10 New App Store Games To Watch [March 18 – 24]
Facebook and Match 3 and Town Builders, Oh My! I never would have expected that one of the most entertaining releases for me this week would be a port of a Facebook game, but leave it to Popcap to accomplish that feat with Solitaire Blitz. It is one minute competitive solitaire, and it’s rather addictive as well. Games like Triple Town and sliding puzzle games both make me go “eh”, but when you combine them in the likes of Alien Hive I sit up and go “hmm”. This game comes from the developers of Sporos, and it’s on track to be as laid back and intriguing as that game was. Finally, Warner Brothers brings us an iOS port of another Facebook game, this time a town builder based off of the legend that is The Wizard Of Oz. I haven’t decided if I’m going to delve into The Wizard Of Oz Game yet, but I am impressed that they were willing to actually integrate it with the classic film, even to the point of using the various characters’ film likenesses.
Nitro – Welcome to the new racer on the block. The iTunes description uses the word “unique”, which is one of those words that I latch onto as being bad, and while I wouldn’t use it to describe the game there’s no question that Nitro proves that a solid racing experience never gets old. The game requires an internet connection but you can play on your own via the Rival Circuit to gain experience and build up your car of choice. Once you feel confident of your skills it’s time to face the true challenge – real players. You can play head to head against a friend or multi-player with up to five other drivers to maximize the competition. As you race you’ll earn money and experience, but more importantly you’ll collect materials that allow you to upgrade various aspects of your vehicle. The nice part is that a race is a race, so whether you’re playing multi-player or Rival Circuit you’re working on the same cars, which means a single pool of materials. Of course it also means you either need to win the race in Rival Circuit or place somewhere between first and third on multi-player in order to keep your winnings. The graphics are sharp, the courses are interesting enough, and the game seems to handle pretty well. It’s also free, so if you’re looking to an alternative to the big guns like Real Racing 3, you might want to give Nitro a try.
Z2Live, Inc, Nitro™ – Free
Zombie Blaster! – Fight killer mutants and blast the undead – I have a feeling at this point you would be more surprised if there wasn’t a zombie slaying game released on the App Store in a given week. This one is a bit more on the basic side as you stay in a fixed location and swivel around to encounter all your adversaries. You’ll unlock a variety of weapons as the game progresses, and I suggest taking advantage of new firepower as soon as possible because the pea-shooter you start with is rather annoying. The currency in the game is heads, which might sound morbid but is actually rather amusing. There are a decent number of zombie types to contend with, and so far the most notable distinction is that some of these zombies actually have guns. There are also bystanders you have to worry about, and as much as you want to it’s not advisable to blow them away. There are only five levels at this point, but each one has multiple waves that get more challenging as you continue on. The graphics are decent, and while the game might not bring anything new to the table, it certainly kept me hooked until I finally had to give it up to get back to life for a while. Besides, in the farm levels you get to shoot a zombie that looks an awful lot like Velma from the Scooby Doo mythos. Now who’s with me?
bigideas, Zombie Blaster! – Free
The Wizard Of Oz Game – I’m not a fan of the movie. I’m not saying I didn’t like it at some point, but if I try and watch it now I tend to get bored with it. Still, the land beyond the rainbow has always intrigued me and what better way to be a part of it than to help build it? From Facebook to your iOS device come the game that lets you construct both Munchkinland and the Yellow Brick Road. You’ll also get to play with the munchkins in a Tomagatchi like setting, in case that’s ever appealed to you. Defend your bustling metropolis from the Wicked Witch and her nasty flying monkeys, and play 10 mini-games to keep your town headed in the right direction. I like the fact that they use the likenesses from the movie and in fact actually let you relive scenes from the classic film. I also applaud the fact that the soundtrack is derived from the movie, since that really is the best part of the film to begin with. I’ve never been a huge fan of town builders, and I’m not even 100% sold on this one yet, but the fact that they seem to have attempted to make it mean something to the fans of the film might just make it worth looking into.
Warner Bros., The Wizard Of Oz Game – Free
Annihilator – I know there have been several games over time that I’ve touted have managed to capture the look and feel of classic console or shareware games, but I swear I’ve played this one before on my PC! You pilot a cool looking tank (which honestly looks a bit like a futuristic fighter plane to me) and you must crush the enemy through two different worlds spanning several levels of gold collecting, gate opening and secret finding. You can earn up to five stars on each level, and of course you can go back to play previous levels and earn more stars or find all the secret areas if you want to. When you get done with campaign mode you’ll unlock the arena which gives you the chance to fight wave after wave of enemies until you just can’t handle it any more. As you progress you’ll earn money and gems to buy new weapons and better armor. And of course you can speed up the process via IAP if you’d like. There are Game Center achievements though I’m not sure they are working at the moment since I’ve seen the same one pop up several times throughout the course of a game. The visuals are a perfect reminder of some of the great gaming experiences shareware provided in the 80s and 90s, and the soundtrack for some reason reminds me of the A-Team, which is cool with me. One thing that I’d love to see in this game is an anonymous multi-player mode.
JDTec, ANNIHILATOR – Free
Solitaire Blitz – So what has Popcap been up to besides bashing the undead with fauna and slinging jewels at you at an alarming rate? Apparently they’ve been trying to make the game of solitaire a bit more interesting, and for me they’ve succeeded. Welcome to Solitaire Blitz, the game that tries to turn solo card play into an action game. You get one minute to try and clear as many stacks of cards away as you can, which you do by placing cards on a discard pile that are either one higher or one lower than the card currently on the pile. Like a typical Facebook game you have a “power” meter, and like a typical Facebook game you can use in-game currency to buy boosters to improve your game play, both of which will eventually hamper your play unless you dump some IAP to help build up the reserve. For each stack of cards that you clear you get a bonus, but don’t expect any huge paydays there. There are achievements, and you can challenge you friends, but since it is a Facebook game you won’t be using Game Center for any of this. I’m not a big fan of Facebook and all it offers, but so far I’m really enjoying this game.
PopCap, Solitaire Blitz – Free
Kingpin Lanes – There are certainly plenty of bowling games on the App Store, but what intrigues me about this one is the focus the iTunes description dedicates to things besides the actual act of bowling itself. Apparently, rather than just having you pick your ball and step up to the lanes, this game provides you with a fully fleshed out 3D environment to explore. Hit the arcade and play one of four different mini-games before settling in to take down some pins. Actually visit the Pro Shop to get new balls, upgrade your skills and acquire some cheats. There are five different fully animated characters that I’m assuming you get to interact with and five unique lanes including an homage to every conspiracy theory nut’s favorite location Roswell. The game promises some killer physics, but in the end it sounds like it’s just as much about the atmosphere as anything else, which hopefully will set this title above its peers.
Speedbump, Kingpin Lanes – $1.99
Rocket Gunner – So here we go with yet another endless runner. Of course this one feels a bit more like a cross between a runner and the old cave flyer game, or as SEGA fans might relate better – Space Harrier. In addition to tilting the device to move left and right you’ll need to tap to fly and let go to descend. Just keep in mind that neither activity is immediate, so you need to plan accordingly. The currency of choice in this game is stars, and this is my main gripe with the game. Stars are actually somewhat hard to pick up because while they are all over the place it’s often hard to line the character up correctly to run into the stars. There are no permanent skill upgrades, and power ups are a bit highly priced for being one use only. There are more than 20 costumes to unlock, some one which actually give you bonuses, but in this case the prices are astronomical. Of course if you’re not feeling accomplished because it is taking you forever to collect the costumes, at least there are 53 Game Center achievements you can earn. What I do really like about the game is the 70’s disco soundtrack and the background. The former is fun to listen to even when not playing the game and the later is great to glance at once in a while during the game. I especially love the War Of The Worlds style robots that walk by from time to time.
david hovanky, Rocket Gunner – Free
Alien Hive – This offering comes to us from the folks behind Sporos, and early speculation indicates that it’s going to be just as fun. It’s one of those games where you have to combine three or more of an element to make a greater element, but unlike most in its genre Alien Hive has actually managed to suck me in. I like the fact that instead of adding to the board a piece at a time, all the pieces are there and you just slide them around to make matches. Of course this takes energy, so you have to be sure to match crystals and plants to regain some of that energy so you can keep playing. There are also aliens to match, with several different “ultimate” alien species to discover as you get further into the game. You can also earn gold to buy power ups which will help you manipulate the playing field more easily. There are 70 Game Center achievements to earn, and you can also use Facebook to brag about your exploits. Alien Hive is universal and supports iCloud for cross device saving. The graphics are cool, the music is mellow and the mash up of game play styles has finally made this genre something that interests me.
AppXplore Sdn Bhd, Alien Hive – Free
Pirrrates! HD – This is one of those “RTS lite” games. You know, the ones where you simply have to capture all the bases scattered throughout the levels before your enemies do? Basically this is a pirates-themed version of Mushroom Wars. The game has 19 levels and a boss battle, and I’m really curious to see what that boss battle is all about. If you do well enough in battle you’ll earn money so that you can upgrade stats like attack and defense and even buy new spells. Yeah, you get spells too, which are as easy to use as tapping on the spell you wish to execute and then tapping where you want to cast the spell. You can have multiple profiles which is nice if you either share the device or if you want to try out different upgrade strategies. You can also play as both the pirates and the confederates. Unfortunately this is the one place where it actually feels like they dropped the ball because no matter which side you choose you start with the same buildings and have to conquer the same places on the map. It would have been awesome to actually play the “opposite” side of the map if you chose the other team. Still, this is another solid example of what the genre can offer, and I really like the style of the game.
Alawar Entertainment, Inc, Pirrrates! HD – Free
Strategy & Tactics: World War II – If you prefer a more detailed strategy experience, this one might work out well for you. Typically I prefer more of a fantasy themed experience when it comes to strategy games, but I like the “risk with a bit more depth” aura this game provides. The main campaign is 18 missions that take place across Europe, Asia and Africa. Defeat the enemy, research technologies and enhance your armies. Once you’ve completed the tour you can engage in seven scenarios that have been modeled with specific situations in mind. Or you can try your hand at several skirmish maps that allow you to customize the game parameters. Finally, check out the selection of hot seat and WiFi multiplayer maps that are available. The free version of the game gives you a nice sampling of these offerings, though sadly the game parameters are fixed in the one skirmish mode map you can play. The premium version, currently available via IAP, provides you access to everything as well as to all future updates.
HeroCraft Ltd., Strategy & Tactics: World War II – Free
That was just 10 of the many new releases this past week. Here are several more notable titles you may find of interest:
- GAMEVIL Inc., Real Three Kingdoms – Free
- rapidrabbit GbR, Medieval Merchants – $2.99
- Semyon Milbert, Free Billy – Free
- GramGames, Robi: Cosmic Savior – Free
- LIN YI YUN, Save Our Fish – Free
- Thursday Games LLC, Alpha Words – Free
- Mobage, Inc., Heroes & Havoc – Free
- Little Bit Games INC., The Seed – $0.99
- Gameloft, Order & Chaos Duels – Trading Card Game – Free
- Big Fish Games, Inc, Fetch™ – $4.99
- XSEED JKS, Inc., Ark of the Ages – $1.99
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: