10 New App Store Games To Watch [Jan. 17 - 23]

The big players are still pretty quiet right now, but there was plenty of indie muscle showing last week.  Turn based strategy game fans can find lots of action in The Pantheon Cycle:  Shrouded Aspect, the first in a planned series of games.  If you missed it on the iPhone, one of the coolest zombie games and most amusing soccer themed games has made it to the iPad in the form of Pro Zombie Soccer Apocalypse Edition.  For gamebook adventure fans there’s a fresh take on the genre thanks to Fabled Lands HD.  Finally, if you’re looking for a quirky adventure game that’s heavy on puzzles, check out Hamlet or the Last Game without MMORPG Features, Shaders and Product Placement.  If nothing else, it’s got a great name.

The Pantheon Cycle: Shrouded Aspect – This is a turn based strategy game grounded in Celtic lore.  The focus is on combat, so I’m guessing that while you’ll be able to earn experience to gain new skills and collect new equipment, the game will primarily jump from battlefield to battlefield.  You’ll be able to harness the power of six different world energies, or concentrate on using muscle and weapons to win your battles.  There’s a story driven campaign that includes 32 scenarios with branching paths and promises over 30 hours of game play.  The multi-faceted scenarios should allow for some replay value as well.  Unfortunately there is no multi-player, nor is there mention of any sort of skirmish mode for quick play, so it will be interesting to see if either of these make it into updates or future installments of the series.

The Pantheon Cycle: Shrouded Aspect Gilligames, The Pantheon Cycle: Shrouded Aspect, 80.3 MB – $4.99

iTerrorists – I normally shy away from iXYZ games, because it bugs me that people still think the “i” prefix in front of a game is cool.  The thing that appeals to me about iTerrorists is that the screen shots remind me of all those cheesy but cool gun based shooters that used to be so popular in the arcades.  The game sports 3 difficulty levels and appears to have a nice variety of locales including a railroad and an atomic station.  The controls are simply tilting left and right to move and tapping the screen to fire, so it’s a basic gallery style shooter, which is one of my favorite types.  The graphics look decent, but what I really appreciate is the fact that the hostage in the one screen looks so out of place.  Despite being about terrorists I’m not sure this can be taken too seriously, but it looks like loads of fun.

iTerrorists ExtremeCreative.com, iTerrorists, 47.7 MB – $1.99

Ball Slam Fantasy Tournament – I don’t care much for Arkanoid style games, but when Ball Slam Fantasy came out in 2009 I reviewed it and gave it a 9.4 out of 10.  My synopsis for pros was “Outstanding visuals, incredible soundtrack and makes the Arkanoid genre enjoyable”, and for cons I said “nothing noteworthy”.  From the sounds of it, the sequel is even better.  New levels designs and power ups highlight the single player experience.  More importantly, however, is the fact that you can play two player over WiFi.  Sharing this experience with someone else would be quite incredible.  Of course, internet multi-player would be even better, but I’ll take what I can get.  Here’s hoping that this falls under the “more of a good thing” category.

Ball Slam Fantasy Tournament Zed Worldwide, Ball Slam Fantasy Tournament, 61.1 MB – $0.99

Pro Zombie Soccer Apocalypse Edition – This is one of those games that I’d buy in a heartbeat if I owned an iPad, even though I already have the iPhone version.  You play a soccer superstar wannabe that gets infected by a pro soccer player turned zombie.  Before you turn yourself you make a decision to destroy as many zombies as you can.  Luckily your infection has also imbued you with some mad soccer skillz.  This is a castle defense style game that’s not quite like any others.  Humor abounds, the audio and visuals rock, and the power ups are few but quite awesome.  Plus, you get to knock the heads off of zombies with a soccer ball.  I really don’t see what more you could want in a zombie themed game.  If you’ve not experienced the iPhone version and you have an iPad, get this game.  If you have experienced the iPhone version and have an iPad, you’ve hopefully already bought it.

Pro Zombie Soccer Apocalypse Edition Chillingo, Pro Zombie Soccer Apocalypse Edition - $1.99

FABLED LANDS HD – When you first look at the screen shots for this game you might think “hm, that looks kind of like a gamebook adventure”.  You wouldn’t be entirely off base, as the game is based off a gamebook adventure series amazingly enough called “Fabled Lands”.  What I like here is that it abandons the book style interface for one that is more old school adventure game oriented.  At the same time it provides you with a story to read so as to not abandon its rich literary roots.  I have nothing against the more traditional gamebook adventure series that have already popped up on iDevices, but this looks like a nice change of pace.  I also like the fact that you can choose which side of the fence you wish to play for.  So anyone have a spare iPad laying around that they want to lend me?

FABLED LANDS HD Megara Entertainment, FABLED LANDS HD, 439 MB – $9.99

Sheep Mania – Puzzle Islands – From the folks that brought us the nifty retro platform game Pixeline comes Sheep Mania, a puzzle game about sheep, islands and the need to remove one from the other.  The premise itself is wacky, with a cruise full of sheep running aground and the sheep scattering to separate islands across the ocean.  If the actual game play can maintain this levity then this could be quite amusing.  There are 50 levels to conquer that include things like rolling rocks, underground tunnels and deadly pits.  Unfortunately the screen shots in iTunes minimize the visibility of the in game graphics, but it looks like it might share the same flare as Pixeline, which would be pretty cool.  Sheep Mania is Game Center and Facebook enabled, so there should be some achievements as well as multiple ways to challenge your friends.  Hopefully future updates will include more levels, as the current price for the universal version is a bit steep compared to similarly themed games.

Sheep Mania - Puzzle Islands osao, Sheep Mania – Puzzle Islands, 5.0 MB – $2.99
Sheep Mania - Puzzle Islands HD osao, Sheep Mania – Puzzle Islands HD, 8.3 MB – $3.99

CrazyControl 2 – At first glance this looks like a pretty standard side scrolling action platformer game, albeit a stylishly drawn one. On further inspection, however, it seems to be a resource juggling tour de force as you simultaneously control up to six characters on screen.  There are 60 stages to conquer, with the later stages introducing 5 or 6 characters to manipulate at once.  Levels can be revisited to collect more loot, and upgrades can be horded and used whenever you feel like it.  Once you’ve beaten story mode you can play endless battle mode, which allows you to combine units during attack.  Game Center integration allows you to compete against your friends for high scores and distances (in endless battle mode), and a future update will provide multi-player battle functions.

CrazyControl 2 ChocobajiApps Corp, CrazyControl 2, 87.7 MB – $0.99

Virtua Fighter 2 – Long time Sega fans know this series well.  There was a time where it was considered “cream of the crop”, but to be perfectly honest I’m not sure it has aged so well.  Still, nostalgia buffs should get a kick (or two) out of it.  You can choose one of 8 characters and play across 8 themed stages.  If you’re good enough you can even unlock the final boss to use as a playable character.  On devices that support Bluetooth you can take the action to a friend with peer-to-peer multi-player.  The real question is if Sega’s Genesis emulator will be able to handle this game.  While it may not seem like much now it was a powerhouse back in its day, and the iPhone emulator seemed to struggle with simpler games like Streets of Rage and Golden Axe.

Virtua Fighter 2 SEGA, Virtua Fighter 2, 6.3 MB – $1.99

Hamlet or the Last Game without MMORPG Features, Shaders and Product Placement – First of all, how could I not feature a game with a title like this?  Truthfully, though, the plot is amusing and the game itself is quite interesting (at least the PC version was).  You play a time traveler that takes Hamlet out of commission and must set out to rescue Ophelia on his own.  The puzzles can be rather devious, and there’s no inventory, which is quite unusual for an adventure game.  The game boasts 25 levels and includes boss battles, also somewhat unique for this style of game play.  The art is quite endearing, and the overall atmosphere is kooky with a bit of insanity sprinkled on top.  It comes in both iPhone and iPad flavors, and if you have the option I’d suggest the iPad route, as I’d imagine the additional real estate would be helpful in this particular game.

Hamlet or the Last Game without MMORPG Features, Shaders and Product Placement Alawar, Hamlet or the Last Game without MMORPG Features, Shaders and Product Placement, 62.9 MB – $2.99
Hamlet or the Last Game without MMORPG Features, Shaders and Product Placement HD Alawar, Hamlet or the Last Game without MMORPG Features, Shaders and Product Placement HD, 88.6 MB – $3.99

Last Class Heroes – This game almost sounds bizarre enough to be really interesting.  You play one of two students at Veena Academy, a high school where academic standings do more than just divide the student body.  All students can call forth magical beings called Prometheans, whose skills are based on the student’s academic standing.  You’ll get the chance to explore the academy and try and learn the secrets behind the Prometheans, but you’ll also need to get your grades up to unlock new skills for your own creature. The graphics have an old school Sierra adventure game vibe to them, which is actually kind of a nice look.  There’s no mention of social networks or multi-player, but this premise with those additions could make for quite a killer game.

[Currently Not Available In The U.S.]

Here are several more notable releases that may interest you:

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:

Next ArticleCES 2011's best: Sonomax's SoundCage 4-minute custom earphone