10 New App Store Games To Watch [February 4 - 10]

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One of my favorite titles released this week is actually a fairly straightforward port of an almost 15 year old game.  Metal Slug 2 hit the App Store with guns blazing, and just like its predecessor proved that you don’t need 3D to enjoy lots of things blowing up.  The action is intense, the visuals are quite detailed and turning into a zombie temporarily never gets old.  For the puzzle aficionados we have Stick To It!, a game about knowing when to hold it and when to let go.  Instead of swiping or launching or otherwise interacting to get your character from point A to its mother’s arms you simply touch the screen to make him stick and let go to let him roll.  If you prefer your action in the sky instead of on the ground you should give After Burner Climax a try.  This is a port of a 2006 game whose roots go back to the late 1980’s, and gives you the chance to pilot one of three sleek jets as you take on tons of enemies across more than 20 different landscapes.

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Metal Slug 2 – Say what you will about 3D and modern technology and all that, but I still think the Metal Slug series provides some of the best looking side scrollers around, even though the games we’re getting are basically ports of the old stuff.  The visuals are highly detailed, the animation is great, and the pixel nature of the art just fuels the nostalgia for retro fans.  The action is always intense, with lots of bad guys to fight, cool weapons to pick up and a fun vehicle to commandeer on each level.  The bosses are pretty insane as well.  In addition to the original Neo Geo arcade mode there is a mission mode where you can select which level you’d like to play.  The iOS version includes several difficulty levels including an easy one, making it possible for folks like me to see parts of the game that they’ve never gotten to experience before (just because you love something doesn’t mean you’re good at it).  Select between four characters to wage your war, and then link up with a friend via Bluetooth for some two player co-op action.  Personally I still believe the Metal Slug games put most modern side scrolling runner gunners to shame.

METAL SLUG 2 SNK PLAYMORE, METAL SLUG 2 – $3.99

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Astraware Number Cross – I think a lot of people feel only geeks like number games.  I don’t believe that to be the case, though as a professed geek myself, I’m probably not the best judge of that fact.  Whatever the case might be, I really like this game.  It’s basically a crossword puzzle game where you have to fill the grid with numbers instead of words.  Not only that, but the numbers themselves are the clues to where they need to be placed.  The interface is pretty slick, allowing you to drag the numbers onto the grid and place them where you’d like.  You can also click on a particular row or column to find out what all can be placed there or conversely click on a number to reveal every possible location for that number.  There’s a 12 puzzle starter pack to whet your appetite, as well as daily and weekend puzzles to keep you hooked.  When you decide you need to play more often you can check out the store for additional puzzle packs.  The sound could use a bit of work and there is no background music, but otherwise this is an intriguing concept in a nicely presented package the likes of which I don’t believe I’ve seen on the App Store before.

Astraware Number Cross Astraware, Astraware Number Cross – Free

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Zombies & Trains – Apparently The Governor in The Walking Dead was on to something with his arena fights but he just didn’t have enough of a vision.  Zombies & Trains is here to try and make up for his shortsightedness.  There are still plenty of zombies to kill, but instead of just keeping them to the sidelines they’ve become the main attraction.  And, instead of humans fighting each other you get trains to run over the undead.  Okay, so the two concepts are nothing alike but I wanted to use that as a lead-in.  Anyway, the game offers four different modes of play, and while they are mechanically the same the differences in track layouts and goals make each feel like a fresh experience.  You’ll earn coins by slaying zombies so you can buy consumable power ups or permanent upgrades, which mainly amount to lengthening the use of your consumable upgrades.  The visuals are great, flaming trains are quite entertaining, and the zombies taunt you with a victory dance when you fail to kill them.  Best of all, there’s a “live” audience to applaud your victories and cheer you on.

Zombies & Trains! Kristanix Games, Zombies & Trains! – $0.99
Zombies & Trains! HD Kristanix Games, Zombies & Trains! HD – $0.99

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Stick To It! – Well here we have another physics game with a “cute” main character who is trying to get reunited with its mom.  Thankfully this game has a slightly different mechanic than most others that we’re used to.  When you depress your finger on the screen the little guy puffs up, allowing him to stick to things.  Let your finger go and he goes into a free-fall.  As you might surmise there will be some interesting timing issues in this game.  But, that’s what makes the game fun and challenging.  There is also quite a bit of decent level design, including levels that span more than one screen height.  Early on you get introduced to moving platforms, and eventually you’ll get treated to different types of surfaces that react differently – for instance the rubber surface that causes your guy to bounce instead of stick.  Scoring is simple as you either beat the level and earn a star or have to keep on trying.  Levels must be conquered in sequential order, but as soon as you’ve earned enough stars you can unlock a new world.  There are currently 80 levels across 4 different worlds with more on the way, and there is no IAP to hassle with.

Stick to It! Magic Pixel Games, Stick to It! – $1.99

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Battle Line – I really wasn’t expecting to like this game too much, because to me defense games where everything is lined up row by row just aren’t very exciting.  However, Gamevil has actually managed to make this one rather interesting.  Sure the bad guys still come at you in rows, but you can actually position each of your characters wherever you want within a row to get the best vantage point for attack.  You can take up to four characters into battle with you at a time, and unlike most of these games where you’re just continually generating new characters after yours die or you advance to a new level, in Battle Line you keep your characters and build them up RPG style.  You even have a store where you can buy new equipment for them and sell your old stuff.  On top of that, each level that you conquer becomes a castle that you can upgrade which provides you with gold for your journey.  While combat wise the game functions much like its contemporaries, there are enough little nuances that not only make this its own game but help it to rise above the pack.

Battle Line™ GAMEVIL, Battle Line - Free

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Super Monkey Run – There were actually several infinite runners that came out this week, but any more that’s not so surprising.  The thing that caught my eye with this one was the fact that the game’s perspective switches between 2D and 3D at certain times.  I also find the 3D portion of the game to be a bit more challenging than most because instead of having you “turn corners” to add some depth to the game, Super Monkey Run uses lots of layers consisting of trees, boxes and the like.  The down side is that sometimes things can inappropriately block your view and it can be kind of difficult to tell what the best route is to take, but it adds another dimension to this type of game that I haven’t seen before.  It has all the standard issue infinite running gimmicks like upgrades, unlockable characters and achievements to earn.  There is also a multi-player mode in the works, as well the ability to use your iDevice as a controller for the desktop version of the game.

Super Monkey Run Geimo, Super Monkey Run – Free

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Pocket Island HTML5 – If you’re like me you’re constantly on the lookout for what awesome new gaming experiences HTML5 will bring to the table.  Well look no further, because Pocket Island HTML5 is one of the most advanced HTML5 games to date… if you want to believe their iTunes description.  I have no reason to doubt this claim, because honestly I haven’t been impressed with many HTML5 games to date.  The thing is, this game has no sound when played on my iPad, and the graphics rendering seems a bit glitchy.  There also seems to be some problems with touch sensitivity.  So if it’s so awful, why do I have it in this list?  Well, the game actually isn’t that bad conceptually.  It’s one of those time management games where you’re given a bunch of tasks that include things like planting certain foods, erecting particular buildings or finding objects to upgrade other structures.  You do have to wait a significant amount of time for some of these things to get done, but there is no IAP so you get the whole experience for free.  And while I’m skeptical that it’s one of the most advanced HTML5 games around, you can get the source code for free, so budding developers can study it to see what works and what they can improve.  Overall it’s worth a few minutes of your time if you wish to explore one possible future platform for mobile game development.

Pocket Island HTML5 Philipp Moeser, Pocket Island HTML5 – Free

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After Burner Climax – After Burner surfaced in the arcades in 1987, riding on the coattails of the Top Gun phenomenon.  Other than a myriad of ports, however, the series hadn’t seen much additional action besides a sequel released the same year.  In 2006 SEGA decided to change that with After Burner Climax, which you can now play on your iOS device.  You’ll get the chance to pilot 3 different aircraft through more than 20 beautifully rendered landscapes ranging from polar ice caps to desert jungles.  You’ll dodge all sorts of things as you attempt to target multiple on screen enemies at once.  Engage in 3 different game play modes, including a Matrix style slow motion melee called Climax mode.  Climb the leaderboards, unlock achievements and discover exclusive power ups that denote your skill and rank.  The game is optimized for devices with retina displays and even lets you hook up to the big screen via Airplay.  Get ready to take on the not so friendly skies with a classic reborn.

After Burner Climax SEGA, After Burner Climax – $2.99

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Beastie Bay – Kairosoft is the simulation king with products ranging from developing a game development company to establishing a colony on Mars.  While I own most of their games, I think Beastie Bay is the first time I’ve really given one a try since Game Dev Story was released (yeah, I know that was their first one).  At face value this looks like just another social “build an island” sim.  Thankfully you don’t need to be social to actually enjoy it, at least from what I’ve played so far.  More importantly, though, it’s not just about building up an island.  There’s also a Pokemon like element to it, and that’s what really caught my attention.  You start with one “ally”, and as you explore the island you’ll be able to acquire more by giving them bait when they are weak.  I like the fact that the allies at least start out as real world creatures and not just fantastical beings that just appeared out of nowhere.  The game sports the same menu driven interface and awesome retro graphics that the rest of their offerings have.  It is also free and universal, the former I believe to be a first for Kairosoft and the latter a rarity upon initial release.

Beastie Bay Kairosoft, Beastie Bay – Free

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PinWar – I look at electronic pinball games the same way I do electronic sports games – I don’t really go much for traditional, straight laced variants on the genre.  When it comes to sports I need games like NBA Jam or the Mutant League series from EA, and when it comes to pinball games I need something like… well, like PinWar.  There are two game modes: Battle and Missions.  In mission mode you’ll have a variety of different tasks to accomplish, like breaking into the center of something or simply trying to get a ball to the other side of the screen.  What’s cool is that there are both single and two player tables, and in two player mode you’ll get to work together to complete your objective.  If that sounds too friendly, try battle mode, where it’s like playing a game of pong with flippers instead of a paddle.  Get a certain number of balls past your opponent’s goal before they do the same to you, collecting power ups along the way to make your task easier.  You can also engage the computer in Battle mode if you don’t have a friend handy, since two player mode requires a second person sitting at the same device.  There are plenty of achievements to earn and leaderboards to climb, and you can even try your hand at designing tables using the same editor that the developers have.

PinWar Bulkypix, PinWar – $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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