10 New App Store Games To Watch [Dec. 19 - 25]

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and also for iTunes Connect to shut down for a few days (this is the method developers use to submit games to the App Store).  Amazingly enough, though, a lot of developers were on the ball and got their games submitted so they could be reviewed and out in the first couple of days of the Christmas week.  Among those releases were Dungeon Hunter 3 and Zenonia 4, the next installments of 2 of the most popular hack ‘n slash RPG series for iOS systems.  While it sounds like Zenonia 4 might be the best yet in the series, Dungeon Hunter 3 took a step away from its predecessors to provide a completely different type of game play experience.  If you’re more into platform games you might give the retro inspired Terra Noctis a try, while strategy fans with attention issues should cling to Strange Adventures In Infinite Space.

Dungeon Hunter 3 – Gameloft’s Diablo-like franchise is back for a third installment, and this time around the price of admission is free.  However, in a rather interesting twist they have turned their deep, story driven saga into a series of arena battles.  There are 16 arenas to choose from, each of which can be played at 4 different difficulty levels.  You’ll be able to select from 1 of 4 different character classes, choose your gender, and customize your character as you gain experience.  Revisit old arenas at any time to gain more experience, better your score or compete in daily challenges.  There are over 1000 items to unlock or buy if you are impatient, and if you run out of gold IAP is your friend.  The graphics have once again been taken up a notch and will use whatever device you have to its best advantage.  What really stands to be seen here is if the free price tag is a good enough incentive for fans to stand behind what sounds like a completely different game from the first two outings [our review of DH 1 and DH 2].

Dungeon Hunter 3 Gameloft, Dungeon Hunter 3, – Free

Zenonia 4 – As long as we’re talking sequels, the next chapter of the extremely popular Zenonia series made it out last week as well, and it is also free.  This one basically offers up more of what you’ve come to know and love.  Create a hero from one of 4 classes and level that hero up through many intense battles.  You’ll unleash deadly combos and use devastating skills to conquer your foes, and you’ll also need to master the fairy sync system to do legendary damage.  Countless items are waiting to be discovered and used, and you’ll get plenty of wear and tear on them through 3 separate difficulty levels.  There are effect-boosting titles to earn and more than 40 achievements to unlock as you delve into the world of Zenonia.  There are also several PvP modes to keep you busy once the story ends (or if you just want to take a break).  Could this be the best Zenonia yet?

ZENONIA® 4 GAMEVIL Inc., ZENONIA® 4, – Free

Law & Order: Legacies – Most folks that are into legal dramas have probably seen some variation of Law & Order in the 20+ years since the original hit the airwaves.  Now’s your chance to experience the thrills of the show first hand as you take on this epic adventure from TellTale games, a company that certainly knows there way around adventure game.  The crimes unfold in seven stand-alone tales that ultimately piece together into one big mystery.  The first episode comes with the initial purchase, while the rest will be available via IAP over time.  What’s more intriguing than the episodic “mystery within a mystery” premise, however, is the decision to include key players from multiple series in one game.  If you’re not a fan of the shows this won’t matter so much, but if you are this will either be a dream come true or make you despise the fact that some character might get more screen time than your favorite.  While I’m mainly a fan of Special Victims Unit myself, I’m real eager to see how this all plays out.

Law & Order: Legacies Telltale Inc, Law & Order: Legacies, – $2.99

Jailhouse Jack – I won’t try to pretend that I like every game that Donut Games has made.  I do like the fact that for a relatively small company, they like to try and make a variety of different games.  Jailhouse Jack is certainly different than anything they have developed before.  You take on the role of director of a jail break movie.  You’ll set markers for activity, holler “action” and see if the scene works out like you expect.  If not you can rewind to an earlier point in your “film” and try the latest sequence again.  The game sports Donut Games’ colorful cartoon graphics in HD, has Game Center support and is a universal app.  The only thing I’m unsure of is how their typical 3 star rating system will apply here, since there doesn’t seem to be any concrete levels per se.  Of course as long as the game is fun, I’m willing to overlook that omission for once.

Jailhouse Jack Donut Games, Jailhouse Jack, – $0.99

Strange Adventures In Infinite Space – I love turn based explore and conquer style strategy games, but they often don’t make good portable diversions because of the length of time it takes to play them.  Strange Adventures In Infinite Space (SAIIS) fixes this problem by providing games that take somewhere between 5 and 20 minutes to play.  You still get a deep and satisfying experience thanks to some pretty diverse options: 21 types of ships, 69 unique gadgets (weapons, shields and the like), 18 separate life forms, and 17 distinct planet and star types.  Every game is randomized so you won’t have the same experience twice, and different difficulty settings allow you to ramp things up as you get better in the game.  If you’re looking for a space strategy game to get your fix without spending hours on a campaign, SAIIS should do the trick for you.

Strange Adventures In Infinite Space Turnabout Studios, Strange Adventures In Infinite Space, – $2.99

Terra Noctis – This is one of those games that proves some developers still know what old school gaming is all about.  You take on the role of Allen, a nightmare whose scare potential isn’t what it should be.  You go on a quest to learn how to be scary, and along the way you’ll battle all sorts of ghoulish creatures.  You’ll have to prove your skills and solve riddles while exploring a large world.  There are secrets to find and bonus levels to unlock, along with plenty of big bad bosses to defeat.  A simple control scheme will help you on your way, and if you’re lucky enough to have an iCADE you can play Terra Noctis with physical joystick controls.  The graphics are retro pixel goodness, and an original soundtrack will set the mood for your journey.  The game also has OpenFeint support so that you can earn some nifty achievements.  For those that remember when Nintendo ruled the world and platform games were king, Terra Noctis will be a fond trip down memory lane.

Terra Noctis Bulkypix, Terra Noctis, – $2.99

Aya and the Cubes of Light – Energy packs are being removed from the Cubes, and when the Cubes lose power the stars of the universe lose their light.  It’s up to you to make sure that doesn’t happen by travelling to each of the 30 cubes and collecting and replacing all abandoned energy packs.  Each of the 30 cubes is a 3D puzzle filled with thought provoking tasks to accomplish and platform style reflex decisions to make.  Game Center support gives you leaderboards and hopefully some achievements to master.  The 3D graphics are rendered in HD for full iPad support.  3 cubes are available in the initial download, while additional cubes can be purchased via IAP.  You might not have a WiiMote or a short Italian plumber, but Super Mario Galaxy fans especially might find the “revolution”-ary game play a nice change from traditional platform antics.

Aya and the Cubes of Light Object Vision, Aya and the Cubes of Light, – Free

Mega Man X – If you’re looking for a little more nostalgia than just a game that looks like it’s a classic, how about a game that is a retro classic?  Mega Man is regarded as one of the best 2D platform game series in history, and Mega Man X marks the series’ leap to the SNES and 16 bit gaming.  There are 3 different game play modes including Ranking and Score Attack modes for competing with other gamers.  Story mode provides two difficulty levels, the Easy one catering to novice gamers by making the platforming elements of the game easier to execute.  There are even plans to add more game play modes in future updates.  The open stage of Story Mode contains 20 challenges that are controlled by the game, while another 60 are available via Game Center.  The crisp cartoon world of Mega Man has been optimized for Retina Display, and full screen and regular (presumably letterboxed) display modes are provided for maximum visual enjoyment.  You can even boost Mega Man’s capabilities through the acquisition of various components via IAP.

MEGA MAN X CAPCOM, MEGA MAN X, – $4.99

Final Fury – This is the first iOS offering from Walnut Co, Ltd., and it looks like they might be off to a good start.  You must protect the humans from an alien invasion, and it looks like you’ll do this in a combination dual stick shooter / tower defense fashion.  It promises easy but challenging game play against a variety of powerful alien types.  You have two different characters to choose from, and 4 unique weapons systems to harness.  Your character is customizable, and it’s also possible to upgrade items you collect along the way.  The 3D world looks pretty sharp, though there is certainly a lot of competition in this category that shines graphically as well.  The game is free with IAP to buy supplies of the in-game monetary units.  The one thing Final Fury seems to be lacking right out of the gate is a multi-player mode, but maybe that’s in the works as I speak.  All I know is it never hurts to have another solid dual stick shooter, especially if it’s free and a universal binary.

Final Fury Walnut CO., Final Fury, – Free

GraviTire 3D – Once again I feel like ending the roundup with something a bit offbeat.  This week’s entry is GraviTire, a racing game that literally has you controlling a tire!  There are 8 different levels to race on, including the Grand Canyon, the Great Wall Of China, and the Moon!  However, for each of these locations the track is procedurally generated, so you’ll never race the exact same course twice.  You can play head to head using local WiFi, or compete with up to 3 other players around the world thanks to Game Center.  This may not satisfy any hard core racing fans, but anyone looking for something a bit quirky might get some enjoyment from it.  Sadly, I’m guessing that these tires don’t have any weird telepathic powers.

GraviTire 3D Emergency Soft, GraviTire 3D, – $0.99

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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