10 New App Store Games To Watch [April 29 - May 5]

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I always like a week full of good games, which means I really liked last week.  For those of you that just can’t get enough, Rovio has returned to their flagship franchise and taken it multi-player with Angry Birds Friends.  The result is classic game play with a few twists and a social aspect – as long as you have a Facebook account, that is.  If you love gamebook adventures but for some odd reason are tired of the Tin Man Games offerings (hopefully just taking a little break), you might want to check out Sorcery!  Yeah, it’s a port of one of the original books written by that Steve Jackson guy, so it should be pretty entertaining.  Hidden object fans will want to take a look at The Curse of the Werewolves.  It doesn’t do anything to stretch the genre, but it’s a solid offering that doesn’t come from Big Fish Games or G5 Entertainment, which is enough to pique my interest.

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Mad Dragon – Yeah, it’s yet another infinite runner, but this one features a dragon, so cut me some slack.  I fact, you play a dragon that gets woken from his slumber because some goblins are trying to steal his treasure.  And you know the only thing a dragon hates worse than being roused from his sleep is having something try and steel his precious artifacts.  Your task is to get your gold back and wreak havoc on the goblins by consuming them, taking them out with their own equipment and ultimately spraying fire on them when you’ve filled your anger meter by eating them.  As you collect gold you’ll be able to upgrade your dragon, give him a new look and even buy stuff to decorate your cave with.  Controls are a simple matter of tapping to jump and holding to fly, so it’s really a matter of “simple to learn, difficult to master”.  Besides just trying to collect things and run a longer distance each time there are 73 achievements to earn, so there is certainly plenty to do.

Mad Dragon Chih-Ying Chiu, Mad Dragon – Free

monday-roundup-05062013-hive-defense

Hive Defense – This is a fairly simple defense game, though by that I certainly don’t mean it’s a breeze.  You have to send bees out to collect honey to keep your hive alive, and then you have to smash bugs like crazy to make sure the honey stays safe.  It seems pretty easy at first, but you’ll soon find out that you spend so much time worrying about the bugs that you forget to send out your bees to replenish the honey.  Or, in the few seconds it takes you to tap on the flowers and send your bees out, several bugs might infiltrate your hive.  Early on the game warns you that you should use two hands to maximize protection and they aren’t kidding.  In fact, when they say “multi-player” in the iTunes description what they really mean is you need to get as many hands tapping as you can without stepping on each other.  For instance, you’ll be a lot more effective if one person covers the top half of the screen and the other watches the hive.  Down the road it would be nice to see some more variety in the enemies as well as some Game Center achievements and even a leaderboard, but what’s already there is entertaining and can prove quite hectic after the first few waves.

Hive Defense in4ray, Hive Defense – Free

monday-roundup-05062013-bumpscape

Bumpscape – This is a nifty little game.  It has the appearance of a “dodge everything” style game but turns the tide because instead of avoiding your enemies you have to bump into them and knock them into things like asteroids and the outer edge of the level.  The first time you clear each of the 50 levels you’ll be able to upgrade one of your ship’s primary stats – weight, speed or strength.  You also have two slots for holding weapons and one for using a power up.  These extras can be earned by playing special missions if you have the patience, or you can buy a package of weapons via IAP if you’d like.  There are 3 different ships you can choose from, each with starting stats that are different enough that even through upgrades you probably won’t be playing the same game twice.  There are also 3 different difficulty levels, and you can have multiple profiles so you can try out various combinations of difficulty level and ship.  There are no achievements to earn at this point, but Game Center provides a leaderboard for each difficulty setting.  If you like the feel of a dodge ‘em game but want something with a unique perspective, Bumpscape is a good game for you.

BUMPscape Florin Dumitrescu, BUMPscape – Free

monday-roundup-05062013-lumarnia

Lumarnia: Puzzles and Castles – Lumarnia is an interesting mash-up of games.  A kingdom has been devastated by evil magic, and it’s up to you to restore it to its former glory.  Part of the game is town simulation, as you erect buildings to produce various supplies that you need.  Part of the game is goods trading, as you travel from town to town buying at a low price and selling at a high one in order to make some profit.  You’ll also have to buy certain goods in order to fulfill missions.  Then there’s the combat, which always takes place when you’re flying through the air.  It uses the match 3 concept that has become quite frequent in mash-up games, but takes an interesting spin on the mechanics.  When you flick two objects to swap them they keep on going until they make a match or hit some barrier like the edge of the board or a gap in the playing field.  It’s an interesting tactic that can be both really cool and quite frustrating, but there’s no question that it’s unique among all the match 3 games I’ve played.  Because of the mix of genres this game probably won’t have as wide of an appeal as it should, but just like any mash-up it’s sure to provide an experience that won’t feel cookie-cutter like so many releases every day do.

Lumarnia: Puzzles and Castles GameRotor, Lumarnia: Puzzles and Castles – Free

monday-roundup-05062013-candymeleon

CandyMeleon – You are a chameleon, and all you crave is some sweet, sweet candy.  The concept behind casual games seems to be getting sillier with each passing moment, yet it’s amazing how fun some of these wacky ideas can be.  Basically you tilt your chameleon back and forth and tap to flick your tongue in an attempt to catch as much candy as you can.  You have to be careful, though, because the candy appropriately marked with the skull and crossbones is not good for you.  Neither are the big fish, ladybugs or spiders.  All will impede you and most will take away one of your hearts.  When all three hearts are gone the game is over.  This is not to be confused with your “ability to play” hearts, which works more like the typical Facebook energy system where each play cost a heart, and once you’ve used them up you either wait a certain amount of time before playing again or buy more via IAP.  As you play you’ll earn coins to upgrade your candy, get new chameleons or change the background on the playing field.  The graphics are colorful, the music is upbeat and it’s nice having a “feed a creature candy” game that’s not really physics based.

CandyMeleon Bulkypix, CandyMeleon – Free
CandyMeleon HD Bulkypix, CandyMeleon HD – Free

monday-roundup-05062013-farm-heroes

Farm Heroes – In Farm Heroes you must protect your land from some nasty invading creatures.  As luck would have it you happen to have a giant slingshot and a bunch of exploding barnyard animals to help you complete your task.  There are sixty levels to conquer, including 6 boss levels.  If that doesn’t sound like enough keep you busy, each level has 3 stars to earn.  Mechanics wise this is one of those games where you shoot things at the playing field in an attempt to destroy a certain percentage of it before moving on to the next level.  The thing is, the lowest “passing” percentage is 90, and you’ll need to get 95% to earn two stars and a perfect 100% to earn three.  Those of you that have been feeling like games were getting too soft and easy, this might just be the one for you.  Of course you might have to look past the cute animals and funny sound effects, but it will be worth it for the challenge.  Now all they need is some fancy banjo picking in the background.

Farm Heroes Greatest Games, Farm Heroes – Free

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LEGO Star Wars The Yoda Chronicles – One of the few redeeming factors of the second Star Wars trilogy was that we got to see Yoda do some awesome acrobatics with a light saber.  Since Yoda is my favorite Star Wars character, this was the highlight of the second trilogy for me, and when I saw the title of this game I was ecstatic.  You can imagine my disappointment when I found out I didn’t actually get to control the wise green wonder.  Even as a not so big fan of the LEGO video games as a whole (another shocker as I AM a huge fan of the actual LEGO toys), I still think this is worth at least downloading and checking out, whether you actually finish it or not.  The game itself is not so exciting, though I do find the mini-RTS mechanics kind of interesting.  What I do like is the overall presentation of the game, between the killer soundtrack, cool in-game LOGO-esque visuals and the wonderful cut scenes.  There’s a sense of humor throughout this game that I didn’t see coming and actually quite enjoy, even though I’ve never pegged Yoda as a jovial one.  I doubt this will go on anyone’s top 5 list… or even top 10 list of Star Wars games, but for the price of admission it’s worth delving into the force from a LEGO perspective.

LEGO® STAR WARS™ THE YODA CHRONICLES The LEGO Group, LEGO STAR WARS THE YODA CHRONICLES – Free

monday-roundup-05062013-star-command

Star Command – I imagine if KairoSoft made a game about running a starship, this is probably what it would be like.  Turns out this is a freshman offering from a new company, however, so now we’ll get to see how someone else handles this style of game.  You’ll construct and expand your ship as you see fit, making sure that you both accommodate your crew and provide ample defenses to keep out the unfriendly aliens.  There are more than 10 species of extraterrestrials to discover, and no one says they have to be hostile.  It all depends on your ability to be diplomatic.  Keep in mind that the ones you do begrudge early on may have a nasty inclination to come back and make your life miserable later.  Crew members can be trained and leveled up, and it seems that if you get boarded you’ll even be able to control them to take out the enemies in a strategic style layout.  At least I hope that direct control is an option, because that’s so much more fun than just sitting back and watching.  This game seems to have a lot of possibilities, so the real question is whether it leans closer to a simulation that you indirectly influence or if you’re allowed to get your hands dirty.

Star Command Star Command, Star Command – $2.99

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Blindscape – Okay, let’s clear the air right away: the developer was joking about the Retina-ready HD graphics.  The game has no visuals.  Now that that’s over with, I’ll also tell you up front that this game is roughly five minutes long.  So why bother posting a blurb that will probably take you more time to read than the game will take you to play?  Because I personally thought the concept was pretty cool.  I’ve played a couple other “follow the sounds” type games, but this one so far has the best implementation that I’ve seen.  While some of the decisions on where you need to tap seem a bit arbitrary, the ones that are based spatially on the sound work nicely.  I also thought the story was quite interesting.  It has a distinct Orwellian vibe to it, and the fact that the main character has his eyes gouged out is the perfect setting for a game with no visuals.  I really hope there’s going to be more to this story, because quite frankly I want to know what’s going to happen next.  More importantly, though, in this age where graphics reign supreme, I hope you see more games like this… or don’t see them, as it were.

Blindscape Gavin Brown, Blindscape – Free

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Running From The Dead – It is disclaimer time again: this game has some issues.  I’m adhering to my central philosophy behind this article though, which is that part of the idea with “to watch” is that not every game will be perfect and polished right out of the gate.  You play a fairly generic character trying to flee from a horde of zombies.  There are some options you can choose from at the beginning of the game once you’ve unlocked them by achieving certain milestones while playing.  As the game progresses you’ll level up, and each time you do you get to choose two options to help improve your character.  I’m assuming these go away each time you play a new game.  I did notice after dying that I had the option to continue, which appears to put you at the start of the last level that you were on.  The game itself uses “select multiple” mechanics, which vary from match 3 mechanics in that there is no tile swapping, but rather just dragging your finger across at least three items of the same type.  In order to attack zombies you need to be able to select them, which means you can take a lot of damage before making the necessary kills.  The game shows a lot of promise and while it certainly mimics others that I’ve played on the App Store, it has enough of its own wrinkles to be just as enjoyable.

Running From The Dead SIAM, Running From The Dead – $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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