10 App Store Games To Watch [12/1/15]

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So it’s two down and one to go in terms of the big end of year holidays (I’m not counting New Year’s since the holiday is technically January 1st).  If you’re already planning out your Christmas gifts, just buy all your friends that have iOS devices iTunes cards and point them to my App Store roundups.  It’s a win-win situation.  And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, get yourself an iTunes card and go nuts!  Of course most of the games I cover tend to be of the free variety, but maybe you could use this season of charity to support a struggling indie dev by purchasing some IAP in one of the free titles.  No matter how you look at it, just make it all about the games.

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Paper Town: Draw, Paint and Sketch an Empire! [10/9/15] – Normally if a game requires an account (especially if it’s for a proprietary service so I don’t already have a login) my first instinct is to delete it.  This one intrigued me conceptually, however.  At a fringe level it’s kind of like the old classic M.U.L.E., except instead of collecting energy or growing crops to build up your empire you draw pictures.  You start out with 1,000 coins, and for 300 you can have your very own plot of land.  On that land you can draw one or more pictures to put on display, and you can even put a price on them if you’d like.  Of course if you’re not that great of an artist you might have troubles pushing your merchandise, but thankfully you can also earn coins if someone feels pity on you and “likes” your drawings or if you “like” other people’s drawings.  Yep, now we’ve drifted into Facebook territory.  There are definitely some issues with the game as it stands, like the archaic drawing tools or the sluggish response as you try to scroll through the already developing landscape, but hopefully as people start to support the game by drawing a bunch of cool stuff the developers will continue to refine the program and make it something special.  To reference one of my favorite animated films, this could very well be a “diamond in the rough”.

Paper Town: Draw, Paint and Sketch an Empire! chun lim, Paper Town: Draw, Paint and Sketch an Empire! – Free

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Toad Rider [2/4/14] – I’m not really sure how I managed to miss this one when it first came out, but I’m glad I finally got the chance to play it now.  This is clearly a homage to one of the best parts of the classic console game Battle Toads, and they’ve not only managed to capture the excitement of Rare’s epic platform game but they’ve actually upped the ante a bit.  In the vein of the modern infinite runner they’ve added power ups that you can upgrade, initial boosts to advance you through the beginning levels quicker, additional characters and jetskis you can unlock and plenty of missions to complete.  You’ll have to collect coins for most upgrades and unlocks, though the ultimate tier of unlocks for characters and jetskis requires gems, and I’m not sure if you can get those outside of buying them via IAP.  For every three missions you complete you’ll boost your score multiplier, which will help you advance on the score based leaderboard.  There are also two other leaderboards to rank on.  I doubt will be seeing Battle Toads show up on the iPad any time soon, but this is a pretty decent substitute.

Toad Rider Abdullah El-Sayed, Toad Rider – Free

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Crush The Tower [10/18/15] – After all this time I still don’t really get the appeal of these games where you have to continually break down some object in the center of the screen by tapping the left or right sides of the screen to swing something at it.  Occasionally one of this type of game comes along that actually manages to be interesting, however, and Crush The Tower is just such a game.  The concept is still basically the same, with the object in the center being a tower littered with ledges, goblins and other things that will try and take you out.  You start out with two hearts, which means you can take two hits before you die, at least in the first 100 floors.  For each 100 floors getting hit takes one more heart, so floors 101-200 take away two hearts, etc.  You’re also up against a clock, so you have to be able to decide rather quickly whether you want to tap to the left or right.  In this variant of the idea there are coins you can collect that can be used to upgrade power ups and armor.  Power ups do things like make potions last longer, give you better multipliers and slow down the clock.  On the other hand, armor increases your hearts, adds more time back to the clock when you swing your weapon, and puts more coins on the board.  There are missions, quests and achievements to complete which are all interlinked, but I just haven’t taken the time to sort it all out yet.  There’s also a leaderboard chronicling the highest floor each player has made it to.

Crush The Tower Michiel Kamerman, Crush The Tower – Free

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Sky Pets [10/8/15] – If you ever thought that your pets should do something more than just sit on the couch and act like they own the place, now’s your chance to make them useful.  That’s assuming, of course, that you define “useful” as collecting large amounts of coins and gems for no apparent reason.  At least you get 36 levels across 4 different worlds to test your applied pet theories across.  The game looks like it was designed primarily for kids, but don’t let the exterior fool you.  Should you happen to be the kind of person that obsesses over getting every gem on every level, you’ll find yourself coming back to these levels again and again until you conquer each one.  There are times where that is not so difficult, but there are also occasions where timing can be quite the issue.  One interesting factor is that the levels don’t reset themselves after each attempt, at least as far as obstacles go, so when exactly you need to “hit the brakes” might be slightly different each time through.  There are 4 stock pets you can choose to play with, or you can create your own with a fairly simple to use editor.  Sky Pets currently offers one leaderboard, but at this time there are no achievements.  It would be nice if there was something to use all the coins on that you collect, and multiple profiles would be good since this game will certainly appeal to both casual adult players and kids.  Overall it’s a cute, nicely done little game.

Sky Pets Subliminal, Sky Pets – $1.99

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Devil Eater [11/7/15] – Devil Eater is kind of an odd name for a somewhat quirky game.  It just happens that the game is also rather entertaining.  It’s what I’d call a casual shooter, because instead of having to worry about moving your character around, or even aiming for that matter, you simply tap a button to shoot and another one to block.  If you block at just the right moment you’ll even launch a counter attack that appears to hurt multiple enemies.  You also earn a special attack each time you have to reload which gets activated with another button.  This special attack does a nice amount of damage as well.  When you slay demons you’ll earn coins, and you can also get loot from completing achievements.  This money can be used to buy new guns as well as increase the attack, speed and defense attributes of your hero.  In addition to all the in-game achievements for earning gold there are 11 achievements and a leaderboard via Game Center.  The visuals are extremely well done, and there are some really nice character designs in this game.  If you need total control over your shooters you might not appreciate Devil Eater, but if you like causal wanton destruction this is just the game for you.

Devil Eater LoadComplete, Devil Eater – Free

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Monkeyrama [10/14/15] – Monkeyrama is kind of like an arcade version of Jenga.  Except once you knock a block out you don’t put it back.  And, the arrangements you are attempting to knock down are often much more complex than a rectangular tower.  Oh, and did I mention the monkey heads?  There are lots of monkey heads to be tossed around here.  The game currently has 4 episodes with 28 levels each, and your goal is to score as many points as you can per level.  Of course you do have to meet a minimum score to beat a level, and in some cases you’ll barely squeeze that number out.  To aid you in your quest you’ll have a selection of monkey heads at your disposal.  There’s the normal head, the explosive head, the heavy head and my favorite – the baby head.  This last one sucks on the blocks it attaches to and tries to pull them over.  You’ll get a combination of one or of these heads on each level, with a certain number of each kind at your disposal.  Thanks to the kindness of the developers, you can switch between them at any time to get the optimal combination for your strategy.  Some levels are pretty simple, others are deceptively simple and then there are ones that are just deceptive.  In the end it’s a good balance that will keep you busy but for the most part not frustrate you.  One thing that I do find a bit interesting and oddly refreshing is that your satisfaction comes strictly from doing the best you can, because there is no integration with Game Center or other social media at this point.  If you’re tired of all the block bashing physics games looking like Angry Birds, Monkeyrama is a nice alternative.

Monkeyrama Tuomas Erikoinen, Monkeyrama – $0.99

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Dulp: Color Wheel Blast [11/12/15] – This is a pretty basic game – tap to release a ball and take out a like colored part of the spinning ring(s).  Knock out the entire ring and you win.  There’s no filler here, so every shot counts.  You can’t shoot past the ring, but you can hit the wrong color or the inside of the ring, either of which earns you a game over.  Dulp seems fairly simple at first, but it doesn’t take long before the levels become challenging.  You might have multiple rings that are spinning in opposite directions or worse yet at different speeds.  The rings might change direction or speed during game play, which is usually triggered when you tap the screen and not once the ball hits something.  That can make a big difference in how you time things.  The game is definitely all about timing, and thankfully it doesn’t complicate the situation by actually adding a timer into the mix.  I’m not sure how many levels there are, as I’m currently stuck on level 21 and refuse to hit the Skip button, but based on the leaderboard there’s at least 147.  Dulp doesn’t have much depth to it, but it does provide a decent amount of challenge for a casual game.

Dulp: Color Wheel Blast Nexx Studio, Dulp: Color Wheel Blast – Free

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Puzzle Forge 2 [12/16/14] – This is an interesting variation of the 2048 genre.  You are the blacksmith at the local weapons shop for wayward adventurers.  To create weapons you’ll need to lay down ore and then place moulds for various parts of the weapons.  When you have three moulds in a row that form a particular weapon they will merge into that weapon, and the spots that were occupied by the molds will become hot so that you can’t use them again right away.  Like most time management games you’ll have to make every customer that comes in each day happy by providing them with weapons, but unlike other games in this genre when you disappoint a customer you lose a heart, and when all hearts are gone you start over from day one.  On the plus side, as you build up your reputation and serve customers well you’ll level up and learn new skills, and all of that stays with you for every subsequent game.  In addition to your forge there’s a bank where you can buy coins and soul stones via IAP, an academy where you can spend the soul stones to buy new skills, and shop where you can buy items to help you forge weapons and an archive (ie: library) that lists all the weapons you’ve forged and adventurers you’ve met.  Not only is this a neat use of the 2048 paradigm but it’s a cool time management sim that gets you out of the realm of baking and sandwich making.

Puzzle Forge 2 Tuesday Quest, Puzzle Forge 2 – Free

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Do Not Pop! – Endless Bubbly Arcade Avoider [11/5/15] – I’m not sure when I became such a causal games addict, but it’s amazing how quickly some of these games capture my attention any more.  I’ve seen many of these one room “dodge the walls” style games on the app store, and this is the first one I’ve really taken for a spin.  I don’t know if it’s the cute avatars or the cool bubble that leaves a trail as you float around the stage, but something about Do Not Pop manages to keep me engaged every time I start the game up.  There’s really not much to the game: tap left or right to move the bubble around the screen, avoiding the walls and floating spike balls while collecting coins.  Honestly, though, you’ll get most of your coins either from the free present option that opens up every once in a while or from watching videos (or, if you’re feeling generous, via IAP).  The coins are used to buy new avatars, which cost between 1000 and 2000 coins apiece.  The game offers 18 achievements through Game Center, as well as a leaderboard that actually hasn’t been hacked yet.  I’m going to guess there’s nothing here that other games of this type don’t offer, but as my first foray into this sub-genre of gaming, I found Do Not Pop worth spending some time with.

Do Not Pop! - Endless Bubbly Arcade Avoider CV Racoongames, Do Not Pop! – Endless Bubbly Arcade Avoider – Free

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Power my Robot [10/19/15] – In case the name didn’t seem self explanatory enough, this is a game about powering up robots.  There are three robots, in fact, each with 20 different power receptacles that need juice.  In order to provide them with energy you’ll need to launch balls into their inner workings, which conveniently enough turn into batteries when they hit the right area.  In the mean time you’ll need to navigate around plenty of obstacles that appear to have no other function than to make your life difficult.  Moving walls, transport tubes and air pockets will redirect your balls in sometimes undesired directions.  Items like lasers will simply destroy them.  You have a certain number of balls with which to complete each level, and enough of them have to make it to the battery compartment to fill it.  Each level has three stars to collect, and while you don’t need all of them (or any of them, for that matter) to complete a level, you do need to get a certain number of stars to unlock the next robot.  Once you launch a ball you can tilt the device to help guide it, sort of like a labyrinth style game.  Unfortunately you don’t have 360 degree freedom, so if you’re not careful a ball can get stuck or stop moving, at which point it’s on to the next one.  The levels get progressively harder with each robot, and design wise this is one of those games that’s both challenging and fair.

Power my Robot Warp Lemon, Power my Robot – 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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