Due to popular demand, we’re devoting a feature here that gives you the skinny on many of the Mafia games that have infiltrated the App Store. The jump in popularity for this emerging style of game can largely be traced to its MySpace/Facebook beginnings with Mob Wars leading the way.
To borrow some language from my recent Mafia Live review detailing the theme of these mafia games, you start out as a low level associate in the Mafia world as a nobody. You have to do jobs to earn money and experience to open up more options to buy property, advanced weapons and armor, and vehicles that are representative of your stature.
Besides acquiring stats and material goods, you also fight other aspiring criminals like yourself to gain experience and steal their money and goods. The last component is recruiting other people to join your “family” (via numerical codes, or email invites) to consolidate power and can run your operation from a position of strength.
Obviously, it’s easy to see the appeal for this type of game as it’s ripe for competition and trash talking amongst friends and strangers. The fact that it’s become so ubiquitous in a variety of applications on popular social networking platforms makes the port over the always connected iPhone a no-brainer.
We’re going to run through four applications, and you’re going to have all the important details you need to determine the Mafia game that will work best for you.
Mafia: Respect and Retaliation Lite 
Developer: SGN
Price: free Download on the App Store
Mafia: Respect and Retaliation
The first application we’ll discuss is Mafia: Respect and Retaliation (MRR) which was developed by SGN. MMR largely adopts the narrative I’ve outlined in the earlier in this feature. You start as an associate with large aspirations to become a the underworld’s most influential Don.
MMR’s biggest strength would have to be its presentation layer. From the very beginning (minus a ridiculously loud, annoying and unskippable promo video for SGN), this mafia game oozes quality from a visual perspective. The menus look good and everything flows nicely. The shooting range training game is cool interactive way to gain character experience.
MMR’s biggest weakness would have to be the clunk factor that I experienced. Though everything looks good, it appears to have come with the sacrifice of the snappiness you’d expect in a game like this. Geotagging real life locations for missions seems cool on the surface, but it falls flat as you have to be in a specific area several miles away to access those missions. Lastly, some may be turned off by not so subtle soliciting of purchasing “respect points” every time you visit “The Don.”
This app is not currently available in the App Store.
iMafia’s biggest strength is its visuals as well. Unlike other similar applications, iMafia uses a unique panoramic visual treatment for its main user interface. You tap and drag across the screen to move around the scene and select buildings that function as the selectable options in the game. Avatars are selectable for characters which add a nice touch to the customization element.
The application’s biggest Achilles heel is the fact that this mafia game frequently has to connect to it’s servers upon selecting most options. While it’s not as annoying when connected via Wi-Fi, the delays over EDGE and 3G connections are brutal. Additional issues plaguing this application is that the font and status bars are unnecessarily small making it a bit difficult to quickly assess the what’s going on via the home screen. Read the complete iMafia review…
Mafia Boss
Developer: Harold Holbrook
Price: free Download on the App Store
Mafia Boss is a bit of a wild card relative to the rest of the field. It isn’t based in the “Mob Wars” universe, but it’s foundation lies in the Mafia/Werewolf game that is primarily waged live in groups or on online forums.
It’s a relatively basic application that’s all about providing a tool to record votes. There are no huge frills in it’s presentation. This utility oriented mafia game places its focus on providing an a easy way to track votes. From what I can tell, it does exactly what it’s supposed to do without incident.
This app is not currently available in the App Store.
Mark of Mafia: Master Edition (formerly Mafia Live) is the fourth application we’ll discuss.
If I had to play a word association game with Mafia Live, words like “efficient” and “snappy” would come to mind. Navigating throughout Mafia Live is an absolute pleasure as the delays and hang-ups I’ve seen in other mafia games do not apply here. While other Mafia iPhone games have seven or eight main sections to explore upon startup, Mafia Live only has three main sections with an additional button being reserved for sending invites to friends. Buying items or having fights only take a second, and it feels good being able to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. There is even an option to disable graphics that improves performance even more.
Mafia Live will not win any beauty pageants with it’s minimalist design scheme. It’s doesn’t look horrible, but it pales in comparison to its competition. So if cool visuals are a mandatory for you, I suggest you look elsewhere. Read the complete Mafia Live review…
Who is the Don of iPhone Mafia Games?
The bottom line is that all of these mafia iPhone apps have their pros and cons. If I had to pick my preference for the best iPhone Mafia game, it would have to be Mafia Live. I’m a big advocate of substance over style, and I think Mafia Live is most in sync with that perspective. Pretty interfaces and graphics are always nice, but not at the cost of incurring laggy menus or slowdown. If graphics are most important to you, I’d give Mafia: Respect and Retaliation the nod over iMafia based on it’s interactive shooting range game alone. Regardless of your preferences, one of these mafia games should be just what you’re looking for to scratch your itch for world domination.