I’m surprised at how many weeks in a row the App Store has had a strong release list, especially since most of the games aren’t coming from the “big” publishers. One of my favorite games this week was Something Has Changed, a minimalist game in terms of aesthetics and instructions. What it does really well is challenge you to quickly adapt to ever-changing rules, no matter how slight those changes might be. Dead Ahead is a fun new infinite runner zombie game from Chillingo. It has some stylish visuals and lets you run over zombies with a motorcycle. Strategy fans might want to check out Pirates vs Corsairs: Davey Jones’ Gold. This game provides the goals of Risk in a slightly more lighthearted atmosphere, and you get to dodge sharks and Krakens to boot.
1968 – This must be one of those lesser known space missions, because I don’t recall ever reading anything about it in my history books. Apparently we sent a toy car to the moon, only to discover that it was filled with cheese! Your job is to explore various plants in outer space and collect all the cheese on each level. The trick is that the only control you have over your car is tapping the left or right sides of the screen to change direction – or at least that’s all I’ve witnessed so far. The game is all about precision, timing… and flipping. You actually can reduce your overall level time by executing complete flips with your car, so when you’re running a little bloated on the clock you better get your spin on. Of course you simply need to get the cheese to complete a level, but low times will earn you your precious 2 or three star ratings so you can unlock new planets. The visual style is great, with a wonderful “shades of grey” and yellow palette to give it a unique look. The music is great too, and fun to listen to even when you’re not playing. This is a great example of how a simple, quirky game can be lots of fun.
Attribite AB, 1968 – Free
Something Has Changed – This is a product of a competition called Ludum Dare, and it’s a prime example of why these contests should exist. The developers had 48 hours to create a game, their only guidance being the theme of “minimalism”. This clearly falls under that category, with simple graphics, subtle music and basic sound effects. There are also very little in the way of instructions and no tutorial. Despite all that the game manages to be engaging and almost mesmerizing. What you do know is that you have to tap two fingers on the screen to start, and what you quickly learn is that removing either finger ends the game. At the root level the game is another “dodge everything” type game, except that’s not even really true. In the first level you’ll have blocks coming at you that match the color of each square you are controlling, and you either have to dodge the blocks or hit them with the same color square. As each new level comes the rules slightly change, and it’s up to you to figure out how. If you’re one that likes your hand held through everything this is not the game for you, but if not knowing what’s coming from one round to the next intrigues you then you should definitely check this out.
Paul Stamp, Something Has Changed – Free
The Tapping Dead – This tribute to 8 bit gaming (yeah, the iTunes description says 16 bit, but the graphics definitely feel a generation older) is quite amusing. You must help several people escape buildings that have been taken over by zombies. The only thing you can do is tap the screen to stop the person you’re helping and then let go to allow them to run again. The world is divided into 5 buildings that each contain multiple rooms for you to conquer. You unlock a room by completing the previous one, but to unlock new locations you must collect the coins that appear in each section of each room. You can select any room that has been unlocked in a given location, but you must play each section of a room in order, so if you miss the last coin in a room you’ll have to play all sections of that room again to get it. To compound matters, the coins will disappear if you wait in a section too long, and once you’ve used all your lives you’ll have to wait a few minutes for them to refresh before playing again. Of course you can feel free to spend some IAP to fresh lives early, though that may not be quite so much an issue once their next release with game play balancing comes out. Even though it’s rather difficult at the moment it’s still fun, and watching pixilated zombies toss random body parts out of a bag is pretty funny.
Crazy Cricket, LLC, The Tapping Dead – Free
Battle Of Tiles EX – I remember playing this one on the PC and having a lot of fun with it. The game reminds me a bit of Rune Raiders, except instead of a party of 5 or 6 quirky individuals you get an army of up to 70 tiles. You move the tiles as a group, though you can move individual tiles for repositioning purposes. You automatically attack when in the proper range, and while it might seem like brute force will win the day there is actually some strategy involved in where you place your tiles. You will earn money along the way which can actually be used to buy the enemy so that they will join your team instead of having to fight them. Tiles that survive battle after battle will actually level up, so it’s a good idea to keep track of your best troops so you can keep them alive. The game is easy to figure out and get into, but it will take all you can muster to defeat the dragon and ultimately be victorious. This does have Game Center so you can compare high scores with other players, and maybe someday we’ll see something cool like the ability to earn rare tiles and trade them with your friends.
Bimboosoft Co, BATTLE OF TILES EX – Free
Dead Ahead – One might think that I’d be sick of zombie games and endless runners separately by now, let alone the combination of the two. Sadly, that does not appear to be the case, as I really like Dead Ahead. The visual style is great, though the pixel art does tend to make it look a bit silly when zombies are feeding on you. I like the fact that there are multiple ways you can take out a zombie – run them over with your bike, blast them with a weapon or even trick them into running into the back end of a car. You’ll earn money for demolishing zombies and extra cash for completing “missions”, which can be reinvested in a better biker or cooler armaments. You can plow over many of the obstacles but they will slow you down, at which point ambitious zombies might make that extra lunge to get you in their grasp. There are even boss “battles” which basically entail you outrunning the boss until you can shoot it or run it into things enough. The game is universal with Game Center integration, and you can customize a progress banner to share with your friends.
Chillingo Ltd, Dead Ahead™ – Free
Frog Swing – Fly For Flies – This is a game like the ones where you swing a guy from building to building using a rope. The main difference is that this one is actually pretty fun. Once you launch your frog you tap to use his tongue and tap again to release. The trick is that you have to tap on something his tongue can actually stick to. Along the way you’ll pick up fireflies and gem bugs that act as currency, as well as various other insects that hold power ups. One thing I think is really cool is that fireflies and power ups just have to touch some part of your tongue, which means you can “swing into” them even if you don’t hit them when flying through the air. If you get too close to the water and don’t land on a lily pad a fish will kindly end the game for you. There are also missions to complete, which as you might expect you get three at a time. One thing I think is kind of lame is that some missions require you to spend a gem bug just to get a few fireflies which is a bit of a bum deal since gem bugs are kind of rare. Gems and fireflies can be used to buy boosts at the beginning of each round or to buy frogs or enhance your power ups in the shop. There’s nothing really new here, but the cute and lighthearted atmosphere make you want to come back for more.
Tapps, Frog Swing – Fly for Flies – Free
Hyper Breaker Turbo – Like the iTunes description says, this is not your ordinary breakout clone. The game is played in portrait mode, and most levels are more than one screen long. Plus, rather than simply trying to break all the blocks you’re actually trying to get to a certain goal. Of course if you can break everything you’re better off, because it’s pretty hard to get all three stars on each level without doing some damage. You can forget about nice straight causeways as well. There are some interesting twists and turns in some of these levels the likes of which you probably haven’t seen in this type of game before. Even the paddle control is different. While you don’t have free roam like a couple recent entries in the genre, you aren’t tied to simple left and right movement either. You have a zone that you can move about freely in which potentially gives you a lot more control over the ball – or makes you miss easier if you’re a little too zealous. The game has three different themes with 25 levels each as well as more on the way. Game Center provides leaderboards and achievements, including some that can only be accomplished by a bunch of players working towards a common goal. While I’ve come to appreciate the genre over the years, it’s only games like this that keep me interested in the long run.
Barry Kostjens, Hyper Breaker Turbo – $1.99
Battlestone – I’m glad that Zynga decided to branch out from their Farmville style games, and I have to say that I’m becoming more of a fan of theirs with each new release. This latest venture feels a lot like your typical Gameloft action game on the surface, but rather than a dual stick control configuration you tap to move and swipe across the enemies to target and attack. For melee combat this works quite well, though ranged combat suffers a bit as you often end up moving closer to your targets than you’d like. You start off with a Wild Man and a Rogue (one melee and one ranged), and by collecting gems and battlestones you can summon additional heroes to fill out your ranks. Better yet, fuse a lesser hero to a more powerful one to help the better one grow even stronger. There are more than 10 maps to explore, each with several different areas to conquer, some of which have to be visited more than once to complete. You’ll even get the chance to take on other players to see who can cultivate the best heroes and to earn some battlestones. This is another freemium Zynga experience worth investing some time in.
Zynga Inc., Battlestone™ – Free
Pirates vs Corsairs: Davey Jones’ Gold – The heart of this game is about conquering territory. The person with the most area wins (I can’t really say land since the game basically takes place at sea). Thankfully there’s much more to it than that in the details. In order to earn money to buy ships and upgrades you must capture ports or find treasure floating in the sea. Combat is actually a participatory event, and you don’t even need the biggest army to actually win. Capturing Skull Island provides a big tactical advantage as it offers you free ships to add to your armada. Ports can be taken from the enemies and their trade convoys raided, but not simply by running into them. Anything that requires you to overthrow the enemy makes you work for it by offering a mini game for you to complete. And don’t forget the environmental hazards like storms, sharks and the infamous ghost ship. You can play each of the maps against three different levels of computer AI, or you can play against another human via pass-and-play or local WiFi. This is a fairly basic strategy game with a few nice twists that works quite well on a mobile device.
Lucky Catch! – Every once in a while I like to throw in a game just for fun. There might be better games to fill the slot, but the game I pick is enjoyable to me and probably isn’t getting much press otherwise. Lucky Catch is one such game, and this one caught my eye because it’s a lot like a game I play at Chuck E Cheese a lot with my kids (if you don’t know what Chuck E Cheese is, Google it!) You simply tap the screen to lower your line and release to raise it again, hoping that somewhere along the way you’ll snag a fish on your hook. You get 60 seconds to catch as many fish as you can, unless you use a timer boost before the game begins. There are other boosts as well, my favorite so far being the one that lets you catch two fish at once. As you’re playing you’ll run into bonuses like fish that give you extra coins, a crab carrying a treasure chest and a fish that temporarily gives all other fish extra coins. There’s nothing overly deep or complex about this game, but it’s nice to relax with for a while or play with your kids. You can compete for high scores via Facebook, but a two player option would be nice, even if it’s just on the same device.
Fantage.com, Lucky Catch! – Free
That was just 10 of the many new releases this past week. Here are several more notable titles you may find of interest:
- Little White Bear Studios, Go Round – Free
- Level Bit, Jane Wilde – Free
- SmartWoong, Saturn Ring – $0.99
- Electronic Arts, Tetris® Blitz – Free
- Barbily Game, Star Pigs – Free
- PIXOWL INC., Greedy Grub – Free
- Bulkypix, Quell Memento – $2.99
- Olaf Morelewski, Censored Files – $1.99
- Disney, Monsters University: Catch Archie – Free
- Koma Studios, Highway Crash Derby – Free
- Oni Craft, Go Go Pixel – $0.99
- Light Spiral Studios, Jacob’s Ladder – $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: