10 App Store Games To Watch [Aug 11 – 17]

monday-roundup-08182014-intro

They can try to turn iOS devices into console quality machines as hard as they want, but at the end of the day they still do portable games best.  This week some of the most entertaining games were also the simplest, such as Freaking Shapes.  All you have to do is say whether one shape fits into another or not, but see how long it takes before you’re saying “it’s not as easy as it seems”.  Maybe you’d rather try your luck at FingerOut… and no, it’s not a game of obscene gestures.  Here you just have to lift your finger from the screen when the circle underneath it changes to yellow, but you do have to remember to leave all your other fingers right where they are at.  Then again, it could be that the traditional side scrolling infinite runner with basic jump and duck motions suits your fancy.  Airblower Kid fits the bill, with the small exception that you have to keep tapping the screen to make sure your paper airplane stays afloat.

monday-roundup-08182014-spellfall

Spellfall – Puzzle RPG – This is one of those weird cases where I’m doing things kind of backwards.  I’ve already written a review for this game, but I’ve played it every day since I first launched it so I figured it was worth noting in the roundup as well.  If you’ve played any match 3 / RPG hybrids before you’ll be quite at home with this game, though instead of your typical physical attack, magical attack and defense matches everything you match in this game will go towards magic attacks except for coins.  Most monsters have a weakness and some have a preferred element as well, so it sort of plays out like a magical rock-paper-scissors.  You do level up as you gain experience which raises your health, attack and defense traits.  You’ll also earn money which can be used to buy weapons and armor, and more importantly to buy runes and unlock slots on your equipment to use them.  Runes give you additional abilities like heal, poison, stun and more, and these will level up as well when you use them.  Despite the simple match 3 mechanics there is quite a bit of depth to the combat system, and a large variety of runes lets you tailor the experience even more.  It’s also one of the best looking match 3 / RPG hybrids I’ve seen.

Spellfallâ„¢ - Puzzle RPG Backflip Studios, Spellfallâ„¢ – Puzzle RPG (TMA Review) – Free

monday-roundup-08182014-shot-break

Shot & Break – Shot & Break is your typical “defend something from a bunch of critters” type game, but I have to say I’ve found it quite enjoyable so far.  You start with a simple shotgun and can unlock several different weapons including an AK-47 and a flamegun.  Each gun can then be upgraded to last longer before you have to reload.  You’ll also be able to unlock and upgrade props, which are items like grenades and arrows that can be dragged onto the enemy to do additional damage.  Finally you have defense items like rubble and iron planks that you can put in front of your jeep to provide additional protection.  The game offers 15 levels in “campaign” mode, as well as an endless mode that you can play up to five times a day.  I think what I really like about this game though is the variety of creatures.  You have your typical creatures like werewolves, spiders and deadly bees, but then you also have things like ents and scarecrows with bombs for heads.  Everything is well drawn and somewhat resembles a Saturday morning cartoon.  This might not be overly original stuff, but it’s fun and well put together.

Shot & Break kaiyu li, Shot & Break – Free

monday-roundup-08182014-flickknights

Flick Knights – Flick Knights is an interesting concept that feels like it came from the show American Gladiators.  Two teams compete to see who can be the first to take out the opponent’s bullseye.  Unlike most of these games, however, you move around the playing field by flicking your team members from one spot to the next.  If you prefer, you can use a teammate’s special attack to do anything from teleport to a special location to mimic another team member’s actions.  Each player starts with one special attack and you can acquire two more for that player over time.  You can also buy additional team members and purchase up to two extra slots to fill out your active roster.  While you’re trying to get to your opponent’s home base make sure you work on knocking out their team which has both the benefit of removing players from the field temporarily and damaging their home base as well.  The game can be played hot seat on one device or over the internet both asynchronously and real time.  So far I haven’t had much luck connecting with players over the net, but once this game gets a community built up it could be quite intriguing.

Flick Knights Ballpit Monster Studios, Flick Knights – Free

monday-roundup-08182014-chops

C.H.O.P.S. – Combat Helicopter Offensive Pacification Squad – Here’s my “thank you for not being Flappy” game of the week.  C.H.O.P.S. has the “tap to fly up” mechanic and some columns to dodge, but beyond that it offers so much more game play than its inspiration.  You start off with a basic helicopter, some rudimentary firepower and no orbiters, and your sole mission is to destroy as many enemies as you can before they take you down.  As you earn coins you’ll be able to upgrade your helicopter or buy a new one.  You’ll also be able to upgrade or change your main weapon, which thankfully carries through to whatever new craft you purchase.  Orbiters are small craft that hover around you and provide additional firepower, but these require gems to unlock and naturally gems are much more scarce (unless you want to open up your wallet to IAP, that is).  As you continually play you’ll earn XP and level up which provides bonus revenue and higher score multipliers.  You also get a daily bonus, and on the fifth day you’ll unlock a special helicopter.  The graphics are neat, there are several locales to fight in, and the music is decent as well.  I suppose the one thing I can be thankful for about Flappy Bird is that it has produced some decent “clones”.

C.H.O.P.S. - Combat Helicopter Offensive Pacification Squad Tapps Tecnologia da Informa̤̣o Ltda., C.H.O.P.S. РCombat Helicopter Offensive Pacification Squad РFree

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Swipe & Slash – The 2048 (or 1024, or whatever number started it) craze has already gotten out of control, but at least this developer found a good use for it.  Much like Match 3 for Puzzle Quest, the 2048 mechanic provides the combat mechanism for Swipe & Slash, or at least it does partially.  You swipe cards together to form more powerful versions of those cards, but you actually have to tap them to queue them up.  Once your turns have been used for a given round all of your queued cards will be used and then you’ll get to execute your base attack if necessary assuming your opponent isn’t already dead.  Sword cards bolster your attack, potion cards build your health back up (there is no defense, per se) and coin cards give you money to spend on better equipment.  There are some subtle differences between this game and many of its peers, like when you swipe in a direction everything only shifts one block in that direction instead of moving as far as it can the way you swiped.  Also, unlike most RPG style games Swipe & Slash doesn’t seem to have a traditional leveling up system.  There’s Game Center integration, but that appears to be “coming soon” as opening up Game Center reveals no leaderboard or achievements.  Some may find the lack of story or quests a bit frustrating, but if you’re looking for something quick to play in little spurts at a time, Swipe & Slash delivers in a pretty unique way.

Swipe & Slash Daniel Fairley, Swipe & Slash – $0.99

monday-roundup-08182014-accidental-spelunking

Accidental Spelunking – This poor guy just can’t cut a break: first he falls off the rope, and then it’s downhill… or rather down-hole from there.  Accidental Spelunking is basically freefall cave exploration with ragdoll physics.  Of course the myriad of jutting rock ledges and inappropriately placed wooden shelves (!?!) do a great job of slowing your decent.  Unfortunately, if you get stuck at the top of the screen it’s game over.  While you’re falling your light source will be in a state of flux, so use it the best you can to navigate towards useful items like coins, jewels, chests and power ups.  If you’re lucky you’ll even find a drill, though I’m not exactly sure what that gets you when you use it.  Coins can be used to upgrade your light and drill options, and jewels can buy you special charms.  There are also several characters you can purchase that come from the game Don’t Fall in the whole (also from the same developer), and those all appear to require a combination of coins and jewels to purchase.  Game Center does provide a leaderboard, but there are currently no achievements to earn.  Guess you’ll just have to settle for trying to unlock all the characters.  The game is free to play, but you can always head to the store to purchase some jewels via IAP if you’d like.

Accidental Spelunking Oooweeooo Inc., Accidental Spelunking – Free

monday-roundup-08182014-bizarre-aquarium

Bizarre Aquarium – This game is a bit rough around the edges.  The interface has some issues, the “one tap to do everything” paradigm doesn’t always work, and there’s not a whole lot of variety at the moment.  Still, much like Insaniquarium which I presume to be Bizarre Aquarium’s inspiration, the concept is actually amusing and has lots of potential.  As I said in my review of Insaniquarium so long ago, who knew maintaining an aquarium could actually be fun?  You start by feeding the fish you have so they grow bigger and produce coins – don’t ask.  Then you buy more fish, upgrade the type of food you give them and increase the amount of pellets you can serve at once.  If you’d like to earn gems, which basically translate to more money, you can purchase piranhas that will eat the small fish you buy.  Everything cost money, including passing out food pellets, so the trick is to simply start earning more money than you spend.  Eventually you’ll need to buy stars so you can complete a level if you’re playing story mode.  In survival mode you earn stars based on the amount of time you can survive.  Stars are used to buy pets, which in turn directly or indirectly help you earn more money.  Oh, and don’t forget to buy a laser gun so you can arm yourself against the fish eating aliens!

Bizarre Aquarium charles luo, Bizarre Aquarium – Free

monday-roundup-08182014-kittentaxi

KittenTaxi – Move over Crazy Taxi, the cats are taking over the road!  Actually, the two games are quite different so feel free to have them both as guilty taxi pleasures.  In this case you control two cats trying to escape after robbing a bank.  Each chase gets more challenging as the pursuers grow more plentiful and harder to take down.  Thankfully you have an array of weaponry at your disposal that you can upgrade as you earn money from your heists.  As a matter of fact, you can also upgrade the car, the passenger and the driver, along with a few other things that are currently locked for me.  What I find interesting is that once you pay your upgrade fee you still have to spin a wheel to see if you successfully earn the upgrade or not.  Each time you upgrade a particular feature one spot for that feature gets replaced with a 100 coin “booby prize”, so you could potentially spend lots of money on upgrades to do nothing more than earn a percentage of your money back.  Control is a simple matter of sliding your finger back and forth on the screen, as the cats will automatically attack when you’re in front of a hostile vehicle.  The graphics are great and the music kind of reminds me of something off of the soundtrack from Monk.  KittenTaxi is definitely worth taking for a spin.

KittenTaxi Wonder People Co. Ltd, KittenTaxi – Free

monday-roundup-08182014-qube-kingdom

Qube Kingdom – If developers keep this up I might actually start to like the tower defense genre.  From the level design perspective I’m not that impressed so far, but what the game lacks in path layout it more than makes up for in everything else.  You’re guided through your journey by a wizard that’s much more eager to help than the fowl Jafar of Aladdin fame.  You start with an archer and a couple of swordsmen to command, but as your skills and conquests grow so will your forces.  One interesting feature is that you are not only limited to the types of troops you can have defending you but to the actual number as well.  Initially your party can contain only 5 troops, so just because you have the money to put 20 on the battlefield doesn’t mean you can.  While on the battlefield you’ll have access to quobelisks that are fueled by the qubes of fallen foes and provide traps and obstacles to deter them, but beware the red quobelisks that actually aid the enemy.  As you win battles you’ll earn qubes which can be used to enhance your heroes.  You’ll also eventually restore your main compound which will give you access to additional game features.  You can even recruit a hero from a fellow player to earn “social” qubes and mutually benefit each other.  Welcome to the qubed generation of tower defense.

Qube Kingdom DeNA Corp., Qube Kingdom – Free

monday-roundup-08182014-rome-total-war

Rome: Total War – Take one part Magic: The Gathering, sprinkle in some Plants vs. Zombies and toss it all in an ancient Roman setting and you have Rome: Total War.  You start out with a deck of just a few cards, but as you win battles you’ll earn new cards and also money to buy more specific cards that you want.  You can take as many cards into battle as your ruling power allows, but you’ll only be able to fight with up to six at a time.  The trick is to learn the special tricks of each character type, like the fact that an archer will ambush each opponent that is placed on the board or a Warrior Gaul will get enraged and earn an extra attack point each time a comrade falls.  The hero that controls your army will grow in power as well, but always expect the enemy hero to be a bit more powerful.  That just means you have to use your cunning in place of brute force (though sometimes a really strong troop just does wonders against your foes).  You can sell cards you don’t want to help fund the army you’d like to build, and apparently you can actually upgrade your army as well, though I’m not sure how you go about doing that.  I also gather from the iTunes description that you can fight other players, but I can’t seem to find that feature either.  Still, what’s already there is pretty entertaining, and if these other features exist or suddenly show up it will only enhance the value of the game.

Rome: Total War Emu Interactive, Rome: Total War – 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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