10 App Store Games To Watch [11/19/2014]

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While I might not have been reporting on them so much in the past few weeks, that doesn’t mean there have been any less new game offerings in the iOS world.  I’ve decided to change things up a bit, however, and instead of tying each installment to a specific week, I’m just going to bring you the games that I’ve currently been playing.  So, without further ado, here are 10 App Store games to watch…

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Adventure Xpress [10/1/14] – Much like Spellfall or some of the other more popular match 3 / RPG hybrids of late, there really isn’t much of a quest or narrative portion to the game.  You basically select a location, conquer all the creatures at that location and then move on to the next location.  Locations are divided into realms, and the one thing that ties each realm together is that at the beginning of the realm you get a letter and at the end you deliver it to someone.  If you’ve played Giant Boulder Of Death you’ll understand that what makes this game rise above its peers is the sheer silliness of it.  My character currently dons an outfit that looks like an ice cream sundae and wields an ugly face mace, which is literally a mace with an ugly face on the end of it.  I like how each color on the board has a corresponding spell that you can unlock, and using spells doesn’t even count as a move.  You can also move tiles on the board without making a match, which means if you have the patience you can set things up for the ultimate combo attack (or you can simply get the right piece to where you need it to help match a trapped piece).  The visuals and audio definitely feel like they came from a cartoon, which says to me that PikPok has developed quite the knack for translating Adult Swim’s properties to the mobile screen.  If I had one gripe – which I do – it’s that even into the third realm the game is a bit too easy.  Otherwise it has definitely been quite enjoyable.

Adventure Xpress [adult swim], Adventure Xpress – Free

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El. [10/9/14] – The Flappy Bird clone craze hasn’t died yet, so here’s this round’s “thank you for not being Flappy Bird” entry.  For me this would be one of those games that would qualify for the “are games art” discussions that some folks like to have.  The landscapes and adversaries as well as the avatar herself are beautiful in their silhouetted simplicity.  The feathers you collect stand out with their vibrant white tone and yellow highlights, and the backgrounds are comprised of subtle hues that vary based on the scene you’re in.  There are plenty of items to dodge, and not everything moves in a straight up and down pattern.  To compensate for that, and to help you in your quest to collect as many feathers as possible, you can swipe to move your avatar left and right using gusts of winds instead of just tapping to raise her and releasing to lower her.  The game has 12 levels, three different difficulty settings to master and is connected to Game Center, though at the moment there are no achievements.  If you like this style of game play, this is definitely worth your time to check out.

el. GREE, Inc., el. – Free

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Daddy Long Legs [10/7/14] – So I still don’t get Flappy Bird, but I’m starting to appreciate the idea of extremely difficult games that suck you in even though you know you’re not going to do well.  Daddy Long Legs is the tale of a furry little creature with extremely long legs that just wants to walk.  In order to help him out, all you have to do is tap the screen to move its legs.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Basically all I’ve managed to do so far is recreate the tumbling first moments of Bambi’s failed walk from the seminal Disney film over and over again, yet I still feel compelled to keep trying.  I can’t get the rhythm down right and I’m not even sure if it makes a difference where you tap on the screen, but I’ll tap again and again just to get it wrong one more time.  You do have the option to share your trials and tribulations with Everyplay if you want, but I have just enough dignity not to do that.  The graphics are pretty simple and there are just some basic background noises, but while a musical number would be nice you won’t notice the absence of one very often.  There are 21 achievements to earn and a leaderboard to conquer, and I’m positive you won’t have to worry about me taking your top spot should you happen to actually acquire one.

Daddy Long Legs Set Snail, Daddy Long Legs – Free

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Yes Chef! [10/9/14] – It seems that everyone wants to be in the match 3 business these days, and Halfbrick is no exception.  From a general game play perspective there’s not much new here.  Match 3 to clear tiles away and match more than 3 in certain patterns to create bonus tiles.  Goals include all the typical things like earning a certain score, making a certain number of tiles fall to the bottom of the screen, or appeasing so many customers by matching the various foods that they want.  Limitations are typically a particular number of moves or a certain amount of time, and many levels have additional requirements like collecting a certain number of ingredients or clearing a set amount of special tiles.  One thing this game does have is an inordinately diverse “economy”.  Energy is what allows you to keep playing, virtual bills let you buy boosts before a level starts and gold coins give you the chance to purchase power ups once you’ve started playing a level.  For each level you complete with three stars you’ll earn a medal, and these medals can be used to upgrade permanent boosts like increased score multipliers.  Finally you’ll be able to earn bonuses for Fruit Ninja should you happen to have that installed as well.  I’m not about to declare this my next favorite Halfbrick game, but from the standpoint of a more “traditional” match 3 experience it certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Yes Chef! Halfbrick Studios, Yes Chef! – Free

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Game Town [9/1/14] – I don’t remember if it was because of the PR or what, but originally I assumed this was supposed to be a kids’ game.  I can even kind of see that selling point given the cute graphics and upbeat music.  If you’ve ever played Tap The Frog, however, you’ll soon realize that looks can be deceiving.  In fact, I get the feeling Game Town was inspired by that game given the general layout.  There are several mini games for you to play, attempt to conquer and eventually get frustrated with (not in a bad way, mind you).  You can earn up to give stars for each game, and those stars will allow you to unlock more mini games to torture yourself with.  Each game also has 4 achievements to earn, many of which are just as if not more challenging than earning those 5 stars.  A quick sampling of the games includes Rabbit Hats, where you must get all the rabbits’ hats to be the same color in the shortest amount of time, Beat The Moles which is basically whack-a-mole, and Chick Jump where you must help a poor chick to clear as many platforms as possible by single or double jumping when appropriate.  As the widely overused phrase goes, they are all “simple to learn yet difficult to master”.  And, just like Tap The Frog they’ll keep you and your kids busy for quite some time.

Game Town Tufan ALIN, Game Town – Free
Game Town HD Tufan ALIN, Game Town HD – Free

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Angry Birds Transformers [10/15/14] – After Star Wars, which basically felt like a reskinned Angry Birds with a few new powers and Angry Birds Epic, which for me was mostly an epic fail, I was a bit hesitant about Angry Birds Transformers.  Just like the IP it is based off of, this game is more than meets the eye.  It manages to combine the action of a shooting gallery game where the opponents shoot back with the physics fun you’ve come to know and love from an Angry Birds game, and it does it in such a way that it’s actually fun.  You start with Optimus Prime bird and along the way you’ll unlock other favorites like Bumblebee, Shockwave and more, each with their own abilities.  Plus you’ll have the ability to transform into vehicles to dodge nasty traps.  Earn coins and crystals to upgrade your army and defeat the evil EggBots (yeah, the Decepticons – I mean Deceptihogs – aren’t actually your enemies in this game).  Hook up with friends and take their troops into battle for a 1 – 2 punch.  The game also supports Telepods if you like that concept, though I must admit I found it to be a bit frustrating with the Star Wars games.  Angry Birds is free to play, though certain game modes and various other frills require IAP.  Still, if you like the Angry Birds franchise but are kind of tired of the same old offerings from their standard line, this is one off-shoot that’s actually worth the time to play.

Angry Birds Transformers Rovio Entertainment Ltd, Angry Birds Transformers – Free

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Marble Mountain [10/1/14] – If your first thought when you check out this game is “Marble Madness”, you appreciate fine retro games as much as I do.  While there still aren’t really any games in my opinion that truly capture the magic of that classic, Marble Mountain makes a really good attempt.  The controls aren’t the greatest, and the auto camera that supposedly helps you keep things in perspective sometimes seems to do more harm than good.  The game has no “safety points” in a level, which the developers are unapologetic about but kind of bugs me – when a level is of any decent size I don’t want to play the whole thing 500 times just to finish the small section at the end that I can’t conquer.  So what keeps me intrigued?  So far this game has some of the best level design I’ve seen in a marble rolling experience in quite some time.  The expansive outdoor levels sure beat rolling around in yet another set of labyrinths, and even though some traps can be fairly sticky everything seems pretty well balanced and manageable.  I also like the challenge of trying to find all of the aurums on each level, as it forces you to explore the surroundings a bit more than you might in this type of game.  Best of all, if you don’t believe me it doesn’t cost you anything to try it.

Marble Mountain Lightning Rock Pty Ltd, Marble Mountain – Free

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Kitchen Scramble [7/31/14] – Look out Flo, there’s a new cook in town!  While I’ve yet to see a cooking based time management game usurp Diner Dash’s throne, Kitchen Scramble does a pretty good job trying to lead the revolt.  In typical time management fashion you’ll need to serve a variety of meals to a continually growing and diverse population of hungry patrons.  Treat them well and in a timely fashion and you’ll earn stars, coins and extra rewards like star medallions and premium ingredients.  Take too long to get to someone and they’ll be happy to leave you with lost business and extra food that you’ll have to throw away.  Coins can be used to buy and upgrade necessary equipment, while bills let you buy special items to make you really efficient.  I’m not sure if you can earn bills, however, or if these are an IAP only luxury.  Star medallions are needed to get past certain points in each neighborhood, so go back and play levels where you didn’t earn 3 stars the first time once you have better equipment.  The dishes start getting more complicated and taking multiple steps to complete, and sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of who was next in line, especially when you have three customers that look the same and ordered the same meals.  Still, it’s the kind of controlled chaos that any time management fan will love.

Kitchen Scramble RockYou, Inc., Kitchen Scramble – Free

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Duke Dashington [9/3/14] – You are intrepid explorer Duke Dashington, and you seem to have a knack for getting to structures that hold magnificent treasures right before they are ready to collapse.  Thankfully there’s still time to navigate the deadly traps in each location and recover the treasure before the surroundings turn into a pile of rubble.  There are 4 areas altogether, each one containing 30 levels.  Many of the levels are fairly easy, but some will require multiple attempts due to some tricky timing elements.  Thankfully you only get 10 seconds to complete each level, so even if you have to play one many times over in order to complete it you should beat most of the levels before any sort of frustration sets in.  Once you’ve completed an area you can attempt to play the whole thing in one sitting to see how quickly you can do it and with how few lives.  There is a leaderboard for each of the 4 areas and 12 achievements to earn.  The game has a high def old school look and a soundtrack to match making it feel like a modern SNES game.  There’s something about games that manage to make a wide variety of interesting puzzles out of single screen environments, which is a big part of the appeal for Duke Dashington.  If anything I’d say the controls seem a bit finicky, but for all I know any more they might have done that on purpose.

Duke Dashington Jussi Simpanen, Duke Dashington – $0.99

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Jet Run: City Defender [10/29/14] – This is an “infinite” game, and one of a small but growing number that has you piloting a flying vehicle of some sort.  There are power ups that you can collect as you’re flying that take effect immediately, and you also have three slots that you can populate with weapons and gadgets, many of which you can upgrade.  Some of these items get used automatically when needed and others require you to tap a button to activate them.  Of course most of them are consumable and can be resupplied with medals that you collect along the way (or buy via IAP if you so desire).  There are also missions to complete which earn you medals and XP, the latter which allows you to level up and unlock more gadgets to buy – in other words, the typical vicious circle that makes infinite games so much fun.  What sets this game apart from the others, however, is that in addition to flying without crashing you’ll have to engage in combat with aliens.  Better yet, that segment of the game feels like an homage to Space Invaders or Galaga, albeit with much flashier, 3D visuals.  And, while most of these infinite flying games take place in somewhat contained areas for the sake of making things tense and deadly, there’s something about flying through cities full of tall buildings that gives Jet Run a fresh feel atmospherically.

Jet Run: City Defender Wicked Witch, Jet Run: City Defender – Free

Well that wraps up another edition of games to watch on the App Store. As always, if there’s something you’ve played recently 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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