10 New App Store Games To Watch [February 25 - March 3]

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I’m sure you’ve seen it on many mobile gaming sites, but the big release this week was Real Racing 3, the next installment of the realistic racing simulation series from EA and Firemint Studios.  There seem to be many enhancements over previous versions, but the most notable thing is that it’s free to play with IAP support.  Maybe you prefer a bit of an RPG experience but are looking for something different from the standard dungeon crawl.  You should check out King Cashing 2, which if it’s anything like its predecessor will be surprisingly fun despite being based on electronic slots.  Maybe you’d prefer a good old fashioned platforming experience.  BulkyPix can fill your needs with Penumbear, a game about a teddy bear collecting bear with fairy friends that can manipulate light.

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The Jump: Escape The City – When I first glanced at the screen shots, and I’ll admit it was a quick glance, I pegged this for a The Last Driver wannabe.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since The Last Driver was a good game, but this really doesn’t have much in common with that one except that you’re driving a car.  Here you’re being pursued by the cops, and your objective is to get out of town.  There will be objects to dodge, but you’ll just move left and right to switch lanes or swipe up to jump; there are no corners to turn or anything like that.  Power ups must be purchased and come in both active and passive flavors.  In order to use an active power up you must swipe down to slow time first.  Speaking of which, if your speed gets too slow you will get caught, so there’s that impending factor to keep the suspense up.  Of course the omni-present shadow of the police chopper doesn’t help things either.  The interesting part, though, is that supposedly you can actually beat this game, rather than simply going on forever.  So the real question is – what happens once you escape the city?

The Jump: Escape The City Gone Gaming Ltd., The Jump: Escape The City – Free

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AVP: Evolution – In theory this should be one of the coolest sci-fi games ever.  Despite my general disdain for the Predators films, there’s no question that the intergalactic hunters and their adversaries, the species decimating Aliens, are some of the best IPs in the made up creature kingdom.  This combination has been tried on a number of occasions with varying degrees of success, but this outing comes from the same folks that created the iOS Predators game, so I have high hopes for it.  You’ll get your chance to play as both Aliens and Predators, and you’ll get to customize each through character upgrades, enhanced abilities and weapons / armor where appropriate.  Of course the Predators will rock when they get to flip on Thermal vision, and I’m quite curios to see what Facehugger Calls are all about.  The visuals look rather scrumptious, though I question whether any of them are in-game shots or if they all come from cut-scenes.  Still, even if they are cut-scenes and the in-game shots look half as good, this will be an amazing game visually.  Now throw in some creepy music and dark, foreboding locales and this might well be a winner.

AVP: Evolution Fox Digital Entertainment, Inc., AVP: Evolution – $4.99

monday-roundup-03042013-crazy-bill

Crazy Bill – Does Crazy Bill do anything new?  Not really.  Thankfully, it does all the old stuff pretty well.  This retro platformer has a simple two button mechanic: one for shooting and one for jumping (you can hold the jump button to double jump).  All you have to do is climb as far to the top of the hotel as you can get before the creatures within get the better of you.  Fortunately you start off with a weapon and can acquire more as you go, even upgrading all the ones that you unlock throughout the game.  The monsters start out basic enough, but eventually they’ll start spewing stuff, throwing stuff and otherwise finding ways to inhibit your progress.  You’ll eventually run into celebrity zombies as well, which you definitely want to dispatch.  There are 90 different achievements to earn, so if mindless zombie blasting isn’t enough there’s always that to fall back on.  The graphics come from the same designer as the Time Geeks game, so you know pixel-y goodness shall abound.  If you’re looking for some quick fun every now and again that doesn’t require any thought, Crazy Bill is your game.

Crazy Bill Ivanovich Games, Crazy Bill – Free

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Buddy Blitz – Buddy Blitz is a match 3 game, and while it feels like a Facebook game the best I can tell it’s just an iOS game at this point.  It certainly has all the trappings of a Facebook game.  Each play cost a heart, but you can buy hearts via IAP.  I’m guessing that hearts regenerate over time, though I’ve seen nothing in regards to that yet.  Using power ups cost coins, and while you earn a paltry sum of coins each time you win you’ll either have to go power up-less for many rounds or pony up for some IAP on that end to be able to continuously boost your game playing abilities.  You start out with Rudy the fox as your buddy, and you can unlock four more if you play the game enough.  Each buddy has a power up that gets activated when you collect enough gems of their favorite color.  I like this game because it uses a slightly different match 3 mechanic.  You get one new piece at a time, and you can swap that piece with any one currently on the board.  It encourages you to work on planning ahead and building better combos, though you do have to be conscious of the 60 second time limit you have.  At the moment Buddy Blitz is intriguing, but my longevity with the game will ultimately depend on how often I’m forced to buy hearts.

Buddy Blitz Jeffrey Yim, Buddy Blitz – Free

monday-roundup-03042013-killer-snake

Killer Snake – This game is a bit on the quirky side.  You drag your finger around a photo-realistic 3D environment looking for snakes.  When you find one it will rear its head, and it’s up to you to leave your finger on the screen until the last second before the snake strikes.  Pull away too soon and you’ll be branded a chicken, but wait too long and you’ll have to waste precious serum, which you’re actually trying to produce by collecting snake venom.  You’ll travel to five different locations in an attempt to catch 10 types of snakes.  There are 31 achievements to earn and global leaderboards to climb.  Each new location takes coins to unlock which you can either earn simply by playing or purchase via IAP.  10% of any in-app purchases will be donated to the Antivenom Swazi Foundation, so you can help support a good cause, challenge your reflexes and learn a little something about snakes all at the same time.

Killer Snake Copenhagen Creators, Killer Snake – Free

monday-roundup-03042013-carcophony

Carcophony – Traffic control games are another bunch that are starting to feel like “seen one, seen them all”.  That actually doesn’t seem to be the case with Carcophony, however.  There are 5 different layouts to play in survival mode, which is your typical game play mode for this type of game.  Even those don’t feel quite like every other traffic game.  Where the game takes a turn for the interesting, however, is in Challenge mode.  Here there are 64 different puzzles, each with three criteria to beat if you want to be the best traffic controller out there.  You might have time constraints, movement constraints and more to make your job trickier.  The other thing that I find intriguing is that you can actually earn power ups and upgrade your cars, which from what I’ve played in the past does not seem to be a pervasive feature for this type of game.  The visuals also go for more of a “neon street sign” approach than a realistic cityscape, giving it a unique look as well.  It’s hard to find a particular style of game play that isn’t getting overdone these days, but it nice to see that some developers can still look beyond what already exists to come up with something that feels fresh.

carcophony Funky Circuit, carcophony – Free

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Nightmerica (USN) – I had to try this one simply based off of the comparison to Super Crate Box that was made in the iTunes description.  Unfortunately, it’s not nearly as polished as Super Crate Box was.  That being said, there’s definitely some potential in this game.  There are currently only three arenas to play in, but they are all decent sized.  Unlike SCB where you’re constantly working towards unlocking new characters there is only one avatar in Nightmerica.  Where this game deviates is in the weaponry.  Instead of having a select of 20-30 preset weapons, Nightmerica’s weapons have several qualities that are mixed and matched to create a random weapon each time you run into a weapons box.  It’s a great concept, though the window that presents the details of the weapon could be a bit easier to understand.  Monsters come in waves with a small slice of time between them to give you a chance to recuperate and more importantly seek out a power up create without being hassled.  You also have a life meter which is nice, instead of the “one hit and you’re dead” syndrome.  My biggest gripe at this point is that unlike the iTunes description, I don’t find the controls all that responsive.  Get that cleaned up and this could give Super Crate Box a run for its money.

Nightmerica (USN) Voltic, Nightmerica (USN) – $0.99

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Gravity.Duck – This one’s a bit of an odd bird. They say if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it must be a duck.  This one certainly looks and sounds like a Ravenous Games product, but despite the fact that it’s about a duck it doesn’t feel like it came from the same folks that produced the League Of Evil games.  That’s not bad, mind you, just different.  At first it seemed a bit weird that there were no time limits or stars to earn or anything like that.  Truthfully, though, it makes the game much more relaxing.  I was also a bit surprised at how easy the first few levels were.  The challenge soon kicked in, however, which made me appreciate being eased into things.  What’s neat is that instead of just pressing a button to flip gravity like many of these games do, you’ll also use gravity changers littered throughout some levels to “turn” your gravity by 90 degrees.  Some puzzles require you to make it all the way through the board simply by using these gravity changers.  There are 100 levels across three different worlds, and so far it’s been extremely amusing.

Gravity.Duck Ravenous Games Inc., Gravity.Duck – $0.99

monday-roundup-03042013-pokertower

PokerTower – I don’t play much poker, but as luck would have it you don’t really need to for this game (though it certainly helps if you know the different hands by heart).  This is the type of matching game where you select several adjacent items to make you match, in particular somewhere between 2 and 5 cards.  If you select a valid poker hand your choice will be accepted.  There are actually 4 very different game play modes to keep you occupied.  Time Attack gives you a specified number of minutes to make as many matches as you can, whereas Tower forces you to keep the cards away from the top of the screen.  Challenge mode lets you see how skillfully you can use a single deck of cards, while my favorite mode of Survival plays like a mini RPG game.  There are 10 leaderboards to compete on as well as 18 achievements to earn.  It looks like a Gameboy game, which brings back fond memories of my college years, and has the sound to go with it.  PokerTower is a simple yet well rounded package that puts a different spin on match 3 as well as makes poker more interesting to me.  Now we just need a multiplayer mode and some cool chiptune music to complement the rest of the aesthetics.

PokerTower Raphael Blanchet, PokerTower – $0.99

monday-roundup-03042013-cognition

Cognition Episode 1 – I’m glad that I’m starting to have more adventure games to report on, since this was one of my staple genres when I was young.  This time around we have an FBI mystery involving Erica Reed, a woman that can see into the past by focusing on certain objects.  You’ll need to hone this skill as you try and track down four serial killers to figure out what happened to your brother and what these people want with you.  Cognition is presented in a third person fashion much like the old Sierra Online games, and it has some killer artwork thanks to Romano Molenaar, a veteran comic book artist.  Speaking of veterans, the story had a little help from gaming icon Jane Jensen, so you know it should be pretty interesting.  Unfortunately there’s a bit of loading between scenes, bringing back a bit of nostalgia from the old days I’d rather forget.  If you can get past that, Cognition appears to be a finely crafted game with a compelling story and great visuals.  Just remember that this probably is not suitable for kids given both the language and potential subject matter.

Cognition Episode 1 Phoenix Online Studios, Cognition Episode 1 – $3.99

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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