10 New App Store Games To Watch [April 16 – 22]

Fancy yourself a game developer but don’t have any programming skills?  Sketch Nation Studio could change your life, as it will allow you to design games right on your iOS device without even having to write a line of code.  If you’d rather just stick to playing games there’s Saving Private Sheep 2.  The mechanics are way different than the original, but if the same goofy humor is there is should still be a winner.  Real time strategy fans would do well to check out Total War Battles from SEGA.  This medieval Japan conquest game has an interesting game play mechanic: you can’t retreat!  You better be really sure that every move is one you want to make.

MacGuffin’s Curse – If games like Helsing’s Fire and Saving Private Sheep proved anything, it’s that humor works just as well in puzzle games as anywhere else.  Nifty premise aside, it sounds like MacGuffin’s curse has taken this knowledge to heart with some zany characters and actual adventure game style conversations.  As for the game itself, you play a thief who manages to botch a job and ends up getting linked to an amulet that transforms him into a wolf in the moonlight.  You must use this ability, along with the unique skills that each of your forms provides, to solve a series of mind-bending puzzles and ultimately take down a criminal mastermind.  In addition to the main events of the game you’ll be able to take on some side quests for the various characters.  You’ll also have the opportunity to unlock special features that won’t help you with the game but will give you more insight into MacGuffin’s world.  Comic book style artwork and a slick soundtrack bring the world to life, though it sounds like there is no voice acting – a shame given the setup of the game.  Still, this thief-turned-hero’s story sounds like a fun one to take part in.

MacGuffin's Curse Ayopa Games, MacGuffin’s Curse – $3.99

Saving Private Sheep 2 – The wolf threat has been abated, but the general’s poor sheep are never really safe.  This time around it is the sly foxes that are causing mischief, and it will take all your skills with a catapult and hedgehog (along with other gadgets gathered along the way) to make sure the naïve sheep don’t get harmed.  You’ll have 66 levels full of anything from waterfalls to spider’s webs with which to demonstrate your prowess.  If that’s not enough you’ll have access to the same level designer the developers used so you can create and share your own levels with the world, as well as sample the best others have to offer.  The game is universal so you can save the sheep no matter which device you have handy.  The game may be very different in mechanics from the first one, but as long as the same humorous atmosphere is still there (which it sounds like it is), then there’s no question this return to duty will be loads of fun.

Saving Private Sheep 2 Bulkypix, Saving Private Sheep 2 – $0.99

Lock ‘N’ Load – If you like your twin stick shooters edgy and sarcastic, Lock ‘N’ Load is just the game for you.  As the protagonist you have the build of the dude from Splatterhouse, the attitude of Casey from the TMNT mythos and a voice that sounds suspiciously like Optimus Prime.  You’ve come out of retirement to thwart an evil little girl who has taken over then land and whose minions trampled your lovingly tended garden.  Now it’s payback time, and you’ll get to blow up everything from menacing scarecrows to possessed garbage cans in your quest to discipline the brat with untold power.  There are 16 levels in the main campaign, with an additional 9 level secondary campaign and 6 challenge levels to occupy your time.  You’ll take on 32 different types of bad guys with a range of weaponry that should make your job go smoothly when applied correctly.  Even if you feel like you’ve had your fill of twin stick shooters you’ll want to enjoy the twisted fairy tale world of Lock ‘N’ Load.

Lock 'n' Load Chillingo, Lock ‘n’ Load – $0.99

Sketch Nation Studio – With over half a million products on the App Store, there’s no question that “where there’s a will there’s a way” when it comes to developing iPhone software.  Still, there might be some that are looking for just the right tool with which to develop their mobile masterpiece, and Engineous Games has decided to expand the potential pool with the free to download Sketch Nation Studio.  This universal application allows you to develop your game directly on your iPhone / iPad device.  You can use their built in graphics tools or import visuals via the camera where available.  While based on the current selection of available samples on the App Store I’d say that the main genre for this tool is simple horizontal or vertical scrolling games, I’d wager that with a bit of patience and imagination you might be able to develop some pretty interesting titles.  The more lucrative part of this whole situation is that you might be able to distribute said apps on the App Store as stand alone applications.  Unfortunately, by using Sketch Nation Studio you agree to let Engineous Games be the publisher and take half your profit AFTER Apple gets their 30%.  Oh, and they also reserve the right to turn down anything they don’t feel is “quality” material.  I’m not sure how viable this scenario is for developers that want to be in the Apple market long term, but if you’re looking for a potentially quick way to get your first game to market then this might be just the tool for you.

Sketch Nation Studio Engineous Game, Sketch Nation Studio – Free

Bloody Western – There are a lot of MMORPGs available on the App Store, but none really come to mind that involve a western theme if you discount FPS games.  Bloody Western looks to change that in a way that might even convince an anti-social gamer like myself to give a multiplayer game a try.  You can choose to play a servant of the law or a servant of your own whims as you don a badge or shoot for the reputation of the roughest outlaw in the West.  Each side has three different classes to help you hone your talents, and there are quests specific to each class.  You can also play gambling and duel mini-games to build your reputation among the players.  As you complete quests and win mini-games you’ll be able to buy gear and equipment that will make you a better gunslinger.  This may not really be how the West was won, but it sounds like a fun way to experience it to me.

Bloody Western Mobicle Co., Bloody Western – Free

Shark Dash – Gameloft certainly has a large catalog of games, but puzzle games aren’t something you’ll see pop up very often in their lineup.  That makes this offering a particularly interesting one since it is relatively unexplored territory for them.  Add to that the iTunes description’s claim that Shark Dash is a “new benchmark for physics puzzle games”, and this little title has a lot to live up to.  You control Sharkee and his fellow toy sharks, whose territory has been overrun by the pesky rubber ducks.  Using a now intimately familiar “drag to launch” action you’ll send the sharks reeling across exotic bathtubs around the world in an attempt to eliminate all the ducks and rescue Sharkee’s girlfriend Sally.  You can earn up to three stars per level which can be used to unlock new realms, and you can also collect coins to buy your merry band of sharks some cool new skins.  96 levels and a ton of achievements should keep you occupied, so the real question is if these squeaky tub toys will have the lasting appeal of certain fowl flingers.

Shark Dash Gameloft, Shark Dash – $0.99

Tentacle Wars HD – FDG Entertainment is one of those companies which impresses me because they make an effort to ensure that each new experience they provide is different than the last one.  Tentacle Wars sounds a bit like Othello, except unlike that classic and its variants, nothing short of total board domination will suffice here.  The 40 mission campaign mode will pit you against an increasingly aggressive collection of red cells which you can destroy by zapping their energy with tentacles.  You can even boost your attacks by severing the tentacles at the appropriate time.  When you’ve mastered the campaign you can go online thanks to Game Center and see how you fare against a human opponent.  If you’re not one of the 25 million that have experienced the Flash phenomenon, maybe it’s time you got your tentacle on.

Tentacle Wars HD FDG Entertainment, Tentacle Wars HD – $2.99

Little Labyrinths – Despite being probably one of the oldest and most basic forms of “puzzle” known, the idea of solving a labyrinth is still extremely popular today.  Of course it doesn’t hurt that making them electronic allows for randomly generated scenarios, and Little Labyrinths takes that concept a step further.  Not only are the mazes procedurally generated, but you can mix and match the creature you’re playing, the items you’re looking for and even the setting of the maze.  In the end it’s still basically the same game play, but a simple matter of perception goes a long way towards making the experience fresh every time.  The game does offer four different playing modes, including a time crunch option that challenges you to solve as many mazes as possible before the timer runs out.  The interface is a simple “draw a line” affair which should make the game accessible to even the most casual of users.  The best part, however, is that the developers plan on adding new characters, environments and maybe even game play modes over the coming months, with a time schedule of at least one update a month.  If the game isn’t everything you want it to be right now, just give it a bit of time.

Little Labyrinths ByteSize Games, Little Labyrinths – $0.99

Total War Battles – This latest original effort from the folks at SEGA is a portable touch screen successor to the Total War PC / MAC franchise that began in 2000.  You’ll get the chance to conquer medieval Japan in a 10 hour campaign that takes place during the era of Total War: Shogun 2.  Be prepared to manage your bases so you can generate necessary resources and recruit units such as samurai and ninja.  Victory in war will bring you XP which will allow you to upgrade everything you own.  Hex based playing fields provide more diverse movement and accommodate deeper strategy, while a “no turning back” policy makes each battle all the more intense.  Once you’ve bested the computer (or perhaps to get more experience to apply against it) you can take on a friend in 1 on 1 competition on the same device.  The interface was designed with a touch screen in mind, giving the player features like drag and drop placement and swipe gestures to quickly navigate the battlefield.  It’s time to go medieval Japanese style.

Total War Battles SEGA, Total War Battles – $6.99

Foam Fighters – It almost seems a bit ironic that the more advanced technology gets, the more we try to integrate it with non-tech things.  While it seems like we should be able to keep ourselves entertained with the iOS devices themselves, it is kind of neat to see ways in which developers can link the software to real world objects.  In this case WowWee has developed a game that uses a real foam airplane as your avatar in the game.  A suction cup holds the plane to your device, and a special marker on the wing triggers a scenario in the game via your device’s camera.  Each plane has 12 in-game missions or you can use WiFi to take on up to seven friends in skirmish mode.  The planes come two to a package, and if you really get bored you’re more than welcome to toss the planes around in real life as well.  This really isn’t the most sophisticated example of electronic game / real life object integration, but it certainly sounds pretty cool. The one down side: a free iOS game download is going to set you back at least $10 once you buy a set of planes!

WowWee web site (to get the planes)

Foam Fighters WowWee Group, Foam Fighters – 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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