It wasn't long ago that I complained that iPad games had yet to wow me.
Looks like I can stop now. The superb"Chopper 2" has landed in Apple's App Store and it's just the kind of iDevice game I've been waiting for.
This side-scrolling flight combat game, which is universal for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches, is not only a well-crafted piece of gaming, it also does something I've been hoping to see more of — it puts the player's iPhone and iPad to work together.
The game puts players in control of a battlefield helicopter. You control the machine's flight through embattled skies by tilting your iDevice side to side and back and forth. (You can also choose to control your helicopter using a touch-screen joystick, but this is the less-preferable option, I think.)
As you soar through the air, you'll gun down enemy soldiers, tanks and helicopters as you try to swoop in and rescue civilians and protect friendly convoys. You'll have machine guns, missiles and bombs at your disposal. But you'll have to avoid enemy fire as well as chopper-destroying flocks of birds as you race to beat the clock.
"Chopper 2" includes 36 missions across 12 locations (deserts, snowfields and cityscapes among them). The game's 3-D-esque graphics (HD on both the iPad and iPhone 4) look great. Meanwhile, aiming and shooting using the devices' touch screens works like a dream. Simply touch anywhere and slide your finger to aim.
In fact, from the music to the in-game instructions, the whole package is surprisingly elegant. And it boasts a svelt price as well: $2.99.
But what really sets "Chopper 2" apart is its iPhone-as-controller option.
iPad owners who want to play the game will find that tilting the larger device to control flight works just fine — the machine is light enough that it doesn't feel awkward. But connecting the smaller iPhone via Bluetooth to the iPad and using it as a wireless controller is simply awesome.
Synching your iPhone to your iPad is a cinch. Check under Options and click the Remote Control button and the game will walk you through the process quickly. Then just prop up your Pad and use your phone to steer your copter and take out enemies.
For an even bigger "Chopper 2" experience, you can plug your iPad into your TV using a component cable or VGA adapter and then play the game using your Bluetooth-tethered phone as the controller and your TV as the display.
This isn't the first game that's made use of the iPad and iPhone together. If you have the iPad version of "Scrabble," you can download an app to your phone that lets you use it as your own private tile rack. Meanwhile, "PadRacer" lets players use their iPhone as a steering wheel and their iPad as a virtual racetrack.
But "Chopper 2" makes a huge step forward and upward in this department.
All in all, I think it's a pretty good bet that many iPad owners also have iPhones. So here's hoping more developers run with the multi-machine thing because I can't wait to see how other games put this combination to use.
You can find Winda Benedetti flying the friendly skies .