If you’re an FPS fan, or you’re curious to see what your little mobile device can do, then the week’s top pick is certainly Shadowgun. The initial release was a bit rocky, but now that the first update has been released, the game packs quite a punch – and it’s even fairly friendly for those that have never played an FPS. On a completely different front there’s Phonect, which is actually an engine rather than a game. It allows your iDevice to detect your hand movements and translate them to in-game actions, and while the initial game using this technology looks kind of ho-hum, the potential gaming possibilities this opens up are what excites me.
Fish Of Fury – There are a number of fighting games on the iOS platform, but this is certainly one of the most interesting in terms of theme. After all, what other fighting game on your mobile device lets you beat the carp out of each other? There are 9 different fishy fighters in this game, and 4 different game play modes that will let you put them through their paces. The controls are designed to let you play with one hand while still providing a satisfying number of combos to knock your opponents around. You can play arcade mode to prove that you are better than the evil Emperor V fish, or you can play survival, practice or quick-play modes for some random fun. Whatever the case you’ll be treated to some wacky character designs and one of 4 cool backgrounds. The game provides a nice balance so that beginner brawlers and veterans alike can enjoy the game play. The only thing missing at this point is mutli-player capability, but the developers have promised updates on the horizon, so maybe one of them will let you take on your closest friends.
T-Enterprise Scotland, Fish of Fury, – $0.99
Phonect / Mimo! – Phonect is not actually a game, but a motion detection engine. It uses the camera on your latest generation iDevice to capture your hand movements and translate them to on screen interaction. Ironically, people were doing this years ago with the Nintendo power glove hard wired into the back of a computer, but that’s a whole other story. Anyway, technology like this is only as good as the software that uses it, which is where Mimo comes in. In truth the game sounds kind of lame. However, it does give you license to crush one of entertainment’s most dreaded performers – the mime. Now I realize the game is designed more to show off the Phonect technology than anything, but in a market where games with lots of content cost a mere 99 cents, it seems sad that a mini-game revolving around glass panes and quiet, defenseless artists would cost 2 bucks. Still I include these more because of my interest in the technology itself than because of the initial offering of Mimo! I just hope this doesn’t go the way of Nintendo’s R.O.B. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Exactly…
Secrecy – A mysterious person places you on a mysterious island, and now you must figure out how to get back to civilization and unmask your captor. This is interactive fiction at its best, where every decision you make affects you and those around you. Characters will react in a lifelike manner to your actions, so you can expect plenty of lies, deception and mystery to creep up. You might even find the good in some of these people as well. Your focus is survival, as it is possible for you to starve, die of thirst, get sick or simply grow too old to continue your quest. Minimalist artwork and quality writing help convey your intriguing story. There are currently two chapters to this tale, with more to come in free updates. The price will rise as the chapters pile on, however, so you might want to jump in on this adventure early.
Nelda Interactive, Secrecy, – $0.99
Brick People – Originally designed as an innovation in combining the physical and digital worlds, Brick People comes to iOS devices in what sounds like an intriguing cross between Lemmings and LEGOs. By arranging and stacking bricks you’ll be able to guide the Brick People towards their ultimate pleasure, some really tasty fruit. You’ll need to study and learn the nuances of the different types of Brick People so you can use that to your advantage when planning their route. Occasionally Brick Monsters will throw a wrench in your plans, giving you extra obstacles to work around. Thwarting these obstacles will give you extra time for future missions, but if you run out of time on your current level all the bricks will crumble at once. There are 3 difficulty levels to choose from, and there is a multiplayer mode so you can challenge your friends. The iPhone requires two devices for multiplayer mode, but the iPad lets you play face to face on the same device. Naturally, the game supports Game Center as well, so you can see how you rank against other brick stackers as well as earn achievements for your puzzle solving prowess.
Syz: EG – Always on the lookout for new and innovative scrolling shooters, this one definitely caught my attention. Unfortunately, if you were to just look at the screen shots you might pass this one by, as they do have that “hi, I’m a low budget title” look to them. However, if you actually pay attention to the screens you’ll note that the game incorporates both horizontal and vertical scrolling elements, making an appeal to fans of both perspectives. Additionally, the game allows you to control the movement of the ship and the aiming of your weapons separately, which is rare for a scrolling ship shooter and apparently a first for the iPad. Hacking is listed among the ship’s abilities, so I’m curious to see how that plays out in the course of the game. There are two game play modes, so you can either indulge in the story line complete with more than 350 lines of dialog, or you can try for a high score in free play mode. The story is billed as an “episodic narrative”, so expect more exploits from Captain Porter and his crew in the future.
Team Krinoid, Syz: EG, 90.1 MB – $2.99
Swapple – Swapple is a brand new match 3 game with a difference. As you’d expect, you must match 3 or more swapples of like color to clear them from the board. Clear 6 swapples in a row to get special items like bomb and color bottles. If you completely clear a color you’ll score a Swapple (I’m guessing that’s something along the lines of a Tetris in that like-named game). So you’re probably wondering what’s so different about this match 3 game. You actually have the ability to make multiple swaps at once! There is a “swap timer”, and until that timer runs out you can select as many pairs of swapples to swap as you want. Once the timer runs out all your swaps will be made. This makes Swapple a much more strategically minded match 3 game than most. It certainly doesn’t hurt any that Swapples are cute, either, making this game appeal to kids and adults alike. If you’re looking for something more than your average diamond swapper, Swapple is probably the game for you.
ThumbFire, Swapple, – $0.99
Life of George – Unlike Brick People, which takes a blend of physical and electronic and turns it into a purely electronic game, Life of George is a blend of physical and electronic – kind of. In the game you’ll meet George, who takes you around the world and shows you pictures of things he wants you to build. You’ll have to build the model as fast as you can and then snap a picture of it with your camera… wait, what? Yep, you actually build the model in the real world using the pieces that come in the Life of George kit that you can either buy online or from your local store that sells toys. You will be scored on your building skills and speed, and you can compete with your friends to see who is the best builder. Be prepared for them to ask to borrow your Life of George kit, though, because while the iOS app is free the physical block set cost $30. I guess innovation does come with a price!
The LEGO Group, Life of George, – Free
Moon Takers – In all honesty, this looks like one of those games that came out of a “learn how to program games” book. Hopefully looks are deceiving in this case, though. This horizontal scrolling shooter will have you fighting 15 waves of bad guys that are intent on stealing the moon. There are even 3 bosses to take on in your quest. You’ll be able to collect bonuses to enhance your weapons, as well as piece together the components for a “Megagun”. The game supports OpenFeint and Game Center for leaderboards, and hopefully for some achievements as well. Now I’m all for a new scrolling shooter with solid game play, even if it doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary, but to make this list there should be something different. I’m hoping this game’s claim to fame will be its eventual 2 player mode. There may be other scrolling shooters on the App Store that support two players, but they are few and far between, and going into battle with your friend against alien hordes would be extremely cool.
Develion ART, Moon Takers, – $0.99
KATAMARI Amore – I think the Katamari series has potentially suffered a bit due to the simple fact that it has a weird name, but possibly even more so because of an odd concept – you’re basically rolling around picking up stuff that’s lying around on the ground. Still, enough people have looked past these issues and embraced the series to warrant two iterations of the franchise on iOS devices. This second installment doesn’t really deviate from its predecessors: you roll your “katamari” around the screen collecting objects, and as your “katamari” gets bigger you can “consume” larger objects. The game sports new stages not available in previous titles for other platforms. There are six unique stages, each of which has three different game play modes to conquer as well as an infinite mode to siphon away massive amounts of your free time. This version also features compatibility with single and twin “virtual pads”, which I assume are just on screen controls like are common with many other iOS games. You get one mode of one level for free, and purchasing the entire game not only unlocks the rest of the levels / game play modes, but it also gives you a special level that’s a hybrid between Katamari and Pac-Man. Leave it to Namco to cross-promote this blatantly!
NamcoBandai Games, KATAMARI Amore, – Free
Shadowgun – Well if you haven’t heard about this one by now, it’s basically teetering between being “one of” and “THE best” FPS on the iPhone to date. Now I’ve been fortunate enough to spend some time with this one, and while I’m not sure it’s the best I’ve played, it certainly comes close (I’m still trying to weigh it against Dead Space). Still, there’s no question that Shadowgun prevails in one area, and that’s the amazing visuals. If you want to see what a console quality game would look like on your iPhone, you need to try Shadowgun. The game play is pretty typical FPS action, but its beauty lies in the fact that it is accessible to those who haven’t grown up with this type of game (or have chosen to ignore the genre for so long). The game sports 10 levels with lots of bad guys to slay and some intense bosses to battle. There are three difficulty levels to keep n00bs and veterans alike entertained, and each level contains at least one hidden icon that will unlock fact cards which give you additional background on the world you inhabit. Some have argued that the action is repetitive and simple, but my take is that this is the FPS for folks that don’t like FPS games… and even many that do.
MADFINGER Games, SHADOWGUN, – $7.99
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: