10 App Store Games To Watch [3/15/16]

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Spring is in the air, more or less.  Thankfully, better weather doesn’t deter me from playing games.  After all, even on the nicest days it gets dark at some point.  This roundup features a couple of interesting hybrid games, as well as an interesting take on a style of RPG I’m not normally fond of.  Puzzle Siege is a tower siege game that uses an odd combination of 2048 and collapsing bricks for its puzzle mechanic.  Throw in the ability to level up your units and you have an extremely interesting mash-up that actually works quite well.  Dungeon Monsters RPG is a menu driven RPG, which usually tends to bore me before too long.  With the addition of 3D dungeon maps to explore, however, Dungeon Monsters RPG transcends the trappings of its peers and manages to hold my interest.  Defenders 2: Tower Defense CCG is a mash-up of, well, take a guess.  While the CCG part of the mix sometimes feels gimmicky, when you tack on the overhead map that you can explore it adds enough variety to the game to make it a fresh tower defense experience.

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Splash Cars [2/3/16] – This is kind of a cross between Pleasantville and a demolition derby.  Color has left the towns, and it’s your job to bring it back by driving around, splashing the “living color” back into everything.  The problem is that apparently folks don’t want it, because the cops will try and stop you and lifeless paint vehicles will attempt to spread gray back into the surroundings.  The big question is whether you can fill up enough of the map before you either run out of gas or take too much damage to your vehicle.  Fortunately if you pass by the paint vehicles you’ll change them to color so they help you in your quest.  You can also get power ups like a magnet to attract gas cans and coins or a snowflake to temporarily freeze the police.  As you make your way through the levels you’ll collect coins that can be used to buy new cars, and you’ll also rack up miles that eventually unlock new power ups or enhancements to your existing ones.  You can earn up to three stars for each level based on the percentage of that level you complete, and each one gives you more bonuses, though one of them is usually just unlocking the next level.  There are only 20 maps at the moment, but between collecting all three stars on each and trying to unlock every vehicle it should keep you busy for a while.

Splash Cars Craneballs s.r.o., Splash Cars – Free

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Into The Dim [12/15/15] – I always thought the dog was supposed to help Timmy get out of the well, but in this case he actually leads you into the abyss… or at least an entertaining little dungeon.  Into The Dim is a rogue-like in the loosest sense of the word, but it has some interesting innovations.  The game is actually turn based.  You get so many actions, whether it’s moving, attacking with your fist or firing your gun, and then all the bad guys get to move.  You have a limited number of slots for health, moves and ammo, all of which can be upgraded between levels.  You earn money from defeated monsters, barrels and open chests, and there are also locked chests that reap greater rewards but require you to unlock them via a simple mini-game.  Each level requires a key to get through the exit, most of them have a hidden area with some nifty rewards, and if you find the ladder in each level it takes you to a bonus area where you have to move crates to lower spikes so you can get at the reward.  The game play is never very difficult if you play smart, and there’s enough variety to keep it interesting.  I also love the graphics, which have a Gameboy feel with a lot more detail.  Overall this is a nice casual dungeon crawler at a very nice price.

Into the Dim Happymagenta, Into the Dim – Free

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High Arc [2/11/16] – Outside of NBA Jam I’ve never really gotten into a full-fledged electronic basketball simulation, but I do like the occasional “make shots from random locations” mini-game.  I like High Arc because unlike many such games of this style that I’ve played, in this one you actually see your character.  There’s also a nice dashed line that helps you get the ball in the right spot, though sometimes it just seems to vanish and it’s definitely only a rough guide when the wind is blowing.  In Time Trial you make as many baskets as you can in 60 seconds, and you get three extra seconds added back to the clock if you make a “clean” shot.  Of course you lose a point for each shot you miss, and you can actually score negative in this mode.  Challenge just has you making shots until you miss, and if you manage to collect the words “High Arc” you’ll get a bonus dunk from a guest player that earns you extra coins.  In both modes you can collect coins that are the path of the ball when you throw it, and those coins can be used to buy new players and basketballs, though I use the latter term loosely as so far I’ve unlocked a manhole cover and a paint can.  You can even play one on one in versus mode, which I believe requires two people in the same room with Bluetooth since the option is never available for  me.  It would be cool if the different characters and balls actually affected game play, but High Arc is still a fun, casual basket shooter.

High Arc Kuung Games, Corp., High Arc – Free

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Reiner Knizia’s Dice Monsters [10/21/15] – One thing I really like about Reiner Knizia’s games is that they all feel different.  Of course it certainly doesn’t hurt that they all tend to be enjoyable as well.  In this case you’re battling a bunch of monsters that look like they came from Sesame Street.  Your tool of choice is dice, with combinations that mimic poker or Yahtzee, depending on what you are more familiar with.  Each monster has 5 dice beneath them, and you’ll drag two dice at a time below your opponents to build up your hand against them.  There’s a handy little chart accessible from the lower right corner in case you forget what combinations are stronger than others.  The monsters have a few tricks up their sleeves, like the ability to destroy the larger of the two dice that you drag against them, a shield which erases certain numbers from dice played against them, and a rage factor which increases the total score needed to beat them for each move in which they aren’t defeated.  Luckily, as you progress through the game you’ll earn new power ups like a chance to re-roll your last set of dice, a broom which clears away all the dice you’ve dragged between an opponent, and “lucky 7”, the power up that assures the two dice will equal 7.  You’ll even be able to unlock special dice that have abilities as well.  Dice Monsters is a nice combination of casual and strategy that’s easy to get into and can be quite difficult to put down.

Reiner Knizia's Dice Monsters Timecode, Reiner Knizia’s Dice Monsters – Free

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Puzzle Siege [12/15/15] – This takes the concept of touching like groups of objects to make them disappear, twists it on its side and takes it to a whole new level.  Your town has been captured, and now you must send a hero to destroy the evil forces that hold you captive.  In order to get troops and supplies you must make matches, though in this case only the color must be the same and not the objects.  Depending on what objects you match you might make ore, which turns into silver bars that you can use to upgrade your troops.  Or you might create hero badges which allow you to buy new heroes or upgrade the ones you have, and they also let you continue from various waypoints on the map instead of starting your journey over every time.  Finally, certain objects mix to make troops, and once you get five troops of any type of the board you can tap them to put them into battle.  Each run is complete when your hero has been beaten, at which point you can apply all the resources you’ve gained to make your troops stronger and set out for the demonic castle once again.  The action is real time so while there is strategy involved you have to be able to think fast.  Much like Dice Monsters Puzzle Siege manages to blend causal and strategy in an appealing way, and it will hook you before you realize it.

Puzzle Siege Sanghoon Jeon, Puzzle Siege – Free

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Fly O’Clock [2/25/16] – The best way I can think of to describe this game is silly, though I don’t mean that in a bad way.  You control a fly (or other critter or object reduced to fly like proportions), and all you have to do is tap so that your avatar will jump over the moving hands of the watch face you’ve landed on.  Of course the hands don’t come anywhere near the concept of moving realistically, because that would make for a rather dull game.  You jump around the watch face in a counter-clockwise fashion, and each jump moves you to the next of four pre-determined spots.  Coins will pop up for you to collect but they won’t stay there forever, so if you want them bad enough you might have to take a risk with the timing and hope you don’t end up getting sliced by the approaching watch hand.  Of course your death is playfully depicted with pixilated green guts, so it won’t be too traumatizing for the younger folks.  There are more than 20 avatars to unlock, including a chicken, a giraffe and a cue ball.  There are also 5 watch faces to claim and several hats you can adorn your avatars with.  One thing I like is that between coins, score and watching videos there is almost always two ways to unlock something, so you could handle it in whatever way best suits your resources and patience.  As a casual game there’s not much depth here, but it’s great to kill a few minutes every now and again, and you might actually find yourself getting caught up in it once in a while.  Now they just need to make an Apple Watch version of the game!

Fly O'Clock - Endless Jumper Survival DIGITAL MELODY GAMES KITAJEWSKI I STALEWSKI SPOLKA JAWNA, Fly O’Clock – Endless Jumper Survival – Free

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Defenders 2: Tower Defense CCG [1/6/16] – Initially the idea of adding “trading” cards to a different genre was a novel concept, but much like the match 3 hybrid concept it quickly became overused.  Occasionally a game still manages to make the hybrid notion interesting, though, and Defenders 2 is just such a game.  Even the tower defense part of Defenders 2 feels a bit more exciting than your typical tower defense game, as the map is laid out more like a turn based strategy game.  Within reason you can explore the various maps as you see fit, and there are even silver mines you can capture to bolster your resources.  The maps themselves have been pretty typical tower defense fare so far, but I do like the fact that you can redirect the flow of the bad guys on many of the maps depending on where you place your towers.  Once you’ve completed a map you can go back and play it in hard mode as well to earn greater rewards, and you can even preview a map before attacking to see exactly what kind of monsters you’ll be up against.  The cards are what give you the various towers and spells you can attack with, and while there are 40 towers and 20 spells at your disposal you can only take so many into battle at once.  The cards you actually use will level up through combat, and you can also fuse them with extra cards to make them stronger and provide more of a particular type of tower in battle.  You can take on other players too for a real challenge.  If you’re looking for a different take on the tower defense genre, or maybe a unique spin on the CCG craze depending on how you look at it, give Defenders 2 a try.

Defenders 2: Tower Defense CCG NIVAL, INC., Defenders 2: Tower Defense CCG – Free

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Geki Yaba Runner [2/3/16] – Gnomes have always been a bit mysterious, and often kind of creepy (watch the Goosebumps movie if you don’t believe me), but who knew they loved socks?  Oh, there’s a princess to rescue and kingdom to save too, but don’t misunderstand… this game is all about collecting the socks.  To do so you’ll have to traverse some dangerous landscapes, avoiding endless pits, plenty of spike laced walls, and various other deadly obstacles.  Luckily you’ll have things like updrafts to carry you to higher ground and teleports to take you out of harm’s way.  Unless, of course, you don’t use them right and end up just as dead as you might have been otherwise.  Geki Yaba Runner is fair but challenging, and you’ll die a lot.  Thankfully the levels aren’t that long, so even if you have to play through them many times before completing them it’s not that big of a deal.  Each level has two goals, and while you can complete the level without reaching the gold cup level you’ll need a certain number of gold cups to get past various checkpoints.  Your character runs automatically, so all you have to do is tap a button to jump and hold that button to slide.  As you get further along in the game you’ll be able to transform your gnome on certain levels to help you accomplish your goals.  There are at least 100 levels to conquer, though the map is covered up after a point so I can’t determine the entire scope of the game.  It’s free to download, and it appears that if you’re patient and willing to watch a lot of videos you can play the entire thing for free.  Of course there are also IAP options to remove ads and buy extra lives if you wish.

Geki Yaba Runner Chillingo Ltd, Geki Yaba Runner – Free

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CubyCube [2/5/16] – When I first watched the video preview for this one I thought to myself, “it could be fun, but more than anything it would probably be frustrating”.  As it so happens, the game is a lot of fun, and yes, it can be quite frustrating.  The idea is that you have lines of blocks closing in from both sides of the screen, and you must fill in the gaps in the lines with candies that are the same color as the rows you are trying to destroy.  Conceptually it is simple, but as luck would have it those crazy swirls of sweets keep on coming out, even if you’ve still got a playing field full of them.  Not to mention the fact that they seem to love adhering to the laws of candy gravity, which means they all stick together except when you want them to.  You have a certain amount of time to survive on each level (there is no “completing” a level), and while you will eventually get more time per level, the challenges increase as well.  Candies come out more rapidly, additional colors are introduced and the walls start closing in more rapidly.  On the plus side you do get the supermine, which when placed in a row actually blows up all the rows on that side of the screen.  I’d love to see some more game play modes and a few different power ups, as that would take an already entertaining and frankly unique game to the next level.

CubyCube Lamayon Games, CubyCube – $0.99

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Dungeon Monsters RPG [3/10/16] – If you are familiar with the concept of a “menu RPG” you’ll be right at home with Dungeon Monsters.  You pick a location, fight some monsters and gather the resulting loot.  You have a team of four creatures and an ally that is actually another live player’s character, and as you gain extra critter cards you can use those to fuse and evolve your team into stronger creatures.  There are plenty of dungeons to complete in story mode as well as special events to participate in once you’ve conquered enough of the story.  There are also many quests and achievements that can earn you extra loot.  I’m typically not a fan of this style of casual RPG, but what really hooks me with Dungeon Monsters is that instead of just magically jumping from location to location, each dungeon is a mini 3D labyrinth that you have to walk through.  The locations are small enough that you can usually get through them in just a few minutes, but it still gives you that feeling of exploration that most menu driven RPGs lack.  I also like the fact that you can gather extra creatures as you wander the dungeons, and if you find all the available creatures on a level you even earn bonus creatures.  You can of course summon creatures as well using the various in-game currencies that you collect or buy via IAP, but the fact that you can earn creatures so many other ways is a nice touch.  Dungeon Monsters RPG is a top notch casual adventure that’s worth exploring.

Dungeon Monsters RPG Mana Cube, Dungeon Monsters RPG – 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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