10 New App Store Games To Watch [July 19 – 25]

This was certainly a good week to be an iPhone owner.  U.S. store patrons finally got a taste of Castlevania as Castlevania: Encore of the Night made it into our store (check last week’s roundup for the details).  Also of note was the release of Risk: The Official Game.  There were definitely some nice looking clones over time, but it’s always good to see an original take back the throne.  If you’re a Finger Physics fan – either publicly or in the closet – then you’re no doubt excited about Finger Physics: Thumb Wars, the sequel that makes solving puzzles a global contest.  The burgeoning pirate wanna-bes of the crowd will definitely need to check out Plunderland, the ragdoll physics based side scrolling pirate ship game.  And, for the sports nut there’s Let’s Golf 2, the latest installment of Gameloft’s popular “over the top” golf game.

Finger Physics: Thumb Wars – Please don’t boo me until you’re not within someone’s hearing distance, but despite the fact I own the game, I’ve not tried the original Finger Physics yet.  From what I gather, however, the Finger Physics franchise (say that 50 times fast) is about solving lots of puzzles, presumably with your fingers.  The iTunes descriptions for both games are a little lite on actual game play elements.  What I can tell you, however, is that Thumb Wars ups the ante of the original by holding weekly competitions where your scores are combined with your fell countrypeoples’ in order to see which country will come out on top.  The initial release sports 80 levels with multiple game modes and OpenFeint integration, which offers tons of achievements to earn.  If you’ve ever had the urge to make your puzzle solving skills competitive, this sounds like the game to get.

Finger Physics: Thumb Wars Mobliss Inc., Finger Physics: Thumb Wars, 14.7 MB – $1.99

RISK : The Official Game – If you’ve ever wondered where the inspiration for most of the dice based “conquer the world” games comes from, look no further.  Risk is the one that started it all, with fairly simple rules that still managed to translate to deep, involving game play given the right opponents.  Risk for the iPhone lets you choose your opposition from either ruthless computer AI or your dastardly friends.  Multi-player is available for up to 4 people via WiFi or Bluetooth, or 6 people playing hot seat.  There are many achievements to earn as you march triumphantly around the globe, and slick visuals and a rousing soundtrack will keep your senses happy.  If you’ve played the rest, now it’s time to play the best.

RISK : The Official Game Electronic Arts, RISK : The Official Game, 8.3 MB – $4.99

Ecco the Dolphin / Space Harrier II – Honestly, my experience with the Sega revival series hasn’t been that great so far, but seeing these games available for the iPhone gives me warm fuzzies anyway.  These were the games that made me glad to own a Genesis, and in the case of Ecco The Dolphin, proved to be one of the more unique titles to grace the system.  Ecco The Dolphin was the original Finding Nemo, and it was amazing because it was loads of fun and didn’t involve killing or maiming everything in sight.  If I remember correctly it was also quite challenging.  Space Harrier II is a guy with a jet pack blasting aliens, so what’s not to love about that?  Personally I hope that one day they decide to do something like iGameDock with all of these retro releases, but until then it’s nice to see that a new generation of game players will get to experience some of the reasons that I’m an avid gamer.

Ecco the Dolphin Sega America, Ecco the Dolphin, 4.6 MB – $2.99
Space Harrier II Sega America, Space Harrier II, 3.5 MB – $0.99

Legendary Empire – While I love the Heroes Of Might & Magic games, it’s nice to see a fantasy strategy game that doesn’t aspire to be a HoMM clone.  This game actually intrigues me because it looks almost like an electronic board game.  Legendary Empire has all the makings of a strong strategy game, with cities to conquer and upgrade, units to recruit and an economy to manage.  Units will gain experience over time, and the developers claim there are over 100 units to choose from.  You can play against up to 5 AI opponents, and you can also vary the victory conditions and difficulty settings to provide nearly limitless replay value.  At this point I think the game needs only one major enhancement – the ability to play against your friends.

Legendary Empire Xavier de Foy, Legendary Empire, 43.8 MB – $3.99

TRON– I’m not even sure what to say about this one.  It’s actually awfully early for a movie tie-in, since the film isn’t due until December.  From the iTunes “description” I’m still clueless.  The visuals look pretty decent, but from them all I can tell is that it might be either some kind of tower defense game or a “you against the machine” type of action game.  I notice that the binary “description” is longer the same as when the game was first released, so I suppose that gives some hint as to what you can expect, but I was never very good with binary, so I still have nothing for you.  On the plus side the game is free, so if you’re a fan of Tron or just plain curious, you’re not out much more than bandwidth usage and a bit of free time to give it a try.

TRON Walt Disney , TRON, 66.3 MB – Free

DreamBalls HD – Steamballs was one of the most innovative match 3 games I’ve played on my iPod Touch, and now it looks like the developers have gone and masterfully blended it with the world of Dreamland.  The idea is that you want to match 3 or more balls horizontally or diagonally to get them to go away.  The catch is that each column of balls is on a scale, and you have to keep the scales in balance in order to line up the balls for a match.  12 special balls with unique abilities can help clear up the board when it gets too cluttered.  While the steampunk visuals of the original were great, the cartoon looks of the Dreamland universe should prove just as eye catching.  I hope they bring this one to the iPhone / iPod Touch world (or that someone gets me an iPad soon).

DreamBalls HD Digital Worlds, DreamBalls HD, 53.1 MB – $4.99

Office Heroes – I never thought I’d say this, but a game about work actually looks like fun!  The idea is that you need to complete tasks in order to expand and furnish a virtual office.  The current version requires a Facebook account to play, but the first update will remove that stipulation.  However, if you decide to pursue the Facebook integration you can visit your friends’ offices and help them complete tasks, which will earn both of you rewards.  There are 50 levels and titles to master, so it should keep you busy for a while, and I’d imagine that the game will be expanded over time, as most social games are.  The visuals are detailed yet cartoony, and the ability to customize your avatar as a pirate or ninja is pretty sweet.  The best part is that the game is free to play.

Office Heroes Astro Ape Studios, LLC , Office Heroes, 13.7 MB – Free

Let’s Golf! 2 – The sequel to Gameloft’s popular iPhone golfing game Let’s Golf! sounds like it has a lot to offer.  You’ll travel the world from Greenland to Kenya to play 108 holes of golf over 6 different courses.  You get to choose between 1 of 8 different fully 3D modeled characters that all have unlockable items which help build up your skills.  Each character has its own super power as well, ranging from stopping the ball at will to rewinding time.  Game play modes include eliminating a player after each hole and “Closest To Pin”, where one shot determines the victor.  If you don’t care for the computer AI you can play against your friends via local or online WiFi or through Bluetooth.  Gorgeous graphics will make you “wish you were there”, and if you have an iPhone 4 you’ll be treated to Retina Display visuals.  Maybe golf isn’t such a dull game after all.

Let's Golf!® 2 Gameloft S.A., Let’s Golf!® 2, 308 MB – $4.99

Plunderland– Disney said it best with the simple phrase “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me”.  This side scrolling adventure lets you take on the persona of a ghostly pirate in search of reclaiming his lost treasure.  You’ll travel to many different islands, attacking boats between each port and either helping or plundering the island folk when you arrive, depending on how bad you really want to be.  A fully realized ragdoll physics engine will give you native tossing power, and you can light the world on fire if you choose.  Your boat’s upgradeable, and you can unleash special powers via bowspirits.  3 different campaigns and a survival mode are sure to keep you busy for a while.  Overall Plunderland looks to be unique in a growing collection of pirate themed games.  Just be sure that you have iOS 4 installed, because it won’t run on anything less.

Plunderland Johnny Two Shoes LLP , Plunderland, 11.3 MB – $2.99

Frogatto – This little game has a lot going for it.  It’s brought to you by the creators of Battle For Westnoth, one of the biggest, baddest strategy games to grace the iPhone’s screen.  The pixel art looks tremendous, and you can’t go wrong with “pumping arcade tunes”.  The game promises to play like a classic console game, and you can even go all Yoshi on the bad guys by sucking them up with your tongue   and spitting them back out at other enemies.  With 30 levels spread across four different environments, this is probably one of the largest non-ball platform games to come to the iPhone, and you can even try it on your PC or Mac first by going to the web site.  Speaking of their web site, for those of you that are aspiring developers you can head on over there to get instructions for downloading the Frogatto source code.  How cool is that?

Frogatto Benjamin Anderman , Frogatto, 80.2 MB – $1.99

And here are several other notable App Store releases:

There you have it.  Another week, another 10+ games to keep you busy.  As always, if there’s a game you’ve played that came out last week which you feel I should have mentioned, please post a reply to this thread and let me know.

Previous weekly installments of our New App Store Games Roundup:

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