10 App Store Games To Watch [1/14/15]


Welcome to 2015!  Last year was a great one for iOS games, and I fully expect this one to be even better.  For the first roundup of 2015 I tried to include games that were a bit closer to the article’s release date, but you’ll see one that snuck in which has a bit of mileage on it.  The way I figure it, if the game is still selling in the App Store it’s still worth reporting on.  Sit back, relax and get ready to start downloading some new games!


Peggle Blast [12/1/14] – There’s something about the pseudo random nature of Pachinko style games that has been as much a turn-off as an interest to me.  In this case, however, I’m willing to make an exception.  Unlike this recent deluge of “casual” games that believe it’s best to make things impossible, Peggle Blast actually gives you a chance to succeed at each level.  That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll beat each one on the first try, but you won’t get frustrated because you can never win, either.  Each level has one or more goals to achieve, and there are plenty of ways to get bonus points.  There are also different boosts you can select at the beginning of each round to help your game play.  On most levels you can even earn extra balls by racking up a certain score or through the extra ball bucket on the bottom of the screen.  Most importantly, though, is the fanfare at the end of each level when you do well.  It’s lots of fun and really makes you feel good.  I also love the different characters and their facial expressions, especially when the ball is getting ready to strike the last peg for your goal.  This is definitely a game to play when you want a pick me up after a hard day’s whatever.

Peggle Blast Electronic Arts, Peggle Blast – Free


Owen’s Odyssey [12/9/14] – Owen takes this week’s coveted “thank you for not being Flappy Bird” slot with game play that’s sort of like Flappy Bird in two directions.  The titular character is a boy with a helicopter beanie that gets stuck in a dangerous castle due to inclement weather.  Cheesy story aside you have a challenging platform game that has only two mechanics: tap the right side of the screen to flap forward and the left side of the screen to do a back-flap.  The trick is finding the right combination of movements to avoid all the nasty things like lava and patch-eyed penguins while still managing to collect all the coins on each level.  You might even find an extra guy lurking about every so often.  You can also earn an extra life if you complete a level under a certain time constraint.  There are only 40 levels, and the levels are actually fairly short, but they are challenging enough that the average player will still feel like they had to work for their victory.  Game Center provides a leaderboard and 43 achievements, though 40 of them come from the first time you beat a level in the designated time interval.  The graphics and music have a NES look and feel, and while it can get frustrating repeatedly dying on a level you previously completed, the overall package makes it worth pressing on.

Owen's Odyssey Brad Erkkila, Owen’s Odyssey – $0.99


Looney Tunes Dash! [12/18/14] – Okay, let me get my biggest complaint out right away: where’s the animation with the rings and either Bugs or Porky’s head popping through?  Anyway, there’s no question that the Looney Tunes characters are one of the most beloved cast of cartoon crazies around, and this finite runner actually manages to do them some justice.  You start as Bugs Bunny in the famous time period known as Rabbit Hunting Season, and eventually you’ll unlock other characters and play through various well known episodes of the classic cartoons.  Besides being chased by the appropriate nemesis various other characters will pop up along the way to either help or hinder you.  Of course you’ll also have various location based obstacles to avoid as well as coins and power ups to collect.  There are even collector’s cards to find on each level set that depict the character you’re playing in certain famous scenes centered around that character.  The graphics do a good job of capturing the characters’ personas, the voices are pretty well done, and the overall atmosphere feels like a cartoon that you can control.  Thank goodness not all licensed properties get handled poorly when translated to the mobile video game screen.

Looney Tunes Dash! Zynga Inc., Looney Tunes Dash! – Free


Raystorm [6/21/12] – This game is old in a couple of ways.  It first hit the App Store in 2012, and it’s actually an iOS port of a game that came out in 1996!  So why include it in the roundup now?  Well, I just recently got the chance to actually play the game, and honestly I feel it’s better than most of the “new” scrolling shooters that come out for iOS devices.  Despite being almost 20 years old the graphics look great, and the music is top notch.  The levels are extremely well designed and have a surprising feeling of depth, especially when you get into Earth’s orbit and take on an entire space fleet on your own.  There are 2 different game modes each with multiple difficulty settings, and you can choose manual fire if you want to make things a bit more challenging.  Game Center provides a leaderboard and 31 achievements for those that need the “I’m an iOS game” feel.  The biggest complaint I have from a game play perspective is that they don’t seem to limit the continues, even on the hardest level.  Sure you don’t have to tap the screen to continue, but that option should be greatly diminished on the hardest difficulties.  The price tag might be a bit hard to swallow, but it’s a great scrolling shooter experience that’s enjoyable even after playing through it multiple times.

RAYSTORM TAITO Corporation, RAYSTORM – $8.99


Nut Run [12/11/14] – This is a silly game.  Despite the name the acorns you run across are few and far between.  There is a single leaderboard, no achievements and nothing to unlock or power up with.  There’s a single location with no variety in visuals and one chip tune song that plays throughout every run.  Still, every time I load up the game I have a hard time trying to stop playing it.  It’s the very definition of addictive simplicity.  The game is basically a 3D version of the lumberjack sub-genre, except instead of chopping down the tree you’re simply rotating it to avoid the limbs (you are a squirrel, after all).  The funny thing is that the guy who came up with the game is just as interested in promoting the story behind the game as the game itself.  So what’s the scoop?  Apparently he’s a lawyer from Australia who decided to recruit a couple of self taught coders to do the technical work for him.  Just goes to show that anyone with an idea and some ambition can make their dreams come true, even if they don’t want to acquire the skills themselves.  Did I mention that the game is addictive?

Nut Run Nathan Khoury, Nut Run – Free


Cars: Fast as Lightning [10/8/14] – Admit it: no one ever though a movie about cars with people-like personalities was going to be good, and everyone was pleasantly surprised at the outcome.  As luck would have it Gameloft has managed to make a fairly interesting game out of the whole experience with Fast as Lightning.  All your favorites are here, though I don’t know what more you could need than the ever lovin’ Mater, and as you progress through the game you can unlock and race with the ones you want.  Play through solo races and complete tasks in order to earn experience and money, or take it to the internet and compete in weekly competitions in order to earn in-game prizes.  Upgrade your car to make beating your opponents easier, then modify the track so the races are cooler and you earn more experience.  You even have the chance to construct Radiator Springs in time management style game play.  The visuals look pretty sharp and when the characters do speak you’d think you were in the movie universe.  The controls are simple enough for younger kids to handle yet still provide an enjoyable enough experience for adults – you know, the kids at heart.  The game is free to play, so maybe it’s time you paid a visit to Radiator Springs.

Cars: Fast as Lightning Gameloft, Cars: Fast as Lightning – Free


Epic Fall [12/10/14] – I’ve played a lot of infinite falling / infinite jumping games (ala Doodle Jump), and this is actually one of the most creative I’ve run across in a while.  You play an Indiana Jones type character that gets caught while raiding a tomb and must make his escape.  The only way is down, which of course happens to be littered by all kinds of nasty things that hurt you when you hit them.  Thankfully you have your trusty side arm, and all you have to do is shoot the obstacles you can destroy and shoot something else to steer you away from the indestructible things.  As luck would have it this is a physics based game, so every substantial obstacle you hit will help guide your path, though it might not always be in the direction you want to go.  Shoot bullets to get extra ammo, shoot coins to spend on upgrading your weapon or buying a new costume and collect treasure chests to find items that will unlock some very special suits.  Gain enough experience with your selected weapon and you can unlock a new one so you can start the upgrading process all over again.  There is a leaderboard based on largest number of meters fallen and 18 achievements to earn, just in case all the upgrades and outfits aren’t enough to work towards.  If you’re a fan of the genre you definitely don’t want to pass this one up.

Epic Fall Alexander Kiselev, Epic Fall – Free


The Sleeping Prince: Royal Edition [9/5/14] – Don’t let anyone ever tell you that sleeping is a waste of time.  It seems that the kingdom has been placed under a spell which has caused all the inhabitants to fall asleep except for you.  Now you must use all your skills to guide the heroic prince on a journey to restore awakeness to the kingdom.  Of course he’s napping as well, so you’ll have to fling him through the land, using whatever you can find along the way to propel him to new heights and reach the end of each level.  Bouncy platforms, movable rings and rubber band sling shots are but some of the tools that will help you accomplish your tasks.  Each level has three goals: a time limit to beat, 3 stars to gather and gems to collect.  The gems are used to buy boosts at the beginning of a level or to acquire the services of your fellow landfolk once you’ve awoken them from their slumber.  Stars, on the other hand, allow you to unlock more levels in the game.  You can retry the levels as often as you like, but to earn the gold medal you must achieve all three goals in the same play through.  The graphics are great, and the music has a nice, upbeat tone to it.  This is one of those games that both kids and parents can equally enjoy.

The Sleeping Prince: Royal Edition Signal Mobile LLC, The Sleeping Prince: Royal Edition – Free


Temple Tap [11/8/14] – I like the concept behind the whole Simon game play mechanic, but I usually don’t stick with that type of game too long because frankly my memory isn’t that great.  As such I’m not exactly making much headway with Temple Tap, but I like the premise behind it which gives me a bit more incentive to push on.  You’re a purveyor of fine antiques that stumbles upon the key to a temple filed with flashy treasures.  Unfortunately the path to each room is protected by a series of tiles that must be tapped in the right sequence.  One twist to the formula is that eventually you might have to tap two tiles at once.  I haven’t discovered anything more yet, but that’s what happens when you can only make it to level 10.  What I do know is that at the end of each level you make it through you earn either a coin or a gem which gets you some cash that you can then use to unlock idols to help your game play.  Some idols work continuously, others are good once a level and the most powerful ones can only be used once for each play through.  You get three mistakes per level, but if you fail a level you have to start back from the beginning.  If you enjoy “remember the sequence” style games then Temple Tap offers enough of a change from the norm that you’ll definitely want to check it out.

Temple Tap Heroic Stand, LLC., Temple Tap – $0.99


Tap Titans [12/17/14] – When I first saw my son playing this game I thought “that looks kind of silly, but I like the graphics”.  I decided to try the game myself and it turns out that it can be rather addictive, given that it’s “just” another one of those tap repeatedly type of games.  What sets this one apart to me (besides the theme) is the fact that there are actually small goals you can achieve, instead of simply saying “tap the screen one million times”.  You start out with one brave hero fighting a titan at a time, and as you win battles you’ll collect coins so that you can upgrade your heroes and unlock new ones.  Each round is comprised of 9 minion fights followed by a mini-boss, and once you’ve cleared enough mini-bosses you can move on to the next world.  You’ll always be able to beat the minions but you only get 30 seconds to take out a boss, and believe it or not that may not always be enough.  If you fail to conquer a boss just keep working on additional minions until your characters are powerful enough.  There’s really no way to lose Tap Titans, it’s more a matter of how long it takes you to ultimately win, assuming there is such a thing.  The icing on the cake is that the game “plays” while you’re away, so expect a pile of cash waiting for you every time you return.

Tap Titans Game Hive Corp., Tap Titans – 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 App Store Games Roundup:

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