10 New App Store Games To Watch [October 21 - 27]

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I wish I would have had more time to spend with the candidates for this roundup because there were several titles I wanted to look at and just didn’t get the chance to fire up.  I certainly had a blast with many of the titles I did get to try, though, especially Vampire Ventures.  This match 3 game has just about everything you could want from the genre, and my only problem was forcing myself to stop playing the game.  If you’re more of a strategy buff you really should check out Combat Monsters.  This combination of collectable card game and turn based tactical strategy has a lot going for it, and you can dive in for free.  On the other hand, those desiring some good old fashioned arcade action need look no further than Ricochet: Retro Space Shooter.  This combination of Galaga, Missile Command and Breakout is not quite like anything I’ve played before on my iOS device.

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Combat Monsters – Start with a base of Magic: The Gathering, throw in tactical combat via 3D animated miniatures and allow for up to six players in online play and you have one nifty strategy CCG.  You build up a deck from a selection of 132 different monsters, 70 unique weapons and shields, spells and runes.  You train and refine your skills on the single player campaign which consists of a tutorial and three different quests of varying difficulties.  Then you take to the internet where you can join up to five more players on the same board for an intense turn based strategy melee.  If you’re not around an internet connection you can play two players on the same device, and if you just don’t have any friends there’s a Quick Battle mode, but be prepared to take on some beefy AI.  Earn cards at various stages of the campaign, but make sure to put away some Rubicoins so you can buy additional cards and new heroes.  Future enhancements will include things like trading between players, an offline play mode and prescripted scenarios that play out like puzzles.  The best part is that the game is supported on the PC and Android as well, so you’re not locked into playing with just your iOS friends.

Combat Monsters Rubicon, Combat Monsters – Free

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1 Solution – This is one of those games where you rotate tiles that contain pathways such that you form a complete path between two or more points (usually, although on rare occasions you might only have one point to deal with).  You’ve probably played the game style before, and honestly I’ve seen better interpretations.  Yet for some reason I was glued to this one the night I played it.  It has a nice, clean interface and a few goodies like more than 2 points to connect and tiles that are actually used.  There’s even a way for you to mark tiles that you think are “fake”.  You get 80 levels for free and then you have to shell out upwards of $6 to buy the remainder of the levels, which will get you another 188 levels.  The game certainly needs a few things like some background music and maybe an optional timer.  It could also use some stats like the time it took you to solve a level or how many moves you did it in.  It might also be cool if you could select to turn off the display that shows how many fake tiles there are.  Despite the game’s relatively plain nature in it’s current state, I still think it’s worth checking out if nothing else than for the 80 free levels you get.

1 Solution Mark Das, 1 Solution – Free

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Ricochet: Retro Space Shooter – This is like some funky amalgamation of Galaga, Breakout and Missile Command.  Your job is to protect 8 bases that you never really see from the aliens that are attacking.  The problem is that many of the aliens cannot be attacked directly, at least not with your main weapon.  The trick is to ricochet your shots off the walls to strike the aliens where their shields don’t shine.  Of course even the aliens that can be killed directly will net you more points if you take the round about approach to dispatching them.  You can tap directly on an alien to launch a homing missile at it, and while you only get three at a time they do regenerate after a while.  You can also blow up everything on the screen by tapping two fingers when you have a nuke, but I’m not sure what gives you that nifty toy.  Finally you can invoke power ups when available by tapping the power up button underneath your main gun.  There are 10 levels to conquer, each with multiple waves, mini-bosses and a main boss at the end.  I think “retro” might be a bit of a misnomer, because it doesn’t really feel quite like anything I’ve played before.  Whatever the case it’s a well put together game with plenty of action and a unique shooter premise.

Ricochet: Retro Space Shooter Arjun Gupte, Ricochet: Retro Space Shooter – Free

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Bandit Skies – The scrolling shooter has always been one of my favorite types of action games, but to be quite frank this one is pretty average where that is concerned.  There’s not a lot of variety in the bad guys, and they committed the cardinal sin of shooters which is the fact that the end boss on each level is the same!  What I like about the game, however, is that there is actually characters to interact with, and they even give you quests.  Sure they’re basically the “fetch this for me” type of affair, but at least it’s something different.  You can also sell the excess goods you collect that you don’t need to fulfill quests in order to raise more money to buy upgrades.  It’s all fairly basic right now, but it shows the developer is trying to think outside of the box.  What I’d love to see is more characters, additional quests, and a lot more variety.  Maybe someone could send you so shoot down a specific ship on a certain level, for example.  It would also be cool if there were certain upgrades that required some of the materials you collect instead of just always using money as the price for enhancements.  In terms of polish I believe Bandit Skies has a ways to go, but the features I mentioned above already help it stand out from the pack.

Bandit Skies Tim Diggle, Bandit Skies – Free

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Vampire Ventures – Ever since I played the Tamagotchi / match 3 hybrid Kitten Sanctuary I’ve been a fan of Clockwork Pixels, and Vampire Ventures just cements the fact that they know their way around a match 3 game.  This contains just about any feature you can think of from the most popular games in the genre: locked tiles, tiles that take multiple matches to clear, tiles that are covered and require matches next to them to expose them and so on.  There are also boards where you have to move objects to the bottom of the board by making matches below them so they will fall.  Some of these boards even require you to rotate them to ultimately reach your goal.  Then there are the combat boards where you’ll face more than one opponent in a duel of energy, and it seems that these boards are played out in real time so don’t spend too long trying to plan out your next match.  To top it all off the game has a killer sound track, cool visuals and story sequences between almost every level (or at least the ones I’ve played so far).  This is by far one of the best match 3 games I’ve played in quite a while, and possibly one of my favorite on the iOS platform as a whole.

Vampire Ventures Clockwork Pixels, Vampire Ventures – $1.99

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Even Up – This must be the week of simple but addictive puzzle games, because here we have another one.  In Even Up your goal is to end up with one tile on the board, which you do by matching two tiles of the same number.  The resulting tile’s number is increased by one, so if you matched two tiles with the number three you’ll now have one tile with the number 4.  It sounds kind of like a geek game, which might be why I enjoy it so much, but I think “regular” folks will like it as well.  It’s kind of like that annoying “jump the peg” game, but in this case you can readily solve every puzzle with a little bit of thought and some patience.  There aren’t really any special tiles to add some variety to the game play, but the game manages to remain entertaining even without such things.  Unfortunately there is no background music, which given the slow, methodical pace of the game would be a welcome edition.  The game offers six sets of puzzles with 25 levels in each set, and while you must earn a certain number of stars to unlock a set you can play the levels within an unlocked set in any order.  The best part of Even Up is that while it clearly has some inspiration from the “jump the peg” style of game, I don’t think there’s really anything quite like it on the App Store.

Even Up Simple Machine, LLC, Even Up – $0.99

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OrcOrcOrc – If you took a game like Triple Town and added a steadily advancing army of do-gooders that you had to dispatch quickly and efficiently you’d have an idea of what OrcOrcOrc is like.  You have a randomly cycled selection of troops to choose from at the bottom of the screen and when you get three or more of a particular unit adjacent to each other on the main battlefield they will form a better unit and attack.  If you can create combos in this fashion you’ll get multiple units attacking at once.  Your job is to fend the human army off for as long as you can.  In addition to the army creeping up on you, however, you also have to keep an eye on your land as periodically a space will get filled with grass which prevents you from using it.  Thankfully if you have any grog available you can clear the offending spot and use it again.  Grog also transforms a unit to the next highest level without requiring a match.  As you continue to defeat enemies you’ll earn experience that allows you to level up and unlocks new power ups, and you’ll also make money to buy those power ups as well as keep yourself supplied with grog.  The action is frantic, the visuals are great (when you can actually stop to pay attention), and it’s always fun to play something besides the human side.

OrcOrcOrc Mobage, Inc., OrcOrcOrc – Free

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Wizardous: An Apprentice’s Betrayal – What initially drew me to this game was the graphics.  That’s not the only thing old school about Wizardous, however.  Some of the levels in this game are tough!  If the room is described as “torture chamber”, there’s a reason for that.  Folks that remember 8 bit consoles or the early days of shareware will definitely appreciate the challenge this game brings forth.  I haven’t run across any adversaries yet, but there are certainly enough spikes, poles and “just so” jumps to make your head spin.  There is promise of magical abilities, though they either don’t exist yet or I haven’t gotten that far.  The game currently has 30 levels, but there is more to come.  Apparently, at least as of the version I’ve been playing, this is just a demo / beta.  In fact, if you don’t have much patience you might want to wait before grabbing this, because right now it asks you to submit a rating on each level after the fifth.  Granted you can skip the page if you want, but it still pops up after every level.  This might not be player-ready for the general populace yet, but once all the beta screens are gone and the final version shows up I think old school platformers are going to have a lot to love.

Wizardous: An Apprentice's Betrayal David Dahl, Wizardous: An Apprentice’s Betrayal – $0.99

monday-roundup-10282013-crazy-sapper

Crazy Sapper – If you’ve ever owned a Windows machine then there’s a good chance you’ve played Minesweeper at some point.  Well prepare to kick the classic game of deadly hide and seek up a few notches.  Instead of just watching out for misplaced mines you’ll have to deal with swamps, gas clouds, aircraft and more.  Thankfully you’ll have things like med kits, helmets and body armor to help you along your trek.  Collect money to buy equipment and additional bonuses, and shell out some IAP for that special look if you really want.  The game features a 30 level campaign mode as well as random level generation and survival modes so you can keep refining your skills after the main mission is complete.  Game Center integration provides leaderboards as well as hopefully some achievements.  The original game of Minesweeper might have run its course, but this next generation interpretation might provide the twists that modern gamers have been looking for.

Crazy Sapper Aratog LLC, Crazy Sapper – $0.99

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Tale of Tibet – I get the feeling I lack some appreciation for this game because I don’t really know anything about Tibetan culture.  Aside from that, this could be a really cool platform game.  The visuals in the intro have an old school Saturday morning cartoon look to them, but the graphics as you’re playing are quite impressive.  You have the ability to draw vines to help you reach various parts of the levels, and you can also control different types of vegetation at certain junctures in the game.  The iTunes description says there are 32 different puzzles, but I don’t know if that means 32 levels or just a few levels with multiple puzzles each.  Either way it’s interesting to explore and discover new areas of the game, as well as meet different characters that help tell the story.  Of course there are some translation issues, but I think you should be able to get the major points okay.  My main issue is with the controls, which don’t seem to be designed all that well.  I often end up running when I’m trying to do something else, and it’s a bit difficult to draw the vines a lot of the time.  Still, the game has a lot of promise and I suspect there is decent enough reward for those willing to struggle through the controls.

Tale of Tibet Shrine Studio, Tale of Tibet – 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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