10 New App Store Games To Watch [April 8 - 14]

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Once again I’ve tried to bring you a nice variety of games to consider this week, and you’ll be happy to know that there are no infinite runners on my list this time around.  There is a rather addictive strategy game called Tower Zoo, however.  The mechanics are simple, there are plenty of levels to challenge you, and when you get done whopping – or getting whopped – by the computer AI you can take on your neighbor in pass and play mode.  If you’re more of a “poker with an edge” sort of player you should consider taking Alice of Hearts for a spin.  This game has puts an interesting twist on the Wonderland fable, it has a pretty slick presentation, and it does a good job of using poker hands for combat that feels different than other games of its style.  If you’re just looking for some visceral action then Fisticuffs: An Arcade Boxing Game might fit the bill.  It’s a simple boxing game with a small but diverse roster of fighters that’s fun and could be something great if people play it and encourage the developers to add more to it.

monday-roundup-04152013-fisticuffs

Fisticuffs: An Arcade Boxing Game – I’ve not played that many boxing games overall, let alone on my iPad.  However, I’d venture to say that this is a pretty simplistic one compared to many of the other offerings out there.  You basically pick a male or female boxer with no customization options and then work your way through the matches, trying to prove that you’re the best of the bunch.  Sadly there are currently only five competitors, but they each have a different fighting style that you’ll have to master because you’ll be fighting them multiple times.  The controls are well suited for the touch screen, and the game certainly sucks you in with its cheering crowds.  The graphics are pretty cool, and the different characters are definitely caricatures without going over the top like many of these games do.  There’s certainly a lot of room for expansion in this game, such as a bigger roster, the ability to play as more characters, and some multiplayer options.  I think Fisticuffs is off to a good start, tough, and hopefully kind comments from the players will encourage the developers to build upon the good base they’ve developed.

Fisticuffs: An Arcade Boxing Game Blue Goji, Fisticuffs: An Arcade Boxing Game – Free

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Fruit Blast Mania – It’s time for yet another Facebook style casual game.  This time around instead of swapping gems or popping bubbles you’ll be clearing groups of fruit from the board.  Thankfully there’s at least a reason for the mundane task this time around.  On many levels you’ll have to help some baby mice get to the ground so they can scamper away.  In other levels you need to fill a juice meter.  Often you’ll only have a certain number of moves to accomplish these goals as well.  Once you get past level 13 there will be challenges to complete on top of everything else.  Whether you win or lose you’ll earn some coins, and if you beat a level with at least two stars you’ll earn energy.  Energy is important, because each play through of a level will cost you one energy.  If your energy runs out you can either spend some IAP to get more or just wait until it replenishes.  Money is used to buy boosts which are handy power ups but naturally are only good for one play.  As luck would have it, boosts are also fairly expensive and you don’t earn much money per level.  So yes, this can be a big IAP leech if you let it.  Still, the game is entertaining and the presentation makes it stick out from other games with a similar play mechanic.

Fruit Blast Mania™ TeamLava, Fruit Blast Mania™ – Free

monday-roundup-04152013-alice-of-hearts

Alice of Hearts – Using a standard card game like poker as the basis for combat in an RPG / adventure style game is becoming increasingly popular, and so far Alice of Hearts has one of the best presentations I’ve seen.  First off, I like the fact that they’ve modernized and urbanized the tale as Alice gets “kicked” into Wonderland through a garbage can thanks to the Chesire Cat.  From there you’ll meet all kinds of Wonderland inhabitants as you battle your way through the strange land in what I’m assuming is an attempt to find your way home.  Along the way you’ll be able to create multiple Egos to help you fight the bad guys, giving each one various traits to make them more useful in different situations.  You’ll also be able to equip your Egos with weapons and armor and level them up through combat.  When the strength of your Egos isn’t enough, use their special skills or cards you collect to turn the tide of battle in your favor.  You can even take your Egos online to fight with real players.  Now if we could just get an iPad native version I’d be thrilled.

Alice of Hearts Aurum Apps, Alice of Hearts – Free

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Lumber Jacked – If I didn’t know any better I’d say Everplay was trying to be another Ravenous Games.  Of course I do know better, because Everplay actually has a much more diverse collection of games.  The reason I bring this up, however, is because Lumber Jacked looks like it could easily fit into the Ravenous catalog.  You play a lumber jack that must recover all the wood he worked so hard to chop down from the beavers that have stolen it.  You’ll have to take on all manner of beaver, from your standard annoyance to Beaver Brutes, Ninja clad varmints and more.  You also have to face various obstacles spike traps, falling stone heads and more, all governed by a physics model that make this more than your standard platforming experience.  There’s no indication of how many levels or worlds currently exists, but it does say there are more to come, so at least you can look forward to some free updates if you feel the current selection isn’t sprawling enough.  The visuals have the same pixel art style that Everplay employs in many of its games, and it’s a look I’ll never get tired of.  Overall this looks to be another fun retro gaming experience.

Lumber Jacked Everplay, Lumber Jacked – $0.99

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Tower Zoo – I’m really starting to get hooked on this game.  The object is to get the most points by creating stacks (or towers) of animals on the board.  It has simple mechanics that are easy to learn but provide a sufficient challenge when you start playing on the higher difficulty settings.  There are three levels with a total of 90 boards and you can play at an easy, medium or hard level on each board, earning you one, two or three stars respectively.  Every fifth level requires you to earn at least eight stars on the previous four levels, so you’ll have to man up and attempt the higher difficulty settings at some point.  If you beat or get bored with the computer AI you can also take on a friend via pass and play mode.  An internet option for multiplayer would be nice here, and I don’t think it would require much horsepower as there wouldn’t be a whole lot of data to pass back and forth.  The visuals are great, and you can easily rotate the board around to get the best viewpoint.  Each animal also has its own sound effect when you create a tower.  This is a stimulating game for adults, but it’s also a good game to share with your kids as it’s youth safe and more thought provoking than the average Mario Bros run.

Tower Zoo MiniWorldGames, Tower Zoo – Free

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Cool Cubes – This is basically an interactive advertisement for Lipton Ice Tea, which ironically enough I don’t even like.  So why should I care?  Because it’s actually a pretty entertaining little game.  On each level you have to guide an ice cube so it ultimately ends up in a glass of ice tea.  Along the way you can collect lemon and lime slices and what I presume are sprigs of mint in order to earn extra points.  On some levels there is even an extra ice cube that you can try and knock into the glass for a higher score.  You slingshot the ice cube to get it going, and if you’re skillful enough you can use the environment to your advantage to get the cube to go in the desired direction or to help it travel further.  In the worst case you can hold your finger on the ice cube once it has been launched to slow it up, though it seems to melt a bit when you do that.  I haven’t tested yet whether you can melt the cube all the way or not.  You get a certain number of shots to reach the glass, and unused shots as well as items collected determine your rating out of three stars.  I’m impressed with some of the level designs, and I also applaud them for not making it a piece of cake to earn three stars on any given level.  Sure this is just a promotional tool, but when they are fun I don’t mind at all.

COOL CUBES Unilever United States, INC., COOL CUBES – Free

monday-roundup-04152013-enemy-strike

Enemy Strike – Welcome to Overkill 2 on steroids.  On the down side, you only have a choice of 15 different weapons and you only get to do an all or nothing upgrade on each weapon instead of the fancy upgrade system Overkill 2 employs.  On the other hand, while you’re still in a fixed position in regards to your feet, the playing field feels a lot more dynamic because you can swivel around and even look up.  You also have the ability to duck behind a barrier, zoom in for some sniping action and call in the cavalry with an air strike.  Instead of just blowing things away you have alternate objectives like taking out snipers or making sure that the enemies don’t get past your defensive line.  Yes, rather than just being a shooting gallery style game the enemies do actually come at you in this game.  There are 250 different missions to complete, 5 modes of game play and supposedly some AI to the enemy, though that last part has been a bit weak so far.  If you’re not into full blown FPS games but are looking for something a bit less static than games like Overkill 2, Enemy Strike is a nice happy medium.

Enemy Strike Killer Bean Studios, LLC, Enemy Strike – Free

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Kingdom Chronicles – This feels a lot like a Roads Of Rome or My Kingdom For A Princess style game.  There’s nothing wrong with that of course, because I like that style of game play.  In this case you take on the role of John Brave (nicely generic) and must rescue your homeland from a greedy villain.  Through 40 episodes you’ll need to fix roads, rebuild structures and generally get everything back into tip top shape.  You also get to trade, fight battles and take on mysterious quests.  Each episode has many goals to complete, and it’s up to you to figure out how best to do them in order to earn a gold medal on a given level.  There are also more than 30 trophies to earn and several magical skills to learn and artifacts to collect.  There’s a lot of resource collecting, but what’s neat is that many of the cleanup tasks that you perform provide you with some of those necessary commodities.  The graphics are well drawn and animated, and overall the game has a nice presentation.  Even though the mechanics are pretty simple it can become quite a challenge managing all your people on the later levels, which makes the game worth digging into.

Kingdom Chronicles™ Primerose Solutions LLP, Kingdom Chronicles™ – Free
Kingdom Chronicles HD Primerose Solutions LLP, Kingdom Chronicles HD – Free

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Death Drive: Racing Thrill – I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this one yet, but I like the fact that it’s a combat game that doesn’t use an overhead or isometric perspective but rather a traditional behind the car racing perspective.  I also find it interesting that they’ve limited the scope of weapons to a machine gun and a rocket launcher, since many of these games focus on the vast array of weaponry that you can collect.  There are a number of different cars that you can unlock if you have the patience to earn the money or don’t mind spending some IAP in the game.  Also, while there is combat in the game that is by no means the focus of the game.  The goal of each mission is to recover a code to diffuse a bomb, and in some missions you might just have a certain amount of time to get to the code or have to simply outrace your opponents to the code.  You may never pull the trigger in some races (there’s even a car that doesn’t support any weapons at all).  The other thing I think is really cool is that you actually have non-spy related traffic to deal with.  You have your choice of left / right tapping or tilt controls to maneuver your car, and buttons fire your weapon and allow you to switch between machine gun and rocket launcher when applicable.  The graphics are pretty decent and there appears to be a nice variety of locations to drive around in.  The biggest down side is that the ads can get a bit overwhelming, even for a free game.

Death Drive: Racing Thrill PlayBuff Studios Private Limited, Death Drive: Racing Thrill – Free

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Mighty Dungeons – One might wonder why someone would want to simulate a board game on an electronic device.  Mighty Dungeons is the reason why.  Visually the playing field looks much like an old board game that I have up in my closet, and that brings me a great sense of nostalgia.  When I get into combat I realize that it is nice having the computer handle things, especially since I’m playing by myself.  When I’m done for the day and hit the close button to shut down Mighty Dungeons, I’m thankful that there are no little plastic pieces to pick up.  You can choose one of six different classes and you can have multiple heroes, so there is a nice amount of replay value.  There are also some nice options the game gives you, including letting you decide whether you want to play with perma-death or not.  There are currently four campaigns with 8 quests each, but apparently the developers are both working on new content themselves and calling out to the community in search of new levels to add to the game.  Given the general layout of the game there’s lots of room for expansion, and the options that you can play with should make the game accessible to many different kinds of players as well as provide ambitious players multiple replay options.

Mighty Dungeons Josh Presseisen, Mighty Dungeons – $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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