These last few weeks there have been so many interesting looking new releases that the only way I could really do this article justice would be to spend a week playing them all before even beginning to write the piece. Since that’s not going to happen, I will as always do my best to bring you an interesting cross-section of the latest offerings. PlayFirst returned to their most lauded franchise this week with the release of Diner Dash Rush. Basically it’s Flo meets Facebook as you still have to happily serve as many customers as possible, but now you have a short time limit and can compete against your friends. Ravenous Games is back with the third installment of their popular retro side scroller series, League Of Evil 3. It’s just like you know and love, but this time with spinning wall blades and level replays thanks to the Everyplay video service. Sugar Rush is a crazy new “Facebook to iOS” game from Full Fat. A 60 second time limit, the board closing in from both top and bottom and some insane multipliers make for one wild ride.
Avoid the Monsters – First let me get this off my chest: for some inexplicable reason this game reminds me of Hunt The Wumpus. Now that I’m done with that, Avoid the Monsters is a cool game about exploring a series of levels, fighting monsters when necessary and collecting keys to get through doors. Now while that may not seem all that enthralling in today’s world of complex puzzle and RPG games, the simplistic design is part of the game’s charm. I like the fact that you know what’s coming so you can make informed decisions based on your amount of health left versus what you need from each possible path. I also think it’s pretty nifty that you can retrace your steps at any point and follow a different path for a while. The only thing you can’t do is move backwards to a previously unexplored circle. There are currently 10 levels to explore with 3 difficulty settings for each level. There are also five different level sets for each level, which provides a nice amount of replayability for the game. The visuals look more like road sign symbols than anything, but it actually works well in this game. If you’re looking for a lot of intense action you’ll get bored quickly, but if you’re curious as to what a thinking man’s dungeon crawler might feel like, Avoid The Monsters is definitely what you need.
Wouter van Oortmerssen, Avoid The Monsters – Free
Fold – I often get leery when a developer uses the word “unique” in their iTunes description. Everyone wants to believe their creation is different than the norm, but most of the time it’s more of an evolution than a revolution, if it’s even that different from its predecessors. In the case of Fold, however, “unique” might actually be fitting. The idea of the game is to reduce all of the blocks on the screen to one of each color that you see present. It starts off pretty simple, but then you start getting new features like connectors that link different colors together and expanders that create additional blocks until the hit an already existing block to stop their progress. Certain blocks are “no color” which in effect means they take on the color of the last block to be touching them. I expect that there will be even more gadgets as I get to the advanced levels. This is one of those games that will force you to think out of the box, as it were, because it’s often not obvious how to get the various objects to connect so you’re left with just one block of each color. From what I can tell there are currently three different sets of levels, but nothing indicates how many total levels exist. The game requires IAP to unlock all the levels, but you do get a decent sampling of them for free. If you’re tired of all the “me too” physics and match 3 games, Fold is a refreshing change of pace.
Ricardo Moura, Fold – Free
Hero of Many – If someone wants to argue that games can’t be art, show them Hero of Many. If that doesn’t work hit them over the head with your iPad. It might not help your cause any, but you will possibly feel better for a couple of minutes. There is actually plenty to do in this game, according to the iTunes description. You’ll solve puzzles, fight monsters and learn new powers. Honestly, so far I’ve done little more than push rocks around and snuff out a few little creatures that simply look like dark versions of my followers. Despite that, the music, visuals and encouragement to explore really give the game a serene feeling, and it has kept me completely mesmerized. Given how enchanting the game is already, I can’t see what it has to offer if or when more complex puzzles and “boss” monsters come into play. There’s no question that there is a time and place for games where you get to run around no holds barred blowing away everything in sight, but it’s also great to have games like this to balance that style of game play out. Even if this sounds to peaceful for you, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
Matous Jezek, Hero of Many – $3.99
The Enchanted Kingdom: Elisa’s Adventure – At a base level this combines two of my favorite casual game type: match 3 and hidden object games. As such I was pretty much ready to accept it for that alone. To my surprise the game is actually much more than that. There’s a story about a kingdom with an heir, a mysterious peasant girl and evil that must be vanquished. The hidden object scenes actually let you earn items that are helpful on your quest. The match 3 scenes, which switch between object swapping and object connecting mechanics, give you the opportunity to collect resources. So what do you need resources for? Well it turns out there are also elements of city building in this game. And to top it all off a mini-game springs up from time to time. It’s quite an interesting mash up of game mechanics to be sure, and it all blends together quite nicely. The visuals are decent, the music is good and it’s free to play as long as you can put up with the deluge of ads. I normally don’t mention this part, but in The Enchanted Kingdom I think they might have gone a bit too far with their ad campaign. Despite that it’s been a rather enjoyable quest so far.
HeroCraft Ltd., The Enchanted Kingdom: Elisa’s Adventure – Free
Cosmic Clean-up – This is a port of a Playstation game that I believe was rather popular. Quite frankly it’s one of the most frustrating games I’ve played in some time. The irony of it is that I have a hard time tearing myself away from the game. You play a cosmonaut tasked with cleaning up space debris, but your only tool is the thruster of your spaceship. This requires you to fly close to the items that must be eliminated and then quickly turn so that they get a taste of your flames and not of the hull of your ship. Once you’ve destroyed an item you get money for it, but as soon as something comes in contact with your ship the level is over and you’ll have to try again. What I’m finding right now is that if you’re not very good at the game you might spend a lot of time chasing some of the bigger objects around before you can fully burn them up. One thing that is nice is that you get to keep all the money you earn until the point you die, although given the price of power ups and new ships that’s almost a necessity rather than a luxury. Despite the intense difficulty it’s an interesting take on the Asteroids theme, and given the price tag you won’t lose anything by giving it a try.
Ripstone Ltd, Cosmic Clean-Up – Free
Siegecraft TD – From the sounds of it Siegecraft was a tower defense game for those that aren’t particularly fond of typical TD games. So how does one follow up on such a game? Apparently by taking it back to the genre’s roots! Don’t think that they’ve forgotten what made the original game stand out from the pack, though. This game will keep you thinking with a 20 level campaign full of winding paths, bridges and tunnels as well as multiple entrances to watch and exits to defend. You’ll have a nice variety of towers to choose from, each of which can be upgraded multiple times, and you’ll also be able to use some wall pieces to guide the path of the creepers in a way that’s more suitable to your attack pattern. When you’re ready to take a break from the campaign you can check out a wide variety of additional single player maps. Better yet, why not get in some multi-player action? The game supports up to 4 human players with turn based asynchronous game play. Not only do you have to worry about the other players, but there’s also a computer controlled faction of lizards that will try to steal your sheep. Visually the game looks to hold up to Crescent Moon Games’ high standards, with lush backgrounds and nicely detailed characters. In fact, this might be one of the best looking TD games on the iOS market. I’ve not had the pleasure of playing the original yet, but based on what I’ve read and heard about this one, I might just be taking an extended stay in the universe of Siegecraft.
Crescent Moon Games, Siegecraft TD – $2.99
Double View – The Hardest Brain Teaser Game – I don’t know what it is this week, but I seem drawn to games that make me want to pull my hair out. If you took the movement of games like Tron: Light Cycle or the old snake game, threw in some cool retro neon graphics and slapped yourself until you were seeing double vision, you know where this game is heading. You control two squares, one on each half of the screen, that respond identically to whatever command you offer. It may not seem like that big of a deal except that the layouts of the two sides can be drastically different. Eventually you’ll need to collect keys to unlock the finish line as well, and at some point you even get the thrill of travelling through portals. There are actually three different types of objects you can use that vary in speed and size, allowing you to somewhat tailor your experience. There’s nothing necessarily magical or unique about this game, but I find when I start playing it I have a hard time putting it down (yes that’s what one of the quotes from the iTunes description says, and it is true!) Be warned, however, that this game requires quick reflexes and the controls are a tad sensitive, so if you’re at all jittery when playing such games you’ll probably find Double View overly challenging.
Tapps Tecnologia da Informação Ltda., Double View – The Hardest Brain Teaser Game – Free
Kite Run – This is another infinite game, this time an infinite flier. I like this one because of the unique backdrop: you are flying a kite in the midst of a war torn city, as a child’s only relief from the dangers of what’s going on around them. The color schemes reflect the dreary atmosphere, and the visuals have an interesting style about them. You collect coins to buy new kites and power ups, and in an interesting twist you actually buy the power ups on the fly as they become available based on the amount of money you’ve collected. I really like this concept, but on the down side I don’t like the fact that there are no permanent upgrades other than the two alternate kites that cost a significant amount of money to buy. Along the way you’ll have to contend with rooftops, electricity that requires you to collect a shield to pass through safely, missiles and giant gears among other things. The game does offer leaderboards, but there are no achievements to work towards either. Despite the shortcomings it is an interesting game with a different atmosphere than most of its peers, so I hope the developers add some of these items to try and earn so that there is extended longevity to this title.
Mercury Media Inc, Kite Run – Free
The Commander of Steel – One of my all time favorite mobile strategy games was Advance Wars on the Nintendo DS. Besides being an all around good game, it was one of the rare strategy games that felt like it was designed specifically for a limited screen and no keyboard controls. But mostly it was just a great game, and The Commander Of Steel looks like it has taken some ques from that old classic. Unfortunately the iTunes description is pretty sparse and I’m only a couple of missions into the campaign, but what we do know is that there are 36 levels in campaign mode, and each level can be replayed independently in Skirmish mode. The missions I’ve played so far have been on the easy side, but that’s just because they’re the first set of missions. The AI still seems pretty decent, however, so I look forward to a challenge as I get into some of the more difficult scenarios. It appears to work like most strategy games where as you progress you’ll be introduced to different kinds of units, and I imagine they’ll each have their own methods of attack and weaknesses. The game does offer 29 different achievements, though they don’t go through Game Center. Interestingly enough, there does not seem to be any IAP. The game is a bit rough around the edges, but overall it’s a nice iOS interpretation of a game like Advance Wars.
utoo Entertainment, The Commander of Steel – Free
Circulus – Here’s another example of a game that could very well not get the success it deserves simply because of poor advertising. The screen shots don’t do the game much justice other than to demonstrate the diversity of the levels, and the iTunes description doesn’t really do a good job of explaining the game. The driving force behind the game is that you must manipulate a series of orbs. In some cases you need to get them next to each other to cause matches so they will disappear. In other cases you need to get a certain number of them to a container elsewhere on the board. The trick is that instead of manipulating the orbs in any way you actually have to spin the board around, which also happens to be a circle. Most of the boards are drastically different from each other, and each presents interesting challenges. Some have black holes that will suck your orbs in, others have items in the center that are spinning around to cause some confusion, and one even contained a mini labyrinth. The concept is so simple, yet this definitely falls in the “fun but frustrating” category that seems to permeate many of my choices this time around.
YOMEN, Inc., Circulus – Free
That was just 10 of the many new releases this past week. Here are several more notable titles you may find of interest:
- Birgit Stock, Hoppetee! – $0.99
- SummerTimeStudio Co,.Ltd, Animal’s Jewel – Free
- Trigger Happy LLC, Pop Royale: Ready, Set, POP! – Free
- xiao he, Sewerage Rebellion – Free
- xiao he, Sewerage Rebellion HD – $1.99
- Out Fit 7 Ltd., Groove Racer – Free
- Chris Searle, Word Sliderz – Free
- Chris Searle, Word Sliderz HD – Free
- Captive Games, Majik Heroes – Free
- Level-5, LAYTON BROTHERS MYSTERY ROOM – Free
- william herrera, Guardian Earth: HD – $0.99
- Lukas Hanak, RG Minigolf – $1.99
- ECOWEB, Nation Evolution – Free
- Stormcloud Games, Mr Shingu’s Paper Zoo – $1.99
- SQUARE ENIX, DRAKERIDER Chains Transcendent - $7.99
- SQUARE ENIX, DRAKERIDER Chains Transcendent for iPad - $7.99
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: