10 New App Store Games To Watch [November 5 – 11]

This was another week with a lot going on, and as happens quite frequently on the App Store there was plenty to signify a “blast from the past”.  First up was the release of Icy Tower 2, and before you say it’s “just another infinite jumper”, keep in mind that this series existed long before Doodle Jump.  It doesn’t really add anything new to the genre, but it’s free and quite entertaining.  If you prefer retro in terms of “a long time ago” there’s Angry Birds Star Wars.  Yeah, I don’t quite get the need for this combination either, but I’m sure that just like the other installments of the series it will get consumed by the masses.  If you like retro simply for the look you might check out Poltergeist: 16 bit horror.  It definitely looks like a ROM from a console machine circa the 16 bit era, but it plays just as well as any modern puzzle game.

Angry Birds Star Wars – I’m not quite sure what to say here.  I’m pretty certain that neither Rovio nor Lucas-Disney is hurting for money at this point, so I’m not really sure what this cross over is trying to accomplish.  It sounds like this focuses on the events of Episode IV (the first film for those who don’t follow roman numerals), although you can unlock special “training” levels on the planet Dagobah, which takes us into The Empire Strikes Back.  You’ll get the chance to use lightsabers, blasters and everyone’s favorite Jedi powers in an attempt to thwart Darth Vader and his evil Pigtroopers.  Oh yeah, there’ll be a whole lot of bird slinging going on as well.  The game comes with 80 levels, though I’m not positive whether that total includes the unlockable R2-D2 and C-3PO levels or not.  You can also purchase the 40 Dagobah levels via IAP, with plans for many additional free levels too.  The only down side as usual is that you need separate apps if you want to enjoy the game as it was meant to be on both your iPad and non-iPad devices.

Angry Birds Star Wars Rovio, Angry Birds Star Wars – $0.99
Angry Birds Star Wars HD Rovio, Angry Birds Star Wars HD – $2.99

Knightly Adventure – It seems like most social games these days involve some sort of building and farming aspects, and Knightly Adventure is no exception.  What I like about this one, however, is that it goes beyond the FarmVille aspects of the social experience to provide a lite RPG feel as well.  You start the game by selecting a character, and when you go on quests you’ll be able to choose two more NPCs to go with you (an option to take live players would be nice if it doesn’t already exist).  Quests occur in an action / RPG format similar to games like the Zenonia series, though the graphics are a bit more “grown up”… if you discount the fact that you’re fighting turtles and sword wielding frogs in your first outing.  You’ll even be able to craft and upgrade your own armor and weapons.  Then of course there are the typical social features like visiting a friend’s farm to help them out and earn “friend” points.  You can connect via Game Center or Facebook, the latter being the only way to play your game cross platform if that interests you.  There are a few bugs to work out, especially when it comes to lag and actually connecting to Facebook, but I like what they’ve got going and for the price tag I’m willing to give them some leniency with fixing the kinks.

Knightly Adventure Pangalore, Knightly Adventure – Free

Mensa Academy – It stands to reason that if anyone should have a brain training game it should be the geek club… I mean the high IQ society.  This game appears to be in the style of such favorites as Big Brain Academy, except this time around the questions and puzzles are all sanctioned by Mensa.  And don’t worry, I only tease because I know I’m not as smart as these folks.  The game consists of over 1000 challenges in 5 different disciplines, and you can tackle your quest for knowledge in three different ways.  You can simply play through the questions, you can use the Coach mode which monitors your progress and rates your learning much like Big Brain Academy, or you can opt to jump right in and take a test to see where you might fall in relation to the folks from Mensa.  I remember being pleasantly surprised the first time I took on Big Brain Academy because it was a lot more entertaining than I expected, and I imagine this will be no different.  Interestingly enough this is published by Square Enix, who as each week passes continues to impress me with the commitment to diversity in game play now that they’ve finally hit their stride on the iOS market.

Mensa Academy SQUARE ENIX, Mensa Academy – $4.99

BattleBand – My first thought was that this felt like an attempt by someone with no real ideas to make an Angry Birds clone.  That may very well be, but it turns out the game is actually pretty fun.  You play as members of a band that lost their first gig due to a bit too much partying the night before, and now you’re exacting revenge on the group that took your place by following them around the country and sabotaging their performances.  In typical physics game style you’ll drag to establish a direction and strength for your throw, and then let go to unleash whatever weapon your current musician wields.  The main goal of each level is to take out all the band members that are on stage, though the more destruction you can cause the more points you get.  One thing I really like about the game is that as you weed out the band the background music actually changes to reflect the missing membership.  The visuals kind of remind me of the MTV show Celebrity Deathmatch for some reason, and they look pretty decent.  I think you get 30 levels with the free version, and additional levels as well as more powerful band members are available via IAP.  This might not be the best game of its genre on the App Store, but it’s actually kind of a nice change of pace atmospherically from most of its peers.

BattleBand Kuuluu Interactive, BattleBand – Free

Icy Tower 2 – A couple of years ago I reported on Icy Tower, a pre-doodle jumper that I used to love playing on the PC and had finally made its way to the iOS platform.  Two years later the “sequel” is out, though I’m not so sure that this isn’t just a retooling of the original published by the actual developer instead of Digital Chocolate.  Either way it’s still loads of fun, and it actually uses a slightly different mechanic than most jumpers.  The jumping happens automatically, and tilting the device not only determines which direction you jump but how high you jump.  Along the way you can collect coins to unlock and upgrade power-ups, and you can also upgrade the tower itself.  If you collect ice cubes that float by you might get a special prize, and plenty of stunts (achievements) are sure to keep you busy for quite a while.  The game is universal and it’s free unless you wish to buy a healthy supply of coins.  These guys have been making free games for various systems for a long time, so feel free to support them even if you don’t want the extra coins.

Icy Tower 2 Free Lunch Design AB, Icy Tower 2 – Free

McBank: The Puzzle of Money and Freedom – If you’re looking for a different type of puzzle game, look no further.  The game doesn’t offer a story so much as a statement on humanity and how corporate greed crushes lives… or something like that.  If you ask the developer what the game means I’m not sure he’ll tell you and that’s okay, because it gives you something to think about.  The actual game play is a combination of sliding puzzle and match three, and before long becomes quite challenging since you have a limited number of moves on each board.  The game is not 100% linear, but don’t think you can skip screens to find an easier puzzle because as you get deeper into the game things definitely get more challenging.  There are 5 different endings to be witnessed depending on the choices you make, and more power to anyone that can actually succeed in completing the game to see all of them.  The visuals are different than most puzzle games, and shift between a gloomy black and white palette and bright, cheery tones when you “break the bank” on each level.  This certainly isn’t for everyone, but if you don’t want another cookie-cutter App Store offering, you won’t want to pass this one up.

McBank: The Puzzle of Money and Freedom (M) shazad yousaf, McBank: The Puzzle of Money and Freedom (M) – Free
McBank: The Puzzle of Money and Freedom shazad yousaf, McBank: The Puzzle of Money and Freedom – Free

Boomerang Blast – In 2002 EA and Krome Studios unleashed Ty the Tasmanian Tiger on the console world, and 10 years later their bringing their furry creation to the iOS platform.  The series has gone through a bit of a transformation, though, and instead of getting another mascot oriented platform game we have a shooting gallery affair of sorts.  Rather than pistols you are armed with boomerangs which can be interesting when it comes to aiming and cool in the fact that they can actually come back and hit missed targets from behind.  Rather than the typical tap to shoot you actually have to flick to throw the boomerang, which gets into the whole aiming thing.  The targets are also quite animated in this game, and innocent bystanders will often get in the way of a toss.  Hint: it’s better to miss a bad guy than hit a good one.  As you play you’ll earn opals which can be used to unlock new boomerangs, characters and levels among other things.  The game is free, but of course you can buy more opals via IAP if you’re not patient.  I actually wouldn’t mind seeing a Ty based platform game on the iOS platform, but this is a pretty fun alternative until that happens.

Boomerang Blast Krome Studios Inc., Boomerang Blast – Free


Poltergeist: 16 bit horror – I mentioned this title last week in relation to the Square Enix Latin American game contest, but since it didn’t actually fall into the release schedule for last week’s roundup I thought I’d save a bit more comprehensive description for now.  The first thing I like about this game is that it wasn’t what I was expecting.  I figured it was going to be a more action oriented game, but it’s actually a cool little puzzle game.  On each level you have to scare a certain number of people out of the rooms, and as the game progresses you’ll get special adversaries that don’t scare so easily.  You only have so many tricks up your sleeve per level, so you have to make every one count, usually on multiple victims.  The graphics have a neat retro look to them, and there are actually some decent little animations when you haunt things.  The game is universal, and like all the contest entries is free, at least for the time being.

Poltergeist: 16 bit horror SQEX S.A de C.V., Poltergeist: 16 bit horror – Free

Swipe The Deck – I’ve never had a very good poker face, but with Swipe The Deck you thankfully don’t need one.  This game combines the fine art of making poker hands with a simple drag to connect the cards mechanic that allows even novice card players to be racking up the points in no time.  That’s assuming, of course, that you’re good at spotting valid card combinations out of a crowd of tiles.  It’s kind of like the poker equivalent of a word search game, except in this case the tiles need only be adjoining, and not necessarily in straight lines.  As you play you’ll earn chips that allow you to buy power cards which can help turn the game in your favor… or just give you an even higher score than you were already going to earn.  Multi-player is asynchronous so you can start a game, play your turn and then just wait until your opponent takes theirs.  Multiple games are allowed at the same time as well.  The only caveat is that rounds are timed, so it helps if you really know your poker hands.  The game is a universal binary and should be universally interesting to casual gamers, even if you’re not a big poker fan.

Swipe the Deck Chillingo, Swipe the Deck – Free

Chip Chain – This is one of those games where you have to match objects to create greater objects, the goal being to fill the board with as many of the most important objects as you can.  Chip Chain has a few nice features that make it stand out from the pack, though I have to admit that I find the poker chip motif a bit bland compared to some of this game’s peers.  In Chip Chain items don’t automatically match just because there are three next to each other, so you can build long chains if you’re careful.  You also have to worry about the deal who tosses his own chip in every round to try and throw you off.  There are 4 different game play modes, two of which are available for free each day.  You can unlock all of them permanently by buying or winning gems, though as long as you don’t get too attached to a particular game type you can always play for free.  You can play on your own or against other users, and the Daily game play mode lets you play with the same chip set as every other player that day to see who can get the highest score with identical configurations.  I have to say that while I will probably never convert to a full fledged online game player, I can see myself getting into the whole casual multi-player thing if more games like this keep coming out.

Chip Chain AppAbove Games, Chip Chain – 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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