10 New App Store Games To Watch [April 9 – 15]

This week saw the release of a couple of iOS episodes of popular console games, but more exciting to me was the number of potentially high quality free(mium) games that were made available.  Last Day Of Work released the latest installment of their Virtual Villagers series entitled Virtual Villagers: Origins.  The claim is that this takes the series back to its roots and is based of the formula that made the original Virtual Villagers a success.  If you’re interested in flying the friendly skies but don’t want another Flight Control clone you might consider Aero Vacation from Chillingo.  This time management game tasks you with building the ultimate airborne vacation spot with everything from a roller coaster to a full blown golf course.  On the other hand, those looking for something completely different should take a look at O2Jam Hero.  This RPG / rhythm hybrid pits a girls’ rock band against the ultimate evil, and I’m thinking you should get bonus points if you can interpret the game’s iTunes description.

Virtual Villagers: Origins – I played the original Virtual Villagers back on my PocketPC, and it was one of those weird experiences where I couldn’t really find anything wrong with it but I wasn’t a big fan of it either.  All of the installments have appeared on iOS devices, but Origins takes the series back to its roots as it is based on the first iteration of the game.  Your job is to guide and nurture and band of villagers, helping them explore their island surroundings and eventually take care of themselves.  You need to make sure they have shelter, food and clothing, and eventually become matchmaker to keep the tribe going.  As the natives become more inquisitive and start exploring the island they’ll discover secrets that make the game more interesting.  What really made this game stand out at the time, however, was the fact that the game kept going even when you weren’t playing.  If you weren’t careful you might come back after neglecting the villagers for a while to find them all dead (don’t laugh – it happened to me).  Virtual Villagers: Origins is universal, and while there is IAP to help you build up your village, the developers claim it’s completely playable without spending a cent.

Virtual Villagers: Origins Last Day of Work, Virtual Villagers: Origins – Free

Block Breaker 3 Free+ – First of all, I’m not a big fan of Breakout style games.  Second, while this claims to be the return of Block Breaker 3, I don’t remember it the first time around in the App Store.  Now that I’ve got that out of the way, this actually sounds like a pretty cool game.  It has 100 levels to blaze through, and at least some of them provide a scrolling play field for a new block breaking experience.  The game also features boss battles, which you don’t find very often in such a game.  You can unlock a world of power ups, including not just multiple balls but multiple paddles.  There’s even a slot machine that you can play daily to try and win extra balls and other prizes.  Block Breaker 3 offers 8 different game play modes and a level generator, so you shouldn’t run out of things to do for a very long time.  The game is universal and it’s free, so what are you waiting for?

Block Breaker 3 Free+ Gameloft, Block Breaker 3 Free+ – Free

Max Payne Mobile – Like most third person action titles I have no experience with previous iterations of this franchise.  I will admit, however, that the concept of “experiencing” the bullet time phenomenon made famous by The Matrix in a video game sounds really cool.  If you’re like me then now’s your chance to do it in a mobile package thanks to Rockstar Games and War Drum Studios.  The story seems to have some roots in the Punisher mythos, but gritty story filled with twists and turns is sure to please regardless of any similarities to other tales.  Much like the misunderstood Spiderman, you’ll be tangling with both sides of the law which always makes things more interesting.  The visuals are brought to the player in crisp HD, including Retina support for the new iPad.  The controls have been tailored to the touch screen experience, including multiple aiming modes and customizable layouts.  It even supports the Rockstar Games Social Club so you can compare your skills against other players (note that this is only available on iPhone 4/s and iPad 2/3).  The game is universal and actually comes in at a price point lower than many similar games from other developers, so if you haven’t walked in Max’s footsteps yet you might want to give it a try.

Max Payne Mobile Rockstar Games, Max Payne Mobile – $2.99

Burnout Crash! – Games where you try to successfully control the flow of traffic seem to be fairly popular, but for the most part it’s one of those types of game where they pretty much all look the same to me.  Thankfully Burnout Crash takes a new spin on the theme in that your goal is to actually cause carnage, not prevent it.  The game consists of 3 game play modes to be tested across 6 locations with a total of 54 different events and 18 traffic junctions.  Basically that means you’ve got a lot of traffic to wreck.  You can unleash special weapons like tornados, asteroids and UFOs.  When you’re done showing the computer what’s what you can take on a friend thanks to the turn based Autolog feature.  All this is available as a universal app so you can do maximum damage on a big or small screen.  If you’re tired of keeping the peace as a traffic cop, why not turn the tables for a change?

Burnoutâ„¢ CRASH! Electronic Arts, Burnoutâ„¢ CRASH! – $4.99

Hero Mages – Hero Mages is about you building up a party of three adventurers to take on the world.  There are 6 classes to build your characters from, but the key to the whole thing is the Mage, who has the power to summon mythical creatures and bend the very fabric of the world itself.  There are 6 campaign missions, a randomly generated “quick battle” mode and a user created “custom battle” mode to keep you busy offline.  If you fancy a little bit of multiplayer, on the other hand, you can challenge players from around the world in free for all, team and cooperative modes with 8 players all together.  The timid can even watch online games without participating.  The game touts “cross-platform” compatibility, which right now looks to be just between iPad and iPhone, but hopefully that will expand in the future.

Hero Mages D20Studios, Hero Mages – $2.99

Aero Vacation – The latest freemium title from Chillingo is like a hotel and theme park manager rolled into one – except this time the theme park is inside the hotel… and it sails through the air!  You are the captain of an airship, and it’s your job to keep the passengers happy and make this the best trip of their lives.  You’ll start by building things like roller coasters and rock-climbing walls, and expand your capacity for erecting cool structures by visiting exotic locations such as Tokyo and Athens (or even Los Angeles if you’re not from the U.S.)  Customize your craft with a fresh paint job and custom logo, and even modify the actual design of the vessel.  Then visit your friends’ crafts and have them board yours to both boost your energy and rub their noses in your awesomeness.  The game is universal and free to play, though you’re more than welcome to fly the fancy friendly skies more quickly by bolstering your resources via IAP.

Aero Vacation Chillingo Ltd, Aero Vacation – Free

StickWars 3 – I will admit that in what is probably a bit of unfair bias I tend to ignore “stick” games because the graphics just make them look silly.  In this case what I can see of the visuals from the iTunes screen shots don’t actually look too bad, but what really caught my attention was some of the nifty features you get to play with.  At a base level you can rustle up 60 different upgrades for your castle.  More specifically you can command zombie archers that get a nasty vomit attack (guess brains don’t digest that well after all).  When that gets tiring, you can use your necromancer to summon 12 different agonizing spells.  You can even summon the Grim Reaper on your unsuspecting attackers.  The best part, though, is the Wheel Of Despair, which gives you the opportunity to randomly win new powers.  This might not be the deepest of games, but for a universal binary with a rather light price tag, it sounds like it could be some fun.

StickWars 3 PulsePlay, StickWars 3 – Free

O2Jam Hero – The truth is that I don’t really have any idea what the iTunes description for this game is trying to tell me.  I think it has something to do with forming a girl’s rock band in order to destroy some evil villain.  The funny thing is that despite the poorly translated iTunes sales pitch and screen shots that aren’t too helpful, I feel like there might actually be something to this game.  Thankfully it’s free, so as soon as I have a bit of spare time on my hands I plan on checking it out.  O2Jam appears to be a cross between an RPG and rhythm game, where the songs you generated can be used to take down the bad guys.  The game features a cast of colorful characters and different super heroes with unique abilities.  Winning the war has nothing to do with your actual musical skill, but rather the instruments you wield, the costumes you don and the fans who adore you.  It talks about playing with friends as well, but isn’t specific about whether that means virtual NPCs or other actual players.  The game is free, fairly lightweight, and sounds just quirky enough that it could be fun.

O2Jam Hero GameZen, O2Jam Hero – Free

Zombie Outbreak Simulator – Given the name alone this sounds more like it should be under entertainment than games.  The description kind of confirms that, yet the more I pondered it the more I thought this could actually be interesting.  Your task is to orchestrate a zombie catastrophe across real life locations.  You’ll get to tweak all kinds of fun stats like direction of the outbreak and rate at which civilians get infected.  If you want to be devious – or downright mean – make the percentage of equipped civilians low and then put their accuracy in the toilet.  Once you’ve start the onslaught in motion you can pretend you’re a general watching the potential chaos on a monitor and trying to decide if you should nuke ground zero or not.  Or you can zoom in and see the miserable humans run for their lives and worthlessly shoot at the undead hordes before getting overrun and infected themselves.  The down side is that the game requires an internet connection, but this is because it uses Google maps for the hunting grounds, so it’s just like it were happening in real life (if you believe this sort of thing might happen, that is).

Zombie Outbreak Simulator Binary Space, Zombie Outbreak Simulator – $1.99

Emille – This is the story of a little girl and her teddy bear.  You must help the girl figure out what has become of her and why the city she is in has been destroyed.  You’ll do this by using the teddy bear to reveal hidden passageways and solve other puzzles.  If the girl and the teddy bear are separated for too long, however, fear will set in and all will be lost.  The game currently only has 5 levels as it was developed during the 48 hour MolyJam experience, which is a big part of the reason I’m bringing it up.  This game development jam was an international event that challenged development teams to make games based off of the tweets of @PeterMolydeux, which I’m going out on a short limb and say is a tribute to Peter Molyneux (if you’re not sure who that is, shame on you and go check it out on Wikipedia).  I’ll be eager to see how this project grows, but just as importantly I look forward to seeing more games from this event appear on the App Store (there are one or two others that I’m currently aware of).

Emille Corey Lay Productions, Emille – 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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