10 New App Store Games To Watch [September 17 – 23]

Fremium games dominated the list this week, though a few games with a price tag caught my eye.  Puzzle Saga is the latest match 3 / RPG hybrid to hit the App Store.  Instead of matching objects to help your heroes attack, in this case you actually match the warriors to send them off into battle.  If you’re looking for some mindless destruction Indestructible might just be the ticket.  This offering from Glu Games still has a few kinks that need to be ironed out, but when it’s fully polished it should provide rather fun and non-thought provoking 4 for all arena combat.  The budding sleuths in the group should check out the triple offering of re-tooled Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective games.  Despite odd names, 1 Mummy, 2 Tin Soldier and 3 Murderess not only give you the chance to follow in the footsteps of the greatest detective in London’s history, but they embellish it with live action video for your viewing pleasure.

Neon Blitz – Last year I took a peak at Neon Mania and decided that it was fun but a bit uninspired and was probably best left to the kids.  Neon Blitz revitalizes the concept with just what the original was missing – timers and competitions.  It’s amazing how much more engaging a game can be when you slap a 1 minute countdown on it.  You can also challenge your Facebook friends to see who can earn the high score between your, or go for the 15 minutes of fame and try to climb to the top of the global leaderboards.  There are even weekly challenges and contests you can unlock to fuel your competitive nature all the more.  You can select up to three power ups each time you play, all of which cost stars that can be earned or purchased.  Unfortunately, much like the first game I haven’t quite figured out how it determines your final star count.  I think Neon Blitz is a huge improvement over the first outing, as it has that addictive quality the Neon Mania was lacking.

Neon Blitz Vivid Games, Neon Blitz – Free

Space Shooter Blitz – I guess this is the week that everyone takes there popular franchises and makes them solo.  This is the sequel to A Space Shooter For Free, and it basically takes the drawn out campaign format of the original game and condenses it into a 1 minute blast fest where your goal is to rack up the multipliers and get the highest score you can.  Of course I probably don’t need to tell you this, but the game integrates with Facebook so that you can challenge your friends to see who is the best quick draw pilot in the galaxy.  It looks like it’s probably the same graphics engine, which means you get cool retro graphics that look like beefed up Star Cotnrol visuals.  Jenna’s still around to sell you overpriced goods, and your auto-pilot that doubles as a counselor continues to give you “well duh” advice.  The only thing really missing is the witty banter between you and the aliens you were hunting down in the first game, but I suppose you could just call up your friends and taunt them while you’re playing.

Space Shooter Blitz Frima, Space Shooter Blitz – Free

1 Mummy / 2 Tin Solider / 3 Murderess – Welcome to the 80’s with this trio of FMV games featuring one of the world’s most famous detectives, Sherlock Holmes.  It appears that they are actually based off a set of video board games that were produced in the 80’s, and these are the first three of a total of 9 to be released this year.  You’ll be right there with the stalwart sleuth and his faithful companion Dr. Watson as you navigate the streets of London searching for clues to solve a variety of mysteries.  Each episode contains more than 30 minutes of full motion video containing Holmes, Watson and a cast of colorful characters including the infamous Baker Street Irregulars.  A seamless save game system and hints from the good doctor himself should guarantee that you’ll never have to struggle for too long, though you’ll still need all your wits to solve these dastardly crimes.  Assuming that the video is re-mastered from the original games, the people that will probably enjoy this the most are those that remember this kind of thing from the first time around.  Still, even potentially cheesy video can be fun when done right.

1 Mummy Zojoi, 1 Mummy – $2.99
2 Tin Soldier Zojoi, 2 Tin Soldier – $2.99
3 Murderess Zojoi, 3 Murderess – $2.99

Jewel Factory – Okay, sorry for the diversion.  Now let’s get back to the free games.  At first glance this looks like a Zynga style social game, and it does kind of feel like that.  The visual presentation, the way you build up the structures and the goal system all scream JewelVille.  Thankfully there are two major facets that set this apart from the “ville” crowd.  First of all, I have as yet to see anything indicating that I have to even acknowledge I have a Facebook account.  Even better, though, is the means by which you can facilitate upgrades to your factories.  Sure there are gold bars and coins which you can both earn and buy via IAP.  But you can also expand each individual factory by playing a game where you sort gems.  It looks easy, but it can get quite challenging as you acquire multiple moving belts and a nice variety of gems to sort.  Honestly the whole factory building concept seems more like an excuse to have the gem sorting areas, and that’s okay with me.  The game is free and universal, though at this point I don’t think it supports iCloud for your save games.

Jewel Factory™ Mobile Deluxe, Jewel Factory – Free

Indestructible – First of all, don’t let the name fool you; you can be destroyed.  Indestructible is a simple action game where you drive around one of three closed arenas with the express mission of blowing everyone else up.  In typical fashion you can earn money to beef up your vehicle or buy new ones, and you can also acquire skill points that will affect any vehicle you own.  I think the reason this game appeals to me so much is because it’s a mindless exercise in wonton destruction, making it nice for a break from my thought provoking puzzle games.  What I really like, though, is how they implemented the multi-player aspect.  You basically jump in, do your thing until someone earns five points, and jump out.  It’s only as un-anonymous as whatever login you choose to use.  Unfortunately form my brief experience so far it seems that there are some severe issues with the multi-player functionality, but when they get that stuff cleaned up I think Indestructible is going to be quite the effective time waster.

Indestructible™ Glu Games Inc., Indestructible – Free

Vampire Problem? Steak-umm – Sometimes I have to throw a game in the mix that really has no practical merit, and this week Vampire Problem is such a game.  Vampire Problem is kind of designed like an infinite runner but it isn’t one because there is a definitive goal.  You’re in the locomotive of a train, and your job is to destroy vampires and feed hungry human onlookers by tossing out your supply of Steam-umms.  Yes, in this twisted reality the faux Philly steak sandwich meat is the savior of the day.  I don’t believe there is any social network integration or achievements of any kind, so you’re basically just trying to best your own high score each time you play.  I just wonder who in the marketing department thought a video game tie-in was really necessary.  Next up: New Line Cinema presents Steak-umms vs. Spam: The Ultimate Processed Protein Showdown.

Vampire Problem? Steak-umm Quaker Maid Meats, Vampire Problem? Steak-umm – Free

Red Dart Fighter – Red Dart Fighter is bi-plane against UFO as you attempt to protect humanity from the imminent alien invasion.  The visitors want to eradicate humankind, and you just want to go back to bed.  In addition to your upgradeable machine gun you’ll have access to such fine weaponry as missiles and robots.  The iTunes description boasts easy, fluid controls, but that’s really the one thing I wasn’t thrilled with.  An alternative to the tilt option would be nice.  What I do like is the cool stylized graphics and the comic book like presentation.  There’s also some pumpin’ Bluegrass music, because apparently aliens hate Bluegrass music.  You get two levels for free and then you can unlock the rest for a mere 99 cents via IAP.  It would be nice if the app were universal so you didn’t have to buy the extra levels twice, but it’s still a reasonable price to pay for this stylish retro shooter if you want to play it on all your iOS devices.  That is, of course, any device iPad 2+ or iPhone 4+.

Red Dart Fighter PilPil Studios, Red Dart Fighter – Free
Red Dart Fighter HD PilPil Studios, Red Dart Fighter HD – Free

Joy Desk – There’s a game on the internet (and the iOS platform) where you have to rearrange the rooms on each level to allow a guy passage from his starting point to a door somewhere on the level.  Joy Desk is an interesting variation of that where you must collect stars with a ball while avoiding things like spikes, black holes and more.  Instead of rooms the playing field is comprised of “memo pads”, and besides just moving them up, down, left and right you can also rotate them to create the desired passageways.  What’s even more interesting is that you can layer the different memo pads to create or remove barriers based on what is being covered.  It’s a combination of mechanics that’s different than anything I’ve played before, and I quite like it.  The graphics have a nice retro look as if you had doodled them yourself (well, assuming you don’t doodle as poorly as I do).  There are 80 levels available in the full version, and hopefully more to come eventually.  I hope they produce an iPad version some day as well, and I hope even more that it takes advantage of the larger real estate to provide special puzzles with more memo pads involved.

Joy Desk sae cho, Joy Desk – $0.99

Puzzle Saga – App Store games have mixed match 3 and RPG elements before, but I’m not really sure it’s been done in quite this way.  The top half of the field is filled with the enemy, and as you make matches on the bottom portion of the screen the soldiers you match will charge up and attack the enemy.  There are several heroes to choose from to command your army, each with their own set of skills that you can upgrade.  You can also upgrade individual unit types and unlock more units to use in battle, though you can only have four distinct types at a time.  There are currently 4 worlds each containing several levels with a total of 13 unique enemy types and 5 devastating bosses.  39 achievements will keep you going until the new updates arrive with more levels and monsters to take on.  The only down side I’ve seen at this point is that it takes a while to rack up enough money to upgrade anything (unless you buy gold via IAP), but at least you can replay any level as many times as you want to earn some extra loot.

Puzzle Saga Flipscript Co, Puzzle Saga – $0.99

BoxPlots – At first I thought this was going to simply be a slightly more creative variant of the Sokoban style of game play, but after studying the screen shots and watching a game play video I’m not sure how to categorize it.  All I know is that it looks like a lot of fun.  In some levels you do push boxes around a la Sokoban.  Other levels are the type of game where you push an object and it slides until it hits something.  There are even cases where you pick up objects and cart them to a different location kind of like a crane operator.  As all this transpires you continually change characters, hence the phrase “with every box comes a new plot”.  Each level will challenge you to earn three trophies: 1 for time, another for moves and the elusive third trophy for falling under in both categories.  The graphics look outstanding, and even if the music in the trailer is just an indication of capabilities and not true in-game tunes, you’ll be humming the background tracks in no time.

BoxPlots Ingot games, BoxPlots – $0.99

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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