10 App Store Games To Watch [1/23/16]
Welcome to my first roundup of 2016. Of course you wouldn’t necessarily know it given the release dates of some of my choices, but with all the games I go through each week it’s often easy to overlook certain gems for a long time. The way I figure it, as long as they are still available in the App Store they are still worth looking into, and that’s certainly the case for the oldest game on my list, Icycle: On Thin Ice. Of course it doesn’t hurt that the game just received 7 new levels at the end of last year to complete the game’s story. At any rate, as usual I hope you find something on this list that appeals to you, as I’ve had fun exploring each and every one of these games.
Chicken Scramble [9/3/14] – I’m not sure how come I’m just getting around to this game, but Chicken Scramble is the reason I love the fact that anyone can dump something on the App Store. After the first level or two I was ready to give up because it was “just another 2048 clone”, but now almost 20 levels later I’m still at it. This time around you’re trying to turn an egg into a chicken (apparently the egg came first), and while it starts off simple enough the game throws plenty of challenges at you eventually. The board is constantly shifting in size and shape. Instead of just going for as long as you can each level has a goal for the number of chickens you have to collect, and the number either grows or requires more complex chickens to be created. Then the game starts throwing in things like bails of hay that take several matches to remove, rocks that can only be taken out if you use your limited supply of cranes, and tiles that are the only places on a board which will produce eggs (in other words, keep those tiles empty). Thankfully you’ll also get tiles that double your chickens when you make the final chicken on them. You can also undo your last move or fill every empty tile with an egg – both limited power ups, of course. There are three stars to earn on each level, stickers to collect for reaching certain milestones, and Facebook connectivity so you can compete with your friends and trade lives when necessary.
Lager Network, Chicken Scramble – Free
Swing [1/6/16] – This is the latest offering from Ketchapp. They remind me of a few other companies that seem to primarily turn out variants of whatever the game du jour of the moment is. In their case, however, they usually put some sort of spin on it that makes the game feel fresh compared to its contemporaries. In the case of Swing, while it has its root in those games where you have to create a ladder or bridge to cross a chasm, in this case you’re stretching out a rope so you can swing across. While that may be a niggling point, it gives the game a slightly different look, and it does allow for scenarios where you need to walk back far enough that you can no longer see the platform you’re trying to reach. The other interesting factor is that unlike most games of this type, the platforms are quite often of different heights, so it’s possible to stretch the rope to what seems like a sufficient length and still come up short in the end. There are gems you can collect on the pillars (apparently only by hitting them on the upswing), and you can also earn them through periodic gifts or by watching movies. For the impatient players, IAP is an option as well. The gems let you buy new characters, which don’t affect game play but might look cooler depending on your preferences. There are 17 achievements to earn, and a leaderboard that while quite populated does not appear to have been corrupted yet.
Ketchapp, Swing – Free
Rogue Saga [11/9/15] – Visually the game looks a bit like Minecraft, at least where the characters are concerned, but the iTunes description makes sure to point out that Rogue Saga is not, in fact, like the uber popular world builder. That’s a good thing, because that’s not what I want to play anyway! As its name somewhat implies, Rogue Saga is a rouge-like game. You’ll wander randomly generated dungeons slaying creatures, gathering loot and increasing one of three stats as your character levels up. The game uses a dual HP-hunger system for health, and when your health reaches 0 you will achieve perma-death. You can rest to regain HP, but that just makes you hungry quicker, so your best bet it to eat some food which will both boost HP and satiate some of your hunger. Thankfully your equipment doesn’t wear out as well, or at least I haven’t run into that problem yet. On your journey you’ll encounter cubes that might give you goods or scrolls, cubes that might heal you or even might reveal all of the unidentified scrolls that you’re carrying. There are shops where you can buy and sell goods and cubes that allow you to craft items. Unfortunately, while this is potentially one of the coolest parts of the game it’s not really explained at the moment, so hopefully it will come with some guidance in future updates. There’s even a leaderboard so you can compete with others to see who can navigate the most levels in one run and 20 achievements for you to earn.
Jinwoo Park, Rogue Saga – $1.99
Bouncy Pong [1/6/16] – I’ll admit I can be a bit judgmental at times, and when I first saw Bouncy Pong I wondered why Bulkypix would publish a game like this. After spending a bit of time with it, however, I know understand their decision. While the game is by no means revolutionary it has a small footprint, it plays well on older devices (I’m running an iPad 2), and it quickly becomes pretty addictive. The ball is constantly moving, and all you have to do is tap left or right to nudge it in the appropriate direction. Your goal is to navigate all the platforms, avoid deadly objects like spikes and gears, and ultimately reach the star on each screen. Your points are determined by the number of rooms you pass, which doesn’t necessarily correspond to the number of screens you’ve completed (a screen can have multiple rooms). You’ll also earn an unnamed currency that you can use to unlock new avatars. There are plenty of those to add to your collection, and while they don’t affect game play in any way some of them look pretty cool. There are currently only 50 levels, which is plenty for someone like me but might go by quickly for a seasoned player. Game Center integration exists, but right now it only offers one achievement and a leaderboard that doesn’t seem to register any scores. Hopefully that will be cleaned up in an update. For a Bulkypix offering this should be a bit more polished, and at the moment it seems a bit lite on content, but this could become quite the casual game with some more attention from the developers.
Bulkypix, Bouncy Pong ● – Free
Starseed: Origin [9/14/15] – Starseed is an “old school” scrolling shooter, at least in regards to the visuals. While I like the overall concept of the looks, I think they might have gone a bit too far with the pixelized overtone. It certainly doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the game, however. Instead of the typical scenario where you have to fly through several varied locations, in Starseed you simply have to take out 9 dreadnaughts. Of course the ships are guarded by wave after wave of ship that would like nothing better than to blow you away, and once the shields are down you have several distinct targets to take out before a dreadnaught is conquered. Even once the battleship has been destroyed you have to dodge large bits of debris to make a safe escape. The first time you beat a dreadnaught you’ll unlock a new ship, and you’ll want to stay with the latest as they usually tend to be the greatest. In fact, once you get a new ship you might consider revisiting levels you did poorly on, because one interesting feature of this game is that you always start a particular level with however many lives you finished the previous level. The game offers 19 achievements to earn and 10 leaderboards for you to climb your way to the top of, and there’s certainly plenty of replay value in crunching through the levels to try and get a better score or more lives for a particularly tough level you haven’t completed.
Crescent Moon Games, Starseed: Origin – $0.99
Oddwings Escape [5/13/15] – This game is like Flappy Bird on steroids. Instead of a simple tap to fly and release to fall, you actually get to guide your birds with a simple drag mechanism. The farther your finger is from your avatar, the faster you’ll go. You start out with one fine feathered friend and can unlock seven more, each having a unique ability aside from the one you start with. Each flier also has four stats that you can upgrade with the coins you collect along the way. The game is comprised of an infinite level that is both required for unlocking other levels and a good way of racking up coins and keys, the two currencies used in the game. There are also several levels that have multiple goals to complete as well as levels where you can race against other players to win trophies and other prizes. There is only one leaderboard through Game Center at this point, but you can also connect with your friends via Facebook. The goal oriented levels are small enough that playing through them several times to achieve all the goals is no big deal, and the infinite levels are designed with plenty of hidden areas to find if you want to explore a bit. You can have all of your Flappy Bird clones – I’ll take Oddwings Escape over them any day.
Small Giant Games, Oddwings Escape – Free
Snip and Chu – The Game [12/26/14] – Much like its predecessor Game of Watchcraft, Snip and Chu has the look of an old LCD game with a bit of a modern feel to it. This time around you play Chu, a crime fighting piece of gum that must rescue his partner Snip (who just happens to be a toenail). The screen is split in two to look like an old handheld unit, but the action takes place all on one physical iPad screen. There are several obstacles standing between you and your partner, and every third time you reach him the board will reset and get even harder. Game Center offers a leaderboard and 11 achievements to earn, and of course there’s the challenge of simply seeing how many times you can pass through the board and rescue Snip. The game can get repetitive after a while, but the simple controls, ever more challenging board and great LCD-like visuals make it worth revisiting for a few minutes every once in a while.
Clicker, Snip and Chu – The Game – $0.99
Icycle: On Thin Ice [11/26/13] – I know this is already more than two generations old in iOS terms, but I’ve just recently gotten the chance to play it and really felt it was worth passing on to my readers. The game starts off with an intro that’s some weird combination of James Bond and Benny Hill and just goes uphill from there. Well, uphill, downhill, around the hill and sometimes into the dreams of a fish. If you’re into platform games than you’ll definitely appreciate the truly twisted designs on some of the levels that inhabit Dennis’ world. There are 20 base levels, 7 recently added levels to complete the odd tale, and 8 levels from the original Icycle game that can be unlocked by earning 80 snowflakes. Each level has 4 missions to complete, which is how you earn the aforementioned flakes. You can also collect ice cubes which allow you to buy clothing and upgrade your vacuum cleaner and umbrella. The former is this world’s version of a magnet for attracting cubes to you while the latter lets you float instead of fall, potentially easing you past some dangerous obstacles. In addition to all of the missions Icycle offers 11 achievements and a leaderboard via Game Center. I just wish it wouldn’t have taken me so long to discover one of the most intriguing platform games on the iOS platform.
Chillingo Ltd, Icycle: On Thin Ice – $2.99
Smurfs Epic Run [1/14/16] – I grew up with the Smurfs, but I honestly never expected to see much of a resurgence in the brand. Now with two movies under their belt in recent years they seem to be invading the mobile universe, and unlike their previous Farmville knock-off, Epic Run is actually a pretty fun game. In this spirited adventure you must help rescue the Smurfs from an evil fog that has been sent by Gargamel. You start with the equivalent of the red shirted crew member from Star Trek, but over time you’ll unlock various specific Smurfs that you’ll recognize if you’re familiar with the legacy. Each legendary Smurf has a special ability that can help you in certain situations. You can also buy rings, artifacts and companions, all of which aid you in some way or another. Complete challenges from Papa Smurf to earn coins and gems, and work towards the 71 achievements that Game Center has to offer as well. There are also 4 leaderboards in Game Center, as well as weekly tournaments to compete in if you connect via Facebook. If you log in every day for a month you can even unlock the most sought after Smurf of all, Papa Smurf himself.
Ubisoft, Smurfs Epic Run – Free
Century City [4/21/15] – Do you have a short attention span? Do you need to be rewarded immediately and continually for your actions? If so, then Century City is just the game for you. At its base level Century City is a Sim City style game where you have to build up a town starting with nothing but a piece of land. You’ll buy and upgrade buildings, at least one of which provides a mini-game for you to play. More importantly, however, the buildings provide you with income, which in turn lets you build and upgrade more buildings. There’s also a yacht that comes by from time to time to let you earn some extra cash as well as the occasional visit from Santa who delivers you a gift of some sort. The other aspect of the game is mining for gold. This is a great way to supplement your income, and if you’re ambitious you’ll probably make a lot more money doing this than waiting for your buildings to throw money your way. Tap as quickly as you can with as many fingers as possible and you’ll soon have more money than you know what to do with. You can even upgrade your miner to make the whole experience more profitable. Pretty much every major action earns you an achievement, and every bonus you get can be doubled, so rewards are plenty and constant in Century City. I don’t see this being the kind of game you’ll sit and play for hours on end, but it sure makes for a nice time waster every once in a while.
Pine Entertainment, Century City – 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: