10 New App Store Games To Watch [September 3 - 9]

Not willing to rest on the laurels of having one of the biggest hits of the year in the theater, Marvel is taking the iOS world by storm as well.  This week saw two releases from the master storytellers, the first of which looks to be an Infinity Blade style game called Avengers Initiative.  The initial release lets you stomp around as the Hulk smashing things, but future episodes (read IAP) will give you the chance to test your mettle as other heroes from the legendary super-team.  If you want something a little more casual but still within the realm of super-heroism then HeroClix TabApp might work better for you.  This free iPad app interacts with specially made HeroClix characters to provide you with comic book story driven mini-games custom to each figure you own.  On the flip side, those seeking a bit of medieval butchery with a dash of otherworldly demons thrown in should check out Wild Blood from Gameloft.  This remix of the Arthurian legends pits you as Sir Lancelot against a warped Arthur and his nasty sister Morgan Le Fey… and a bunch of overzealous hellspawn as well.

Avengers Initiative – Given that most of the Marvel iOS games to this point have been Gameloft style 3rd person action fare (or that somewhat odd Captain America scroller), I was as much surprised as anyone to see Initiative take more of an Infinity Blade approach to game play.  Of course, given that your first foray into the storyline puts you in control of the Hulk this makes perfect sense, because “Hulk smash!”  Still, assuming I understand their plans correctly it’s cool to see this tale being told as episodic content, with the extra episode becoming available as IAP in this game.  At least that’s how I’d expect it to happen.  As far as the current offering you can build up the Hulk with new costumes, additional augmented powers, and customizable stats.  Mostly, though, you get the pleasure of running around pummeling things as the big green goliath.  I thought it was interesting (and somewhat annoying) that Marvel created their own social network called Marvel XP, as this trend was already old when folks like EA did it.  Game Center and OpenFeint worked well to start with, and I’m getting tired of signing up for additional networks.  Otherwise this looks like quite the intriguing offering, given that you have the latest generation of hardware to support it.

Avengers Initiative Marvel Entertainment, Avengers Initiative – $6.99

Oh Hi! Octopi! – It’s confession time already: I possibly just didn’t get it, but I never saw the appeal of 1-bit Ninja.  Still, there’s no getting around the fact that the developer’s games look interesting, and Octopi is no exception.  From the screen shots I get a “Mario Bros. meets ninja hockey fan” vibe – and yeah, I just threw out a bunch of oddly disparate culture there.  Basically it sounds like your job is to jump, hammer and otherwise cajole the poor octopi until you can get them into like colored groups to clear them from the screen.  I’m gathering that this is one of those “play until you fold” type of games, and the longer you keep making matches the quicker your adversaries get.  The visuals have a great modern-retro look and if we’re lucky a chip-tune soundtrack to match.  Oh Hi! is universal and supports Game Center for leaderboards, so it’s pretty much your typical casual arcade game in that regards.

Oh Hi! Octopi! kode80 LLC, Oh Hi! Octopi! – $1.99

My Singing Monsters – I don’t normally get into these games where you basically have to keep paying to keep playing, but every once in a while the idea intrigues me enough that I have to give one a shot (especially since they’re usually free with IAP).  In this case Big Blue Bubble has created a musical Tomagatchi with monsters which is actually quite entertaining.  Your main job is to hatch and grow monsters, and eventually you can even get into breeding them.  Of course there will be additional tasks to complete along the way that will earn you one or more of the following: gold, jewels, food and XP.  Gold and jewels are used to buy the creatures and items you’ll populate your island with, food levels up the monsters and XP unlocks new things for you to buy.  You can earn gold easily enough while playing, though you’re certainly encouraged to supplement your coffer through IAP.  The game is universal and looks pretty sharp on an iPad 2, with all the animated monsters singing and doing their thing.  My only concern is how fun the game will be once I’ve gotten all the monsters, but thankfully that won’t happen for a while yet.

My Singing Monsters Big Blue Bubble, My Singing Monsters – Free

Boom The Rock – I honestly wasn’t sure what to make of this game so like any good reviewer I just downloaded it and tried it.  That’s the beauty of free games, after all.  The game is actually quite fun and challenging, and it reminds me a lot of another recently released game called Feed The Penguin.  In Boom The Rock you must use your rockets to destroy flaming meteors that are headed towards the earth.  But to get rid of them you must collect all the dynamite along the way and avoid everything else.  You adjust the rocket’s path by manipulating certain nodes along the line that connects the rocket to the rock.  And as an added bonus, if you wait too long the meteors actually do start getting closer to you.  The graphics have kind of a Rocky and Bullwinkle feel to them, the opera music is both pestering and at the same time amusing, and the banter going on while you’re trying to create the right path is comical if not a bit distracting.  Overall this is another fun puzzle game that will both test your intelligence and delight you.

Boom The Rock Hooligans Entertainment, Boom The Rock – Free
Boom The Rock HD Hooligans Entertainment, Boom The Rock HD – Free

Heroslayer! – You’ll find that one of my obsessions besides infinite runners is match 3 mash-ups.  In this case the developer has fused tile matching with Plants vs Zombie style defense.  You have one row of allies to defend on each level, and you’ll use demons generated from the matched tiles to clear out the bad guys before they reach you.  One neat feature is that you don’t have to make a match to switch tiles, which means while movement is slow on the opponent’s part you can be building up matches for powerful combo attacks.  Just make sure the villains don’t get too close and slip through your defenses.  As you play you can earn Waroo, a currency that will give you the chance to buy upgrades.  There are 15 stages per area, though I’m not sure how many areas there are altogether.  Hopefully as the game gains in popularity more stages will be added.  The game is universal and free, tough IAP will net you some additional Waroos or get rid of the ads.

Heroslayer! COLOPL, Heroslayer! – Free

Wild Blood – There’s no question that Gameloft knows their way around a solid 3rd person adventure game, and apparently they can handle the Unreal Engine quite well also.  This latest release looks absolutely stunning, and should have no problem giving games like Infinity Blade II, and Horn a run for their money in terms of console quality aesthetics.  The real question is whether or not the game is actually fun.  You take on the role of Sir Lancelot, who must defeat a jealous King Arthur and the sinister Morgan Le Fey.  You’ll travel through 10 different levels and take on some 20 types of monsters including viscous bosses to reach your goal.  While Arthur might have flipped his lid, expect help from Sir Gawain of the Knights of the Round Table.  There will also be some puzzle elements for those of you that want to exercise more than your sword thumb.  Then, when you’ve conquered the bad guys, take on up to 7 friends in Team Deathmatch and Capture The Flag modes.  This feature actually kind of surprised me and seems like a nice addition.  Are you ready to get medieval on the most legendary knight around?

Wild Blood Gameloft, Wild Blood – $6.99

Drakerider – Apparently the freemium serialized approach to gaming is working for Square Enix right now, because they’ve mimicked their structure for FINAL FANTASY DIMENSIONS in their latest offering, Drakerider.  This time around you play as Aran, mankind’s final hope and a dragalier.  In combat you’ll control your dragon companion Eckhardt via chains at the bottom of the screen.  Don’t pull too tight and Eckhardt will unleash some devastating attacks, but if you’re overly lenient he might go primal and hurt you in the process. Winning battles earns you CP to unlock new abilities, but careless planning can prevent you from getting other powers later on that you’d rather have.  The theme song and voiceovers are professionally recorded, adding a nice boost to the performance.  The tale is told in 5 chapters – the first is free and as a pack the remaining four will run you $20.99, or you can buy them individually for $6.99 apiece.  If nothing else, you can’t argue that Square Enix isn’t trying to get console level pricing out of their games.

DRAKERIDER SQUARE ENIX, DRAKERIDER – Free
DRAKERIDER for iPad SQUARE ENIX, DRAKERIDER for iPad – Free

Loremaster – Sick of always shooting, maiming or otherwise hurting your opponents in multi-player games?  How about telling stories with them?  It sounds kind of corny, but I used to do stuff like this via email when I was in college, and it’s actually kind of fun.  Pick a card, write a sentence using the contents of the card and a word from the previous player’s sentence, and pretty soon you’ll have an interesting story going that’s unique to your play session.  You can customize the cards with sigils, though I’m not quite sure what that actually means.  As you play the game you’ll earn gold to buy more cards and sigils, and while you can buy additional gold via IAP the developer assures us that you’ll earn enough gold just by telling tales that you won’t need to make any purchases if you don’t want to.  Once you’ve completed your tale you can share it through Facebook and email, and Game Center provides leaderboards and some achievements.  The game also syncs via iCloud so you can play on whatever device you have available, though right now the game is designed around the iPhone.  Maybe it will go universal one of these days.

Loremaster Tangent Worlds, Loremaster – $0.99

HeroClix TabApp – Is the Avengers Initiative a little too expensive for you?  Maybe HeroClix TabApp will be a little more to your liking financially.  The app is free, and by utilizing specially designed figures you can play maps and read comic scenes tailored to each character.  Given this setup we’ll hopefully see new characters introduced over time that unlock even more scenarios.  From what I can tell the initial offering includes Thor, Captain America and Iron Man of Avengers fame, as well as Wolverine, Iceman and Cyclops from the X-Men.  Now the official HeroClix TabApp web site states that there are 12 physical figures, but I haven’t seen anything to indicate what the other six are.  Much like many of these other interactive toys while the execution may not be all that great yet, the concept is certainly intriguing.  What I like about this one is that it integrates with an already established toy line, and apparently you can even use the figures in normal tabletop HeroClix play.  What really remains to be seen is if the idea will translate well to non-HeroClix fans or not.

HeroClix TabApp Icarus Studios, HeroClix TabApp – Free

Demons vs. Wizards – Magic Card & Dice Game – I think it might actually take longer to say this game’s name than to play it!  Okay, that’s not true, but it’s nice to see games with a CCG / RPG type premise that are designed for the player(s) on the go.  From the description it almost sounds like a mini-game pulled out of some long lost Final Fantasy episode.  The rules are so simple the developer claims you can start playing without reading them, and the short game time of 5-10 minutes means you can actually get a round in before your kid’s attention span wanders off to something else.  You play on the same device to give the illusion that you’re partaking of a tabletop game, and if you just can’t seem to find a human adversary there is some AI built in to keep you busy.  The interface actually looks pretty polished, and when you’re not in the mood to play the game you can actually use the realistic dice for a completely non-related endeavor.

Demons vs. Wizards - Magic Card & Dice Game Wisercat, Demons vs. Wizards – Magic Card & Dice Game – $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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