10 New App Store Games To Watch [June 21 - 27]

Unless you’ve not had access to any “latest and greatest” news sources over the last week, you probably know the big noise in iPhone gaming was the release of the iPhone client for Facebook phenomenon Farmville. Unless I’m missing something, this is basically a game about planting crops. Guess I’m not hip enough for that action. For CCG fans, this week saw the release of Arena 9, a trading card game that you can play against real opponents or computer AI. This game spurred its own bit of drama over questionable artwork, but I’ll leave that for you to Google if you’re interested. Coincidentally, this week’s 10 to watch list all fall in the $2.99 or less category, so why not pick up the whole lot?

FarmVille – If you’re into internet gaming at all you’ve probably heard of this little gem by now.  Basically, you build a farm from the ground up.  Plant seeds, harvest crops, and create the best farm you can.  I’m not really sure I get the appeal, but the Facebook version took the internet by storm.  The real question is if the iPhone version can likewise consume the handheld gaming world, especially with stiff competition in the form of We Rule, which has much more to offer than just farming.  At least the game is free, so even the most skeptical gamers have nothing to loose for trying it – except maybe your time if you actually like it.  You do need a Facebook account in order to play the game, though, so if you thought this was going to be your chance to experience the phenomenon without getting sucked into one of the biggest social quagmires on the internet, think again.

FarmVille by Zynga Zynga, FarmVille by Zynga – Free

BATTLE BEARS -1 – This is the prequel to BATTLE BEARS: Zombies!, one of the most irreverent, off-color, yet at the same time amusing games I’ve played on the iPhone.  This outing takes it up a couple of notches, however, as the universe moves into 3D and adds dual stick shooter like controls to the mix.  The graphics look good while still retaining the cartoon like nature of the original, and it seems like the disturbing humor and outrageous boss battles have remained in tact.  I’ve heard rumors that the weapon selection isn’t quite as zany this time around, but if the action is just as intense that’s a livable sacrifice.

BATTLE BEARS -1 SKYVU PICTURES Inc., BATTLE BEARS -1 – $0.99

The Ultimate Alphabet – Based on a New York Times best seller that came out in 1987, this game is like a hidden object game on steroids.  The twist, however, is that there is no list of objects.  You’re simply given a letter, and you need to find all the items in the picture that begin with that letter.  Not only will this test your powers of observation, but it will really help you to learn the actual names of objects that you potentially see all the time, and maybe even confuse for something else.  The best part is that even the hints are puzzles, so the game should never be short on challenge.  Lavish illustrations make the hunt enjoyable, and the fact that it’s on the iPad means you might actually have a chance of seeing the objects!

The Ultimate Alphabet Toytek Ltd, The Ultimate Alphabet – Free

Eliminate:GunRange – The basic premise of the shooter has you testing your sharp-shooting skills in 3 different firing ranges.  However, much like the pack-ins with most console accessories, I think GunRange is more about the technology.  The current version of this game only supports iOS4 with retina display, and it requires the gyroscope control for aiming.  It’s kind of like an advanced tech demo.  If this does sound appealing to you, you’ll have your choice of 12 different reality-based weapons to conquer 144 different target-shooting challenges.  In other words, there’s plenty to do.  If you don’t mind the lack of opponents that fight back, this is probably worth it just to sample the iPhone 4’s new technology.

Eliminate:GunRange ngmoco, Inc., Eliminate:GunRange – $0.99

Bio Army for iPad – For a while it seemed like there was a new tower defense game coming out for the iPhone every day, and they’re starting to make their way to the iPad now.  I’m not a huge fan of the genre, but I like the fact that this one has a bit of a different theme.  It almost looks like a Fallout themed tower defense game.  I also like the fact that the “towers” are actually mercenaries instead of the typical mechanical weapons.  Plus, the collection of gadgets like land mines, robots, missiles and nuclear bombs sounds promising.  There are only 15 levels, but each level can be played in 1 of 5 different modes, so in essence it’s like having 75 levels.  The graphics really don’t look optimized for the iPad, but since we’re still technically in the first generation of games that’s forgivable.

Bio Army for iPad Zhao Jin, Bio Army for iPad – $2.99

Arena 9 – This sounds like the game that should give MTG iPhone owners their electronic fix when they’re on the go.  You start out with a handful of warrior cards, and through winning battles you can earn arena points to buy more cards.  You can also move up in rank which allows you to acquire better cards.  You can play online against opponents all over the world, at home with your friends via Bluetooth, or anti-socially like myself against the game’s built in AI opponents.  It’s a universal binary, so you can play on any iDevice you own, and the game data can be transferred through OpenFeint, so you don’t have to have a separate collection going on each device.  To top it off, the game is currently free!

Arena 9 CDE Humble Gaming Limited, Arena 9 – Free

Rhythm Racer 2 (HD) – According to the developer, this is a combination of “F-Zero” and Guitar Hero.  Sounds like a winner to me.  Race through a series of 3D tracks while jamming to tunes from groups like The Crystal Method, Ordinary Peoples and more.  Pick up power spheres and make jumps to keep the game alive.  Simply tilt the device to steer left and right.  The game is easy to pick up and learn, and Global and Social leader boards assure that you will keep coming back to get better scores than your friends.  There are versions for both iPhone and iPad, so you can play on whatever iDevice you own.  Best of all, the game is free for all devices.

Rhythm Racer 2 AvatarLabs, Rhythm Racer 2 – Free
Rhythm Racer 2 HD AvatarLabs, Rhythm Racer 2 HD – Free

Infection:Zombies – This isn’t your mother’s zombie game.  In fact, it takes a slightly different approach to the theme than most.  In I:Z you actually play a zombie, and your mission is to infect the world as best you can.  The game offers 3 playing modes, including a campaign mode with 50 levels and a Blitz mode where you have to score as high a score as you can in a certain amount of time.  There are 7 different skills that can be quite substantially upgraded, and you have 3 different zombie types to choose from.  The game supports Gyro control if you happen to have an iPhone 4, or a virtual D-Pad otherwise.  The graphics look cute, and the developer promises original sounds and voice work.

Infection:Zombies Magic Cube, Infection:Zombies – $0.99

Crystal War – This looks to be a castle defense style game, though I haven’t seen a castle in any of the screen shots.  Regardless, Crystal War details the struggle between humans / elves and goblins to reclaim their land and set right the balance of power that the goblins have toppled.  You’ll traverse through what looks like 15 levels replete with wave after wave of enemy goblins until you reach your final goal.  You must actually mine crystal which is used to produce units, as well as earn gold from battle in order to buy new unit types or upgrade existing ones.  You can also capture enemy souls to speed the progress of learning magic.  The tale is told from a side view, and there are some hints of a Defender Chronicles feel to the game play.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that you get the option of playing the goblin forces, but the game has potential anyway.

Crystal War GNC INTERACTIVE , Crystal War – $2.99

Goku flight – I love scrolling shooters, and even though I apparently don’t have the hardware to run this particular title, it looks pretty cool.  You get your choice of 1 of 3 characters, and basically you charge through several levels of bad guys to get to what looks like some really wild and cool looking bosses.  I love unique opponent designs where the lackeys are concerned, but you catch my attention much more quickly when you have original bosses.  The graphics look top notch, the fact that the playable characters are visible outside the ship is nifty (one doesn’t even have a ship), and the promise of different background music for each level has me totally excited.  They just need to make this work on my old fashioned 2nd generation iPod Touch, as the iTunes description says it only supports 3rd generation or higher devices.

Goku flight Can We Technology Company, Goku flight – $1.99

Here are several more notable releases over the past week at the App Store:

That’s it for this week.  You’d think with the iPad in its infancy and the iPhone 4 / iOS4 just released we’d be seeing a flood of new games trying to “beat the bloat”, but it really seems like these last few weeks have been pretty slow in terms of solid new releases.  As always, if there’s anything you picked up that come at last week and you think it’s worth mentioning, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on this thread.

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