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

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Casual is the name of the game in this roundup, and Ketchapp leads the pack with two entries this time around.  The thing is, no matter how much developers want to turn iDevices into portable next gen consoles, at this point the devices are still at their best when running simple, addictive games.  Whether it’s strategy lite in the form of Crystal Crusade, twitch action thanks to Taptical Breach or good old fashion Gameboy like side scrolling shooter fun via Toritoma., there should be something here for everyone.  And if not, be sure to let me know what you like and I’ll see what I can do for the next roundup.

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Taptical Breach [11/24/15] – This is an interesting little game.  Given the name you’d almost think there would be some tactics to it, but it’s basically a reflex game.  You start with a squad of 4 agents, and you must infiltrate room after room to save hostages.  The extent of your strategy, however, is simply to let the hostages duck and shoot the terrorists.  There is no negotiation here.  Of course the terrorists feel the same way, and any hesitation will result in them firing and killing one of your men.  If the squad dies the game is over.  Also, one accidental hostage death and you’ll be starting over again as well.  The game does have a leaderboard through Game Center, but there aren’t any achievements at this point.  While achievements might be rather limited in scope for this type of game, it would be nice to see something like power ups introduced into the game, or maybe even the ability to get new men every once in a while.  Still, for what the game offers it’s rather entertaining, and I do tend to be partial towards games that make good pixel graphics work.

Taptical Breach Matthew Owen, Taptical Breach – Free

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Puzzle Warrior Online [11/27/15] – You might be thinking to yourself “don’t we already have enough hybrid match 3 / RPG games?”  The answer is probably, and yet I still find myself getting sucked into this one.  It doesn’t have the depth and complexity of some of the more recent offerings that I’ve reviewed which might actually be part of the game’s appeal.  You basically select a level, defeat all the monsters on that level and repeat until you’ve conquered the game.  There are no characters to interact with or quests to beat or anything like that.  You do get the chance to upgrade your character’s armor and enhance his skills with the money and gems that you collect.  You can also buy and upgrade pets if you so desire.  Besides the extensive single player campaign you can connect with other players online to earn additional XP and Honor, assuming you can best them in battle.  The game does seem a bit buggy at times, but I’m sure they’ll get all the little kinks worked out with future updates.

Puzzle Warrior Online Jianchao Zhang, Puzzle Warrior Online – Free

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Starific – Endless Arcade Reactor [11/3/15] – Take pong, place it in a Tempest style arena, and you basically have Starific.  All you have to do is keep at least one star in the playing field, and until you mess that up you’ll keep racking up the points.  There are plenty of codex (power ups) to collect along the way, and since the levels are randomly generated each time you never know what sorts of combinations you’ll get.  Completing the various quests that you are presented with will unlock new codex, themes, and grid sizes for the levels.  You can also earn money while you’re playing which can be used to spin the prize wheel.  The prize wheel is where you get to unlock the three extra game play modes the game offers.  You can also earn more money, unlock extra game items or possibly win nothing.  If you like leaderboards then you’ll have to plenty to work towards here, as each of the game modes has a leaderboard for each of the grid sizes, which means there are a total of 16 leaderboards to rank on.  There are currently no achievements, though the game does present you with comprehensive statistics broken down by game play mode and grid size.  The visuals are pretty minimalistic, yet they still provide a lot of bling and sparkle.  The music is fun, and interestingly enough several of the songs have lyrics, which is unusual for your typical casual arcade game.

Starific - Endless Arcade Reactor Alex Gierczyk, Starific – Endless Arcade Reactor – Free

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Alien Pot [10/10/15] – I hate to disappoint some of you, but this game is not about weed from another planet.  It’s actually the latest in a series that I have neglected for some time called “games that I’m thankful aren’t Flappy Bird”.  The basic control scheme of “tap to rise, release to fall” is present, but instead of flying through pillars you have to navigate randomly generated tunnels in the vein of games like Cavern.  One of the things I think is cool about this game is that you actually see the floor and ceiling move into place as you’re flying through it, which is a simple but cool visual effect.  Speaking of visuals, the paper cutout visual style is another area where this game shines over the original Flappy Bird, as well as most of the subsequent knock-offs.  You start off with one pot, and you can unlock others by watching videos.  You can also upgrade any pot you own either using the stars you collect or by watching videos, which means the only reason you’d need to spend IAP is if you want to get rid of the ads (which is also a nice way to support the developer).  While Alien Pot doesn’t necessarily break any new ground where this type of game is concerned, it does its peers proud – and probably overshadows most of them as well.

Alien Pot Yao Sun, Alien Pot – Free

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Speed Golf [12/3/15] – There are plenty of golf games on the App Store, whether of the standard or mini variety, but thankfully Speed Golf feels different from the pack.  To hit the golf ball you press the screen when the desired angle has been reached, and release when you feel you have enough power.  You only get one shot per hole, and the game is over the first time you miss.  Oh, and did I mention that you only get five seconds to take and make each shot?  You collect coins in several ways, including launching the ball into them, making a chip shot, watching videos and collecting a somewhat random prize.  These coins can be used to buy new levels, and while I’m not sure they add anything to the game play it’s nice to have something different to look at every once in a while.  There is a leaderboard based on the largest number of levels you’ve played in one game, and there are also 9 achievements to earn.  Speed Golf is a great casual game, and it can even be played easily with one hand.

Speed Golf Ketchapp, Speed Golf – Free

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Toritoma. [12/8/15] – If I didn’t know any better I’d think this was a port of an old Gameboy game.  Of course the reality is there’s a good chance the developer doesn’t even know what one of those classic units looks like, but whatever the case they did a great job of emulating the experience in this game.  It’s a standard shooter in the sense that you move your ship around the screen, and in this case the game fires automatically for you.  Shoot down all the enemies, and in the mean time get close to enemy fire to build up your chicken gauge (yes, you are a member of the poultry family).  When your gauge is full a chick will come to help you out by adding extra gunfire.  So far I’ve managed to have three chicks at one time.  While you have these chicks at your disposal you can also hold the shield button to have them whip out their eggshells and protect you from enemy bullets.  However, this will run down your chicken gauge.  The game only has six levels, but the difficulty jumps immensely once you hit level 4.  There is a leaderboard via Game Center based on your high score.  You can finish the game for free, but an IAP purchase removes the ads as well as gives you access to playing the entire game at a much harder level.  Of course the best part of the game is how much it actually looks like an old black and white Gameboy game, so nostalgia freaks should definitely check it out.

Toritoma. Akihiro Kaneda, Toritoma. – Free

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Around The World [11/4/15] – Wow, two next-generation Flappy Bird inspired games in the same roundup.  I think my head is going to explode!  This one is different than any other I’ve played before, however, because in this case your character is continually moving up and down, regardless of whether or not you tap the screen.  By pressing the screen in Around The World you actually cause your character to speed up, and conversely by releasing the screen it slows down.  There is still plenty to dodge, however, in the form of red pointy rocks.  Some will be resting on the ground, some will be hanging out in the middle of the tunnel, and the most annoying ones will actually be moving around.  I’m still not completely used to the control scheme, which means my high score isn’t all that high yet, but overall it’s much more compelling than the typical Flappy Bird clone.  There are cubes to collect, and for every 100 you grab onto you’ll be able to unlock a new bird.  So far each one has come with its own background, which is pretty cool.  The game offers one leaderboard and 18 achievements via Game Center.  And now, hopefully, I’m done with Flappy Bird-ness for this article.

Around The World Ketchapp, Around The World – Free

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Crimbo [12/3/15] – I tend to shy away from Santa-themed games because frankly two things I don’t want to see are the jolly toymaker taking his frustrations out on misguided elves or getting horribly dismembered by a series of devious traps.  Sadly Crimbo falls into the latter category, but the game is so well done that I’m forgoing my concerns temporarily.  In typical holiday fashion, the presents have disappeared and it is up to the rotund one to find them before Christmas is ruined.  Currently you have to navigate Santa through 12 deviously crafted levels in order to accomplish your goal.  Along the way you’ll have to dodge snowballs, jump across narrow ledges that often move, and avoid lots and lots of spikes.  To help you accomplish your quest you’ll get to use the infamous sleigh, a pair of skis and even a balloon.  Unfortunately there’s no twisted Christmas music playing in the background, but the combination of hollowing winds and slick silhouetted graphics do a good job of providing an ominous atmosphere.  Despite having to watch Santa repeatedly suffer a cruel fate when you make a mistake, this is a solid platform game worth spending some time with.

CRIMBO Paul Banks, CRIMBO – Free

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Crystal Crusade [11/13/15] – Just when I thought I’d seen it all in terms of match 3 hybrids, Crystal Crusade comes along and manages to surprise me.  It’s what I’d categorize as “strategy lite”, because once you hit the battlefield you’re pretty limited in your interactions.  You can cast spells, call in reinforcements and resurrect your hero if you need be.  It’s just enough to keep you engaged while your minions battle it out for a hopeful victory.  Where the match 3 comes into play is before the battle starts, and the more matches you make the larger your army is.  Once you’ve reached your max capacity for your army you’ll enter gold rush mode where every match you make earns you more loot.  Gold earned during the match 3 sequences and upon winning a battle can be used to upgrade both your hero and your troops.  You’ll also earn medallions which can be used for upgrading when you run out of gold or for buying additional spells.  There are six types of troops to unlock as well as 6 heroes to acquire over time.  Each level has three goals to beat, and many of them will require multiple visits to achieve all of them.  There are 12 achievements through Game Center as well.  I’m a huge fan of match 3 mash ups as it is, and it always makes my day when a developer does something different with the concept.

Crystal Crusade Torus Games, Crystal Crusade – Free

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Spider Square [12/3/15] – First of all, I am fully aware that there is another game on the App Store called Spider Square!! (the exclamations are theirs, not mine), and this could simply be a rip off of that game.  Regardless, this is the one I happened to download and try out, and despite its simplicity and the fact that it probably doesn’t add anything new to the genre in terms of game mechanics, I find it rather addicting.  The idea is to swing your little square through the tunnels for as long as you can.  It starts out pretty basic, but eventually you’ll have to deal with things like moving platforms that get in your way.  As you’re swinging along you can collect diamonds, and one thing I appreciate is that the further into the tunnel you go, the more each diamond is worth.  The diamonds you earn can be used to continue your game when you die or to buy new avatars.  Besides trying to achieve a high score in single player mode you can challenge players from around the world in a one on one match to see who swings supreme.  Better yet, if you have an Apple TV and a sufficient number of friends that are actually willing to come to your house you can play the game on a big screen with up to 8 challengers at the same time.  Game Center provides 36 achievements and two leaderboards, one for regular single player mode and one for easy mode.  This is as casual as casual games come, but I bet it is a blast when your friends can taunt you in person.

Spider Square BoomBit Inc., Spider Square – 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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