10 New App Store Games To Watch [June 28 – July 4]

We’re still in that phase where a lot of notable games are simply ports from one device to another, but overall this week has been a lot more interesting than the last several.  There wasn’t a whole lot of “big news” this week, though I do find the 19.99 price tag for Bridge Island HD kind of interesting, especially since the game doesn’t come from one of the “big players”.  It’s good to see that others are trying to help raise the bar on iDevice prices, and I hope it does well for them.  Something notable to me was the release of 1942: First Strike, as this was one of my favorite vertical scrolling shooters when I was a kid, and I still refer to it on a regular basis when writing reviews of SHMUPS.

Parallel Kingdom AOE for iPad – This game has been out for a couple weeks on the iPhone, and now makes the leap to the big screen.  It’s an augmented reality game that uses your real life location to determine which part of the game world you exist in.  The game is all fantasy, though, as you can build houses and expand your kingdom by conquering creatures and other players.  The graphics are pretty basic, but the game itself has a lot of depth to it.  You can mine and trade to gain resources, hunt with others for bonuses, and even plant and harvest trees.  The game is currently free, and there’s an iPhone interface for free as well.  Just remember that you must be online to play.

Parallel Kingdom AOE PerBlue Inc, Parallel Kingdom AOE – Free
Parallel Kingdom AOE for iPad PerBlue Inc, Parallel Kingdom AOE for iPad – Free

WarSquared – A fantasy themed RTS for two players.  Hire powerful mercenaries such as mechanical beasts or mystical elementals to turn the tide in your favor.  Cast spells at your opponent with the flick of a finger.  The real innovation here, however, is that the battle takes place over both screen!  Yes, the display you see is not a duplicate of your opponent’s, but rather one half of the total playing field.  I’m a bit curious to know how you’re supposed to keep track of the troops on the other player’s screen, but it sounds intriguing none the less.  The developer promises a playing experience like no other, and at a price tag of free, there’s nothing to lose if you have a friend to play with.

WarSquared Manifold Studios LLC, WarSquared – Free

Splash Duel HD – I’m not a huge fan of breakout style games, but this one has a couple of cool things going for it.  First of all, you can play head to head against the computer or another player, or you can play cooperatively with another player to see how far you can get.  I also like the fact that Splash Duel employs the bronze / silver / gold method of ranking levels, so just because you’ve completed a level it doesn’t mean you can’t do better.  You can even compare scores via Facebook.  The ability to set timed matches against other players is nice as well.  With HD graphics in a cool aquatic theme and 100 levels to unlock, this could be the definitive iPad breakout game.

Splash Duel HD Little Worlds Studio, sarl, Splash Duel HD – $2.99

PHYSICS GAMEBOX – The gamebox combines two chart-topping games from bubblebox.com into one slick looking package.  Play Roly-Poly Cannon and try to clear all the Roly-Polys off the level, or play Ragdoll Cannon and use the poor ragdolls to shoot the target on each level.  Either way you’ll have to use precision and brains to conquer the increasingly difficult levels, which total 300 between the two games.  The games have received a graphical facelift over previous version, and some exclusive iPhone content has been added.  Gamebox even supports iOS 4 multitasking.


Bards of Fists and Fire – I’ll admit that the initial release of this game doesn’t look overly impressive.  However, few true fighting games grace the iPhone screen, so I figured I’d at least mention it for that reason.  The one thing that does intrigue me is the fact that you can actually manipulate the fighters at the joint level.  It’s kind of like playing with the old G.I. Joe action figures.  The graphics have a Killer Instinct look about them, and the description promises “absorbing music and sound effects”.  I just hope there are plans to add more fighters if the game does well, because right now 6 fighters doesn’t seem like a whole lot.

Bards of Fists and Fire Numair Khalil, Bards of Fists and Fire – $1.99

Theseus HD – I love the premise behind this game, which is to outsmart the minotaur and escape each level of the labyrinth.  I was not overly impressed with the iPhone version of this particular variant, however, even though it received some rather rave reviews.  The HD version looks to be a whole different ballgame, though.  The graphics of the maze look quite nice, and the interface as a whole has been spruced up.  The game contains the original 100 levels found in the iPhone version along with 50 new levels and the ability to manage level packs for future updates.  If I had access to an iPad this is one I’d definitely consider giving a second chance.

Theseus HD Jason Fieldman, Theseus HD – $2.99
Theseus Jason Fieldman, Theseus (iPhone)- $1.99

Wily Bill’s MemoRace – Much like breakout, memory is not a particular favorite of mine.  However, much like Splash Duel could convince me otherwise in the breakout genre, this game could certainly make me see the joys of memory games.  What’s appealing about this memory variant is that you play against another player to see who can match their playing field up first.  What’s more appealing is the fact that it’s not necessarily a simple match 2 game.  Depending on the difficulty settings you might have to match 3, 4 or 5 cards to clear things off the playing field.  The best part, though, is that you can match bonus cards that will do nasty things like place your opponent’s last match back on the board, or worse yet shuffle all their remaining cards just to confuse them.

Wily Bill's MemoRace Navigation-Info Kft., Wily Bill’s MemoRace – $0.99

Wizzley Presto – This is the kind of game that made the late 80s and early 90s a fun time for shareware.  Bright, colorful graphics were all the rage, and cartoon drawing style sealed the deal.  The game also promises a fantastic music and voice track, so from an aesthetic perspective we’re good to go.  Game play looks and reads like standard platforming fare, but sometimes simple game play is the best.  Since Wizzley is a wizard you’ll get to “boil, burn and blast” things, so that’s always a plus.  And if you don’t feel like casting spells you can just chuck eggs at your enemies.  So far, this sounds like the type of game that reminds me just why I’ve loved playing video games for so many years.

Wizzley Presto and the Vampires Tomb Craig Rothwell, Wizzley Presto and the Vampires Tomb – $4.99

Akalabeth – World of Doom! – If you don’t already know what this is, it’s probably not going to excite you.  If you are familiar with Akalabeth, however, this port should be a real treat.  In case you want to know, this is where the famous Lord British, architect of the Ultima RPG universe, got his start.  The graphics are lovingly created in all their wire frame glory, and you even get a little virtual keypad to remember the days when you used to play this on your Apple II (if you were that lucky).  You can play the experience as it was originally intended, or if you’re a wimp like me you can turn on some “enhancements” to gain features like autosave and no secret passages.  Whatever you’re playing style, at a price tag of $1.99, this is one of the best deals I’ve seen for vintage gamers when it comes to actual recreations of old games.

Akalabeth - World of Doom! Johns and Stremplat Ltd, Akalabeth – World of Doom! – $1.99

1942: FIRST STRIKE – If I didn’t drop a big enough hint in the intro, I’ll spell it out for you now – I love this game!  By today’s standards it’s nothing, but this is one of the first scrolling shooters I remember playing when I was a kid, and I still seek it out every time I find one of those ancient relics known as an arcade.  While the graphics aren’t identical they certainly look like modern interpretations inspired by the originals, which is just fine with me.  My main hope is that the game play is in tact, because while 1942 is not as complex as some modern fare, the mechanics have always worked for me.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that either early reports of lackluster controls are exaggerated, or my nostalgic love of the game is such that I won’t notice.

1942: FIRST STRIKE CE Europe Ltd , 1942: FIRST STRIKE – $2.99

With so many releases each and every week, even our list of 10 doesn’t quite cover all of the notable ones. As such, here are several more titles of interest:

Well, that’s another week for me.  I hope this is an upward trend, because the only difficult thing about writing the roundup this week was deciding which games to actually include from my list.  As always, if you think I’ve missed something worth mentioning, please reply to this post and let the readers know.

Previous weekly installments of our New App Store Games Roundup:

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