10 New App Store Games To Watch [Nov. 28 - Dec. 4]

If this is indicative of what the next few weeks leading up to Christmas are going to be like then you’d better strap yourselves in and prepare for a crazy ride!  On a normal good week I might build a list of between 25 and 30 games to whittle down for my final list of 10, but this week I had almost 60 games!  Naturally everyone’s excited about Infinity Blade II, the successor to one of the most successful RPGs to grace the iOS screen.  If you like your monster slaying action a little more lighthearted you might consider The Bard’s Tale, a 21st century re-imagining of one of the great RPG series that I grew up with in the 80s.  Players eager for a Kinect like experience but not wishing to buy an Xbox will want to look into Fuego’s River Adventure, a hands-free game that uses your iPad’s camera (requires an iPad 2) to track your movements and manipulate your character accordingly.  On the other hand, if accessories are your thing you might consider appBlaster Overkill, a newly released version of the shooter Overkill that requires the new appBlaster gun peripheral in order to provide a more visceral shooting experience.

A Christmas Calendar – With Christmas right around the corner many would argue that this is the most wonderful time of the year, and it’s also a time for the App Store to get flooded with Christmas-skinned versions of your favorite games or a multitude of “deliver the presents” or “shoot bad elves” themed Santa games.  This game caught my attention because it seems more like an isometric perspective adventure game where Santa just happens to be the star.  You’ll wrap presents based on the letters in your mailbox and build snowmen for the resident penguin.  You’ll also need to take care of Rudolph, build a gingerbread house and make sure Christmas dinner goes of without a hitch.  Each day there will be a new activity for you to take part in.  It sounds friendly enough for kids to play, but supposedly is fun for adults as well.  As of the writing of this article the iPhone version of the game is free, so there’d be no harm in checking it out if you’re interested in a nice, Christmas themed game that doesn’t involve the massive extermination of little people with pointy ears.

Update: It’s no longer free on the iPhone (currently $0.99)

A Christmas Calendar Backpack Undertainment, A Christmas Calendar, – $0.99
A Christmas Calendar HD for iPad Backpack Undertainment, A Christmas Calendar HD for iPad, – $1.99

appBlaster Overkill – Overkill [itunes link] has been out for quite some time.  In fact, I think I might have even written about it in another “Games To Watch” article.  It’s basically a shooting gallery style game reminiscent of the cool gun games that used to frequent arcades.  There are 100 waves of bad guys to kill, 18 weapons to unlock, and 30 ranks to achieve.  It already has a fairly significant list of assets.  So what’s so special about this release to warrant mentioning it again?  This version of Overkill is specifically designed to work with a new peripheral called appBlaster which basically turns your iPhone or iPod Touch into a scope for a physical toy gun.  Sure it’s gimmicky, but then so was the light gun for the original NES and I know I certainly spent a lot of time with that device.  You can try out the non-appBlaster version of Overkill for free, but I can see where this accessorized version could be lots of fun.

appBlaster Overkill Craneballs Studios, appBlaster Overkill, – $1.99

Don’t Run With A Plasma Sword – This looks like one of those “infinite running” games that is trying to take the genre to the next level, and it might just succeed.  In endless mode infinite runners should feel right at home, with the addition of objectives to meet.  There’s also a story mode that comes complete with boss fights.  XP gained while playing will allow you to upgrade your character’s skills throughout the game.  In story mode comic book style storyboards help tell the tale, while randomly generated levels help insure that endless mode is fresh every time.  OpenFeint and Game Center integration means there are leaderboards to compete on and achievements to earn.  Cartoon visuals and an original soundtrack bring this run and slash world to life.

Don't Run With a Plasma Sword XperimentalZ Games, Don’t Run With a Plasma Sword, – $0.99

PlayerDuel – This isn’t actually a game, but rather a service that allows you to match up with other players while playing your “favorite” games.  The reason I’ve decided to include it is because the world seemed fine with OpenFeint, yet Game Center and Crystal are both alive and thriving.  My first thought we be that we don’t need another such service, but I guess only time will tell.  The service lets you hook up with other players and compete to see who is the best at the games you’re playing.  What’s more interesting about this service, however, is that you can win virtual coins for being the victor in a competition.  What these coins will be used for remains to be seen.  Because the service has to be built into games just like OpenFeint or Game Center, it will be as much up to developers as players whether or not this service thrives.

PlayerDuel PlayerDuel, Inc., PlayerDuel, – Free

Fuego’s River Adventure – Fuego’s River Adventure is an over the shoulder infinite running game.  However, the controls are far from standard.  For those that have felt deprived by not having a Kinect, now you can experience a similar feeling.  The device uses the iPad’s camera to track your movements and move Fuego accordingly.  This means you’ll need an iPad 2, and it also makes your mobile device slightly less mobile, as you’ll need to prop it up and keep your hands off in order to play.  Your task is to guide Fuego down the river, collecting food and gold to trade with river folk so you can earn a ticket to fly by home.  There are 20 different levels to traverse, and you can take pictures to share with your friends on your favorite social network.  You can even hook your iPad up to your TV for a larger viewing screen.

Fuego's River Adventure Crimson Apps, Fuego’s River Adventure, – $1.99

Caveman Land – Sure this is probably just Farmville meets The Flintstones.  Still, the “modern stone age” setting is a nice change of pace from your typical fare.  You have your typical tasks like building structures and cultivating crops.  You’ll also gain rewards through questing and be able to expand your territory over time.  There’s even the obligatory connectivity through Game Center, Facebook and Twitter.  What looks intriguing to me, however, is the ability to craft weapons and arm villagers to hunt for food.  It almost looks like a mini real time strategy game with your tribe against the dinosaurs.  There are 7 types of dinos to hunt all told, including the infamous T-Rex.  It may not be revolutionary, but it’s a nice little feature that most of this style of game doesn’t have.

Caveman Land Beeline Interactive Japan, Caveman Land, – Free

Infinity Blade II – Okay, so here’s the one you all have probably been waiting for.  The reality, though, is that if you’ve been anticipating this entry you probably already know quite a bit about it.  This is the sequel to one of the best selling non-casual, non-puzzle games on the App Store (our review of Infinity Blade).  I imagine that much like its predecessor it will push the envelope of iOS device graphics to its extreme.  More importantly, though, the game provides a robust playing experience.  You’ll explore an ever evolving 3D world in your quest to understand the Infinity Blade.  Character customization is key with new elemental powers and the ability to create beefed up weapons using mystical objects you find along the way.  There are 3 different styles of combat to master that still manage to take advantage of Infinity Blade’s pick up and play simplicity.  If you have the latest gadgets and OS you can take advantage of HDMI output or iCloud support. Amazingly, though, while iOS 5 is suggested it’s not required.  You will need something that falls within the latest two generations hardware wise, however.

Infinity Blade II Chair Entertainment Group, Infinity Blade II, – $6.99

Mad Chef – From the creators of N.Y.Zombies (TMA Review) and  Bug Heroes (TMA Review) comes what is probably one of the craziest restaurant time management games you’ll ever play.  Special dishes include such things as peanut butter and jellyfish sandwiches, pigeon pot pies and ratwurst.  That’s not the crazy part, though.  As the sous chef tosses out piles of food at you, you’ll fling anything from spears to ninja stars at it to get your ingredients.  Of course you do have to worry about your patrons, who would prefer not to be scalped while waiting for their food.  Make them happy and your reputation will grow, allowing you to build more restaurants, put up billboards and more.  Each restaurant comes with its own variety of utensils, recipes, costumes and more, making every experience feel like a fresh new game.  There are also insane game modes to ensure that you don’t get bored.  If you ever wondered what Diner Dash would be like as an action game with grossly exotic food, Mad Chef is the game for you.

Mad Chef Foursaken Media, Mad Chef, – $0.99

The Bard’s Tale – Growing up in the 80′s there were certain computer RPGs that shaped my perception of the genre.  One of those was The Bard’s Tale, and I’ll never forget spending long hours building all my spell casters up to their maximum level in each of 4 magic types.  Well, all those memories are about to get chucked out the window with this modern interpretation of that venerable series.  Instead of a party of characters you’ll take on the role of the lone bard, greedy for money and horny for women.  You’ll meet bizarre NPCs, embark on ridiculous quests, and conjure up some nifty sidekicks to take the damage for you while you go in for the kill.  Some of the more unusual features include dance numbers (culminating in a zombie dance-off) and an advanced attitude system.  The world is lovingly rendered in full 3D with adaptive technology so it looks its best on all sized devices, and the main character is voiced by Cary Elwes, star of The Princess Bride, so you know what kind of atmosphere they were going for.  While this may not be your father’s Bard’s Tale, it might just be the Bard’s Tale you’ll want to play.

The Bard's Tale inXile Entertainment, The Bard’s Tale, – $5.99

Call Of Duty: Black Ops Zombies – Whether you look at this as a port of the console version of the same name or a successor to Call of Duty: Zombies (TMA Review), the main thing is that you’re in for loads of zombie blasting fun.  You can play this game on your own, but it sounds like where things really shine is in multi-player mode.  You can hook up with up to three other friends and go on an undead massacre, chatting with your teammates in real time with the game’s new voice chat feature.  For those that prefer a more traditional top down style game you can unlock “Dead-Ops Arcade”, a game that allows you to plow your way through 50 levels of brain-eaters.  Both game modes have leaderboards and achievements, so you don’t have to feel like you’re being left out of the social networks either.  The game is designed for 3rd generation devices and above and as such renders its guts and gore as high def as it possibly can.  For FPS aficionados this could be the ultimate zombie slaying experience.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies Activision Publishing, Inc., Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies, – $6.99

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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