10 New App Store Games To Watch [March 26 – April 1]

It took them a while, but Namco came up with yet another way to abuse the Pac-Man property, and Pac-Mangames is the most interesting attempt yet in my opinion.  They took several of their popular classics and created quick play, “rack up the score” versions of them, and then wrapped them all up in an odd avatar system.  If Pac-Mangames sounds like a bit of a stretch you can always try your hand at Pocket Law Firm, a new time management system that not only could be fun but might just teach you something about the constitution as well.  Just don’t tell your friends you’re actually learning with your iPad.  If you just can’t get enough of Hollywood retreads there’s Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures, the video game tie-in for one of two Snow White films coming out this year.  To its credit the game looks pretty sharp, and there are even a couple of places where it looks to break the mold of most runner type games, so hopefully it won’t suffer the fate of most movie based games.

Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures – So does anyone besides me think there are too many Snow White movies coming out this year?  Personally, I’m content with the version of the story as told by Once Upon A Time anyway.  However, for those of you that don’t think you’ll be able to get enough of the Julia Roberts adaptation, you can now join in on the adventure with your very own iOS game.  I will admit that the game looks pretty nice, though I can’t help but be reminded of one of my favorite iOS runners, Diversion (TMA Review).  Still, this game makes some interesting use of depth and layers to give the world more of a 3D feel, and like how you can change your direction ala Temple Run.  I’ll assume that the plot has something to do with the movie, though whether it’s a prequel, sequel or otherwise I do not know.  There are leaderboards if you want to try and beat the world with your speedy run and jump times, but no mention of achievements at this point.  Much like the Hop branded version of Doodle Jump, however, the real question is if this is something iOS gamers are clamoring for.

Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures Jump Games, Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures, – $0.99

Beat The Beast HD – Beat The Beast is a new tower defense game for the iPad.  Your arsenal consists of 5 basic tower types and 4 magical powers, all of which can hopefully be updated.  You’ll need everything you can muster to take on the 14 different classes of beasts, each with unique skills.  3 different worlds, 3 game play modes and plenty of achievements should keep you busy for a while.  Like many of the modern TD games this takes the “king of the hill” approach to level layout as opposed to an overhead perspective.  Where it differs from most of its piers, however, is in the fact that the levels are 360 degrees around the object you’re defending!  It’s quite possible this is merely a gimmick, especially if the enemies all attack in a linear fashion, but if used correctly this facet could be quite intriguing in how it redefines the strategy required for this type of game.  Assuming the mechanics make the game worth revisiting more than once I’ll be eager to see if new worlds, towers and beasts get added to the mix over time.

Beat the Beast HD Ashot Balasanyan, Beat the Beast HD, – $0.99

Imperium Galactica 2 – There have been a number of sci-fi based strategy games released for iOS devices in the last year or two, most of which have been designed or retooled for the portable devices.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it often means a more simplified approach to 4x gaming.  Imperium Galactica 2 looks to buck that trend with an iOS port that looks to retain the best of what the PC game had to offer for both RTS and 4x fans.  The game comes with 3 fully fleshed out campaigns and a countless array of custom scenarios thanks to a skirmish mode that should give you plenty of replay value.  In true explore and conquest mode you’ll get to develop research trees to build your empire while spying on your enemies to steal resources and learn how to crush them.  You’ll also get to fight battles on land and in space, which should appease real time strategy fans.  There are 8 different alien species to contend with, though it’s not clear if the 3 campaigns means you only get to use 3 of those races or if you’ll get to sample all of them at one point or another.  The other thing that’s not mentioned is a multiplayer option, probably because the original didn’t have one.  Hopefully that will make it in an update, at least for skirmish mode.

Imperium Galactica 2 Digital Reality, Imperium Galactica 2, – $3.99

Pac-Mangames – Well, I thought maybe Namco was done exploiting the Pac-Man property, but I guess I was wrong.  This is certainly a unique twist on everything they’ve done up until now, however.  The package includes original versions of games like Pac-Man (go figure), Galaga, Dig Dug and more.  The games have been retooled to act more like mini-games where you’re trying to score as many points as you can in a certain amount of time.  It seems the idea is to turn all of these games into a competition.  As you rack up your scores you’ll earn points to build up a virtual pac-world complete with an avatar, furniture and more.  Completing in-game achievements will also help you earn stuff.  Facebook integration provides high scores, player challenges and the opportunity to post your supped up avatar and room to your adoring Facebook fans worldwide.  Just be warned that if you don’t back up your device to iTunes, you’ll lose all your purchases if you delete the game.  Sounds like they haven’t heard of iCloud.  The whole “room” thing seems cheesy, but this package could be worth it just for the quick-and-frenzied versions of the games included.

PAC-MANGAMES NamcoBandai Games, PAC-MANGAMES, – $2.99

Universal Movie Tycoon – I’m pretty sure there have been one or two other movie making sims released for iOS devices already.  What I like about this one is it actually ties into a real studio.  Yes, the “universal” in the title does not mean it is a universal binary (though it is), but rather that it lets you take the reigns of one of the most prolific movie studios in theater history, Universal Studios.  You’ll help build the landmark business from the ground up with more than 15 buildings to buy and construct.  Decorating the lot and keeping it ship shape helps the studio rating, which in turn sees your movies make more money.  More importantly, though, are the movies themselves.  Build sets and guide the production of such classics as E.T. and Jaws, or help usher in new standards like The Fast And The Furious or Despicable Me.  All told you’ll have a library of 35 movies to work with.  The game does require an internet connection and Game Center account, which most of you probably have anyway, but any serious time management / movie buff will want to check this one out.

Universal Movie Tycoon Fuse Powered, Universal Movie Tycoon, – Free

Hollyweird Zombies USA – You’ve seen it all before, right?  Cute graphics, side scrolling undead blasting action, and the endorsement of an infamous horror film director.  Wait a minute… what’s up with that last part?  Okay, if you look up the quoted Herschell Gordon Lewis (which they spelled his name wrong in the iTunes description, by the way) you’ll find out that he seems to be one of the 50’s and 60’s B-movie kings.  It seems fitting, then, that he’d promote a game that lets you put your friends’ – or enemies’ – mugs on the zombies.  Yes, the big gimmick in this game is that you can crop any picture in your digital camera roll to create the faces for the victims of your merciless onslaught.  Once that’s taken care of you’ll have 120 levels across 6 well known locations in order to blow them all away.  There is Game Center support as well, presumably for achievements, and you can even download a free eBook detailing the adventures of Holly Weird.  If you ever wanted to simulate the zombie apocalypse with real images and side scrolling shoot ‘em up action, well, this is probably the closest you’ll ever get.

Hollyweird Zombies USA ZombieActive Games, Hollyweird Zombies USA, – $0.99

Pocket Law Firm – Okay, I’m not sure what I find more surprising: the fact that there is a time management sim about law firms in the first place, or the fact that people seem to like it so much.  Still, I suppose if people can get into lawyer shows on TV there’s no reason they can’t get hooked on an electronic representation of what goes on in a law firm.  The web version sounds like a big hit, with educators expressing how their satisfaction in its ability to teach young people their rights, and students even claiming to grasp the amendments as a result of playing.  Your goal is to match the appropriate lawyers with needy clients, making sure that cases get won and that the constitution is upheld.  As your reputation grows you’ll get perks like waiting room upgrades, more lawyers, advertising to attract clients and even a coffee machine to give your legal team that extra push in the morning.  The only things this game is missing are an endorsement from David E. Kelly and a multiplayer mode complete with chat capabilities so you can berate your friends “in the name of justice”.

Pocket Law Firm Filament Games, Pocket Law Firm, – Free

Rinth Island – There’s a game that’s been around for years, and the variant I’m familiar with is called Tower Toppler, though I’m sure it’s had many names across various ports and clones.  Rinth Island looks to be the latest in this game’s varied history, though it sounds like this one might have a bit more puzzle oriented tone than the others.  The basic idea is that you have a circular level, and you must get from your starting point to another spot on the board to escape to the next level.  It sounds simple, but the 3D element adds a whole new level of complexity to the situation.  The game features 60 levels, each of which can be played in four different modes.  Once you’ve conquered all of those you can build your own and share them with others around the world.  Graphically it looks to be one of the best games of its genre, and the content is potentially limitless depending on how “into it” the fan base gets.  The game is also universal, so you can embark on your circular journey regardless of what device you have available.

Rinth Island Chillingo, Rinth Island, – $0.99

The Keep Of The Lich-Lord – Ever since the first Gamebook Adventures (TMA Review) and Fighting Fantasy (TMA Review) releases for the iPhone I have been a huge fan of the electronic “RPG novel” genre.  Of course it doesn’t hurt any that I was a big fan of this sort of thing back when we had to go to book stores to actually get one.  This latest variant is actually based on the Fighting Fantasy book of the same name, though it’s not being published under that banner, which is produced by Big Blue Bubble.  Instead, this update to the classic novel has been lovingly crafted by the folks that produced the iOS version of the Fabled Lands RPG novels.  More than a reprint, the iOS version contains new twists and turns to the original story.  It also employs the same rules and battle system that exists in the Fabled Lands apps.  An epic score, immersive sound effects and hand drawn, hi-res art bring the world to life.  Welcome to the new age of interactive fiction.

The Keep of the Lich-Lord Megara, The Keep of the Lich-Lord, – $4.99
The Keep of the Lich-Lord HD Megara, The Keep of the Lich-Lord HD, – $4.99

Cubemen – It’s that age old battle of red versus blue… cubed… literally.  It’s a tower defense style game because you have to defend your base against the opposition as they come at you along their predefined paths.  It’s a real time strategy style game because instead of towers you have spawn points that you can place and move around the board to generate troops from the most appropriate locations.  There are 28 defense levels that I’m guessing would constitute a campaign, and 22 skirmish levels that can be played against device AI or against a human player.  The game is cross platform so you can take on Mac and PC players, and hopefully players on other devices as the game spreads.  There are 27 achievements to earn for self gratification, and detailed stats and rankings for skirmish levels give you the chance to rub your prowess in other people’s cubes.  Because of the lack of towers and limited variety of cubemen types this might seem like it doesn’t offer as much as other TD / RTS games, but I think the cross-platform multiplayer and intriguing variety in level design have a good chance of making up for any of that.

Cubemen 3 Sprockets, Cubemen, – $3.99

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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