Pitfall + War of the Worlds = Canabalt. [iTunes Link]
The result of a 5-day coding session with the Flixel framwork, the free, web-based Canabalt quickly acquired fans and was soon ported to the iPhone. It's a fast-paced, great-looking game without complicated combinations or controls, and I can't stop playing.
The premise is this: Our hero's city is being destroyed by enormous, laser-wielding robots, leaving him with only one option.
Tap the screen and he starts off down the hallway of an office building and leaps through a window and onto the roof of the next building (and the next, and the next). You'll encounter obstacles along the way like boxes and bombs. Just tap the screen to jump over them. A quick tap executes a quick jump; press hand hold for a long leap. The longer you run, the faster he goes.
Some buildings are taller than others. Some collapse as you run across. Others are steel cranes. You must make split-second decisions about when to jump to make it onto the next building successfully. Don't bother making a mental map, as the order of buildings is random. Each time you play, it's different.
Look and feel
It's greyscale and blocky, but Canabalt looks great. Flocks of startled birds take flight as you run past them. Crumbling buildings shake and send chunks of concrete into the air. Huge spaceships rumble past and marauding robots can be seen wreaking havoc in the background.
The music sounds like a KMFDM album and is perfectly suited to the game's frantic pace.
You can compare your previous top score (measured in distance run before death) and brag on Twitter with the tap of a button.
Canabalt is just the type of game you want to have in your pocket. Uncomplicated, quick, playable with one hand and fun. It's perfect of a physician's waiting room, long train rides and so on. It's a great fit for the iPhone.