10 New App Store Games To Watch [Dec. 5 - 11]

One of the few comic book characters to weather the video game curse fairly well is Batman, and the Arkham series has really stepped up the Caped Crusader’s game, so to speak.  Now we’re lucky to get an iOS installment of the franchise called Batman Arkham City Lockdown where you get to face off with many of the Dark Knight’s iconic foes, as well as the special adversary Deathstroke.  Role playing fans that don’t own a Nintendo system of some sort can finally sink their teeth into Chrono Trigger, a tale that spans many time frames and has been considered one of the best examples of the genre to appear on any console.  Behemoth has finally brought their Alien Hominid franchise to iOS devices via Alien Hominid: PDA Games, and while it might not be what fans expect visually, it certainly packs a lot of fun into its simplicity.  And if you’re looking for something completely different there’s Playing History: The Plague, a game that turns a great disaster of the 14th century into an adventure game.  Sounds a bit bizarre, but it might both entertain and educate you at the same time.

Batman Arkham City Lockdown – Despite the well known curse of trying to bring comic book characters to the video game arena, Batman has actually had his share of decent adventures.  Still, nothing has really quite captured the awesomeness that is the Caped Crusader until the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009.  Now two years later we can carry the iOS version of the sequel in the palm of our hands with Batman Arkham City Lockdown.  The inmates of the asylum have escaped, and as the vigilante of the night it’s up to you to scour the streets of Gotham City and bring them all back to justice.  You’ll face a ton of lowlifes, as well as go toe to toe with some iconic criminals such as Two-Face and the Clown Prince of Crime himself.  The iOS version even features an appearance by master assassin Deathstroke.  Skillful playing or a boost of IAP will allow you to by some nifty upgrades (where DOES he get those wonderful toys?), and you’ll even have the chance to parade around in some of Batman’s well known costume variants.  If this game plays half as well as the Batman: Arkham Asylum for the Xbox 360, Bat-fans are in for a real treat.

Batman Arkham City Lockdown Warner Bros., Batman Arkham City Lockdown, – $5.99

Hold On Jack – Many modern platform games use the “hang onto the edge of the cliff” technique to make the whole experience a bit more edgy (pun intended) and to give you that feeling that you’ve narrowly escaped death.  You play Jack, a man that has fallen of the edge and must hang on while avoiding all manner of critters that will nibble at your fingers.  You place three fingers on the screen, and let up a finger just long enough for a bug to crawl on by.  If you stay off the screen for too long or hold up too many fingers you plummet to your death.  You can configure the game to suit your playing needs, though I suspect that mainly means moving the finger positions around.  It’s a rather simple premise, but those types of games tend to be the most addictive, and it’s certainly a nice variant of the usual “smash the bug” theme.  Of course it would be nice to see other creatures besides bugs, but maybe that will come in future updates.

Hold on Jack SpotSize, Hold on Jack, – $0.99

Chrono Trigger – I have to confess that for as long as I’ve been a fan of Nintendo, I’ve never played this game.  I almost feel like I’m not worthy to talk about it, but I’d feel remiss for not mentioning one of the most talked about RPGs in console gaming history.  With talent spanning such series as Dragon Quest, Dragon Ball and Final Fantasy, you know there’s going to be some quality content here.  The game first came out for the SNES in 1995, and it tells a massive tale of time travel ranging from the forgotten past to the very End Of Time.  All the content that made the original so beloved is here, along with two new realms created specifically for the Nintendo DS remake of the game.  It doesn’t sound like there is an iOS specific content, however.  Regardless, enhanced visuals and intuitive touch screen controls should make this trip a pleasure to take on your iOS device.  “Techs” are this mythos’ upgrades, and two or three character combos should make combat continually fresh and exciting.  I have a feeling both newcomers and fans of the original will find a lot to love here.  Now we just need a true sequel.

CHRONO TRIGGER SQUARE ENIX, CHRONO TRIGGER, – $9.99

SpellCraft School Of Magic – There’s something almost magical about anticipating a new game from Appy Entertainment, because you can count on the fact that each one will be different.  SpellCraft is no exception, and thankfully despite its name it is not one of those social networking “build your own school” type of games.  In fact, I decided to try this one out before writing about it, and it’s refreshingly not quite like anything I’ve played before on my iOS devices.  Dungeon crawling is handled almost like a board game where you go from room to room conquering whatever infests that particular location.  While more a gimmick than anything else, spells and creatures are on cards.  To gain spells you must collect and grow the ingredients in a garden somewhat time management style.  Even the combat mode is unique, making use of a wand as your power gauge and your ability to tap mana at a certain spot along the wand as a determination of how powerful your spell will be.  The game is free, but items that can’t be found along the way must be purchased with gold and gems which can be purchased with real money via IAP.

SpellCraft School of Magic Appy Entertainment, SpellCraft School of Magic, – Free

Six-Guns – This latest offering from Gameloft takes players back to the Wild West and has many onlookers crying “Red Dead Redemption for iOS”.  Whether that’s the case or not, if you’re a fan of Gameloft’s action games you should feel right at home here.  The Old West setting is a nice change of pace as well, though there are supernatural adversaries for those of you that like things that feel a little more “modern”.  There are a whopping 40 missions to undertake, covering a wide range of tasks so that you don’t feel like you’re being repetitive.  There are 19 different weapons to unlock, and 8 different types of horses to uncover and ride.  The sandbox style environment will give you a chance to roam the countryside of Arizona and Oregon, so you can’t say you’ve never been anywhere.  Best of all, the game is free and theoretically playable all the way through without any IAP.

Six-Guns Gameloft, Six-Guns, – Free

Alien Hominid: PDA Games – I’ve always been a huge fan of the Alien Hominid Flash game, and I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed for the day that a Behemoth game would make its way to iOS devices.  Then I saw Alien Hominid: PDA Games and was excited… until I viewed the screen shots.  Gone were the bright, colorful landscapes of the Flash game, replaced with chalk drawing stick figures!  Thankfully the game is free to try so I decided to give it a shot anyway, and suddenly my faith in Behemoth was restored.  In fact, from what I remember of the Flash game, I think I like PDA Games a little bit better.  Sure I miss the colorful imagery, but I like the fact that you have to wipe out all the enemies to unlock the door to the next level.  I also like how the bonus gems are green and the doors are red, sticking out from the white of everything else on the level.  It’s simple on looks and simple on game play, but certainly not short on fun.  I’m not sure how many levels come with the free version, but you can get an extra 500 levels with a 99 cent IAP purchase.  They’ve earned my money.

Alien Hominid: PDA Games The Behemoth, Alien Hominid: PDA Games, – Free

Michael Jackson The Experience HD – Believe it or not, even the King Of Pop has ventured into the realm of video games with Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker for arcades and the Sega Genesis.  Now he’s back for a spin on the iPad with The Experience HD, and he might help revolutionize rhythm games.  Besides having some of the best music of the 80s and 90s, Michael was known for creating mini-movies rather than just music videos.  This game will allow you to experience some of that magic through interactive dance sequences and stunning cinematic cut scenes recreated from some of Michael’s most famous works.  You’ll have to trace a series of shapes on the screen corresponding to the choreography of the in-game avatar.  The more accurately you recreate the moves, the better you’ll do.  The game has 3 difficulty settings to allow for players with different skill sets, and the game’s introductory 4 song collection can be augmented through IAP.  For me to consider playing a rhythm game it really has to have something to set it apart from the crowd (like this one), and it sounds like The Experience might be just such a game.

Michael Jackson The Experience HD Ubisoft, Michael Jackson The Experience HD, – $4.99

MinoMonsters – Even if you’ve not played Pokemon before, you’re probably familiar with the basic concept; it’s more or less combat Tamagotchi.  Chances are we’ll never see an official Pokemon port to iOS devices, but as a former semi-addict myself I’d settle for a stylish imitation.  I think MinoMonsters might plug that hole.  You’ll build and raise a team of MinoMonsters, each with their own personalities and powers that grow as you care for them.  You’ll take them through hours of game play across many areas that are unlocked when you reach particular goals.  The solo adventure is tied together with a delightful story and stunning cinematic visuals.  When you feel you’re ready you can hook up with your friends anywhere around the world to challenge your squad against theirs.  The main thing I can’t discern because of the limited scope of screen shots is whether you get a world map to roam around on like in Pokemon, or if this is more of a simple battle-to-battle type game.  Whichever it ends up being, I just hope it fills the void Pokemon has left behind.

MinoMonsters MinoMonsters, MinoMonsters, – $0.99

Playing History: The Plague – Just reading the title is probably making you wonder “why did he include this one?”  Well, one of my goals with the weekly roundup has always been to try and highlight unusual new games, and I think this certainly qualifies.  It’s really more of a history lesson disguised as an adventure game, but that’s what makes it both intriguing and unique.  You’ll travel back to 14th century Florence, where medics are trying to decipher a mysterious disease that’s ravaging the land.  Your primary goal is to keep your mother from getting worse than she already is, but along the way you have to make sure you don’t catch the illness yourself.  Through extensive dialogs and puzzle solving you’ll learn about the past, and there’s a good chance you’ll even enjoy it.  You’ll engage in up to four hours of game play as you uncover hidden games and facts.  The visuals actually look pretty stunning, and an original soundtrack completes the stimulating atmosphere.

Playing History: The Plague Serious Games, Playing History: The Plague, – $6.99

xPirate – There are actually a few other games I’d like to mention, but I think I’ll end the roundup with this one.  There have been a number of board games ported to iOS devices, most notably several from the Reiner Knizia collection, but you don’t often see an example where your iOS device becomes part of a physical board game!  A special dock in the center of the board connects to your iDevice, and the software you download is used to handle things like random events, dice rolls and combat.  You still move physical pieces around the board, however, so you can experience the tactile sensation of family game night the old fashioned way.  What’s most interesting, if I understand everything correctly, is that you’ll eventually be able to download more apps to provide you with fresh gaming experiences without having to buy any new physical pieces.  That would make the possibilities theoretically endless.

xPirate EXIMGames, xPirate, – 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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