10 App Store Games To Watch [July 28 - Aug 3]

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As usual I’ve tried to assemble as diverse a selection of games as I can, though I’ll admit that I leaned a bit heavily on the puzzle side of things this week.  Color Nudge is a match 3 game that actually makes you think a little bit about what you’re doing.  Limited moves, interesting board layouts and pieces that fall of the board when you slide a row are just some of the factors you have to take into account when playing.  Got Light? challenges your perception of color and ability to skillfully align objects.  Move stars and planets around so that each plant is lit by the appropriately colored star(s) without being bathed in another star’s light.  Galaxy Guardians is a cute shooter where you control a penguin saddled with heavy artillery.  The controls are a bit awkward, but at least it doesn’t feel just like every other shooter.

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Snaky – Not only do I have a “Thank You For Not Being Flappy Bird” clone this week, but I liked it so much I put it first in the list!  Okay, the order doesn’t really matter but I wanted a snappy opening line.  Anyway, Snaky is everything Flappy Bird wasn’t.  The visuals are minimal, yet there’s something mesmerizing about the smooth black line sliding across a white background as simple colored lines scroll by.  The music is a great piano piece and the sound effects are just enough to let you know when you’ve succeeded or failed in passing a set of lines (in case you didn’t notice visually).  The controls are actually smooth instead of jerky, so if you fail in this one it’s all on you.  There is a leaderboard for high scores, and depending on your score you might receive something in the “reward” circle – this is probably the one thing I’d like to see fleshed out just a little bit.  If nothing else maybe the artist could incorporate the minimum score required to receive the reward within the reward itself.  The only IAP is for removing ads, so if you enjoy the game please do so and support the developer.  If you’re a fan of “floppy” games you should love this one, and if you despise the genre you might enjoy Snaky anyway.

Snaky Tung Hoang, Snaky – Free

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DeadlyQuest – If you were to simply peruse a week’s worth of new releases on the App Store, you would find that probably 70-80% of them fall under a mere 5 or 6 different types of game.  One such popular game type is the concept of dragging your finger through a maze without touching the walls, and up until now I’ve basically avoided such games thinking they’d be more frustrating than fun.  The dungeon crawling motif of this one interested me, however, and so far I really like it… though it is definitely frustrating.  Each level challenges you to navigate corridors lined with spikes to try and reach a staircase to the next level.  There are 3 stars to collect if you’re brave enough, and if you’re insane there’s a hidden treasure chest to reveal on each level by running into it.  The trick is that you have to do all of this within a certain time limit.  Better yet, before long you get introduced to obstacles that actually move in addition to the static walls.  There are probably more diabolical traps as well, but I’m only on level 4 after several play sessions.  If I had one complaint (and I usually do) it’s that the character moves relative to your finger movements instead of directly underneath your finger, which when you’re in a hurry can cause lots of mis-judgement.

DeadlyQuest Moortz, DeadlyQuest – Free

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Ice Castle – One of my favorite games growing up with my NES was Ice Climber, and Ice Castle reminds me of a modern version of that game.  Now before all you fans get frantic about it, I’ll admit the resemblance is fleeting, but since Ice Climber proper isn’t going to show up on my iPad any time soon, I’ll take what I can get.  You control an Eskimo that is trying to clear the polar lands of all sorts of nasty critters.  In order to do this you’ll have to take up your trusty hammer, as well as use the bombs, ropes and TNT you find along the way.  There are coins to collect that can be used to buy additional supplies and new costumes, and each level contains three snowflakes to gather for those up to the challenge.  The levels are actually fairly well designed, and the graphics look pretty good.  I particularly like the fact that a bat finally looks like a menacing creature instead of some cartoony criminal.  The problem right now is that the game is fairly buggy.  Sometimes the controls freak out, the rope interface is particularly flaky, and high scores don’t seem to stick between play sessions, just to name a few issues.  I think there’s a lot of potential here, though, so if we show the developer that we’re interested in the game maybe issue resolution will get fast-tracked to make this a much more solid product.

Ice Castle Click Labs, Ice Castle – Free

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Colour Nudge – At first glance Colour Nudge might appear to be just another match 3 game but after a little while I began to appreciate that it was much more than that.  First of all it uses an interesting combination of “slide the row” and “swap tiles”.  By that I mean you slide a given row to try and make matches, but you can only slide one tile at time.  What’s more interesting is that you can slide a row without making a match, and whichever unlucky tile is at the end of the row you’re moving falls off the playing field to be replaced with the “on deck” tile piece.  In this match 3 variant you have tiles that cannot be moved even with power ups, which adds a whole other level to game play as well.  Toss in the fact that you have some fairly non-standard playing fields (one is comprised of 4 separate squares) and things start to get rather interesting.  Combine all this with multiple goals (reach a certain score, clear away grease tiles, match various amounts of particular types of slime) and the game actually has a nice strategy element to it.  There are currently 80 levels of color matching goodness, and as long as you’re patient about waiting for lives to recuperate you can probably play the whole game for free.

Colour Nudge Matthias Chan, Colour Nudge – Free
Colour Nudge HD Matthias Chan, Colour Nudge HD – Free

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Monster Snack – The Addictive Puzzle Runner – After all this time it appears that developers can still make some unique decisions within the constraints of the infinite runner genre.  In this case you are an alligator like creature piloting a spaceship through a cavern, trying to stay away from a giant fish that apparently likes to eat space ships piloted by you.  It’s actually a bit Monty Python-ish, which is always cool in my book.  To keep your craft going you simply tap the screen, the caveat being that you must tap it when you are above or below a crystal that is the same color as the gauge on your space ship.  You get different points depending on how close to the center of the crystal you are, or at least I think that’s how it works, and the game also keeps track of the distance you’ve travelled.  As you successfully harvest the color from the crystals you fill a nitro meter, and when that is packed you get one free mistake before the fish can consume you.  There are power ups, though they seem to appear few and far between and the only one I’ve figured out so far is one that adds some extra fuel to your nitro gauge.  If you do run across a power up just swipe anywhere on the screen to pick it up.  There are two leaderboards, one for total distance and one for highest score.  There are also achievements, or at least there are achievements “coming soon”.  The graphics are colorful and the music is some cross between Goonies and Danny Elfman, so it’s all good.

Monster Snack - The Addictive Puzzle Runner Total Eclipse P.C., Monster Snack – The Addictive Puzzle Runner – Free

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Galaxy Guardians – If you’ve seen Batman Returns you have my deepest sympathies.  One thing we did learn from that film, however, is that penguins sure can rock heavy artillery.  Galaxy Guardians picked up on that concept so you can now control a penguin with a jet pack, a laser gun and a desire to rid the galaxy of nasty aliens.  This is basically a “how far can you go” game with no achievements or missions, but it still manages to be entertaining in small doses.  There are 3 difficulty settings so most gamers should find an adequate challenge.  Game Center does provide leaderboards for each of the three difficulties so you can see how you rank against other guardians across the world.  The control is pretty simple consisting of tilting to aim, tapping to shoot or recover crystals and swiping to dodge.  The main problem is that if you have a bigger device that you can’t hold with one hand the swiping gesture can become a challenging, as can tapping a crystal that’s in the middle of the screen.  Control issues aside this is an entertaining shooter that can appeal to both adults and kids, and it comes at the perfect price tag: free.

Galaxy Guardians Useless Creations Pty Ltd, Galaxy Guardians – Free

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Caludo – When you look at the screen shots it might not seem like there is a whole lot to Caludo.  The truth is that there really isn’t, and that’s part of its charm.  Your task on each level is to get the smiley face without a smile to the set of circles with the yellow ring around it.  Sometimes it is locked, in which case you’ll need to grab one of the small green orbs first.  You get three moves per round, so you have to make some careful decisions about what is most important to you.  You only get points if you collect the green orbs, but if you don’t get to the exit of the level the orbs won’t matter.  Also, if you collect all three green orbs in a level that’s a triple, which brings me to the leaderboards.  There is one for the highest scores, one for the most triples and one for the highest round reached.  One thing that can get really frustrating is that if your character gets too close to the edge of the screen launching it can be rather difficult.  On the other hand, the fact that you can intercept the yellow circle and redirect it mid flight is cool.  The minimalist art and simple song actually provide a nice presentation to a game that is more about relaxation than anything else.

Caludo Bytebin, Caludo – Free

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Got Light? – Since Flappy Bird was released there seems to be an obsession with making the “hardest game ever”.  Sadly, though, unless you’re sadistic or have A.D.D. it really isn’t all that fun having a game where you die every two seconds.  As such I’ve really enjoyed some of the relaxing puzzles games that have come out this week, including both the last entry and this one, Got Light?  This game challenges you to illuminate all of the planets on the screen by making sure that the only color striking them is the one that matches the color of their surface.  The light comes from stars, some of which can be moved and others which can’t, but all of which cast one of three primary colors: red, green or blue.  You’ll have to position the items that are movable so that any stars can reach all of the appropriately colored planets, and in the case of mixed colors that the two necessary stars’ radiance overlaps.  If worse comes to worse you can use the shadow that each planet casts to block out the wrong colored light from another planet.  It can often be tricky getting things lined up just right to illuminate all the planets, but in the end it’s always a satisfying feeling.  The music is soothing, the images look pretty cool once you’ve got all the planets in place, and there is no annoying timer or unattainable high score to top.  If you’re one of those folks that’s really just all about the game, then this is a good choice for you.

Got Light? MakeGamesWithUs.com, Got Light? – Free

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Box It! – I guess this was just the week for me to latch on to quiet, unassuming puzzle games.  This particular one is a single player variant of the dots and lines game that you can still find on the back of many restaurants’ kids’ menus to keep the little ones happy while you’re waiting for food.  Besides being only single player, however, the rectangular playing field has been replaced with all manner of different layouts, and they are even kind enough to fill in some of the lines for you.  Your task is to fill in the entire level with squares using a limited number of extra lines.  Once you create a square you’ll set off a chain reaction that keeps going until it reaches a dead end or an intersection where there is more than one possible path to take.  It sounds pretty straightforward, and because you can undo as many moves as you want the first few levels are fairly simple.  It doesn’t take long before you really have to start thinking about where you’re going to plant those lines, though.  Thankfully you can jump to the puzzle of your choice at any time, so when you get stuck on one just try out a different one.  It may not help your situation any, but at least you can spread the failure across multiple puzzles.  Spot on controls and a slick interface make the game easy to get into, though a little background music would help fill the lulls when you’re thinking.  This was certainly a great week for puzzle gamers.

Box It! Wharf Games, Box It! – Free

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Crazy Taxi City Rush – Just so you don’t think I’ve gone completely cerebral, I thought I’d end this collection with a fun action title.  This is my first Crazy Taxi experience and I am glad that I decided to go along for the ride.  I was a bit skeptical about the infinite runner feel to the controls at first, but it actually works out quite well as long as you remember that holding the screen allows you to drift into turns.  If you’re tired of those “safe” taxi games that expect you to get your fares to their destination without incident, Crazy Taxi’s laissez-faire attitude should be right up your alley.  Ram cars, take out various objects that shouldn’t be left in the park anyway and do a 180 to come to a complete stop.  As long as you get to your destination in a decent amount of time it’s all good.  Pimp out your ride to earn more cash per run, go on special assignments that include but don’t limit you to recklessly driving a tank over everything, and see how quickly you can become king of the paid transportation circuit.  There is just so much to do in this game that it’s easier for me to say “download it and give it a try” than to try to cram all the goodness into this one little paragraph.  So, download it and give it a try.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Crazy Taxi™ City Rush SEGA, Crazy Taxi™ City Rush – 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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