10 App Store Games To Watch [4/13/16]

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So after making a splash for releasing some of the biggest mobile devices on the market, Apple is reversing their trend with a new 5 SE phone and a smaller iPad Pro.  Such a fickle consumer base us iOS junkies are.  At least that hasn’t diminished developers’ desire to release games in any way.  Once again littered with fun, casual games, this edition of the roundup had several games that were more like really strong starts than fully fleshed out contenders.  Yarn!, 3-2-1-Zombies! and Gun Boat Havoc are all games to watch because they are headed in the right direction, and maybe some gentle nudging from enough players will encourage the creators to add in some extra features and make these games real contenders in their respective genres.

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Gun Boat Havoc [3/15/16] – This game certainly has the right basic idea.  It’s an infinite driver where you simply have to blow away as many enemy boats as you can until you get too cocky and accidentally run into one before you’ve had a chance to demolish it.  Just tilt the device to steer and hold the button to shoot, or if you feel like pretending that there’s some skill involved in the game you can repeatedly tap the button only when you deem it necessary to lay down some lead.  Power ups include a coin magnet, coin doubler and random weapon pickup, and you can upgrade your boat to start out with more powerful weapons from the get go.  The power ups can be upgraded as well, and everything is bought with coins that you either collect along the way or purchase via IAP if you’re feeling generous.  There are goals to complete which unlock new weapons and locations, but those goals are basically driving for a certain distance, which is fairly easy to accomplish in a short amount of time.  This game is off to a good start, but some variation in goals as well as a few achievements and maybe a couple of extra power ups would do some wonders for its overall appeal.

Gun Boat Havoc Black Chilli Games ( Top Free Addictive Arcade / Action 3D Car Racing Fun Game ), Gun Boat Havoc – Free

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Ink Slime [3/31/16] – Feel like destroying some slime with a few shuriken?  Of course you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be considering Ink Slime in the first place.  The concept is simple enough.  Tap the screen to release a shuriken, and just make sure you hit the slime on the way up.  If your weapon bounces off of a wall first it doesn’t count, and just forget about it if you hit one of the various obstacles instead.  One stray shot and the game is over.  For each slime you kill you get a point, and if you get a “perfect” shot you get bonus points and some sort of energy token.  Collect enough of these tokens and you can buy new shuriken, or you can use the tokens to continue the game if you die.  The shuriken are pretty expensive in relation to how quickly you can earn energy tokens, unless of course you manage to master the art of perfect shots, which I certainly haven’t.  Of course you can supplement your in-game currency by watching videos.  While being able to continue when you die is nice, I don’t think the different shuriken add anything to the mix other than some new aesthetics.  It would be cool if there were actually bonuses associated with the different weapons.  There is currently a leaderboard via Game Center, though there are no achievements at this point.  Ink Slime is not a very deep or complex game, but if you’re in the right mood it can actually be kind of addictive.

Ink Slime xiao xiao, Ink Slime – Free

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Flail Rider [3/30/16] – If this game seems familiar there’s probably a good reason for it, but out of courtesy for all involved I’ll just leave it at that.  What I will say is that given Flail Rider’s lack of substance in terms of missions or goals, it provides an extremely satisfying game play experience.  You drive a vehicle around a randomly generated location, and the vehicle just happens to have a large wrecking ball chained to it.  While the vehicle can make it through less challenging objects like trees or billboards (yes, these are pretty tough vehicles), the spiked ball is required to take down larger structures like buildings and pillars.  If you’re lucky than said destruction will reveal coins which can be stashed away to buy different vehicles or power ups which are used immediately and have effects like giving you extra time or speeding up your vehicle temporarily.  I don’t think the different vehicles impact game play at all, but some of them are just cool to own.  There are three leaderboards, one for each class of vehicle, and 21 achievements to earn.  The most important part, however, is the fact that it’s just plain fun demolishing everything with a giant spiked ball.

Flail Rider Bulkypix, Flail Rider – Free

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Brave Rascals [3/16/16] – I’m not really sure what more you could ask for in a mobile platform game.  There are currently 4 worlds, and while I can’t peek into the other three because they are locked, the one you start off with has 24 levels.  Each level has 3 stars to earn, and every time you collect three stars in a level you’ll work towards a mastery of that level.  You’ll collect money which can be used to buy and upgrade your weapon as well as upgrade your current pet.  You can also collect fruit for enhancing your pet in case you’d rather save up your coins to buy new characters.  The game offers 10 achievements and a leaderboard via Game Center, though there’s so much to earn in the game itself you’ll barely notice these extra achievements.  The levels are well designed, the controls are spot on, and unless you die a lot like I do the wait for life regeneration is completely bearable.  Of course you can get around the last part with a bit of IAP if you’d like.  A must have for platform game fans, and you can’t beat the price.

Brave Rascals ParkPill, Brave Rascals – Free

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destructSUN [3/23/16] – I hate using the word unique, because with all of the games out there I’m never really sure there’s not already been a variant of what I’m playing released at some point.  That being said, I don’t recall ever playing a color matching game quite like destructSUN before.  The sun in the center of the screen is spewing out colored orbs, and you have to hold a finger on the screen to make the sun stay a solid color in order to destroy those orbs.  The sun must match the color of the orb you are trying to destroy, and in order to switch colors for the sun you tap the screen instead of holding it.  You get a point for each orb you destroy, bonus points if you destroy multiple orbs with the same hold, and you keep going until you accidentally mismatch the colors of the sun and an orb.  There are two game play modes: Zen and Insanity.  Besides each having their own leaderboard, I think the main differences are that as a whole the orbs move faster in Insanity mode, and it also seems that you can have more orbs on screen at once in that mode.  When there are just a couple of orbs on the screen the game can feel a bit slow, but get seven or eight (or more) in Insanity mode and you’ll quickly understand why the game can be addictive and twitch inducing.

destructSUN Jared Bailey, destructSUN – Free

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3-2-1-Zombies! [3/24/16] – It seems like it has been a while since I’ve written about zombie themed games, which is a bit odd given how much I like them.  It’s lucky for you then that you’re going to get your fill this week.  First up is 3-2-1-Zombies!, a quirky top down infinite runner from the developer of Shelter SCG (a zombie themed card battle game).  If you’re familiar with zombie runners than you’ll know there are two main objectives: stay away from the zombies and collect as many coins as you can.  Some obstacles you’ll have to navigate around, while others are passable but slow you down.  As soon as a zombie catches you or you accidentally touch one in passing, the game is over.  The coins you collect can be used to buy power ups, and you can select one power up at the beginning of each run.  Thankfully if you don’t activate the power up you can choose it again another time.  This is missing some of the hallmarks of most modern runners like missions, the ability to upgrade your character (or buy a different one) and leaderboards, so hopefully some of that will make it into future iterations of the game.  On the other hand, while I’m typically not a huge fan of the top down perspective I really like the low-poly visuals in this game.  The B-movie soundtrack does a nice job of complementing the atmosphere as well.  You can even choose between touch and tilt as methods of moving your character, a choice not often supplied in such games.  3-2-1-Zombies! is off to a great start, and hopefully we’ll see some updates to flesh out the game play.

3-2-1-Zombies! Christopher Roberts, 3-2-1-Zombies! – Free

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Bumper Jump [3/3/16] – Bumper Jump is sort of like Doodle Jump meets pinball.  You’re trying to help your alien pal get back to its space ship, and in order to do that you must keep bouncing it higher and higher.  To do so you simply tap on the screen to leave an energy trampoline for the alien to bounce on.  At first your extraterrestrial pal is pretty easy to control but as you start running into planets or the side of the screen the bouncing will become more haphazard and it will be harder to determine where to place the bounce pad.  The only way to actually lose is for your alien to fall off the bottom of the screen, but that will happen – a lot.  Along the way you will get power ups, as long as you can navigate your alien in their direction so you can pick them up.  These include items like reversing gravity, repelling planets and making everything move in slow motion.  While you don’t have to snag the power ups, I think they are pretty essential to earning a respectable high score in the game.  Speaking of which, there is one leaderboard based on the biggest score you’ve earned, which directly correlates to how high you’ve bounced.  There are no achievements per se, but after reaching certain milestones in score or number of jumps you will unlock new aliens.  Like many of these games I wish the different avatars did more than just change the visuals on the game, but otherwise this is another solid casual game worth spending a few minutes with every now and again, especially if you’re stuck waiting in line somewhere.

Bumper Jump Gnarcade LLC, Bumper Jump – Free

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Yarn! [3/25/16] – You thought you’d seen it all, and then the zombie-cat-pocolypse happened.  Okay, it’s actually kind of cute, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that some of these levels can be a bit challenging.  So far there are 30 altogether, and your task on each of them is to avoid all the traps, collect each star and ultimately take out the undead feline at the end of the level.  Then there’s the fact that you take on the role of a sentient ball of string.  This one tap platformer has a lot of charm and potential, though the 30 levels do fly by rather quickly.  There is a “coming soon” proclamation in regards to more levels, so hopefully that will come to pass.  And maybe along with that we’ll see some new moves and different types of traps.  If we’re lucky maybe we’ll even get to swing on the loose end of our own body (you know all balls of yarn have that straggly end that lets you pull the ball apart).

Yarn! Apps by Erik, Yarn! – Free

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Blocky 6 [3/30/16] – You’ve played this game before: fill a grid (in this case 6 x 6) with Tetris style pieces, trying to create complete rows or columns to clear them away.  Blocky 6 puts a really neat twist on the genre, however.  Each piece is comprised of tiles with dice like dots on them, and for each move that those tiles remain on the board the dots go down by one.  If all the dots go away the tile turns into a rock and can’t be moved unless you use a hammer power up.  You keep going until you can’t make a move with any of the available pieces you have.  After each game you’ll earn some stars, and you can also get stars by watching video ads.  These stars ultimately increase your score multiplier, which is good because the main goal of the game is to get the highest score that you can.  In addition to the hammer which clears away a single tile you also have a paintbrush that you can use to fill a contiguous gap with the same type of tile.  Unfortunately, other than earning a power up every once in a while through time increment bonuses there doesn’t seem to be a way to acquire more power ups, even through IAP.  Otherwise Blocky 6 is a fun little game that puts a nice spin on a solid game concept.

Blocky 6 Pine Entertainment, Blocky 6 – Free

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High Fives – Puzzle Slider Game [4/7/16] – High Fives is another in the long line of 2048 variants to hit the virtual App Store shelves.  This version uses the “one swipe moves one tile” mechanic, which of course provides for a whole different set of strategies than the “one swipe moves everything as far as it can move” paradigm.  In terms of game play elements High Fives really doesn’t offer anything new to the genre, and in fact it’s actually pretty minimal in that regards.  What appeals to me most about this variant is the aesthetics.  The game has a cool, almost art deco look to it, and there are several different tile sets to play with once you unlock them.  The music is another stellar piece from Kevin MacLeod, this one evoking the bygone days when the Pink Panther (cartoon cat, not Peter Sellers) was cool.  For each combo you make with the maximum tile type you earn a “high five” which translates to a coin.  You also earn 20 coins for every video that you watch.  It takes 100 coins to unlock a tile and there are 7 tiles to a set, but the game randomly chooses which tile gets unlocked each time (hint, it won’t always be from the same set).  So, to grab all the tiles you have to be extremely persistent and patient or shell out a bit of IAP.  The game does offer two leaderboards, one for overall high score and the other for largest number of high fives earned in a single game.

High Fives - Puzzle Slider Game Jeffrey Yim, High Fives – Puzzle Slider Game – 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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