10 New App Store Games To Watch [April 22 - 28]

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It’s kind of funny that some of my favorite games this week were ones that I either thought I wouldn’t like or had no intention of trying in the first place.  Smile Plants is a match 3 game from Gamevil, so it’s already new territory for them.  The object of the game is to build up a diverse and thriving garden, which personally sounded like a lot less fun then the game actually ended up being.  If you’re still not ready to trust me on that one, how about Madman Drop?  This is an infinite faller which once I decided to try it managed to capture my attention right away thanks to its unique control scheme.  You simply hold the screen to stretch the main character and let go to have him curl up.  Not only does it make for some amusing movements, but when timed correctly can be quite a boost in your descent.

monday-roundup-04292013-megabike-extended

Megabike-Extended – There are a lot of 2D side view trick riding games on the App Store.  Thankfully this isn’t one of those, if for no other reason because it’s in 3D.  I have to confess that I’m not overly wowed by the visuals, and the controls could use a bit of work, especially when playing on an iPad.  When you move beyond those items, however, this is actually a pretty entertaining game.  There are 12 levels to unlock, 3 bikes to buy and upgrade and 3 riders with unique skills to earn.  Each level can be played in competition, freestyle and chrono mode, depending on what kind of challenge you feel like.  There are up to three stars to be earned per race type, which means you can earn a total of 9 stars per level.  Stars let you unlock new levels.  You’ll also earn money to buy and upgrade bikes, and if you have a keen eye and good reflexes you can spot and capture coins along the route that you can use to get new riders.  The competition mode is nice because you have someone to race against, and as you progress through the levels you’ll have obstacles to worry about as well.  I just hope that one day we’ll see the game extended to include more riders and maybe even a multi-player mode.

MegaBike-Extended Clovis Adam de Villiers, MegaBike-Extended – Free

monday-roundup-04292013-smile-plants

Smile Plants – I’m not sure if I should admit to liking this one or not.  Gardening, giggling plants and lack of explosions do not make for a very manly game.  The truth is, though, every time a play it I get so engrossed that time gets away from me.  First you grow your plants, then you keep then you decorate them.  Finally, you keep them happy in return for gold.  The cool part is that all of this is done through match 3 mechanics.  You’ll match different items like rain drops to give the plants water or musical notes so birds will sing for them.  If you match items that the plants want your multiplier will increase, and once you’re trying to keep them happy you’ll have to give them what they ask for or you won’t get any gold in return.  You can have up to 30 plants in your garden, with a total of three of any particular type of plant.  You can also visit your friends’ gardens via Facebook and compete against them to see who can grow the tallest beanstalk.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say this game isn’t for everyone, but you’ll certainly find me hoping I can start a new garden when this one is complete.

Smile Plants GAMEVIL, Smile Plants – Free

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Gun Commando – Usually when someone says “retro” in terms of video games we think 2D pixel artwork in the form of a Mega-man or Super Mario Bros style game.  The thing is, all genres have a “retro” past to one extent or another, and there are few genres where it’s as clear to see as the first person shooter.  3D run-and-guns existed long before Unity or the Unreal engine, and Gun Commando does an incredible job of bringing that old school nostalgia to modern devices.  Thankfully the game is not just trying to be another Doom clone however, as evidenced by the first level which takes place in a parking lot full of semis.  It also adds a few new mechanics to the mix like the ability to slide under lasers.  Combine that with an “ingenious” weapons upgrade system, 24 levels of shooting first and asking questions later and mega boss fights and you’ll begin to see why we didn’t need video cards with as much memory as your computer to enjoy these games way back when.  The only thing I wish is that it wasn’t so easy to accidentally fire your weapon when trying to rotate your view.

Gun Commando Ripstone Ltd, Gun Commando – $0.99

monday-roundup-04292013-battle-bikes

Battle Bikes: Ride or Die – I was hoping this was going to be a modern take on one of my favorite SEGA Genesis games, Road Rash.  In some ways it doesn’t have the polish of that old classic, but the more I think about it, Battle Bikes is also better in a lot of ways.  As usual you start out with the most basic of rides, but over time you can buy and upgrade the engines on a total of 9 different bikes.  You can also upgrade your fist power or buy and upgrade a few fancier weapons in order to apply some proper beat down on fellow riders.  Across 25 missions you’ll need to dodge traffic, collect coins and take out other bikers until you cross the finish line.  Completing a mission rakes in the “big bucks”, though even when you fail you get to keep any coins you collected along the way.  From what I’ve seen so far, the most significant enhancements would be a better variety of missions more bikers on a given mission.  Since generic “ride and collect coins” games are a dime a dozen on the App Store, this game needs to focus on the facet that’s different, which is the ability to knock away other riders.  An endless mode would also be a nice option.

Battle Bikes: Ride or Die ThumbBlade, Battle Bikes: Ride or Die – Free

monday-roundup-04292013-madman-drop

Madman Drop – When I first saw this game I actually passed on by it.  For my sanity I wish it would have remained that way.  It’s a pretty typical endless falling game, except that the main character is a man in a straightjacket.  And the game does employ some ragdoll physics as well.  I feel like I’m reenacting the scene from The Simpsons where Homer goes tumbling head over heals down the side of a mountain, except that my every move isn’t followed by a chorus of Doh’s.  You collect coins as you fall which will let you buy a couple of power ups, new characters and some different clothing.  Of course the price on most things is pretty high, so you either have to play a lot, get really good or spend some money on IAP.  You can also gather letters to spell the word “crazy”, at which point all walls will temporarily go away and you can get lots of bonus coins.  The one thing that is quite different is that instead of left and right controls, you tap the screen to stretch the character and let go for him to contract.  It’s an interesting control scheme that adds a whole new feel to this type of game.

Madman Drop Tio Atum, Madman Drop – Free

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Gravity Jack – This game will probably get compared to Jetpack Joyride quite a bit, especially since that’s the point of reference the developers themselves use.  The game certainly stands well enough on its own merit, though, especially since you swap out the jetpack for a pair of shoes that give you the ability to defy gravity.  You just have to keep an eye on your gauge, because when the power runs out you will “come a tumblin’ down”.  Thankfully the power slowly restores as you’re walking on the ground.  You can also upgrade your shoes as you earn some cash.  The scientists have been replaced by aliens that you can squish if you jump on top of them.  There are also hazards that will test your reflexes and keep you from spending all your time on the ceiling.  Ultimately when you lose you’ll get to play the wheel of redemption (my name, not theirs) where you can win some bonus cash or if you’re lucky enough the opportunity to keep playing where you died.  That is, of course, assuming you don’t get one of the “you lose” spaces that appear in every other slot on the wheel.

Gravity Jack 3D Magicbox Studios, Gravity Jack – Free

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Robot Unicorn Attack 2 – Around the time the original Robot Unicorn Attack came out a game called Unicorn Rush was also released, and quite frankly I like the latter one better.  I’m much more impressed this time around.  It’s still just an infinite runner, as opposed to Unicorn Rush which also offers short, well defined levels, but when I finish a game in the sequel I actually want to go back and try again.  Each “run” consists of three wishes, and you get three seconds after a wish to decide to retry it.  This can be quite useful since some achievements require you to get or do a certain number of something within the three wishes.  As you complete achievements you’ll go up ranks which unlocks new items and gives you drops to spend on those items.  You can also collect drops while running and buy them via IAP if you wish.  There are several parts of your unicorn that you can customize, which is a cool feature that I don’t recall from part 1.  As with most infinite runners these days I don’t know that Robot Unicorn Attack 2 offers much of anything new, but the presentation is such that it keeps me coming back for more.

Robot Unicorn Attack 2 [adult swim], Robot Unicorn Attack 2 – Free

monday-roundup-04292013-lego-batman

LEGO Batman: DC Super Heroes – My only experience with the LEGO games is LEGO Indiana Jones for the DS, and I honestly didn’t care for it all that much.  This might just be my second foray into the lands that blocks built.  Who doesn’t want to play as their favorite super heroes, and there are few quite as cool as the Caped Crusader.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg though, as you’ll be able to unlock such icons as Superman, Wonder Woman and The Flash.  All told according to the iTunes description there are 80 playable characters.  You’ll also get to parlay with all the gadgets and powers that made these heroes who they are today.  That’s good because you’ll need all the help you can get as you go up against the likes of The Joker, Lex Luthor, Catwoman and more to earn all the achievements Gotham City has to offer.  For the first time in an iOS incarnation of a LEGO game, you’ll even get to hear the characters’ voices as they help the story come to life.  If you love full rosters of popular heroes or you just like games based off of kids’ building blocks, this sounds like the game for you.  If you dig both I’d say you’ve scored a big bonus.

LEGO Batman: DC Super Heroes Warner Bros, LEGO Batman: DC Super Heroes – $4.99

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Deep Sea Deli – I’ve been a fan of PlayFirst for some time now, but nothing has been quite as endearing from them as their Diner Dash series.  That is, nothing until Deep Sea Deli came along.  The downside is that this is just another in the ever growing attempt to turn my iPad into a glorified Facebook portal.  Once you move past that this is a great match 3 game with cool characters and an fun premise.  You are the curator of an underwater deli, but instead of the normal time management tactics that one such as Flo might use, you prefer matching the ingredients to make the sandwich that each patron has ordered.  The first caveat is that you must clear each board before moving on to the next instead of constantly getting new pieces added to the current board (with the exception of mystery meat, of course).  The second gotcha is that as ingredients are cleared away stuff above them will fall, but gaps never get closed in.  So, despite the fact that you are timed you’ll have to do some split second planning as well.  You earn money for clearing boards and beating daily goals, and this cash can be used to buy boosts to further improve your game.  You can even invite your Facebook friends to a friendly competition if you’d like.  I’m certainly not giving up on Flo and her exploits, but this just proves that there’s always more fish in the sea.

Deep Sea Deli PlayFirst, Deep Sea Deli – Free

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Pixels & Dungeons – This is not your average dungeon crawler.  In fact, it’s not much of a crawler at all seeing as each “dungeon” is only one room.  Combat is turn based, and as you enter each dungeon you have the option to bring a friend with you to help fight.  These friends are other players, and while they don’t control their character directly they do get experience for fighting along side you.  There’s actually a whole social menu to go along with this, though I haven’t really explored that aspect of the game yet.  If you get tired of your friends, though, you’re more than welcome to take them on in the arena.  The one really unique aspect to this game is that in addition to spending money on upgrading and enhancing your equipment you’ll also need to invest in your town.  It seems that it was overrun by monsters and now they need your help to rebuild.  Of course this benefits you as well since you’ll be able to complete quests based off of adding certain things to the village.  Overall it’s an interesting combination that shows lots of promise and I’m looking forward to digging into it more.

Pixels & Dungeons Poppin Games, Inc., Pixels & Dungeons – 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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