I almost thought it was the holiday season with all the quality looking games that came out last week. As always, though, I managed to pair my list down to the ten I thought were the most intriguing – or at least that provided enough details for me to talk about! First off we have Advena, the new action / RPG game from Gamevil. This one actually boasts a party of 5 characters, and gives you the ability to take control of any one of them at any time! For those of you platform fans that feel restricted by the typical run and jump formula, there’s Scribblenauts Remix. Every puzzle has multiple solutions, and those solutions come from your imagination. Finally, intergalactic explorer wannabes might be able to find their space legs in Starbase Orion. It sounds like a pretty comprehensive 4X strategy game that might set a new trend in pricing for quality iPhone games that don’t come from big name developers.
Boomblastica – As a huge scrolling shooter fan, I’m always looking for a new entry into the genre that stands out from the pack. From the wacky story to the interesting visuals, I think Boomblastica qualifies. You’ll fight your way through ferocious enemies using five unique weapons that you find along the way. Simple touch screen controls or an onscreen virtual joystick allow you to customize your playing experience. What really sets this game apart from its peers, however, is the soundtrack. In particular, the fact that the soundtrack adjusts itself to how you’re playing the game. For me the background music is important in most instances, and it can really enhance the adrenaline of an action game. As long as it’s done in such a way that it sounds organic, this dynamic synthesis could be incredible. Of course if the game play doesn’t live up to the beat, then I guess this cool feature is of no use, so here’s hoping both sides of the coin are shiny. At least you can find out for free. I just wish I had an iPad so I could give this one a whirl.
Thrust Interactive, Boomblastica, – Free
World At War: Operation Global Storm – What initially drew me to this game was the visuals. When most online games for the iPhone that involve combat still have a primarily “business” looking interface, this has a pretty sharp looking graphical interface. Beyond that, it’s nice to see an MMO that’s not based in some fantasy world or having you run the latest crime syndicate. You’ll build up an army comprised of real world vehicles, and then create allies to make your quest for world domination easier. You can spy on your enemies’ bases, and message your comrades to let them know what’s going on. There’s even the ability to play offline so you can build up your troops when you don’t have an internet connection. And for the really ambitious you can customize your avatar to add your own signature to the game. Once again you can take this game for a spin for free, though you’re welcome to boost your honor via IAP.
Steinkraft – Personally I’ve not gotten sucked into the phenomenon that is Minecraft, but for those that have been patiently waiting for the iPhone version, maybe this will hold you over. Steinkraft is all about building up a world made of blocks. You can either dig or place blocks to construct whatever your imagination can conceive of. There are two different control schemes to make it as easy as possible to maneuver on the small screen. Once you’ve created your world you can fly around it to admire your handiwork. The initial landscape is procedurally generated, and simple lighting, shadows, clouds and sea give it a sense of completeness. If you need to do some quick terraforming you can use dynamite and let your creativeness explode. Torches, ladders and little piggies add some ambience, as I’m assuming these items aren’t interactive. Finally, you can save and load your worlds to view at a later date or share with your friends. Hopefully future editions of Steinkraft will let you share your creations with other players over the internet.
Andre Schnabel, Steinkraft, – $0.99
Advena – Gamevil’s latest action / RPG has arrived, and it actually has a slightly different spin then their normal fare. You take control f a team of 5 unique heroes, and you can take control of any one of them at any time! The rest of the party won’t sit idle, however, as you can assign them AI actions to be carried out when you’re not in direct control of them. You’ll be able to guide your party to do things like heal and team strike, and you’ll need to carefully weigh your strategies as you consider your team’s skills and classes. There are over 200 different stages to conquer, and when you’re done with that you can engage other players in PvP mode or work with them to form Raid Teams. What you’ll be raiding isn’t clear, but I’m guessing it’s some sort of Team Fortress type scenario? Whatever the case, it’s nice to see Gamevil continually trying to reinvigorate the action / RPG genre instead of just making the same game over and over again with different graphics and plot.
GAMEVIL Inc., ADVENA, – $0.99
Squids – If “bizarre” is your standard, squids might just fit the bill. This game is an action / RPG about squids. Just let that sink in for a minute. Combat is actually handled in a fashion that feels more physics puzzle than RPG, as you pull the squids by their tentacles and let go to launch them across the screen. Because of the nature of the combat, this is one RPG where you’ll definitely be able to use the environment to your advantage as well. There are four different classes of squid to choose from, and as you successfully terminate the enemy you’ll be able to upgrade their skills to make better fighters. You’ll get to explore gorgeous detailed levels and unravel a story filled with giant turtle rides and epic boss battles. And you’ll get to accessorize your squids with ability boosting helmets! Sounds like a recipe for fun to me.
The Game Bakers, Squids, – $0.99
Scribblenauts Remix – This is a puzzle / platform game with a difference. Instead of just relying on the game to provide you with the tools to solve each puzzle, you invent the solutions yourself! Need to get rid of a tree? Do it the “practical” way and create a chainsaw, or get creative and commandeer a giant beaver! According to the description, if you can think it, you can create it. I’m not quite sure how flexible the system really is, but the concept is sure intriguing. The cool thing is that multiple solutions for each puzzle means that the game has lots of replay value. There are 40 levels taken from previous Scribblenauts games from other systems, and 10 levels exclusive to this iOS version. If that all isn’t enough, however, there’s a sandbox mode that allows you to create objects and play to your heart’s content. Game Center provides achievements and leaderboards, and you can post interesting facts about your progress to Facebook or Twitter. The game is universal, and if you’re running iOS 5 you can use iCloud to share the same save game between any devices you own.
Warner Bros., Scribblenauts Remix, – $4.99
Siegecraft – Ever wanted to have fun storming the castle? From the makers of lots of cool 3D stuff comes Siegecraft, the game where tossing cows and troll heads at your opponents is not considered taboo. Engage in three campaigns, each allowing you to work for one of three different races. You’ll get to experience a different blend of buildings, troops and armaments in each scenario, providing quite a bit of diversity. Once you’ve bested the story driven campaigns you can take on endless waves of enemies in the survival campaign, and you have an iPad you can tackle an exclusive multi-player campaign. Even better, if you’re running iOS 5 you can play against others in turn based combat! Plus, iOS 5 provides iCloud synchronization of weapons upgrades and achievements across all your devices. Game Center allows you to rise above the rest in your siege abilities, and iPad owners can take on a friend on a single device. Given the developer’s portfolio I’d expect the graphics to be among the best as well, though I’m disappointed that we won’t get to see any flaming dwarves (yet).
Crescent Moon Games, Siegecraft, – $0.99
Starbase Orion – One of my favorite games for my Amiga 500 was Reach For The Stars, which was pretty amazing given the fact that it absolutely failed to take advantage of the powerful graphics capabilities of that machine. What kept me intrigued was the simple yet deep interstellar 4X game play. There haven’t been too many of this type of game on the iOS platform, and certainly not multi-player capable ones (disregarding cookie-cutter MMOs). It looks like Starbase Orion might be ready to fill that gap. Your goal is to colonize whatever you can, but you’ll certainly have to go up against either AI opponents or real players via Game Center and iOS 5’s new multiplayer capabilities. You can choose from one of five races or create your own by pulling your favorite traits from the various predefined races. You can also customize your ships with various weapons, hulls and systems. The game is universal and supports iCloud, so “buy once, play anywhere” is a reality. What’s most interesting about Starbase Orion, however, is the “price guarantee”. According to the developers, the price will go up once, and then never be reduced to a bargain price. Apparently this way people that shell out the cash for the game won’t feel ripped off. I just hope you’re not a bargain hunter!
Chimera Software, Starbase Orion, – $4.99
Forever Drive – Most electronic racing games give you a variety of race tracks to choose from. How many of them actually give you the chance to help create them and become part of a large e-raceway with other players? As far as I know there’s only one, and that’s Forever Drive. Using the built in track editor you can engineer a track that will be joined with those of other players to form an ever expanding, never ending roadway. As you drive you’ll earn XP and level up, unlocking cars, paint jobs, buildings and license plates. Some of the advanced features are available via IAP, but according to the developer everything is accessible via perseverance if you don’t want to pay. There might be more feature laden experiences out there, but this sound pretty good for the price tag and the unique ability to actually help craft the other players’ experience.
supermono limited, Forever Drive, – Free
Aiko Island – Here we have yet another set of cute critters that love their sweets. The difference with Aiko Island, however, is that there are also evil (yet still cute) creatures that don’t want the good Aiko to have their dessert. In this physics based puzzle game it sounds like your primary responsibility is to pop blocks. If I’m guessing right, the rest becomes much like a domino effect. The challenge, however, is in making sure that the blue Aiko get their cookies and that you don’t actually wipe out any of the good Aiko on accident. You’ll have all kinds of nifty items like ropes, cannons and more at your disposal. There are already 125 levels packed into this game, and the developers are promising even more to come. The game has full Game Center and OpenFeint integration for leaderboards and a sizable 30 achievements for you to earn. Aiko Island sounds like another time sink for physics puzzle fans.
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: