10 App Store Games To Watch [March 31 – April 6]


I’m not a huge fan of word games, but every once in a while one catches my eye and sometimes they even make it onto this list.  I’m not sure what happened this week but I found three different word games to add to my collection of 10.  SpellBounders manages to make the concept of Scrabble like games fun.  Instead of trying to build up your score you use the points you earn from spelling words to demolish your opponent’s hit points, and besides having cool skills that you can execute you can even use your foe’s words against them.  Cross Wars, on the other hand, tests your skill in the world of crossword puzzles.  This time you do want to get the highest score, but beware because your opponent can steal points from you by using letters you placed in their answers.  Finally you have Wurgle, the only solo adventure in the bunch.  Your goal is to clear each board before the timer runs out, but as you spell words the disappear and the rest of the board shifts to fill in the gap.


Cross Wars – I still like to hold on to the fantasy that I don’t like multi-player games, but the truth is that what I really don’t like are games that are full of smack talk, that require you to be online constantly or that necessitate a quick trigger finger.  Thankfully none of that applies to Cross Wars, though a better grasp of vocabulary than what I have would serve you well.  You can start a game with random opponents or invite a friend that maybe is on par with your level of word mastery.  You can have several games going at once which might work to your advantage as you wait for your opponents to take their turn.  That is the one down side to this style of game: a player might respond in moments with a new move or it could be the next day.  You score a point for each letter in the word that you take over, and if you happen to take one that belonged to your opponent they lose a point.  Erasers let you undo a wrong answer and hints give you a letter in the word you’re trying to guess, and these can be replenished via purchases from the app store.  You can also pay to remove ads, though it seems like you can play for as long as you’d like without paying for any IAP.  Game Center offers a few achievements and a leaderboard, and of course when you win you’ll know that you’re either smarter than the person you played or better at looking things up on the internet.

Cross Wars Team Chaos LLC, Cross Wars – Free


Mobfish Hunter – You’ve played this game before… well, at least kind of.  You cast your “lure” as deep into the water as you can in an attempt to catch as many fish as possible.  In this case, though, your lure is a mine and your goal is to destroy the fish on the way up, since that’s what you do with mutant sea life.  Along the way you’ll be able to buy and upgrade new mine types as well as upgrade items that affect all mines.  You’ll also discover new types of fish and can engage in missions to hunt down a certain number of a given kind of fish for extra bonuses.  Before each hunt you’ll be able to select which mine you wish to use as well as one or more boosts, the only limit on the latter being how much money you have or wish to spend on boosts.  Of course if you’re saving up for upgrades then boosts might not be the wisest investment, though you’re always welcome to buy some coins via IAP.  In addition to all the goodies you can unlock there are four different locals to open up and master.  Game Center offers leaderboards and 30 different achievements to earn, and iCloud support makes sure you’re in sync on all of your devices.

Mobfish Hunter AppXplore Sdn Bhd, Mobfish Hunter – Free


Gun Strike 2 – There are plenty of shooting gallery style games available on the App Store, but I’m always up for a new one as long as it keeps me entertained.  Gun Strike 2 is just such a game.  Your basic goal is to take out all the bad guys before they wipe you out.  Each level has various sub-levels with different descriptions, though so far all the screens have felt the same in terms of what you need to do.  Regardless, it’s fun trying to hone your skills and take out as many folks as possible with head shots.  You just need to be careful to avoid the tourists, which so far consists of a guy running into the middle of the battle field and snapping pictures of the action.  As you progress through the game you’ll earn money which you can spend on new mercenaries, additional guns and grenades.  Guns have their own advantages in terms of bullets held, reload time and damage, while mercenaries offer differing amounts of hit points as well as special abilities once you get beyond the first couple of choices.  Game Center offers achievements and a leaderboard to determine who the best mercenary in the world is.  I suppose this is pretty standard stuff for this style of game, but it’s definitely kept my attention while playing.

Gun Strike 2 Paladin Entertainment Co., Ltd., Gun Strike 2 – Free


TIOL – This is a defense game, but there are no towers involved.  Instead you’ll have to tap, swipe and possibly do other things in order to keep the aliens from taking whatever it is you’re defending.  You start with one character and unlock two others pretty early on in the game, each of which has their own set of weapons to access and upgrades.  Upgrades include both making the base weapon more powerful and supplying add-ons to make your life easier.  There are 3 different difficulty settings for each level and you can play every level with each of the characters once you’ve unlocked them, so there is plenty of replay value.  There are even five profiles to play on, so several folks can have games going at one time.  The game actually has a story that is told with cool comic book style cut scenes between the levels, and the visuals are pretty detailed despite often being small.  Monsters seemingly come from anywhere and don’t follow a set pattern of movement, and in one level half the area is even engulfed in darkness which adds an additional challenge.  This is definitely not your typical tower defense game, and that makes it okay in my book.

TIOL Dosware LLC, TIOL – $4.99


Crazy Hungry Birds – This week’s Flappy clone of note is Crazy Hungry Birds.  You won’t find any pipes in this game.  Instead you’ll have to contend with trees, spiders, snakes, flowers and more.  Some obstacles will actually hurt you, though you get three lives before the game is officially over.  Other obstacles will just slow you up for a fraction of a second.  This isn’t a real big deal except that your hunger bar is always depleting, and when that gets empty then the game is over regardless of how many hearts you have left.  Thankfully this can be replenished by eating fruit that you find along the way.  There are levels, though I’m not really sure what they provide other than a sense of accomplishing something when you complete one.  There is also a leaderboard, though currently there are no achievements.  The main thing that bugs me is that the bird’s movements seem rather choppy when flying up and down, but at least it doesn’t impede game play like in the game that started it all.

Crazy Hungry Birds Mirazul Islam, Crazy Hungry Birds – Free


Rune Kingdom – I love match 3 games, but there are so many available on the App Store that they really have to work a bit at standing out any more.  I like this one because it’s more than a standard match 3 game but doesn’t quite go into the depths of some of the mash-ups where you have RPG like skills and inventory.  In this case you can have up to four slots filled with “heroes”, and when you match four or more tiles of the color of a certain hero you’ll create a special tile that corresponds to that hero’s ability.  Using that tile will then trigger the ability, including things like wiping out an entire row or column of tiles.  The main problem with the game is that in order to unlock anything beyond the two heroes you start with, whether it be additional heroes or better skills from the heroes you have, you need to collect runes.  Runes are only acquired if you match six or more tiles of one color or if you buy them via IAP.  The other issue is that you can only fail a particular board five times before you have to wait 20 minutes for energy to refill, which means I’ve been stuck on level 7 for the past three days now.  I’m glad I got the chance to try this game, but they either need to balance out the levels a bit more or make the IAP a bit more palatable in order for the game to have long term potential.

Rune Kingdom Shanghai Morphosoft Technology Co., Ltd., Rune Kingdom – Free


Dungeon 1on1 – Tired of dungeon crawling on your own but never really fancied yourself an MMO type of gamer?  Dungeon 1on1 is an interesting compromise.  Compete against another player to see who can squash the most dungeon dwellers in each of five rounds of game play.    In shooting gallery style game play you’ll take down skeletons, gargoyles, spirits and more as you attempt to outdo your opponent in the number of kills made.  Whoever wins best out of five gets to spin for a bonus prize as well as take something from the one he defeated.  As you win victories you’ll level up and get to buy and upgrade equipment.  Hook up with Facebook and you’ll be able to compete against your friends or use them to help defend you against the creatures that are attacking you.  Thanks to an interesting AI component players can even play against you when you’re not online as the game mimics how you play when you are actually in control of your character.

Dungeon 1on1 Moonfish Software Limited, Dungeon 1on1 – Free


Wurgle – This is a cool new word game that takes place on a board filled with hexagon shaped tiles.  Your job is to clear the board before the timer runs out by spelling words out of the letters provided.  All the letters in a word must be adjacent, and once you’ve submitted a word it will disappear.  All the remaining letters will crowd back together while gravitating towards the middle letter, or the Wurgle.  Your score for each word is the sum of the numbers on all of the tiles that you use, and a bit of time will be added back to the timer for a completed word.  Power up include shuffling the current letters around, swapping the entire set of tiles for a new set, and cycling the Wurgle tile between all the vowels.  Each of these power ups can be used as often as you’d like provided you have an adequate score because each one takes a certain amount away from your current score.  Wurgle is universal and the free version is unlimited play, though you’ll have to deal with ads that are fairly non-invasive and you can only play to level 3.  You can, however, play to level 3 as often as you’d like.

Wurgle MadeAppy.com, Wurgle – Free


SpellBounders – I’ve never been a particularly big fan of Scrabble or all of its copycats, but this game certainly takes an interesting approach to the concept.  You select a hero to play as and enter into combat with another real player.  Laying words down on the board is how you do damage, which can be augmented by placing one or more letters on fist tiles.  You can also activate the Backstab skill by using your opponent’s word as the base for yours (ie: they put down the word SIZE and you change it to RESIZE) which does additional damage on top of the value of the letters.  The goal is to run your opponent out of HP before they do the same to you.  Each hero has three unique abilities that can be activated by collecting essence (or buying it through the bazaar via IAP).  Like most of these one on one games any more you can have several games going on at once so that you’re not always waiting for a particular opponent to keep playing.  There are 3 heroes unlocked initially, and you can buy the additional 2 for 99 cents apiece or a “season pass” for all future heroes for 2.99 via IAP.  The game looks good and it makes the concept of Scrabble interesting, though I did have a couple of problems with it crashing on my iPad 2 if I didn’t play straight from a reboot.

SpellBounders InsaneRoot, SpellBounders – Free


Volcano Attack – This game puts an interesting spin on the whole “ball in a labyrinth” game.  Sure you still use the device’s tilt functionality to move the ball along the maze, but you also have to build your path by sliding the rows and columns to open up new areas and get the bad things out of the way.  Bombs, holes and other nasty elements will try to keep you from your destination, while bonus circles actually boost your score.  And let’s not forget about the timer.  You might not notice it at first, but take too long to complete a level and it will start to fill with lava which can definitely be detrimental to your health.  Unfortunately there are no leaderboards or achievements at this point, but the unique melding of genres alone makes it worth checking this one out.

Volcano Attack George Chokhonelidze, Volcano Attack – 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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