There were some pretty interesting releases this week, and I think this list presents a decent cross-section of the lot. After bringing us a quirky puzzle game in the form of Tiny Story!, On5 takes us in a totally different direction with Indie Pixel. In this online only game you are a pixel, and you must work together with other players to form certain shapes before time runs out. If you prefer a more serene approach to things you might want to give Cloud Spin a try. This high flying adventure will test your skills if you want, but you can just as easily enjoy it by indulging in Free Flight mode and just enjoying your surroundings. Then there’s American Greetings, who didn’t so much provide the community with a solid set of games as they offered gamers a new way to pay. Buy an App Coin to unlock the game, and even folks without an iTunes account can “gift” specific games to their friends.
Egmont – Pirates – This game takes a decidedly different approach to the whole pirates theme. Your job is to build a fleet of ships and collect the most coins possible, and the game is played with a virtual deck of cards around a virtual card table. The game requires 3-4 players with either 1 player against computer AI or live opponents sitting around the device. Every round you’ll try and expand your fleet and run raids for gold, and when your fleet gets big enough you can recruit a ringleader to commandeer gold from other players. There are 45 ships, 5 ringleaders and 15 special cards including such novelties as turning the Kraken loose on your adversaries. What I really find interesting about this game, however, is that it interfaces with DICE+, an electronic die that communicates to its recipients via Bluetooth. It’s kind of ironic that with all the “simulated dice” apps available on the App Store a company chose to use a physical die as a gimmick for enhancing its game. Personally I think it’s kind of a cool idea, and it just goes to show that not everyone is ready to give up the old fashioned way of playing games yet.
Synergy-IT, Egmont – Pirates – $3.99
Quiz RPG: The World of Mystic Wiz – There’s a good chance you’ve played this one before. Amass an army of creatures, in this case represented by cards. Take them into battle to defeat all the evils in the world. Level them up by enhancing them with other cards that you earn along the way. The spirits represent water, fire and thunder, and while it’s usually possibly for any type to damage another you’ll do much better pitting certain types against others in a rock-paper-scissors mentality of game play. You can even take other players on your journey with you to earn friendship points. What I like about this game, however, is that instead of the game doing the fighting for you, which almost makes your participation pointless, or using match 3 mechanics which is cool but overdone, this game makes you answer trivia questions in order to combat your foes. You can also battle other players in online tournaments or challenge them to quests to see who has more useless knowledge stored in their brains. Best of all you aren’t required to sign up for any kind of account which is great because I already have too many of those. Even if you’re not so much into the battling aspects of the game it actually makes for a rather challenging trivia experience. Now if only your friends could answer the questions for you!
COLOPL, Quiz RPG: The World of Mystic Wiz – Free
Cloud Spin – Games like Knights Into Dreams and Glyder encouraged exploration as much as actually beating the game. Based on what I’ve seen and read so far, Cloud Spin appears to do the same. You are Lucky, a bunny with a desire to fly the friendly skies that decides to strap on a flight suit and live his dreams. You’ll soar through some pretty slick looking locations in one of two game play modes. Tournament mode requires you to dodge obstacles and collect stars in an attempt to gain as high a score as you can. If you prefer the scenic route you can play Free Flight mode which lets you explore your surroundings at your own pace. The game has achievements to earn and leaderboards to rank on, and hopefully a decent control system to support the high flying action. In a realm where the Unreal Engine and Unity 3D are vying for dominance it is good to see development houses that can at least take visual advantage of the different platforms. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the same can be said for the game play.
Skytrain Studios, Cloud Spin – $1.99
Grilly The Cheese – Yes, I am hooked on another infinite runner. And yes, this one happens to star a grilled cheese sandwich as the protagonist. I suppose if you think that’s odd you’ll find it really weird that you fight an apple tree at one point. This game is silly, and when you throw in the cool pixel art and NES style music it’s managed to hold my attention. It’s full of your typical infinite runner necessities like coins to collect, missions to complete and costumes to buy. There are a few power ups that you can buy and activate on an individual run basis, but there are two power ups that you can actually pick up along the way: the bubble and the umbrella. Each comes with their own special bonus and adversary. For instance, if you get the bubble you can tap to fly, but suddenly the sky is full of flocks of birds just trying to burst your bubble. In addition to collecting coins you can get fortune cookies, and at the end you get to pick one to open which can earn you anything from zero coins to at least 1000. The game does offer leaderboards, but unlike a lot of offerings the missions don’t translate to Game Center achievements. There’s nothing revolutionary about this entry in the infinite runner genre, but I think it was the angry Apple tree that won me over.
Michael Blazek, Grilly The Cheese – Free
Nutt Putt – An App Coin Game – So it would seem that American Greetings has decided to get into the game as well, both figuratively and literally speaking. They actually released five games this go around, or as they like to call it “series 1”. I made this selection mainly because it was the best of the three I tried: a fairly decent mini-golf game versus a bland cart racer or a weird ninja ice cream serving game. What interests me more about this whole experiment, however, is the concept of the App Coin. You can pick up these coins at any American Greetings store, and there is one for each game that was released. You then load up the game, scan the coin and “voila”, you have unlocked the full version. The reason I find this intriguing is because it allows people that don’t have nor want an App Store account to gift a particular game to others instead of just giving them an iTunes card. The only down side is that if you uninstall and reinstall the game you have to scan the coin again, so you better not misplace it. Of course for the old fashioned crowd you can still unlock any of these games via IAP if you like.
American Greetings, Nutt Putt – An App Coin Game – Free
Smash Bandits – From the makers of Smash Cops comes Smash Bandits, and I have to say that when it comes to this type of game, even when you’re encouraged to run into things it’s still more fun to be the bad guys. I never really caught on to Smash Cops, but so far I’m enjoying this one. The premise has a bit of a Cannonball Run feel to it with you as one of the entrants in a cross country race. The cops aren’t too happy, and you can expect to get busted a lot, but that’s okay as long as you keep wrecking things. This jacks up your ratings with the viewers and earns you more notoriety with the cops, which helps you earn more in game currency. Buy new vehicles or upgrade the one you have and keep on racing. The game throws all kinds of twists at you like getting the chance to drive a boat or even to take over a cop car once your vehicle has succumbed to too much damage. Game Center facilitates leaderboards and 20 different achievements, and there is also Facebook integration. The visuals are incredible, the sound effects really make the chase come to life, and the TV announcer’s voiceover is a great touch.
Hutch Games, Smash Bandits – Free
The Impossible Line – The game might not really be impossible, but it sure is a good test of both memory and patience. Your job is to simply draw a line between an arrow and a circle. There will always be some walls and other things in the way, but that’s no big deal, right? The problem is that after a few seconds or when you touch the screen, whichever comes first, everything except the arrow and the circle disappear. Eventually they start throwing in things like moving objects and keys that you have to collect. On the plus side, you do have a radar that warns you when you’re getting too close to a wall. Except that it doesn’t tell you what side the wall is on. There are also two power ups that you can buy at any time, as long as you have the cash. One will temporarily reveal the maze again and cost 10 gold, while the other actually shines a dim light in close proximity to your arrow to help you trace your way through the maze for 15 gold. Of course you only earn 2 gold for each completed maze. Based on the available achievements there appear to be at least 300 levels, so depending on your skill sets you should get some decent play time out of this game.
Chillingo , The Impossible Line – Free
ControlCraft 3 – I’ve always been a fan of the ControlCraft franchise. It plays similar to Mushroom Wars in that you are trying to conquer the map one outpost at a time. The game is played out in real time, and while I generally am not a fan of the fast paced format, when the mechanics are simplified as in the structure of these games it actually works for me. Unlike most games in this offshoot of the RTS genre, the ControlCraft series has a sci-fi theme as opposed to some sort of fantasy sway. It also uses a side view perspective which makes the game feel different than its peers. The other thing the series is noted for in my mind is its level of difficulty once you get past the first few scenarios. It seemed like this was a bit more balanced to start with, but the first mission I got to that had more than two factions at the same time was over before I even knew what was going on… and no, I didn’t win. When you are victorious you’ll earn money that can be applied towards single user power ups and stars that can be used to upgrade various aspects of your production capacity. The developer seems to do a good job of upping the ante with each installment of the franchise, and if you generally find this type of game too easy than ControlCraft might actually challenge you.
Cybernate, ControlCraft 3 – Free
Sheep Happens – I thought I had the last two entries for this article all nailed down, but then much like the name of this game, sometimes sheep happens. I started playing Sheep Happens and it struck me as being a weird genre of basically infinite runner but almost feeling like those games where you see how far you can launch someone out of a cannon. The game was amusing and I was having fun, but when I saw the Cyclops in the stands eating pop-sheep I knew I had to write about this game. It’s almost a shame you have to play it because it’s just as fun trying to take in all the scenery. Never mind when you start to cause a chain reaction of Greeks and sheep flying everywhere and you actually consider trying to decipher what’s going on in your head. You’ll run, glide and yes, even ride sheep for as long as you can, collecting coins and completing missions all along the way. You can hoard your cash or spend it on upgrades or one time power ups. The game also has leaderboards and 28 achievements to earn. Sure you’ll want to play it for all those things, but mostly you’ll be coming back again and again for the atmosphere. I’m just a bit concerned that the developer has an unhealthy obsession with sheep.
Kongregate, Sheep Happens – Free
Indie Pixel – I’m still trying to wrap my head around this one, but I think there’s a really cool game to be found here. You play a pixel. In your world there is not a whole lot to do except form shapes, the only problem being that one pixel alone does not a shape make. As a result you must work with all the other pixels in the game to form the shape that is being asked of you at the bottom of the screen. The kicker is that all of the other pixels are real people as well, and other than hitting the wink button to indicate that you’re ready to create a shape, there’s really nothing to keep the other players from moving around and not helping you. The kicker is that while you would assume that everyone is trying to make the same shape, there’s no way of knowing for sure that is the case. As you continue to play you’ll unlock costume parts so that you can give your pixel a unique look, and you’ll also be able to get power ups. There are leaderboards and achievements if you need them, but the focus here seems to be teamwork. The one problem I’ve seen with that so far is that everyone seems to have their own agenda, often making it hard to become part of a shape. I think this game will become much more interesting once it has thousands of steady players, which hopefully it will get.
On5, Indie Pixel – Free
That was just 10 of the many new releases this past week. Here are several more notable titles you may find of interest:
- Cybernate, Time Tinkers – Free
- MicroAd, Monster Fantasia: Legendary Defense – Free
- Safe Communications, Kuboo Cloudfall – Free
- Rohan Narang, Jack N’ Jill – Free
- Word Play, Wordstop – The anti word game! – $0.99
- KingNet, Lords of Darkness – Free
- Kairosoft, Dream House Days – Free
- HashGo, Trend Wars – Free
- Lemonade GameLabs, Trapped! – $1.99
- Vitaliy Sidorov, Ninja Miner – Free
- Nerdiacs, Death Mile – Free
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: