10 App Store Games To Watch [4/2/15]

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It’s time for another installment of my picks for iOS games that you might want to check out.  Did you miss me?  Anyway, I managed to stay a bit more current this time around, as 8 of the games actually came out this year while the other two are just stragglers from the end of 2014.  Under The Sun – A 4D puzzle game takes the concept of getting from point A to point B in a certain number of moves and adds a unique “passage of time” element to the mix.  Star Drift and Super Monster Mayhem: Rampage put a fresh look on a couple of popular genres, and X-Match proves that grids are good for something besides 2048 clones.  The rest of the list provides some decent entertainment as well.

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Bob’s Space Adventure [2/16/15] – Imagine the game Asteroids except that you control a spaceman instead of a ship, and that’s pretty much Bob’s Space Adventure.  Well, that and instead of shooting just asteroids you also have to take out lots of goofy aliens.  And, you have to monitor your fuel (unless you buy the infinite fuel upgrade) because if you don’t you die.  Oh, I suppose I should also mention that you can upgrade your weapon and your suit as well as unlock and upgrade power ups that you can then pick up while you’re zooming around space.  If that weren’t enough you can select up to three boosts at the beginning of each run which you can outright pay for or watch videos to acquire if you’re too cheap to even spend your in-game money.  There are even missions you can accomplish to earn gems and Game Center achievements to earn.  I suppose in the end it’s not really a whole lot like Asteroids, but I imagine that caught someone’s attention at least!  This is one of those games I’m honestly not sure I would have gotten around to playing without a bit of nudging from the developer, and now I have a hard time putting it down every time I load it up.

Bob's Space Adventure Red magnet Studios B.V., Bob’s Space Adventure – Free

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Super Monster Mayhem: Rampage [3/4/15] – If you remember the old arcade game Rampage as fondly as I do then Super Monster Mayhem will light a spark somewhere in your subconscious.  The game is actually a variant of the seemingly popular woodcutter genre of casual game, but the urban setting and giant monsters are a definite nod to rampant city destruction of days gone by.  Also, instead of knocking layers of the building out like you’d expect from a woodcutter variant, in this game you actually scale the structure as you do your damage.  Swipe right or left to dodge signs that will permanently knock you out, and tap the screen to earn coins by damaging the building or boost your health by taking out innocent civilians.  Besides the permanent death of the signs you can also loose health by playing with fire or getting shot by one of the many cops in the building.  The game has 6 achievements via Game Center and a leaderboard, though the latter always seems to say “no scores”.  Your hard earned coins can be used to buy new monsters to pound the cityscape with.  Super Monster Mayhem can be quite engaging in small spurts, though more fleshed out Game Center options as well as creatures that actually make a difference in game play would take this game to the next level.

Super Monster Mayhem: Rampage eRepublik Labs, Super Monster Mayhem: Rampage – Free

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Taichi Panda [3/5/15] – No, this is not the long lost spin-off to Kung Fu Panda.  In fact, the panda is only one of three different characters you can select to take part in this online hack ‘n slash adventure.  There are plenty of realms to explore, all full of goblins, skeletons and main other creepy crawly things that want to kill you.  Destroy the enemy, collect coins and loot and level up to become the ultimate taichi fighter.  Use discarded equipment to enhance what you already have equipped and refine your equipment using special stones to make it even more powerful.  Recruit, upgrade and evolve pets for the ultimate force that simply follows and does your bidding.  There’s a rather extensive single player campaign, and if you get bored with that you can take on players from around the world in one on one arenas or join with them to take on multi-user dungeons with great challenge and even greater rewards.  One might almost speculate that there is too much to do in this game, if such a thing could be said.  There are still several sections that are locked on my main menu, which apparently means I have even more to look forward to.  The game is free to play, and with several severs in operation you’re sure to find a home somewhere.

Taichi Panda Snail Games USA Inc., Taichi Panda – Free

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Switch & Drop [2/18/15] – Welcome to a different kind of match 3 game.  In Switch & Drop you swipe left and right to rotate the blocks within the falling row.  It only takes three blocks to make a match, but getting 4 or more in a row will create special blocks that can clear out a more expansive area of the playing field for you.  Also, once matched blocks have cleared away it’s possible for others to tumble down and create chain reactions.  If you’re really lucky you might even be able to manipulate the remainder of the falling row once part of it has come to rest on the blocks at the bottom of the screen.  The game starts off simply requiring you to earn a certain score, and eventually you’ll unlock blitz mode which adds a timer element.  I believe there’s at least one other game play mode, but at the moment I’m struggling to pass the first blitz mode level.  If you have the patience to persevere, however, I think you’ll find much reward in conquering the game’s excess of 100 levels.  Plus, while completely superfluous to actual game play, it’s kind of cool watching the different grid-based objects get filled in on the map as you earn stars on each level.

Switch & Drop Chillingo Ltd, Switch & Drop – Free

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Proun+ [11/26/14] – I’ll be the first to admit that I like upgrades, power ups and the whole nine yards when it comes to racing games, but in the end none if it matters if the game doesn’t have a cool set of tracks.  Proun+ offers one of the best and most unique sets of tracks I’ve run across in a racing game in quite some time.  Each one is like a work of art, and while sometimes it can be hard to actually tell where the track is, it doesn’t really matter as you’re speeding through the surreal environments.  Throw in a cool jazz / rock soundtrack and you’ve got quite the ambiance.  The details run something along the lines of 11 individual tracks that can each be raced in 5 different difficulty settings and 3 unique game play modes: normal race, point mode where you must earn a certain score by rolling through point gates and endless mode where you keep going until you run into an obstacle.  Stars are earned based on certain milestones based on game play mode, and difficulty settings are unlocked when the previous one is complete.  Despite the complete lack of upgrades and power ups there is plenty to play for, and you’re not going to see track layouts like these in any standard racing game.

Proun+ Engine Software, Proun+ – $3.99

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Don’t Drown! [3/19/15] – It seems like such a simple mandate.  After all, it’s not common to wake up going “gee, I think I’ll let myself drown today”.  Unfortunately the constantly rising waters and randomly placed, inconvenient platforms seem to have a different plan in mind.  Your job is to avoid getting stuck at the bottom of the water chamber for as long as you can by tapping left or right to move your avatar between the platforms that are continually popping up.  Along the way be sure to pick up as many coins as you can as well as any gems you see floating by because the gems actually contain power ups like coin magnet and double score.  Collected coins can be used to upgrade the power ups as well as buy new avatars.  I don’t believe the different characters affect the game play at all, but some of them are pretty cool looking.  The game does offer one leaderboard via Game Center, but at this time there are no achievements to earn.  There’s nothing revolutionary about Don’t Drown, but it handles its genre quite well and the Mario Bros style music can be quite catchy!

Don't Drown! Batuhan Can, Don’t Drown! – Free

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Faraway Kingdom – Dragon Raiders [10/7/14] – I’ve tried many of these “play and wait” style games and quite frankly they all tend to feel the same to me after a while.  There’s something about the combination of elements in Faraway Kingdom that seems to resonate a bit differently, however.  On the surface (pun mostly intended) it’s a city building sim, but that currently seems to be limited pretty much to adding houses for your heroes to live in, which is just fine with me.  Directly below the city is a series of dungeons you can unlock and send exploration parties to, and aside from collecting the treasure at the end of the battle these are pretty much hands off experiences.  Send a party in and let them do there thing, and in the mean time you can take care of business elsewhere.  Finally you have the raiding parties which go to lands beyond your city walls and conquer all sorts of creatures, ultimately looking for the nasty red dragon.  These trips are a bit more interactive as you can unleash special abilities on your foes, though the brunt of the combat is still handled by the computer.  Through all of this your pool of heroes levels up and expands, and you can beef them up even more with equipment you buy and find along the way.  The 8 bit style graphics are great, and the music is well written.  If you’re ready to save a kingdom from the underground up, Faraway Kingdom just might be for you.

Faraway Kingdom - Dragon Raiders Smilegate West, Inc., Faraway Kingdom – Dragon Raiders – Free

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Star Drift [2/24/15] – Imagine a scrolling shooter with the simple control scheme of a Flappy Bird style game and you have Star Drift.  You basically hop from sector to sector blasting bad guys, collecting power ups and not taking names.  The basic power ups are rapid fire, spread shot and traction, each of which has several levels of upgrade.  In an interesting twist the power ups actually have a “shelf life”, though if you have multiple levels of a given power up you only go down to the next level when the time runs out.  Along the way you collect currency that allows you to buy upgrades between levels.  Even if you have enough money for more you can only buy one upgrade per level, so you have to decide what’s most important to you.  Besides the standard power ups you’ll have the chance to buy things like missiles (highly recommended) or an upgrade that levels up all owned upgrades to their maximum level.  Besides the standard levels you’ll occasionally run into a scenario where you’re actually getting chased by a ship and just have to dodge it for a certain length of time, and you also might pick up viruses that temporarily disable all of your weapons.  A leaderboard and 24 achievements round out the game play package, while slick visuals and a good soundtrack wrap it all up in a pretty bow.

Star Drift Squarehead Studios, Star Drift – $0.99

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Under the Sun – A 4D puzzle game [2/25/15] – A stranger is stranded on a series of bizarre islands, and all he wants to do is get to the fire before nightfall.  The problem is that these islands have a rather warped sense of time, and each step the stranger takes ages him dramatically.  Not only that, but the entire contents of the island can change in the blink of an eye: plants grow and wither, bridges and ladders rot and fall apart, and the tides rise to engulf the land.  Each island only allows so many steps before your character grows old and dies, so choose your actions wisely.  Thankfully there is no timer to stress you out or rob you of time to think, and if you happen to make some bad decisions you can reverse time to whichever step you’d like to start again at.  The world is currently divided into 10 areas with 6 levels each, and you must pass 3 levels to unlock the next area.  Completing an area awards you with a treasure chest (which you can’t currently open), and you can play the levels within an area in any order to let your brain rest from the particularly difficult ones.  This is old school puzzle gaming at its best, and should provide a nice challenge for anyone that likes to actually think about games instead of just blasting their way to victory.

Under the Sun - A 4D puzzle game Stegabyte, Under the Sun – A 4D puzzle game – Free

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X-Match | unique puzzle [2/6/15] – At first glance you might think this is just another 2048 clone, but don’t let the author know you’re thinking that!  The reality is that while it has a slight similarity to that genre of game play, X-Match really is a whole different ball game.  Instead of sliding tiles across the board you simply tap on a square and any like numbered tiles that are in line with that square horizontally or vertically will merge to form a bigger number.  Once the resulting number grows beyond 8 it will form an X, and combining two or more Xs is how you get your score.  There are a couple of other nuances as well, but you’ll figure those out as you play.  The game currently offers two game play modes, but if you’re skill isn’t any better than mine you might not see the second one since you need to score 100 points on Normal mode to access Mutant mode.  If you’re looking for a challenging puzzle game that’s grid based and not a 2048 clone, X-Match is definitely worth a try.  I just hope they decide to add a soundtrack in a future update.

X-Match - observation & discretion challenge. Latest recommended unique & ingenious puzzle Liqing Pan, X-Match – observation & discretion challenge. Latest recommended unique & ingenious puzzle – 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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