10 New App Store Games To Watch [July 26 - Aug 1]

It’s time to get your inner god-smasher on with this week’s biggest release – Hero Of Sparta II.  I’m probably in the minority of those who wasn’t a huge fan of the first one, but for the rest of you, this one sounds bigger, badder and all out better.  I’m even tempted to give it a shot.  If you’d like to see how the makers of We Rule would tackle farming there’s We Farm, ngmoco’s answer to FarmVille.  For the tower defense fan who’s “seen it all”, there’s Cowboys Vs. Zombies, an interesting take on the genre that has you defending several towns against zombie onslaughts using the fighters of the old west.  And, for the old school construction gamer there’s SimCity Deluxe, the next iteration of the long running franchise to make its way to the iPhone.  Just like Hero Of Sparta II it appears to be a decent improvement over the first, so if you’re looking for some city building action, you might want to check it out.

Hero of Sparta II – This game probably needs no introduction, but I need to fill up space somehow.  This is the sequel to what some consider the best action game of 2008.  You play Argos, and this time around you’ve managed to escape from Hell alive to return to Sparta.  That’s not really allowed, though, so you manage to incur the wrath of the gods and must battle through 12 levels of insane action to prove that you earned your ticket back to the overworld.  Every level promises new challenges and new rewards in the form of powers and abilities.  You have better control over Argos this time around as well, which should make the new 360 degree aerial attacks quite compelling.  The graphics were pretty impressive the first time around, but now they’ve been optimized for either 3GS or iPhone 4’s retina display, depending on which you’re lucky enough to have.

Hero of Sparta II Gameloft S.A. , Hero of Sparta II – $6.99

Shining Force – Okay, I really intended my nod to the Sega emulated games last week to be my only one, but I had to mention Shining Force.  This was probably one of my favorite RPGs from the Sega Genesis, and looking at the screen shots again I’m sure it will hold up pretty well against a lot the “modern” retro fare seen on the iPhone today.  You create a party of 11 characters from a choice of 39, and you’ll be able to acquire and equip 34 different weapons, 7 magic rings and a host of other items.  You’ll also have 32 different spells at your disposal.  What really set this game apart the first time around, however, was that the battles played out more like Advance Wars than a standard RPG.  Plus, the fact that it’s turn based and menu driven should eliminate most of the problems with the underwhelming performance and response of the emulator.  Now I promise I won’t bring up the emulator again (unless they release Herzog Zwei).

Shining Force Sega America, Shining Force, 6.2 MB – $2.99

Cowboys Vs Zombies – This game made a splash even before it was released due to some creative advertising – the company actually put up a poster in the San Francisco subway advertising their game.  Now I’m not saying this is unheard of, but I’ve never heard of something like it done before!  As for the game itself, it’s an interesting take on the whole tower defense genre.  You have to hire a bunch of cowfolk to protect your town against an invading horde of zombies.  Beware, though, because the zombies will do their best to get to your troops by destroying the buildings you position them on.  Every monetary decision falls between upgrading troops, purchasing more of them, or repairing buildings.  What will you choose in order to save the day?

Cowboys Vs Zombies Tall Chair, Inc , Cowboys Vs Zombies, 24.9 MB – $0.99

SimCity™ Deluxe – I was one of the few lucky enough to have both a computer and a NES in my dorm room in college (think 15+ years ago), and one of my most frequently played games was SimCity.  There’s just something oddly stimulating about building a city from scratch and then watching it burn as natural disasters hit… oh wait, that’s a bad thing, isn’t it?  Anyway, this new version for the iPhone looks to kick the original iDevice offering up a notch with better visuals, actual scenarios to take on, and 7 different “real life” cities to use as a starting point.  You also have the ability to “finger paint” the landscape, which sounds intriguing.  The Sim franchise has provided millions of players with a lot of entertainment over the past 20 years, and it’s nice to see it getting some love on the iPhone.

SimCity™ Deluxe Electronic Arts, SimCity™ Deluxe, 70.6 MB – $6.99

We Farm – Whether you want to consider this a supplement to We Rule or ngmoco’s answer to FarmVille, the invasion of social “build and prosper” games doesn’t seem to want to end.  This time you try to become the next Old MacDonald as you build up a farm with animals and crops.  Decide what you want to raise to compete in the county fair with, and keep them fed with your exceptionally grown fruits and vegetables.  The game requires an internet connection and a Plus+ account, so even if you’re playing on your own don’t expect to get away from the world wide web.  You can play with your friends, however, buying and selling crops to better stock your farm and make it the best looking acreage in the We Farm world.

We Farm ngmoco, Inc. , We Farm, 23.9 MB – Free
We Farm for iPad ngmoco, Inc. , We Farm for iPad, 28.4 MB – Free

YETISPORTS HD – Yeti Sports encompasses many things on the web, but my favorite has always been the penguin bat, which is the game they decided to include on the iPad version.  In classic mode you simply use the yeti to launch a penguin into the air with an icicle bat, hoping to get the penguin to travel as far as it can go.  It appears that they’ve actually added a new mode for the iPad version, however, where you actually have some control over the penguin “in flight” and have objectives to meet over a number of levels.  A welcome enhancement for sure, and something that should make the game enticing since the classic mode is still available over the web.  The graphics are colorful, and it’s always amusing should the penguin happen to end up head first in the snow at the end of its run.

YETISPORTS HD ROOT9 MediaLab GmbH, YETISPORTS HD, 7.8 MB – $2.99

Aerox – One of the first two reviews I wrote was on a game called HydroTilt, and for a while it was one of my favorites to play.  Graphically Aerox looks like a really advanced version of HydroTilt, so I’m already excited.  Unfortunately from the screen shots the game play looks like nothing more than Marble Madness on steroids, so it will be interesting to see what the “innovative” platforming action and physics based puzzles are comprised of.  If these innovations can make up for the lack of the 3 state mechanic (water, solid and gas) that made HydroTilt so wonderful to play, then this may rise to the top of my charts as well.  The visuals are enhanced for 3GS and iPhone 4 devices, and full HD for retina display and iPad are promised in the next update.  Will this be the next evolution of marble rollers?

Aerox Synoptical Studios Ltd, Aerox, 19.6 MB – $1.99

Fastar! – This is one of those games that you think is so ridiculous that it’s fun, except that it’s not all that ridiculous (it is pretty fun though).  You play the hero of an unspecified realm, and your goal is to clear that realm of all the nasty square creatures that are trying to take over.  Except for the tutorial you’ll get to choose one of nine spells to use, and then you’ll just run through a level to try and get to the end as quickly as you can, slashing squares along the way.  Every square you conquer gives you gold that you can use at a town to upgrade strength and defense and to replenish health, and that’s pretty much all there is to it.  As the developer says in their iTunes descriptions, it’s the action RPG for people that don’t have time for action RPGs.  In all fairness, though, you should give this a shot even if you do have time for action RPGs.  It’s a nice diversion in the down time.  Plus, with 24 different game modes and the incessant need to beat your previous score in any give mode, you shouldn’t run out of stuff to do for quite some time.

Fastar! Cat in a Box Games, Fastar!, 9.6 MB – $0.99

Furcadia – I can’t tell you how surprised I was to see this pop up on the list of new games.  I’ve never actually played it, but I remember reading about this when I was first getting into the internet.  It’s basically a social MMO with isometric graphics and cool looking humanoid animal avatars.  You can explore the vast world of Furcadia, go on quests, play puzzle games, or simply log on and chat.  The iPhone client doesn’t have the ability to create new areas, but the thousands of Windows and Mac players will take care of that for you, insuring that there will always be new content to check out.  The only down side to playing this on the iPhone is that it will set you back $5, instead of playing for free via the desktop clients.  However, if your iDevice is where you spend your time, it might be worth the one time fee for a universe that’s 15+ years in the making.

Furcadia Ayluro, Inc., Furcadia, 14.1 MB – $4.99

Chopper 2 – This is the sequel to the best selling iPhone game Chopper, and it’s a nice variation on the side scrolling theme that uses a helicopter instead of some sort of fighter plane as the vehicle of choice.  The graphics look quite nice, though you couldn’t necessarily tell it by the stills (I’d suggest seeking out a video to get a better feel for the visuals).  Sound effects use OpenAL for 3D spatial support, and the game includes a 17 minute long original soundtrack.  As for actual game play, you’ll need to complete 36 missions along 12 varied landscapes, blasting bad guys and protecting your allies all along the way.  If you have an iPhone 4 the game will use the gyroscope control.  More importantly, though, if you have an iPad and an iPhone that supports Bluetooth, you can use the iPhone to control the helicopter on the iPad.  Even better, hook the iPad up to a TV and now you can play the game on a big screen using your iPhone as remote control.  I really hope more games explore this type of control scheme in the future.  Best of all, the game is a universal binary, so you get all this for one low price.

Chopper 2 David Frampton , Chopper 2, 62.8 MB – $2.99

And here are some other notable releases that you may find of interest:

That’s a wrap. Another week, another 10+ iDevice games to keep you occupied. As always, if there’s something that came out last week which you really enjoyed and think I should have mentioned, please feel free to comment on this post with your recommendations.

Previous weekly installments of our New App Store Games Roundup:

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