Shaun Inman recently posted a treatise on touch, where he describes some issues and considerations for a touch control scheme for platform games.
On screen buttons are a stop gap for supporting yesterday’s control scheme on today’s platform, and Shaun is going easy on them when he says they “are not the way forward.” The truth is they are unworkable at best, and they tend to skew towards abominable.
Each platform has strengths, and successful games play to those strengths. Shaun should be applauded that The Last Rocket feels perfectly at home on the iPhone. Few games manage to do this.
The biggest revolution of iOS is getting the computer out of the way of the software. You do that by making the interactions transparent and obvious. Instead of making the platform suit the games, the games must suit the platform. That might mean you shouldn’t port your last popular title, or you may need to think again before building that remake. The way forward for game developers is building titles that embrace the platform.