10 New App Store Games To Watch [Feb. 27 – March 4]

I really never thought I’d say this, but this week online games won the most slots in our New App Store Games Roundup.  Before we get to that, though, I was extremely happy to see the release of Gamebook Adventures 8: Infinite Universe.  Normally I’d tend to relegate sequels to the back burner, especially after this many [TMA reviews], but book 8 takes us in a whole new direction with a Sci-Fi theme and brand new combat mechanics.  As for the online games, you can choose to join a gang with Big Gun.  While that’s not a new premise, the first person shooting gallery style interface is.  If you prefer fantasy with a bit of culture there’s Monster Arms, a card collecting RTS that takes place in ancient Japan.  Finally, the closet geneticist of the group can now prove themselves with Survivium, a game that’s all about building viruses and taking over the world.

Gamebook Adventures 8: Infinite Universe – I’ve been a fan of the Gamebook Adventures series since day 1, but generally once a series is 2 to 3 installments deep I don’t really consider it for mention in the 10 to watch.  For those who aren’t familiar with the series, they are basically interactive novels.  You read a section of text and then choose where the story should go next (also known as Choose Your Own Adventure).  The Gamebook novels, among others, have also introduced RPG elements such as combat to make things a bit more interesting.  This iteration gets a nod from me for two reasons.  To start with, it’s the first installment in the series to go freemium.  You can try out part of the book for free and then buy additional parts for 99 cents apiece or the whole book for 3.99.  I’m not really sure what a part is because the CYOA style sort of invalidates the concept of chapters, but I’m sure the whole book will be worth every penny.  The second notable feature is that unlike the rest of the series, which are all fantasy based, this one is sci-fi.  There are plenty of other things like a reworked combat system to make this enticing as well.  If you’ve not jumped into this savory series yet I suggest you do so now, and then go back and check out some of the others.

Gamebook Adventures 8: Infinite Universe Tin Man Games, Gamebook Adventures 8: Infinite Universe, – Free

Big Gun – I have to be honest in saying that the biggest aspect of this game that intrigues me is that I can’t quite pinpoint what the game is.  I’m guessing it’s some sort of mafia game, but it certainly looks different than any others I’ve seen on the market.  It mentions a worldwide server and avatars, but never comes outright and says it’s an MMO.  It forgoes the traditional menu driven and even isometric / third person graphical looks to present what looks like a first person shooting gallery style view with detailed environments and cartoony but cool looking characters.  There are apparently no menus (at least for the action), and even though there are what looks like buttons on the screen it sounds as if combat is all handled with swipes and gestures.  There’s an 18 facet player creator, so each character should be unique.  500 different items and 100s of missions across 3 continents should keep you busy for quite some time.  Best of all, the game is free to play.  Sadly, the only IAP option listed in iTunes is one for 99.99, but hopefully that will change over time.

Big Gun 9thQ Entertainment, Big Gun, – Free

Fancy Pants – Screen shots and probably even the game’s description don’t do it enough justice, but if you saw a video of the game in action you’d probably agree that Chillingo has another winner on its hands.  The game started life as a Flash experience and has since made its way to Xbox Live Arcade and the Playstation Network.  You must help Fancy Pants rescue his sister Cutie from the “worst pirates ever”, and you’ll need to navigate some pretty wild levels in order to do so.  In his first iOS outing you’ll get new weapons, new enemies and new abilities to tackle.  You’ll need to collect stars and squiggles that are strewn throughout the levels in order to unlock awards, costumes and other fun things.  The graphics have a look that’s better than stick design but not entirely unlike doodles scratched inside a notebook when a student is supposed to be listening in class.  The net effect is that it appears to be anther challenging yet entertaining platform game to appease those of us that are trying to pretend that we don’t need consoles any more.

Fancy Pants Chillingo, Fancy Pants, – $0.99

Monster Arms – I’m not a huge fan of online games, but for some reason they seem to be catching my interest this week.  In Monster Arms you’ll need to build a deck of combatants from more than 100 types of cards.  What’s interesting, though, is that the combat is real time and looks like a side scrolling action game.  Also, while one would figure that you’d be fighting against other players, the iTunes description does say that you can join forces to defeat the bosses.  There are plenty of social elements to keep you connected, and 100s of quests to insure there is plenty to do.  The game takes place in the Edo era of Japan, and the graphics are styled accordingly.  Personally I think they look pretty sweet.  The game is free to play with free updates for missions, cards and events, though you can buy CP (the game’s currency?) via IAP.  Monster Arms is online only, but it is universal and since the data is stored on the server you can switch between devices at will.

Monster Arms Drecom Co., Monster Arms, – Free

Waking Mars – I really enjoyed Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor, partially because it didn’t feel like a copycat of all the other games on the market.  Reading the description of their second game, Waking Mars, leads me to believe this is an important goal for Tiger Style Games.  On a fact finding mission to Mars you get trapped in an open-ended system of caverns, and it’s up to you to adapt and survive.  You’ll get to decode unusual signals and explore long lost ruins.  More importantly, though, is your need to learn the intricacies of the various life forms on the planet.  You’ll actually get the opportunity to help grow plants and creatures, and you’ll also need to weed out the troublemakers and deal with infestations.  Game Center provides achievements and leaderboards, and you’ll also be able to brag about your research progress via Twitter.  Waking Mars is universal, so you’ll be able to play no matter what device you have with you on the go.

Waking Mars Tiger Style, Waking Mars, – $4.99

Kale In Dinoland – While anyone that digs platform games should enjoy this, if you’re like me and have a special fondness for the old black and white Gameboy systems, you’ll definitely appreciate Kale In Dinoland.  It’s up to you to help Kale conquer Dinoland and rescue his girlfriend Terra.  To do this you’ll need to explore more than 50 levels spread across 6 unique areas.  There are several different types of enemies to best and bosses to test your mettle.  In a nod to games like Kirby, you’ll be able to ride any of the non-boss creatures and use their powers to your advantage.  Be warned, though, that wild creatures won’t necessarily control as easily as you’d expect!  The visuals and soundtrack are everything you’d expect from a Gameboy era game, which means they’re charming despite their “age” (though I believe this is actually a rework of an old Gameboy game).  You will have modern conveniences like Game Center at your disposal, but overall Kale In Dinoland provides a nostalgia that retro fans should adore.

Kale In Dinoland The Rotting Cartridge, Kale In Dinoland, – $1.99

Zombie Panic In Wonderland Plus – Zombies erupting from a cloud of exotic perfume?  Why not?  That’s the premise of Zombie Panic In Wonderland Plus, a game that comes to us from the WiiWare world.  This is a shoot ‘em up with a crazy storyline and the ability to destroy just about anything you see, so I’m really not sure what more you could ask for.  The iOS version has controls that have been streamlined for your portable device so you don’t have to feel like you’re trying to wave a Wii wand around.  The graphics have been given a boost as well, and this extended version features new levels and enemies just for all you iOS gamers.  The game is universal, and it’s also free.  Of course you have to actually pay to get the story mode, as well as half the selectable characters, but it still sounds like a pretty entertaining game.  It will be interesting to see how this one grows in the future (and if the “buy everything” IAP pack ever goes down in price).

Zombie Panic in Wonderland Plus Akaoni Studio, Zombie Panic in Wonderland Plus, – Free

Heist The Score – Heist takes rail shooters right where they belong: in the hands of the mob.  Travel back to the time of prohibition and help the charismatic Salvatore Da Luca pull of a “simple” bank job.  There will be plenty of gun fights and a multitude of weapons to help illustrate the crime of the century gone wrong.  The action is punctuated with motion capture cut scenes that tell the whole tale of the heist.  The scenes are professionally voiced and everything is visualized in high def 3D graphics.  Best of all, you’ll even get to take out your frustrations on a fully destructible environment.  I’ve really come to appreciate 3D shooters like Dead Space™ (TMA Review) since having iOS devices, but if this plays out like DOOM Resurrection I’ll take rail shooting action any day.

HEIST The Score N3V Games, HEIST The Score, – $0.99

Survivium – Like I said, there was something about this week that made online games seem appealing to me.  This time around you get to take on the role of a mad scientist.  Your job is to develop, program and test virtual viruses against computer foes.  When you feel that you’re ready it’s time to take your creation online and face off against all the evil doctors around the world.  Nothing less than total domination will suit you, so you must make sure that you give your virus the skills necessary to overtake as much of the cyberspace battle arena as possible.  There are 30 training missions and 12 basic programming instructions to help you get your viruses in tip top shape.  You can make the competition personal and challenge your friends, or challenge any player from around the world, even if they aren’t online.  The only thing that doesn’t really thrill me is that there is no mention of Game Center.  Instead they use that ugly F word – Facebook.  Still, this sounds like another intriguing online game that offers something different from the norm.

Survivium® Little Worlds Studio, Survivium®, – $0.99

Tobe & Friends Hookshot Escape – Tobe first appeared on Steam, and now comes to the iPhone bringing us a brand new retro adventure.  You must help Tobe and his three friends escape a crumbling cave, though being an endless climber there really is no escape.  Each character has a unique ability that affects how you play the game.  There are 4 different themes for your climbing pleasure, each with its own background music.  There are more than 20 items to unlock that will help boosts your stats, skills and abilities.  You can mix and match items to your liking.  There are 5 separate leader boards: one for each character and an overall high score board.  Cute retro graphics round out the package to bring you a solid old school infinite climber.

Tobe & Friends Hookshot Escape Secret Base, Tobe & Friends Hookshot Escape, – $1.99

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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