10 New App Store Games To Watch [Aug. 1 - 7]

There are two situations that make this article tough to write – a lack of interesting game releases or a plethora of them.  Fortunately, this week fell into the latter category, so if a game you felt was noteworthy didn’t make the list, don’t feel too bad.  I’m sure I considered it.  First up is the late arrival of Final Fantasy Tactics: The War Of The Lions, a turn based tactical strategy / RPG game from SquareEnix that’s actually a port of a PSP game.  Next comes my personal interest, Cut The Rope: Experiments.  I didn’t even know this game was headed my way, but I was a huge fan of the first one and have high hopes for this sequel.  Action / RPG nuts might want to check out Ragnarok Violet, the single player iOS version of a popular online RPG.  Finally there’s Sly Vs Sly, a game for the folks that want to see what the lighter side of the spy business is like.  If you think the game looks a LOT like Spy Vs. Spy you’re not alone, but I’d be willing to take a chance on this one even if it does eventually get pulled.

FINAL FANTASY TACTICS: THE WAR OF THE LIONS – One thing you have to give SquareEnix credit for is that their games keep going up price wise with each release.  This time around we have The War Of The Lions, an iPhone port of a 2007 PSP release of a 1997 game. This is a turn based tactical strategy game that takes place somewhere in the vast Final Fantasy universe.  Unfortunately, the iTunes description tells us little more about the game than that sentence, assuming that everyone has actually played the game in the last 15 years.  The things you can most likely count on: cool but long video sequences, colorful characters, intense action and an interesting level up system.  The graphics have been improved from the PSP version as well.  What’s not clear is whether there’s anything here to offer that former players of the game haven’t already experienced.  Large scale tactical RPGs aren’t widespread on the iPhone, so at least this is filling a potential void, but the real question is if the price makes that void worth filling.

FINAL FANTASY TACTICS: THE WAR OF THE LIONS SQUARE ENIX, FINAL FANTASY TACTICS - $15.99

Space Ship Ion –I remember doing a write-up of the original lite version of this, which is something I rarely do.  I’m a huge scrolling shooter fan, and I loved the fact that you were fighting swarms of alien bugs instead of wave after wave of ship that we’ve seen to death.  Sure there are other games with big, nasty bugs, but they are few and far between in comparison.  I also remember the boss battles being more interesting than the norm.  That’s important to me, because quite often the bosses set the overall tone for a shooter.  The thing that was really neat was the fact that you could buy and upgrade weapons at a shop instead of collecting them during play, and you wouldn’t lose anything you bought when you died.  Again this isn’t completely unheard of in the shooter world, but it’s certainly not common either.  Overall the game was quite enjoyable, and it sounds like this newly released full version is overhauled to provide an even better experience.

Space Ship Ion iniGames, Space Ship Ion, 43.1 MB – $0.99

Sly vs Sly – When I was growing up, one of the best parts of reading Mad magazine was the comic strip that appeared called Spy Vs. Spy.  This game looks to try and capture the magic of that old comic strip about two rival spies, one black and one white, trying to dispose of each other “Tom & Jerry” style while accomplishing some other goal.  In fact, visually it reminds me a lot of the old games, probably aided by the fact that the bottom half of the screen mimics a Nintendo joystick.  What’s important to understand about this game is not the fact that you are searching for loot before your opponent can find it.  The way to truly have fun is to catch your opponent in a series of silly traps.  Water buckets above doors, bombs, and other goodies are at your disposal, though your opponent might just have a counter trap.  The main thing that’s missing in this version is multi-player, though that’s coming in the next release (hopefully both internet and local play).

Sly vs Sly Studio Helix, Sly vs Sly, 18.3 MB – $0.99

Battle Planes – I’m sure you’re wondering why I’ve included yet another Battleship clone in this list.  I like the fact that the focus of the game is on planes rather than ships, but then that’s been done before as well.  However, I’m not aware of another version of this game where each of the ships has a different design.  That adds a bit to the strategy of the game.  The inclusion of a “one shot” weak spot is cool as well.  Then there are the multiple board sizes, and the ability to play a one minute match for the ultimate test of skill.  Take on a real opponent locally via WiFi or the same device, or over the internet through Game Center.  The one thing I’m curious about are the 10 different characters you can choose from – do they add anything to the game or are they just there for you to have something else to select?  Hopefully the former is the case.

Battle Planes Pixiusoft Corporation, Battle Planes, 31.2 MB – $1.99

Bug Heroes Quest – I loved the original Bug Heroes (TMA Review), which was an interesting blend of tower defense and action / RPG thrown in a unique environment.  The heroes are back, the environment is bigger than ever, and the tower defense element has been replaced with a detailed story, giving the game more of an adventure slant.  My only fear is that the game suffers because of the lack of TD elements and feels like a second rate sequel. So far the Foursaken Media folks haven’t let me down, though, so I don’t expect this game to be any different.  There are 60 levels to conquer and a variety of characters to play with, and if it’s anything like the original Bug Heroes you can expect some cool updates.  The visuals look to keep the charm of the original, which means they’ll be pretty slick.  Could this be the next great dual stick game?  If iPhone users give it a chance, I think it could.

Bug Heroes Quest Foursaken Media, Bug Heroes Quest, 106 MB – $0.99

Bizango Blast – There’s no question that iPhone users love physics based puzzle games.  As such, it only seems natural that more of them would be heading the 3D route.  Welcome to Bizango Blast, a 3D physics based puzzle game developed with the Unreal engine.  Unlike a good number of this style of game, where your sole purpose is to destroy everything on the field, in this case you must use caution as there are eggs in the playing field that need to be rescued.  The creatures look interesting and the overall cartoony look of the game is different than most 3D efforts.  The fact that there is physics involved means that the solution for a given level could have several variations, and the 50 levels that come with the game should keep you busy for a while.  Hopefully we’ll see more levels as the popularity of the game grows.  The main question is how easy the 3D interface will be to use.

Bizango Blast Olivier Archer, Bizango Blast, 528 MB – $0.99

Cut the Rope: Experiments – Some said Cut the Rope (TMA Review) would be the Angry Birds killer, and while it only achieved that status for a week or two, it’s still a great game.  Now we get a chance to interact with Om Nom again as we help a scientist try and discover what exactly Om Nom is and why it loves candy so much.  The new game features 75 levels spread across three worlds, with more puzzles already in the works.  All the game play elements you know and love are still there, along with some new tricks like rope shooters and suction cups.  You’ll also get introduced to the professor through an animated storyline.  If you haven’t tried the original I suggest you do so.  Then give Experiments a try, and you’ll be all revved up for when the comic book hits the App Store later this year.

Cut the Rope: Experiments ZeptoLab, Cut the Rope: Experiments, 18.4 MB – $0.99
Cut the Rope: Experiments HD ZeptoLab, Cut the Rope: Experiments HD, 19.5 MB – $1.99

Ragnarok Violet – I’m not familiar with the online version of Ragnarok, but this single player iPhone outing looks quite nice.  Violet takes place in the same world as the online game, and builds upon the systems that have made the online version a success.  You’ll have the chance to turn monsters into pets, enhancing your player’s stats as well as making battles more interesting.  The pets will even be able to gather loot for you!  There are also cards to collect and you have the ability to enchant items.  It sounds like there are plenty of customizable features to make it a unique experience for each player, and for each time through if you choose to play more than once.  Of course you also have all the standard RPG elements like leveling up, collecting weapons and armor to help you in battle, and taking on involving quests.  It also sounds like they want to encourage players to migrate to their online offering, as they are currently running two contests that will provide you rewards should you choose to participate in the online world.  The game is also free right now, so it’s the best time to get involved.

Ragnarok Violet NEO-CYON, Ragnarok Violet, 10.6 MB – Free

Arenas, Trial of Valor – Welcome to an online world of turn based tactical combat.  You get to travel between 5 different arenas where you can take on monsters, another player, a group of players or monsters (while joining a group yourself), or a free for all melee.  There are 10 races to choose from, and thousands of unique objects to find and use, with more being created regularly.  There are over 200 spells to cast, including monster summoning ones, and more than 250 creatures to fight against.  You can upgrade items such as jewelry and potions, and find different materials to make you weapons and armor out of.  And naturally there are online rankings to compete in.  Needless to say, this game is only going to be as fun as it is popular, because it sounds like the group vs. group combat is where all the fun is going to be.  The key to this game’s success will ultimately lie in the allowed size of groups and the relative speed of a fight, because it will be hard to keep large groups of people locked into one battle for more than a few minutes at a time.

Arenas, Trial of Valor Emeryon Games, Arenas, Trial of Valor, 76.5 MB – $3.99

Toss The Ball – Namco takes to the casual scene with this carnival inspired mini-game.  It’s kind of like Skee-Ball except with a different layout for the holes.  I was surprised at how addicted I had become to the first electronic skee-ball game I played, and this looks to have some interesting bells and whistles.  There are actually 4 different game play modes, including the ability to play up to 4 people over the internet or 5 via WiFi or Bluetooth.  There are 5 themed boards, and 12 unlockable balls each with abilities that affect how the game is played.  You can even unlock power-ups to manipulate the game in your favor.  Then there are the 20 Game Center achievements to keep you busy.  The game is free with IAP to purchase a “premium” version, though no details are given what you get for your 99 cents.  Still, Toss the Ball sounds like a nice casual diversion, and I’d imagine we’ll see new balls and boards as time goes by, so it should be an evolving product.

Toss The Ball Namco Networks America, Toss The Ball, 29.7 MB – Free

That was just 10 of the many new releases this past week. Here are several more notable titles you may find of interest:

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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