10 App Store Games To Watch [April 28 - May 4]

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Bet you can’t guess what I’m going to talk about this week!  Drat, you probably said games, didn’t you?  The long list of games that I didn’t get to talk more in-depth about this week included Dwarven Den – The Mining Puzzle Game from Backflip Studios.  This cute underground puzzler tasks you with rescuing your friends, finding a bunch of loot and avoiding dangerous monsters, all in a limited number of moves.  Lethal Lance from BulkyPix is an homage to the good old days of shareware PC games.  You know, back when Duke Nukem was fun without being in 3D.  If you’re looking for something just plain weird you will want to check out Sheepidoo.  I’m not really even sure how to explain this one, but if you’re willing to throw caution to the wind it should put a smile on your face.

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Galaxy Defense Force HD – This is one of those games where you’re stuck in the middle of the screen and you have to blast everything that comes your way before it reaches you.  You can rotate your defenses 360 degrees to fire at all your attackers, and you also have bombs that will destroy or damage everything currently on the screen at once.  You start with three ships, and each time you get hit you lose one.  Once they’re all gone you have to start over, or at least at the base level of the most advanced ship you’ve unlocked (ex: when you unlock the second ship you’ll start at level 6).  As you destroy ships you’ll earn gems which can either be used to unlock new ships or upgrade your current one.  Something that’s kind of neat is that upgrading your current ship to its max will also unlock the next ship, so you can work on it slowly while making your current ship more powerful or save up to unlock the new ship all at once.  Game Center gives you a leaderboard to compete on, and missions within the game help you increase your score multiplier.  The main issue I’ve run into is that it’s easy to get ambushed because a ship sneaks in under your hand, but it doesn’t really diminish the fun any.

Galaxy Defense Force HD Game Chefs, Galaxy Defense Force HD – Free

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Red Herring – Red Herring is a game of categories.  Specifically, you have 16 words, 3 categories and 4 red herrings.  Your job is to sort the words into the three categories and toss the useless ones aside.  The game has three levels which basically determine how much the game gives you to start with.  Easy mode puts some of the words in place and tells you the categories, Normal mode positions some words but keeps the categories a secret, and hard mode doesn’t give you anything.  Hard mode is the only one that offers a real amount of challenge because you don’t have any idea how the words are related to begin with.  The problem in general is that there are no repercussions for wrong answers.  I love the concept, and what’s there is polished and well executed.  I just think the game needs a bit more to keep you on your toes.  Leave the basic mode for those who truly just want to relax, but add scored and / or timed modes for those that want to feel an extra sense of accomplishment.  You can download the game for free and play through the imagination pack, and then there are 7 additional packs you can buy for 99 cents apiece.  Hopefully the game will become a bit more fleshed out in future updates, but it’s still worth checking out simply because it’s not one of the umpteen clones that keeps popping up every week.

Red Herring Blue Ox Technologies Ltd., Red Herring – Free

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Hats For Alice – This is one of those games I should have stopped playing after the first try… or maybe the second since I always like to give a game the benefit of the doubt.  However, I just can’t seem to get enough of the pointless pickaxe wielding action this game provides.  You control a character that looks like the stick figure equivalent of R2-D2, and you must destroy all these creatures that are basically black rectangles with white mouths.  At least I’m assuming the white line is their mouth, anyway.  All you have to do is tap the screen to lower the pickaxe and move forward and hope that you get the right rhythm to keep progressing through the pack.  You get a point for each rectangle you kill and at certain point designations that are eloquently displayed at the beginning of the run you’ll earn a hat to wear.  Unfortunately you only get to wear that hat for that run and will need to reclaim it every time.  A story is displayed at the bottom of the screen as you progress through the theoretically infinite level, and a leaderboard lets you compete against fellow hat fans.  Much like many of the current iOS fads it sounds too simple to be addictive, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Hats For Alice mark honer, Hats For Alice – Free

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Tiny Tennis – Now this is my kind of sports game, mainly because it’s not really a sports game.  It’s more like a selective dodge ‘em game with a sports theme.  You’re not trying to get any sort of volley going, but instead you simply want to return each tennis ball that is served to you.  On the other hand, be sure to dodge all the red water bottles that the server so rudely chucks at you.  Your score multiplier will go up after every 10 serves assuming you actually make your to grabbing the multiplier upgrade.  There are 4 medals to earn, but so far my best hasn’t even earned me the first medal.  There are also 23 achievements to work towards and one leaderboard to compete on.  This is actually the third or forth game in the Tiny series, and based on my experience so far I might just be hunting the other ones down to check them out.

Tiny Tennis Fat Fish Games Ltd, Tiny Tennis – Free

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Shady Dealings – Take one part Assassin’s Creed, mix in some Thief, and set it all in a 2.5 D world and you’ve got Shady Dealings.  That is, of course, assuming you want to take the word of someone that has played neither Assassin’s Creed nor Thief.  What this game does offer is the ability to take on the roles of both a thief and an assassin.  The assassin can take out enemies with her dash attack while the thief uses her nimbleness and passive nature to get to higher ground and work around the enemy.  You must use their skills creatively to move both of them through each level and ultimately get them to their designated spot at the end of the level, which isn’t always the same location for both parties.  Along the way there are jewels to collect, and each level has a bonus that can be earned based on some criteria like beating the level under a certain amount of time or collecting X number of gems.  The scoring system seems like it could use a bit of tweaking, and I ran into a couple of bugs that forced me to restart levels, but overall the game is interesting and a nice change of pace from the standard App Store offerings.

Shady Dealings Avinash Krishnan Raghu, Shady Dealings – Free

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Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness and Bananas – If you’ve ever wanted to march to the beat of a different drummer, now’s your chance.  The “mash up” seems to be the wave of the future in terms of inventing new game play, but I never really expected someone to combine real time strategy and rhythm based mechanics.  While it greatly simplifies the RTS portion of things, which is just fine with me, it actually manages to work.  You control a tribe of monkeys, and your job is to defend your land from an opposing tribe of red monkeys that wants to steal all of your bananas.  You must move among the treetops, grabbing coconuts to knock your foes from their perch.  Even a simple move from branch to branch requires a sequence of taps, and if you lose the beat you have to start over again.  Medals are based on killing all the opponents, doing it without losing any of your own troops and winning within in a set number of moves, the last one being the hardest to achieve.  I’m not sure if RTS purists will latch on to this one, but if you’re into rhythm based games and tired of the norm or just a gamer looking for something completely different than what usually makes its way into the App Store, Jungle Rumble is definitely for you.

Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness and Bananas Disco Pixel, Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness and Bananas – $3.99

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Tip Tap Monsters – Family Mahjong Game – With a game like mahjong you can’t really alter the rules much and still call it mahjong, so what makes one version rise above another usually boils down to presentation.  Tip Tap Monsters has great presentation value, especially if you have kids.  Colorful monsters and bouncy music make the game a pleasure aesthetically.  Mechanically it’s just what you’d expect from mahjong, but the nice thing about that is mahjong is a fun game that really doesn’t need to be tweaked.  There are currently 40 levels, each containing a unique layout, and you get the first ten plus 1 of each of the bonus packs for free.  There are 13 achievements to earn 10 leaderboards to rank on: two for each level set and two for overall performance.  My only concern at this point is that 99 cents for 9 extra levels seems a bit steep, and if additional packs cost the same this could end up being a rather expensive mahjong game if enough packs are released.

Tip Tap Monsters - Family Mahjong Game Crazy Labs, Tip Tap Monsters – Family Mahjong Game – Free

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Redshift – When I first read about this game I immediately thought of one I remembered playing on my Commodore 64 called Countdown to Shutdown.  After reviewing a video of that game I realize they’re really nothing alike, but I still wonder if this one took a bit of inspiration from that oldie.  In any case, your job is to stabilize the power plant you work in before it blows up and takes the neighboring city with it.  In order to accomplish this you’ll have to flip five switches throughout the plant, all the while dodging or putting out fires.  You have a limited amount of time to do this and you never even have an inkling of how much time you have left until you see the LED displays above the consoles that contain the switches you need to flip.  To add to the confusion, as time draws closer to the end the visuals start getting shaky and sirens go off, adding to the tense nature of the situation.  Don’t think you’ll get rewarded for missing the deadline, though, because you don’t get to see a deadly explosion should you fail.  There are 11 achievements to earn and 4 leaderboards to rank on, and with a different plant layout each time there’s lots of potential replay value.

RedShift Belief Engine, RedShift – $1.99

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Dwarf Tower – This is a very interesting take on the tower defense game.  You actually construct your tower room by room, placing libraries to house spells, crystals to generate mana and dwarf dwellings to give you the manpower to build and repair everything else.  It’s better to build up because the higher a room is in your tower the more powerful it becomes.  However, if you leave a tower unprotected it’s more susceptible to lightning strikes which can cause fires and ultimately burn your precious tower to the ground.  The most important thing is that you guard the Archmage’s Chamber; once that room is destroyed the game is over.  The game is played in several phases each phase consisting of you planning what you want to do and then hitting a button to execute.  The attack phase is then real-time as you and your opponent’s spells are cast simultaneously.  You can play against the computer or challenge a real opponent online.  The game isn’t much to look at, though there is some charm to the simpler visuals, but there’s an intriguing depth to it that you won’t want to overlook if you’re a strategy game fan.

Dwarf Tower iosoftware, Dwarf Tower – Free

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Dungeon Madness – This is described as an adventure/RPG, and while it has the general feel of a rogue-like I hate to classify it as that because I’m not sure if the levels are randomly generated or not.  Still, I like the game for its easy of playability and its sense of humor.  I also find it hard to go wrong when you can walk around and literally destroy just about everything you come across.  In typical adventure/RPG/rogue-like style you’ll fight lots of monsters, gather a bunch of loot and level up, at which time you can use earned skill points to increase attack, defense and vitality traits.  You can even take points that you’ve already allocated and switch them to different traits at any point throughout the game.  You can buy and upgrade up to 7 different spells, though you can only take a max of 5 with you at any given time.  Spells cost gold which you can either find lying around or acquire by transmuting any goods you pick up that you don’t want to keep.  This may not be the top tier of rogue-likes, but it certainly has a lot of potential.  Oh, and did I mention you get to wear a bucket on your head?

Dungeon Madness Juraj Pancik, Dungeon Madness – 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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