10 New App Store Games To Watch [Oct. 3 - 9]

If you’re a horror fan, this week brings a couple of intriguing titles to iOS devices.  Dark Meadow has you traipsing the halls of a hospital, fighting off all manor of ghastly creature and trying to figure out why you’re there in the first place.  If you’re not so much into combat you can try Demons Land, an adventure revolving around a detective that thinks he’s investigating a robbery and winds up getting involved with the supernatural.  On the other hand, more casual gamers might want to check out Frogger Pinball, a new release celebrating the famous road crosser’s 30th anniversary with a unique take on the webbed wonder’s adventures.  Strategists “on the go” will probably enjoy Anthill: Tactical Trail Defense, an RTS with a unique control scheme designed especially for portable touch screen devices.

Isle of Tune HD – If you’re looking for another Tap Tap clone, Isle of Tune doesn’t even come close.  In fact, I wouldn’t even consider this game unless you’re looking for something totally unique and also something that takes a little bit of effort to master.  Visually it looks like a city building application, and in fact you do lay everything out much in that fashion.  Items like houses and lampposts act as the instruments, and the cars are the players.  You can have up to 8 cars on the same island, each travelling at their own speed.  You can save and load your creations until you’ve perfected them, and then you can share them with other players and with Game Center friends so you can get rated and earn achievements.  You even have access to the more than 125,000 islands that have already been created using the online version.  I believe the iPad version has additional options not found online, but at least you can see what the game is like for free (and find out if you’re patient enough to handle it).  Isle of Tune HD won’t be for everyone, even among the music game fans, but it’s certainly a unique entry in the market.

Isle of Tune HD Happylander Ltd, Isle of Tune HD, – $2.99

Frogger Pinball – So is Frogger the next classic franchise to get spun off to death in the wake of Pac-Man overload?  Well, if Frogger Pinball plays as well as it looks and sounds, that might not be such a bad thing for a while.  In this unique spin on the genre, you’ll flip Frogger across three distinct boards, trying to rescue Lily from RoboCroc.  The levels actually have enemies that will fight back and leave “eco energy” when defeated.  This energy lets you buy power ups, so the game feels as much like an arcade game as a pinball machine.  There’s also a challenge mode where you get one shot to rack up a high score.  Game Center is supported for leaderboards, and presumably for achievements as well.  The game does offer IAP upgrades, and there is talk of new boards coming, so it will be interesting to see if those come in a free update or as additional IAP.  Either way, if you’re looking for some Frogger fun without the standard “hop to the top” format of his games, Frogger Pinball should provide a nice alternative.

Frogger Pinball Konami Digital Entertainment, Frogger Pinball, – $1.99

Jaws Revenge – I have to admit that I was only mildly impressed with the original Jaws for iOS, which was basically Harbor Master with sharks and life preservers.  Now with Jaws Revenge we at least have a worthy protagonist to control – the shark.  So how does it stack up against similarly themed games on the App Store?  Well, as long as the carnage is sufficient it should do just fine.  Of course I’d expect the trademark theme song to be in place.  In addition you get a cool shark that you can upgrade certain elements of including teeth and skin (no lasers, though, which would make Dr. Evil sad).  The one touch control makes it simple to get into, but hopefully the 30 levels will get challenging over time.  You collect both coins (for purchases) and license plates (for vanity I guess), and you can share your exploits with friends on Game Center and Facebook.  You can even take advantage of new iOS 5 features like native Twitter support and iCloud functionality.  Sure there have been other shark games, but don’t you want to control the fish that made being afraid of the water a fad?

Jaws™ Revenge Fuse Powered Inc., Jaws™ Revenge, – $0.99

HighFlyer DeathDefyer – This is a falling game.  I know you’re thinking that there are already a ton of these on the App Store, so why should anyone care?  Well, for starters, very few have impressed graphically like this one.  The visuals look like they are possibly cell shaded and take some inspiration from anime style artwork.  The game actually has a story, which is somewhat unusual for this style of game, and it’s told via a 100+ page comic book, which always a bonus in my book.  Your goal is to collect treasures and discover new islands, and if you’re lucky enough you might even find the Golden Jetpack.  There are 27 non-linear levels filled with deadly traps and voracious beasts that will undoubtedly make your journey short if you rub them the wrong way.  The game offers hours of replayability and 41 achievements to earn, so it should keep even the hardcore gamers busy for a while.  You might think you’re sick of falling games, but it may just be time to come out of retirement for one more plunge.

HighFlyer DeathDefyer (i4) Game Mechanic Studios, HighFlyer DeathDefyer (i4), – $4.99
High Flyer Death Defyer HD Game Mechanic Studios, High Flyer Death Defyer HD, – $5.99

Anthill: Tactical Trail Defense – Sure there have been other bug based strategy games, but this is the first I’m aware of to use such an intuitive control scheme.  To maneuver your ants you simply drag your finger across the screen creating a pheromone trail for the ants to follow.  For those pesky bad guys that need to be taken care of immediately you can tap on them to dispatch bomber ants.  Best of all, enemies of the colony can be carted away and consumed once they have been dealt with.  You can upgrade your troops both physically and mentally, though there is no mention of where the funds come from.  Engage in battle across more than 20 scenarios encountering dozens of enemy types and consuming hours of your free time.

Anthill: Tactical Trail Defense Image & Form, Anthill: Tactical Trail Defense, – $1.99

Demons Land – Sadly, we don’t seem to get too many original adventure games on the iOS platform, so I tend to take notice when a new one pops up.  This week saw the release of Demons Land, and while the iTunes description isn’t very, well, descriptive, the screen shots and Youtube video do a decent job of conveying the type and atmosphere of the game.  It appears you play a detective that thinks he’s getting involved in “just another robbery” and winds up in the midst of some supernatural shenanigans.  Apparently there is also something about the “last days of human kind” thrown into the mix.  Demons Land is billed as a horror adventure, and there’s no doubt it has a good old fashioned point and click interface.  As for the horror, while there are some shades of that evident in the video, it will hopefully be more blatant when actually playing the game.  If the story, puzzle and NPC elements of the game hold up to the developer’s claims, this could be a nice addition to the horror gamers’ collection.

Demons Land Anna Wesol, Demons Land, – $2.99

Castle Empire – Sure there are other sims that allow you to build castles, but they usually seem to be part of the whole, where as the focus of Castle Empire appears to be all about building a castle.  Don’t let that fool you into thinking there won’t be lots to do, however.  There are plenty of options for expanding and decorating your castle, which will be important for pleasing your guests.  These guests are comprised of 19 different types of monsters, each with their own abilities.  These monsters can be recruited into an army, which you can then use to conquer other people’s castles.  You even get to control the monsters during the raid!  Raids and mundane castle activities will build up XP for your monsters, helping to create the ultimate army.  Use Facebook and Game Center to interact with your friends, and post pictures of your castle to your Facebook wall.  Connecting through Facebook will allow you to sync data between devices as well.  The game is free to play, but there are some things within the game that will require you to shell out some real cash to use.

Castle Empire™ Nebula Soft Inc., Castle Empire™, – Free

NBA 2K12 for iPhone – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t know much about sports games.  That being said, I would suppose that it’s a pretty big deal when a highly acclaimed series makes its debut on iOS devices.  It’s not like we haven’t seen this before, but to me it’s still a testament to the gaming prowess of Apple’s portable devices.  The game’s control scheme has been specifically designed to play comfortably on iOS devices yet still give players adequate control over their actions.  You can choose to play the Quick Game, which will toss all 30 NBA teams in a computer generated match-up, or you can play through an entire 82 game season in Season Mode.  Finally, for those Michael Jordan fans out there (yes, I actually know who that is) there’s the “Jordan Challenge”, which lets you relieve 10 of “Air” Jordan’s most memorable moments.  Between some killer graphics and a TV style presentation that includes full commentary from Kevin Harlan and Clark Kellogg, you’ll feel like you’re right in the middle of an actual game.  There may be no “nail in the coffin” in these proceedings, but you’ll be sure to get an incredible basketball experience.

NBA 2K12 for iPhone 2K Sports, NBA 2K12 for iPhone, – $4.99
NBA 2K12 for iPad 2K Sports, NBA 2K12 for iPad, – $9.99

Ahrbol: Mountain and Ice – From the mind that brought us Pictureka! (TMA Review) comes Ahrbol, the next great thing in finding hidden objects.  Not only do you need to use your eyes, but you also need to open up your ears, which really has me curious.  All told there will be six different worlds, the first of which is Mountain and Ice, which you can get for free.  This world contains 50 levels in scenario mode, or you can play in Sandbox mode for greater replay value.  You can also play multi-player on the same iPad.  There is a huge variety of mission types, so there should be something that everyone likes.  Three difficulty settings make the game accessible to both kids and adults.  You can even rationale that the game has educational value with object recognition, speed searching and the like, but I’ll just stick with the fact that it’s probably quite fun.  Pictureka was a blast, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from Ahrbol.

Ahrbol: Mountain and Ice Lagali asia ltd, Ahrbol: Mountain and Ice, – Free

Dark Meadow – If you’re not into pure point and click but still want to delve into some horror adventure, maybe Dark Meadow would be more to your liking.  Built on top of the Unreal 3 engine, this game will have you exploring a visually stunning hospital trying to figure out why you’re there and who controls the evil creatures roaming the halls.  In-world storytelling with real time cinematics and quality voice acting will keep you engrossed in the story while never really feeling like you’ve left the game.  A mature plot with plenty of twists and turns awaits you, with your ultimate goal to defeat the beautiful witch that has sealed the hospital.  Gesture based controls allow you to “pull back” and aim your crossbow, or slash and block using your sword for melee combat.  You’ll uncover scraps of paper that reveal your past with the hospital, items to keep you from getting killed, and money to purchase better weapons.  With Halloween right around the corner, this could be just the game to get you in the mood.

Dark Meadow Phosphor Games Studio, Dark Meadow, – $5.99

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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