Freshly updated, and thus providing me the perfect opportunity to give it my highest recommendation, is Etienne Perin’s Gauge, a game hasn’t seemed to receive the attention it richly deserves, even after some six months on the market.
Like Terry Cavanagh’s Super Hexagon, it’s a game that knows exactly what it is and does that one thing with fantastic style. In this case, that thing is a single-input interaction that asks players to press the screen to widen a loading-bar style ‘gauge’, coming as close to the outer edge without touching it as possible for the highest score, and never allowing it to fully drop back to its center walls.
Touching either edge will cause you to lose a life, an obstacle that would seem to be easily avoided, were it not for the fact that, over time, the game taunts you with bonus point lines that emerge from the center, tempting you to drop back just pixels away from death, before going on to distract your laser focus with epileptic and ‘psychédélic’ effects.
Though its new update has refreshed its difficulty curve, as well as added “new jokes”, a new ending for players that reach 35 billion points, and a “newborn baby mode” (“for the babiiiiiizzzz!!! LOL”), what’s good about Gauge now is the same thing that was always good about Gauge: it’s risk and reward stripped bare and self-aware, as compulsive and (through Game Center leaderboards) fiercely competitive as all the iPhone’s finest.
Better still, the bulk of Gauge is available as a free download, with an in-game upgrade to unlock all the extra modes that play off the basic formula with limited tap and limited time runs, making it a true iOS essential. [Gauge, App Store; Etienne Perin’s homepage]