10 App Store Games To Watch [5/17/16]

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Yep, it’s time for me to get all opinionated on you again. This roundup’s theme seems to be “cool variants of games you’ve seen before”. There’s an interesting adventure game called The End of the World by Sean Wenham, an extremely retro looking arcade game titled Tomb of the Mask that’s lots of fun, and even a multi-player game you can enjoy with your kids that’s focused around square shaped fowl called Duck Bumps. There’s a nice variety of games in this group, so as always I hope you’ll find something that appeals to you.

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Stitchy: A Scarecrow’s Adventure [3/2/16] – If you’ve ever played Duke Nukem: Manhattan project or many of the mascot themed platform games that proliferated the Playstation 2 catalog you’ll certainly appreciate Stitchy. This is a 2D platform game in practice, but unlike many such games developed with the Unity 3D engine it actually takes advantage of the third dimension to add some intelligent depth to the game. Stitchy provides all the traps, obstacles and pitfalls that you’ve come to expect from a platform game, but it does things in such a way that it actually still seems interesting. Control is simple and comfortable: left and right arrows to move accordingly, an up arrow to jump and a down arrow to execute a smash landing when you’re up in the air. There are 3 birds to collect on each level, so I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be revisiting some of them several times if you consider finding special items a requirement for fully completing a game. There are also a ton of corn stalks to gather on each level, and while they aren’t a condition for anything getting 100 of them will earn you an extra life. The main drawback to the game is that there are only 8 levels, 2 of which are just boss fights, but if you’re a fan of the genre it’s definitely worth the download.

Stitchy: A Scarecrow's Adventure Frederik Smolders, Stitchy: A Scarecrow’s Adventure – Free

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Duck Bumps [3/8/15] – I primarily like to game on my own, but every once in a while I run across a game that I like which more or less requires multiple players. Duck Bumps is such a game. The premise is simple: wipe out the other three ducks before they get you. A quick bop on the head takes out your opponent, but be careful because once a duck is taken out it splits into pieces that can still end your game early. Once there is only one duck (or possibly no ducks) standing the round is over, and the first duck or ducks to get to 10 points win. Remember that you earn a point even if it’s just your deceased parts that take out another player. There are six levels, and the game randomly chooses between them for each round. Most of the levels have one or two things on them that can either help you or that you have to watch out for. You can have up to four players on a single device, and while there is a single player mode for practice the brilliance of the game really shines through when you’ve got all of the slots filled. It would be nice if you could use additional devices for controllers, especially if you’re running the game on an iPad, but as long as you get along with your opponents it works well enough with everyone on the same screen. This is an extremely kid friendly game, and actually a great game to play with your kids.

Duck Bumps Antti Ojala, Duck Bumps – $0.99

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Dino Bash – Dinosaurs vs Cavemen Defense [4/27/16] – Castle defense games rank at about the same level as tower defense games in terms of my interest, but just like with tower defense games every now and again a castle defense game will catch my attention. As I’m sure you’ve surmised, Dino Bash is one such game. First of all, between the goofy cavemen and the quirky dinosaurs the game is just cute. The game is paced out in such a way that you’re introduced to new elements for quite some time, and it’s always fun to see how a dinosaur or caveman is going to affect game play. You also get to help in the combat as there are several types of ammo that you can manually launch at the oncoming hordes. There are even items like mines and poison vines that you can add to the playing field to help protect your precious egg. Dinosaurs, specialty shots and the egg itself can all be upgraded with coins collected during game play, and various other items can be purchased using gems, though to get a sufficient number of the sparkly currency might require you to invest in some IAP. There are daily quests to complete to earn cool bonuses, and some of the levels give you limited resources to complete your task. This particular take on the castle defense genre has a lot going for it, and it’s cute façade makes it a good game for children as well.

Dino Bash - Dinosaurs vs Cavemen Defense Game Alliance, Dino Bash – Dinosaurs vs Cavemen Defense – Free

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Streetboy – Run to the Beat [11/13/15] – Streetboy is a side scrolling runner with kooky villains, crazy MCs and some funky music. All you have to do is jump, punch and kick your way through each level, and to be fair the kick and punch button is the same one. The key is that the closer to the beat you are on your attacks, the better your score. Every hit you land without getting nailed yourself builds up your combo meter, and when it’s full you can unleash the full fury of funkdom on some poor, unsuspecting soul. Each level has three difficulty settings which in turn have three stars apiece to earn. When you throw in the bonus missions on each level there is plenty to keep you coming back to each level again and again. Continually playing earns you experience, and when you level up you’ll earn some coins as well as increase your score multiplier. You’ll also collect coins on each level and by completing achievements, and these coins can be used to upgrade your current threads or buy new ones, as well as upgrading or replacing your current MC. There are 44 achievements to earn, as well as a leaderboard for each chapter. This is a solid runner for fans of the genre in general, but it’s especially cool for those who like a game that syncs with the background music.

Streetboy - Run to the Beat Netmarble Games Corp., Streetboy – Run to the Beat – Free

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SlimeClimbing [4/29/16] – I’ve played a number of these “single room, jump over all the obstacles” type games over the years, and this is by far one of the best I’ve played in quite a while, if potentially ever on mobile. The level design is rather brilliant for this type of game, and despite the fact that there are very few unique elements that go into making any of these levels there have been only a couple of instances so far where it felt like a level was too much of a variant of a previous outing. Being able to ride on the heads of some of your adversaries is fun, and the ability to cling to and slide down walls adds a nice wrinkle to game play. My favorite element of the game, however, is the red button. Whether it temporarily lights a dark area so you can get your bearings or reveals / hides a platform to alter the difficulty of your passage, the red button always means something new and interesting is coming your way. Add to all this the Gameboy Color style graphics and awesome chiptune like soundtrack and SlimeClimbing is one great casual game.

SlimeClimbing Mitsuhiro Okada, SlimeClimbing – Free

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TailBomb [3/18/16] – This is one of those games where rather than trying to shoot everything in sight you’re actually attempting to dodge your assailants. There’s one important twist, however. In TailBomb, just as the name suggests, you get a “tail” comprised of bombs. While you might not have any weapons, per se, you can use this tail to destroy the enemy. Just make sure you don’t run into them with your main ship, because apparently the engineer on that vehicle didn’t see fit to include a shield of any sort. While you’re dodging the bad guys you can collect coins and other assorted bonuses. There are also three EventZone areas that will open up from time to time, and if you can circle around in one for long enough when it’s open you’ll earn yourself a special bonus like a burst bomb or temporary invincibility. In addition to collecting coins on the battlefield you can earn coins by completing achievements, watching videos or loosening the purse strings a bit. Coins are used to buy cards, which in turn are needed to boost up your ship. Taking a page from many casual mobile RPGs, you can merge the cards that you buy with your main card to give your ship different properties and boost its level. You might even change the look of the ship. You do have to be careful, though, because if your merge percentage isn’t 100 than the effort could fail, and not only will you lose your resource cards but your main card will be toast as well, which means you’ll be starting over with a new ship. It an interesting take on a time tested game play mechanic, and as long as you can accept the risk of losing all of your cards the merge concept can prove quite fruitful. [Note: if you’re stuck with an iPad 2 like myself, the game does have problems with crashing.]

TailBomb June Yeon Hwang, TailBomb – Free

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The End of the World by Sean Wenham [12/12/15] – This is probably the most bizarre roundup entry I will have written to date. First of all, had I actually read the game’s description a bit closer I might not have downloaded it. Secondly, I would not recommend downloading this game if you have to pay more than 99 cents for it. The description says it takes 15-20 minutes to complete, but I’m not even sure it took me that long to “play” it. And quite frankly, while I get the gist of what was going on, due to the lack of dialog I’m not entirely sure I’m smart enough to fully comprehend the nuances of the game. That being said, from an artistic point of view this is one of the neatest “adventure” games I’ve seen in a long time. Now you might argue that it’s not an adventure game because there really aren’t any puzzles to solve, but if you don’t give it that label I really don’t know how to categorize it. The visual style is excellent, and the mechanic of tapping a clock to see what a given scene used to look like is brilliant. It’s almost like you’re turning back time, if you’ll pardon the cliché. Depending on how you look at it you might argue there’s not much here, but I say it shows what the developer is capable of, and every once in a while that’s good enough for me. If you can get it for free and you’re open to new experiences in gaming (ie: it’s not a match 3 game or 2048 clone), then there’s a chance you’ll actually be glad you gave this one a try. I know I am.

The End of the World by Sean Wenham Sean Wenham, The End of the World by Sean Wenham – Free

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Joan Mad Run [5/3/16] – I suppose this is the spiritual successor to John Mad Run (made by the same company), since the screen shots are eerily similar. You control Joan, and you have to infiltrate the enemy and defeat all of the bosses. Sounds simple enough, I’m sure, but execution is another thing. The game is a side scroller and is played on three levels. You swipe up and down to move between the levels, swipe left and right on the left half of the screen to switch weapons, and swipe on the right side of the screen to use your knife. Tapping the left side of the screen will fire your ranged weapon. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s actually a solid control scheme. Along the way you’ll collect coins, and there are also the now pretty much standard options of watching videos and collecting timed prizes to bolster your coffer. This money can be used to buy one off power ups or buy / upgrade weapons. There are in-game missions to complete which will boost your score multiplier, as well as 5 achievements and a high score leaderboard through Game Center. The best part of this game is the visuals, which look like a close cousin of a certain Metal Slug franchise. The attention to detail and animation in the graphics is reason enough to check this out if you like such games.

Joan Mad Run Happymagenta UAB, Joan Mad Run – Free

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Choppa [4/20/16] – If the title didn’t give you a clue, this is one of those games where you have to pilot a helicopter around without crashing it. There’s also the bonus task of needing to save a person on each level. Don’t worry, though, because you can actually fly them through fire, bang them against cliffs and even knock them in the water, as long as you’re not “too” rough and ultimately get them to the safe destination. There are plenty of obstacles to dodge, including some nasty Angry Bird-ized seagulls that don’t really take kindly to you waking them from their naps. On some levels there are coins that you can collect, and you also get money for actually rescuing the survivors. Money can be used to upgrade your current helicopter or buy a new one. I recommend that you do some of the former while trying to save up to do the latter, because while strengthening your current ride is helpful ultimately the more expensive models are going to provide the most benefit. To help in your collecting efforts you’ll occasionally get a free bonus, and you can also complete missions to earn a few extra coins. The controls are not great, but there are enough cool features like wonderful pixel graphics and the ability to move just about any small object around that you’ll learn to deal with the flawed movement system.

Choppa Parta Games Oy, Choppa – Free

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Tomb of the Mask [2/9/16] – Tomb raiding has never been so fun… at least if you’re into fast paced arcade games with first generation console style graphics. Just like Pac-Man you’ll need to collect dots and avoid the enemy. Unlike most maze games, however, this one has you move more like a puzzle game, as you slide your character until it stops by colliding with a wall. Can you think on your feet to make sure you guide your avatar safely through the maze instead of inadvertently launching it into a wall of spikes? Through the usual casual free to play games methods you can collect coins which will allow you to buy new characters and upgrade various power ups. The characters are unlocked as you reach certain levels which are gained by repeatedly playing the game, and each one comes with a special ability or two. As you gain levels your score multiplier also increases, which allows you to climb the leaderboard more quickly. Tomb of the Mask is integrated with Game Center and I believe there are achievements to earn as well, though at the moment Game Center won’t let me log in for some reason. Besides what I would consider unique game mechanics for a casual game, the graphics are retro to a level most “old fashioned” games don’t even go, sporting a look that predates even the NES. All told the game’s a pretty solid package, though it could use some cool music playing in the background, as the sound effects are the one weak spot in my opinion.

Tomb of the Mask Happymagenta UAB, Tomb of the Mask – 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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