has the power to be a serious gaming platform.

Finally, Ethan Einhorn from Sega showed off a build of Super Monkey Ball, naturally also using tilt controls. What's interesting there is they actually underestimated what the iPhone could do, and ended up having to bring in another artist to upscale the art from what they had anticipated. Again, the take home message: the iPhone is a real platform for game development.

It's worth noting that these were all demos and there are no guarantees that any of them will be released. Nonetheless, it's an impressive showing for two-weeks with the SDK and we can only imagine what things will look like in June when firmware 2.0 is released to consumers.

Update: Engadget says that EA has confirmed Spore for iPhone; release in September.

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