10 App Store Games To Watch [April 21 - 27]

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This was a great week for games, and I don’t even think I got through half the games I wanted to play.  Among the games I didn’t get to tell you about below was Horde of Heroes, the latest offering from Everplay.  Yeah it’s another one of “those” match 3 / RPG hybrids, but there’s something about it that I just really like, and you get to smash moles.  The increasingly popular topic of stealthily stealing objects is covered in Third Eye Crime: Act 1.  This stylish noir game lets you confiscate priceless works of art, with the wrinkle that you can actually tell what your opponents are planning to do.  Another thought provoking entry is the puzzle game Meqanic.  All you have to do is make the bottom pattern look like the top pattern… using letter tiles that you have to determine how they interact with each other.

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Lil Smasher – For those of you that have always been tempted by the priceless artifacts that you can see but not touch in museums, now’s your chance to dismantle a few.  In Lil Smasher you play a gremlin with a slingshot that likes to take its aggression out on breakable things.  You’ll make your way through 21 different levels where you can literally snag 5 stars per level if you can hit them with your rocks.  Of course the ultimate prize in each room is the priceless heirloom for which the gremlin will giggle with joy when it breaks.  The levels start out pretty straightforward, but it doesn’t take long before you need to start being creative in order to reach the treasure.  And, despite your potential need for efficiency, you won’t be able to clear all of these rooms with one shot.  The one thing I haven’t quite figured out yet is the score, because it appears that I almost always get a higher score when I don’t have all the stars if it requires an extra shot or two to collect them.  Still, it’s fun just trying to figure out how to smash everything.  There is one leaderboard that ranks you based on your cumulative score, but it’s clear that’s already been artificially seeded given the top score is more than 10 million. A few achievements would be nice, even if they’re silly, but overall Lil Smasher is a fun if not somewhat short experience.

Lil Smasher Bulkypix, Lil Smasher – Free

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Happy Bard – This week’s “thank you for not being flappy” award goes to Happy Bard.  The game does actually mention Flappy Bird as its inspiration, but that’s okay because this game is cool.  You’re goal is to bring happiness to the world with your voice and lute, but it seems that oddly placed pillars along the landscape will do everything they can to stop your spread of joy.  While I suppose it’s just a different way of looking at the same thing, I like the fact that the “playing field” in this case is circular in design instead of just another endless horizontal passageway.  Also, unlike most of these variants, the movements don’t feel choppy.  There are seven achievements to earn, each tied to acquiring a new hat, and one leaderboard to compete on.  The graphics are cool, the music is neat and the game just has a nifty vibe to it.

Happy Bard Digital Uzu, LLC, Happy Bard – Free

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Circle Tap – This is Circle Tap, not to be confused with Circle Tap, the game with the same name released the week before.  Conceptually this game is simple: the screen fills with objects, and you have to “pop” them before they collide by tapping on them.  The thing is, the bigger the object gets, the more points you get for it.  You have to decide then whether you want to pop a ton of small objects or hedge your bets on fewer big ones.  Of course you have to be mindful because an object can start growing from anywhere, and while you’re busy concentrating on one large object in one side of the screen, two objects on the other side could easily be bumping into each other.  The score you receive at the end of the game translates to tokens that you can use in the store to buy colors (your objects start out as grey) and shapes (you start with a circle and can add squares and hearts, which not only offer a variety by bigger multipliers as well).  Eventually there will be power ups to buy as well, and you’ll be able to supplement your token collection via IAP, though that’s still “coming soon”.  While it might seem kind of frantic trying to keep the screen clear this is an oddly relaxing game whose only real fault is that it has not background music.

Circle Tap Tomas Hromada, Circle Tap – Free

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Pac-Man Monsters – I tend to be pretty leery of anything these days that uses the iconic yellow video game star because I think the property tends to be abused.  I’m also not a big fan of these “cookie cutter” match 3 / RPG style games that are basically about grinding with little control over the combat and no NPCs to interact with.  In this case it actually seems to work, though.  I like how your tile selection is based on number and not color, so you can select multiple hues in the same move.  Instead of the selected blocks just disappearing Pac-Man comes out to eat them up, and they’ve even integrated the ghosts, fruit and power pellets into the matching process as well.  The combat itself is still pretty standard for this style of game, but at least you can occasionally call upon the Pac to gather up all your team members’ strength and launch a mega-attack on the enemy.  And of course you have all the evolving and upgrading mechanisms for your creatures that you would expect if you’ve played this style of RPG very much.  This might not be every Pac-fan’s most thrilling venture, but I commend Namco for taking a potentially exploitive situation and actually making a half way decent game out of it.

PAC-MAN MONSTERS GREE, Inc., PAC-MAN MONSTERS – Free

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Helpless Hero – This is the latest offering from Colopl, and in my opinion one of their best in a while.  They tend to focus on games that are simple to play but often challenging to conquer, and this one certainly fits the bill.  In single player mode your job is to rescue the princess who has been captured by some evil dude.  Your hero is constantly on the run, so all you have to do is tap when you want to jump.  Of course this is often easier said than done, and you will find that your timing has to be perfect.  Also, the levels are simply the width of the screen in portrait mode, so you’ll usually have to plan ahead for the next level which you can see at the same time.  As you get further along in the tower you’ll discover hats that you can then equip when you run, though I’m not sure they affect game play any.  I really like the multi-player mode where you race against up to nine other players to see who can climb the highest in the tower.  Naturally it’s never me, and sometimes it gets frustrating trying to figure out you from the ghost images of the other players, but it’s an easy way to have some multi-player fun without having to actually interact with other players.

Helpless Hero COLOPL, Inc., Helpless Hero – Free

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Birds no More – In addition to the flurry of flappy clones there have been several anti-flappy games as well.  Sadly most of them are disappointing and just as frustrating as the games they set out to mock.  Fortunately that’s not the case with Birds no More.  In this game you control the pipes, and you simply tap them when a bird flies between in order to smash it.  You get two pipes in case you miss with the first one, and you’ll definitely have them both going after a few seconds.  It only takes one miss for the game to be over, but thankfully unlike many of these games the bird doesn’t have to be perfectly placed for the squish to succeed.  There is one leaderboard that has a high but potentially reasonable top score at the moment, and 4 achievements based on squishing a certain number of birds in a single run.  There’s a button that looks like it’s for sharing your exploits, so make sure you tap that at least once.  The sound effects get annoying rather quickly and there is no background music, but you get to squish birds, so who cares?

Birds no More ANDREY NOVIKOV, Birds no More – Free

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Leo’s Fortune – I always hate hinting at my age, but I remember a time when 2D platform games ruled the console scene and the likes of Doom and Halo didn’t even exist.  Apparently the folks that designed Leo’s Fortune do as well, because this is one of the best platform games I’ve seen on an iOS device so far.  You play Leopold, a former king that has lost his kingdom and his riches, and must retrieve the latter in order to reclaim the former.  You’ll have to guide him through 24 levels of jumps, traps and puzzles using a control scheme that works surprisingly well without resorting to the common left / right arrow and button combination that most games in this genre use.  The levels seem well designed and the visuals are gorgeous, though there are occasions where there’s so much to look at that it can be a bit hard to tell where to go.  Each level rewards you with a star for collecting all the gold, a star for not dying and a star for beating a particular time, so repeated play throughs might be required to earn everything.  Game Center provides 37 achievements as well as a leaderboard for each level, iCloud support lets you play on whatever device you have handy, and iOS 7 devices can make use of game controllers for an even more console like experience.

Leo's Fortune 1337 & Senri LLC, Leo’s Fortune – $4.99

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Scrap Squad – As object sorting games go Scrap Squad is quite stylish indeed.  It’s also a bit ironic because you’re trying to be evil and take over the world by doing good and recycling trash.  To wrack up the score and earn coins you have to drag recyclable objects into their like colored rebots.  Remember to let true trash go into the furnace, however, or you’ll lose a heart.  You also lose a life if recyclables make it into the furnace.  Thankfully you can select multiple objects of the same color at once to make your life easier.  There are also one time power ups and multi-use plug-ins that you can buy with your hard earned coins that will aid you in your task.  One interesting twist is that plug-ins have to be charged manually, which means you have to share your time between actually sorting the garbage and making your plug-ins ready for use.  There are only 5 achievements to earn, but there are 5 screens worth of missions to complete so you should have plenty to do for a while.  You can also hook up with your friends via Facebook for an additional challenge.

Scrap Squad Relevant Games, Scrap Squad – Free

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Tiny Dice Dungeon – This game started out life as a Flash game, and it’s just another reminder that not all Flash is bad.  You start out as a simple adventurer, and with a little perseverance and lots of dedication you could become the best dice rolling monster slayer in the land.  Help rebuild your town so the town can help you, and clean the streets of evil monsters so people can feel safe again.  Combat is cool because in Farkle style you can keep rolling for as long as you want, just as long as you don’t roll a 1 which ends that character’s turn without attacking.  Thankfully each character in your party gets a separate attack.  Yes, you’ll build a party comprised of monsters you capture by attacking them for the exact number of hit points it takes to kill them.  As your monsters fight alongside you they’ll gain experience and level up as well, and eventually you’ll be able to make custom dice for both you and your minions.  Specialty rollers include things like poison attack, healing and attack multipliers.  There are several achievements to earn, and when you’re ready for some “live” action you can apparently battle other dice rollers from around the world.

Tiny Dice Dungeon Kongregate, Tiny Dice Dungeon – Free

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Soccer Rally 2 – If you’ve ever felt that soccer wasn’t quite stimulating enough for you it’s probably because you weren’t playing it behind the wheel of a car.  Thankfully Soccer Rally 2 corrects that little oversight.  Choose your vehicle, get it certified by the Soccer Rally League, then enter the arena for a combination of making goals and participating in a destruction derby.  The Academy offers more than 90 challenges that will both hone your skills and help you earn money to upgrade your vehicle.  Enter tournaments to compete against computer AI and then take on the ultimate challenge by playing against another human on the same device.  I’m a bit surprised that there is no way to play against others through WiFi or the internet, but maybe that’s coming in a future update.  If nothing else you can at least brag to your friends on Facebook and Twitter.  The concept is pretty cool and the game looks great.  I just have to get this whole steering thing mastered.

Soccer Rally 2 IceFlame LTD, Soccer Rally 2 – 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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