10 New App Store Games To Watch [Jan. 10 – 16]

This week was once again “dominated” – and I use the term loosely – by the indie developer.  Hopefully everyone is going to get over their New Year’s indulgences soon and start turning out some cool new games.  To start off this week we have Road Blaster, another port of an 80s laser disc game, this time mashing Japanese Anime and Mad Max.  If world conquest is more your style you might give Pocket Pandemic a try, which gives you the opportunity to infect the world with a virus you create.  Adventure game fans should check out Bygone City 3 Adventure Game (an awkward title to be sure), though for the complete picture I recommend picking up the first two parts as well.  Finally, castle defense / TD fans that are tired of the “same old same old” should check out Smack A Seal – just make sure you’re not within reach of any PETA militants.

Road Blaster – Road Blaster comes to the iPhone courtesy of the same developer that ported Cobra Command, both of which happen to be mid-80s Data East laser-disc games.  This time around you’re a man seeking revenge on the gangsters that killed your wife and terrorized your town.  You get to drive a supped up sports car and travel to many varied locations including the beach and the sewers.  I’m guessing that you stay in your car throughout the trip, which should mean plenty of cool chases and running down villains.  Of course the biggest selling point is the cartoon like graphics and animation, and given the track record of laser-disc games I’ve seen so far, this should be no means disappoint.  Road Blaster ought to be a nice trip down memory lane for those who frequented arcades in the mid to late 80s.

Road Blaster Revolutionary Concepts, Road Blaster, 314 MB – $0.99

Pocket Pandemic – It’s time to strike your neighbors before they can get to you.  In Pocket Pandemic your goal is to take over the world via a virus that you create.  You start with one of six viruses, which are hopefully customizable, and select from 200 different locations worldwide to infect.  Pick someone to attack at random, or if you’re feeling particularly ornery choose your friends as targets.  You’ll work your way through 10 waves of infection until you reach world domination.  Global leaderboards and Twitter integration allow you to track and broadcast your progress, as well as find other players to infect.  Now all they need is a zombie variant of this game and I’d be sold in a heartbeat!

Pocket Pandemic Night Leaf, Pocket Pandemic, 2.4 MB – $0.99

Empire Online – You have to love this one just for the iTunes description – “300 maps, 1000 quests, 5000 items and 6 million avatars”.  Clearly the author loves throwing around numbers.  So what does that mean as far as the game play is concerned?  Apparently that’s secondary information, because it’s not even mentioned in iTunes.  Judging from the screen shots, however, I’d say this is your typical JRPG MMO (and feel free to tack on any other initials you can think of).  The concept of building your own empire could be cool, and should have been a better selling point in the description.  The graphics look pretty decent, and the game is free, so you don’t lose anything for trying it.  As always, the big question with MMOs is “will anyone be playing it 6 months from now?”

Empire Online Lakoo, Empire Online, 20.2 MB – Free

Bygone City 3 Adventure Game – The astute have already picked up on the fact that this is the third in a series of adventure games.  In the first two games [ BC 1, BC 2 ] you play the husband trying to find your wife, and this time around you get to try your hand at being the wife.  Of course it’s still just a seek and rescue mission, but that’s okay.  The first one kept me adequately entertained with a pretty decent balance of puzzles, though I did have to consult the walkthrough once or twice.  The story is actually pretty interesting without bogging down game play, and there’s enough to do that you won’t get bored.  The visuals in part one weren’t bad, though they often felt like someone’s attempt at learning a 3D modeling package.  Overall, I’d say if this chapter maintains the quality of the first it’s worth a visit, and of course the hope is always that it ups the ante by a notch or two.

Bygone City 3 Adventure Game Tommybear, Bygone City 3 Adventure Game, 17.9 MB – $0.99

BattleSpell – This sounds to me like a cross between Magic The Gathering and Strongholds (which is a great iOS game, by the way).  You pick a kingdom, a hero and a deck to play with.  Then you face off against another hero in a race to either get 100 energy points or reduce your opponent’s energy points to 0.  You’ll need to gather resources and recruit minions to do your bidding.  Special Unit cards will also stay on the playing field and battle for you.  And, when push comes to shove your hero has a special ability that can be called on once per match.  Ultimately the longevity of this game will fall in its level of customizability and potential add-on packs to make it feel like a traditional customizable card game.

BattleSpell Mobile Systems, BattleSpell, 16.7 MB – $1.99

Smack A Seal – Smack A Seal adds a fresh coat of paint to the stale castle defense genre.  You control a penguin trying to protect its tasty supper – a fine, juicy whale – from some evil seals.  You start out with a simple club that you can use to lay some smack down on those pesky seals, and eventually you’ll be able to get gun turrets and mines to help hold down the fort… er, igloo.  The game contains 18 levels spread across 3 unique islands, and once you’ve mastered them all you can play unlimited modes as well.  Game Center provides leaderboards and achievements, so you can compete with your friends to see who is the best seal smacker of them all. The overall feel of the game leans towards dark humor, which is a nice change of pace from the mood of most castle defense games.  If you’re at all into the TD / castle defense genres, this is definitely one worth checking out.

Smack A Seal Zaxis Games, Smack A Seal, 33.0 MB – $2.99

Cardboard Castle – I really like the whole “paper cutout” motif when it’s done well, and from what I’m seeing in the screen shots I’d say Cardboard Castle does it quite well indeed.  What had me even more intrigued, however, is the fact that based on the description, it sounds like the game actually makes use of the fact that the world is made of paper in order to facilitate the solving of puzzles.  Now there’s a novel concept.  You play the ultimate knight in shining armor, traveling to save the oppressed and defeat the vile evils of your cardboard world.  The game contains three epic quests and an endurance mode to see how far you can really make it in one shot.  If this plays as well as it looks I think we’re all in for a treat.

[Currently Not Available In The U.S.]

GeoSpin– Imagine one of those puzzle games where you have to take a bunch of little shapes and fit them into a big shape, except this one tells you exactly where the shapes go.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Try adding a timer, changing the playing field from 2D to 3D, and having the puzzle pieces float around the playing field and suddenly the challenge has popped back into the game.  There are 2 different game play modes which each offer a unique perspective on what you need to accomplish.  OpenFeint integration provides leaderboards and achievements, the graphics have a nice “modern retro” look to them, and the music comes from Partners In Rhyme.  This looks to me like a nice spin on a tested game play formula.

GeoSpin Lazrhog Games, GeoSpin, 41.6 MB – $0.99

Sheeple Chase – If you’re tired of all the fancy 3D car racing games and would like something a little different, why not try racing sheep in this latest offering from Clickgamer?  You get to race through a variety of wacky courses, but instead of just hanging out on the farm you’ll get to slip in the arctic, roast in the desert and even see if there really is cheese on the moon.  Once you’ve mastered all the base game has to offer you can whip out the track editor and come up with your own crazy concoctions.  You can even share them with your friends that have at least a 3G or newer device.  The game supports both Crystal and Game Center, so there are plenty of ways to compete against your friends to see who the best sheep jockey is.

Sheeple Chase Clickgamer.com, Sheeple Chase, 19.6 MB – $0.99

Earth Defense Force – You know the drill – pilot a ship through hostile terrain, blowing up everything in sight and trying to make it out alive.  This is a port of an SNES scroller from the 90’s, brought to the iPhone by emulator specialists DotEmu.  The game contains all 6 stages from the original, and can be played in arcade mode to unlock each level or free play mode for the levels that have already been unlocked.  There are two different controls schemes to suit your playing style and weapons that can be unlocked by beating the game multiple times.  Game Center integration provides leaderboards and achievements to keep you coming back for more.  There may be more sophisticated shooters out there, but this should be a nice trip down memory lane for those of us that owned an SNES and possibly even played this game in the 90s.

Earth Defense Force DotEmu, Earth Defense Force, 11.4 MB – $1.99

Well that wraps up another week of games to watch on the App Store.  As always, if there’s something you’ve played from the past week that you feel should be part of this list, please leave a reply to this post.

Previous weekly installments of our New App Store Games Roundup:

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