10 App Store Games To Watch [12/31/2014]


Welcome to my last roundup of 2014, even if you’re not reading it until 2015.  As far as I’m concerned it’s been a great year for iOS gaming, even for those of us that haven’t been able to upgrade to a device running metal yet.  I expect that 2015 will be an even better year, and I look forward to being part of it.  Without further ado, here are 10 games to ring in the New Year right…


Bumpy Birds – I downloaded Bumpy Birds mainly because of a Twitter challenge.  I’ll probably never beat the challenge, but in the process I got the chance to try a pretty cool casual game.  It’s kind of like the grandchild of Flappy Bird and Frogger where you control a bird that must pass through as many rows of unfriendly birds as possible by tapping the screen to flap upwards and letting going to fall back down.  You’ll constantly be passing flags that mark your progress, and if you get lucky you might even bounce up to claim one final flag when you inevitably get hit by a bird or rogue raincloud.  Occasionally a golden butterfly will flutter back and forth and if you snag it you’ll go all Powder Puff Girls and zoom through a few flags unharmed.  The game supports Facebook and Twitter for regaling your escapades and there is a personal leaderboard, though the game could stand to incorporate Game Center for global competition.  There are several birds you can unlock by climbing to certain heights or through a one time IAP purchase, but they don’t seem to add anything to the game other than a bit of variety.  In the end this is a nice causal game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and isn’t maddeningly difficult like your average flappy game.

Bumpy Birds Tapchat, Inc., Bumpy Birds – Free


Best Fiends – Welcome to the ultimate showdown of bugs vs. slugs.  In this match 3 fest you’ll control up to five bugs at a time, and your job is to conquer the evil slugs throughout the land and rescue your families that have been captured.  Every level has one or more goals and a certain number of moves in which to achieve those goals.  Make matches to power up your bugs and have them attack, and when you’ve matched enough of a particular color the corresponding bug will unleash a special tile on the board.  Collect fuzzy yellow creatures and diamonds which can be used to level up your bugs, or use the diamonds to buy keys that will let you uncover squares on a special board that could give you even bigger bonuses like additional bugs.  You can connect to Facebook and Twitter to share your exploits, and there is also Game Center support though you’ll currently find only 5 achievements and no leaderboards.  Cute visuals, peppy music and silly sound effects create a great atmosphere for a fun match 3 variant.

Best Fiends Seriously, Best Fiends – Free


Doodle Jump DC Super Heroes – I am not a fan of the Doodle Jump franchise.  Even worse, I tend to get frustrated with all these licensing tie-ins because they often don’t really improve the base game at all.  This is one time where I stand corrected, although there’s a strong possibility that I’m biased simply because I’m a fan of the Dark Knight.  Whatever the case might be, this endless jumper has managed to keep me entertained for a lot longer than I had first expected.  As you might expect you basically play that weird Doodle Jump dude dressed in a Batman costume, though one of the perks is that you can unlock several different eras of costume over time.  In addition to being able to shoot you also get to use your cape to glide by swiping down when falling.  There are 4 items to upgrade including a batcopter, and as you continue to play you’ll earn experience that lets you level up which increases one of three stats that make your Doodle guy a better champion of the night.  The game has Game Center integration for one leaderboard and 12 achievements, just in case trying to one up your previous score isn’t satisfying enough.  And of course the doodle-ized versions of some of the most iconic bat-villains are pretty cool.

Doodle Jump DC Super Heroes Warner Bros., Doodle Jump DC Super Heroes – Free


Find The Line – This is one of those games that, like Zen Bound, is more about the tranquility of playing the game than earning a high score or lots of achievements.  Don’t get me wrong – the game has three leaderboards and 41 achievements on Game Center.  For me, though, the ability to get lost in the music and fluid line movements is so much more rewarding than any high score I won’t beat or achievement I don’t get around to earning.  The idea is to take two or more objects on the screen and slide them around until they form one unique object in the center of the screen.  One trick is figuring out the target object, because in at least one level so far it seemed like I could make a couple of different things with one of the lines.  Another goal is to find the star in each level which means paying attention to the intermediate steps and not just the ultimate result for the level.  Some levels also have hidden keys on them, and these are important in order for you to be able to progress to higher levels.  The game has more than 200 levels that you can play for free, or you can support the developers and remove the ads for 99 cents.  Either way it’s a really good deal for some tranquil fun that doesn’t require precise timing or the need to blow something’s head off.

Find The Line Chillingo Ltd, Find The Line – Free


Roll Rage – Tired of rolling balls through mazes?  How about running them through 10 different mini games?  This collection of bite sized entertainment will have you blasting boulders, falling through shimmering gates and dodging bees while you collect fruit and stars to earn points and coins.  You can earn bronze, silver and gold trophies on each level, and it takes a silver trophy or some coins to move to the next mini game.  Once you’ve collected all 10 silver trophies you’ll unlock a mission based mode to each of the mini games as well, providing even more reflex testing action.  There are 10 leaderboards, one for each game when played in arcade mode.  There are also 27 achievements to earn, just in case you didn’t have enough else to work towards.  One thing I really like is that each game has its own upgrade path, which at first seemed unfair until I realized that there were different types of upgrade based on the mini game.  This is a cool feature that I don’t believe I’ve run across in other mini game collections before.

Roll Rage John Leather, Roll Rage – Free


Diner Dash – Flo has always been one of my favorite time management protagonists, and I was exited to see her show up in a new iteration of the Diner Dash franchise.  This one, lovingly called simply Diner Dash, appears to be a reboot of the franchise.  If you’ve played any installment in the series you’ll know what to expect: seat the guests when they arrive, take their orders and serve them as promptly as possible, and clean up when they are done.  As usual there are plenty of upgrades to make your serving experience easier, some of which require coins and others demanding dollars.  Both can be earned simply by doing your job and completing achievements, though I’m guessing coins are the primary method of reward while if you want the big ticket dollar items you just might need to shell out a little cash (real dough, that is).  The game is free to play, but you do have a life meter that gets used up with every level and slowly recharges.  The graphics have a slightly different feel about them so they are familiar and yet better at the same time.  Overall this is another stellar notch in the story that proves the franchise is both still relevant and just as fun as it used to be.

Diner Dash PlayFirst, Inc., Diner Dash – Free


Running Shadow – This offering from Game Insight takes the infinite runner format and adds a bit of depth to it.  You take on the role of a thief who manages to steal an incredibly powerful and dangerous artifact, and you end up getting recruited by an organization that wishes to take down the folks you stole the artifact from.  The story unfolds as you explore your city, and I imagine as you get further into it things won’t always be as they seem.  Instead of engaging in trials of infinite running you’ll face short sequences that you have to conquer to earn rewards and upgrade your character.  In typical Game Insight fashion there will be requirements in order to play the various segments in the first place, such as upgrading a piece of equipment or attaining a certain skill level.  In addition to the main quests necessarily to complete the game you’ll also have the chance to test your skills and thumb your nose at other players by actually robbing their “houses” in the game.  This is an interesting take on the whole infinite runner genre, but you have to keep in mind that as a Game Insight offering you’ll probably have to dump some IAP into it in order to enjoy the game for more than a few minutes at a time.  Also, while it runs on my iPad 2, it’s not all that graceful (the game does actually warn you that you need a more competent device, however).

Running Shadow - Fantasy Runner - Be an Assassin! Game Insight, LLC, Running Shadow – Fantasy Runner – Be an Assassin! – Free


Stick and Chick – The name’s actually much longer, but I get tired just looking at it.  As you might expect, this is a “stick figure” game.  Truth be told, though, the graphics are much better than the average game of said artistic style.  In fact, I quite like the visuals and the fact that each level takes you to a new locale, though it’s kind of funny that your adversaries look the same no matter where you go.  As for the game itself, it’s a shooting gallery style game with a constantly scrolling background and bad guys that also run around, which makes targeting interesting except for the small amount of time they stand still.  It definitely provides a greater challenge than your usual shooting gallery game.  There are 10 levels to conquer, though you actually have to pay to play the last level.  In addition to your standard weapon you can unlock machine gun and grenade enhancements, but keep in mind those aren’t unlimited like your standard weapon is.  You can also purchase the ability to use multi-touch during games, but each outpour of cash only gives you this ability for a limited number of games, so consider wisely.  If you like this style of game play then what you get for free is certainly worth checking out, but other than ad removal I think they need to revamp their IAP system just a bit.

Stick and Chick - The Ultimate Stick Man Game Where You Gotta Fight For Your Girl - Crazy Fast Shooting Game Animax, Stick and Chick – The Ultimate Stick Man Game Where You Gotta Fight For Your Girl – Crazy Fast Shooting Game – Free


Dead Run – In Dead Run you’re only as good as the number of people you save… literally.  Dead Run is an infinite runner, but instead of all the fancy obstacle dodging and corner turning and such you only have two options: swing your club or fire your shotgun.  The trick is in deciding which ones are the zombies and which are the humans, because everyone is just a shadow.  The reality is that it’s not all that difficult to discern, but as you get caught up in the moment you’ll get impulsive and tap that trigger finger when you don’t mean to.  Kill as many zombies as you want, but the first innocent you slay signals the end of the run, at which point your score is determined by how many survivors are following you.  In addition to the slick visuals there’s a chilling soundtrack, and amazingly enough it’s almost unsettling watching an innocent bleed blocks of red as they scream their last breath.  The game offers 4 leaderboards and 13 achievements, so there’s something besides simply running to keep you busy for a little while.  It would be cool if you could upgrade your weapons, even if it was just for show, but there’s something about the simplicity of this zombie runner that manages to hook you in regardless.

Dead Run Twoplus Games (Pty) Ltd, Dead Run – $1.99


Docking Sequence – This is the latest offering from Quantum Sheep, and if you’re a long time fan like me you might be slightly saddened to see that there is no Sam in this game.  In fact, it has nothing to do with the Air Supply universe.  Instead it’s kind of like an overhead view lunar lander type game.  On each level there is a station and you must guide your ship to the center of that station to complete the level.  Of course hitting the walls of the station is a no –no, but there are also obstacles like asteroids and shooting ships to get in your way.  Your fuel is also limited – each move cost a fuel cell, and when the fuel runs out you get 5 seconds to dock before you lose the level.  On a more positive note you’ll be able to rescue astronauts that make you feel good about yourself and work towards unlocking stuff and earning achievements.  Also, for those of you that are like me and enjoy the Air Supply series because of the unlocks: have no fear.  Successful dockings work towards unlocking new ships, collecting astronauts gets you new music and remaining fuel cells give you the opportunity to select from the ever popular array of one color palettes.  There is even a leaderboard and some achievements courtesy of Game Center.

Docking Sequence Quantum Sheep, Docking Sequence – $0.99

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 App Store Games Roundup:

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