10 App Store Games To Watch [6/8/16]

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This roundup seemed to feature several dungeon crawl / exploration style games, which isn’t all that surprising given that I really like that type of game play.  While none of them were particularly revolutionary in what they offered, they all had one or two features that felt unique to their peers.  The Greedy Cave is a rogue-like that forgoes equipment wearing out and minimizes the concept of perma-death.  As a compromise, however, whenever you leave the dungeon the only items that you can take with you are ones that have been branded “golden”, so if you find something you really like that didn’t come that way you’ll need to seek out a statue that can apply the “golden touch”.  Dynamons is a Pokemon style game, but instead of giving you an overworld map to explore like an old fashioned RPG it uses a progression map like you’d find in a Candy Crush style game.  While it might seem like you lose half the gaming experience that way, it actually makes for a nice mobile game that you can play for a few minutes here and there and not forget what you’re trying to accomplish in the in between times.

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Hovercraft: Takedown – Custom Combat Cars [5/5/16] – Some people like the “highly realistic” racing games, but I’d just as soon play a simple lane based runner with a car as an avatar.  In this case you get to blow things up as well, which is always a bonus.  Destroying opponents earns you coins, which can be used to purchase card packs.  Yep, this is another one of those games that has jumped on the “car pack” bandwagon, but since the game is entertaining I’ll let that slide.  The cards provide you with upgrade points so you can enhance your current card, blueprint points which I believe is what lets you buy new cars, and power ups that can be used to enhance a single race.  You can buy cards in packs of 2 or 4, and as you play the game you’ll also earn free packs over time.  The game has two leaderboards to rank on: high score and most takedowns.  There are also 26 achievements to earn.  What makes this particular lane racer stand out, however, is the fact that the cars are made of blocks.  Destroy an enemy and you’ll still have to dodge the debris before you’re safe.  Suffer severe damage and you can still take out the enemy as long as your weapons blocks are intact.  And, if you’re into this sort of thing, you can actually use the built in editor to design your own hovercraft.  Just be sure it doesn’t fall flat on its face before even coming into contact with the bad guys like mine did.

Hovercraft: Takedown - Custom Combat Cars High Score Hero LLC, Hovercraft: Takedown – Custom Combat Cars – Free

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The Greedy Cave [2/2/16] – This is what I like to call a “rogue-like lite” game.  Just like a true rogue-like it has random level generation, scads of monsters to fight and plenty of loot to gather.  On the other hand you can escape perma-death with Escape spells, equipment doesn’t wear out and you’re not forced to eat in order to live another day.  As a compromise there is the “golden touch” rule, which says that you can only take items out of the dungeon with you that are ranked a “gold” level or better (not sure what’s better than a gold level yet).  If you have an item you really want to keep and it’s not gold there are statues in the dungeon that will transform them for you, but a statue can only affect one item.  It really makes you consider what’s important to your journey.  While in the dungeon you’ll occasionally run across stations that let you add enchantments to your items, as long as you have enchantment material (don’t worry, it’s easy to find) and enough mana.  Back in town you can visit the blacksmith to upgrade your equipment using other equipment or convert the enchantments on your equipment to something else.  You can also store a few things so they don’t take up precious inventory slots.  There are several missions to complete and achievements to earn, all of which give you some rewards.  You do have to be diligent on collecting those rewards, however, especially when it comes to missions.  You won’t get new missions until you collect rewards on the current ones, so if you happen to complete a mission before it has officially been assigned to you, you’ll have to hope you can complete it again.  Throw on top of all of this some killer graphics and you get what turns out to be one of the best rogue-like games to hit the App Store in quite a while.

The Greedy Cave AvalonGames, The Greedy Cave – $0.99

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Mystery Match [10/31/15] – At its heart Mystery Match is a basic match 3 game.  As you progress through the levels you be presented with an ever growing array of challenges like dark tiles that need to be cleared, locks that must be opened with keys found elsewhere on the board, and items that need to be dropped to the bottom of the board to be “released”.  You’ll also get on-board power ups like row and column removers if you make certain combinations of matches.  And then there are the power ups that you purchase at the beginning of the level or boosts that are available the whole time you are playing.  Of course all of these goodies are severely limited in availability and cost in-game coins to replenish, and so far the only way I’ve seen to “earn” these coins is via IAP.  One thing that draws me into this particular match 3 variant is the story.  It’s nothing award winning, but it’s still nice to have something that ties all the boards together every once in a while, even when you’re playing a matching game that isn’t an RPG hybrid.  I also like the fact that the boards are challenging but surprisingly well balanced.  There have been a few that I’ve had to play multiple times, and I haven’t gotten 3 stars on all of them so far, but it’s never felt like any of them were unreasonable to beat.  There’s no question that the match 3 genre is quite full in the App Store, but if you haven’t picked up a new one for a while or the idea of a story tying everything together sounds appealing to you, Mystery Match is worth a try.

Mystery Match Outplay Entertainment Ltd, Mystery Match – Free

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Super Rocket Pets [4/17/16] – Much like match 3 games, you don’t have to spend much time in the App Store to find an infinite runner.  The thing that hooked me with Super Rocket Pets is that it’s cute.  There are seven different animals to collect along with a bunch of different hats.  The hats don’t do anything special for the game, but some of them are really cool looking.  You can also upgrade the jet pack and magnet abilities of each pet, along with the maximum firing range for the big cannon that launches you into each level.  All this is done with either paw coins or regular coins, the latter of which are much easier to come by.  Paw coins are what you need to unlock the second through fourth levels as well, but as long as you play enough times you’ll be able to acquire the necessary amount without too much trouble.  Each world has five levels, and in order to progress to higher levels on a planet you must beat 3 distance goals on each previous level.  There are also several subquests to complete on each level which will earn you some extra coins.  One feature of the game I really like is the fact that you don’t have to choose which pet you want to use each time you play.  The more pets you have the longer you get to play, because when one pet runs out of fuel you just move on to the next one.  This is by far one of the best features I’ve seen in an infinite runner in quite some time.

Super Rocket Pets Mode Games Pty Ltd, Super Rocket Pets – Free

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Gem Hunters [5/29/16] – I don’t want to bore you guys writing about the same types of games over and over, but I like what I like.  This is another RPG / matching hybrid, though it uses the “link as many of the same object together as you can” method of matching instead of simply swapping tiles.  There are 4 elements to work with, and much like and advanced game of rock-paper-scissors some monsters are stronger against certain elements and weaker from others.  Luckily, you can always determine what’s up by tapping on the monster you’re fighting so you can tailor your attacks accordingly.  As you progress through the humorous campaign you’ll earn XP so that you can level up and raise your stats, and you’ll also get some coins and even the occasional piece of equipment or spirit animal.  You’ll also collect seemingly miscellaneous items that can be used to upgrade the useful stuff you acquire.  The spirit animals are cool because they fill up as you make matches from their corresponding element and then you can tap them to unleash extreme damage independent of using an attack move.  The other thing I really like is the arena, where you can compete against other players to work your way up a leaderboard.  Only the top players get the special rewards, but you can earn XP and coins that help build up your character for the solo campaign.  And, it’s one of the few ranking systems I’ve seen where you don’t drop in the ranks if you lose a battle.

Gem Hunters Armor Games Inc, Gem Hunters – Free

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Sky Force Reloaded [6/1/16] – If you haven’t played Sky Force 2014 yet, shame on you.  On the other hand, if you’re as big a fan of the first one as I am than launching this one up is going to feel like a whole lot of Déjà vu to you.  Luckily that’s not a bad thing at all, because this one is just as addictive as its predecessor.  There are still eight stages to conquer, each of which has at least two difficulty settings with 4 medals to earn on each setting.  As you keep playing you’ll collect stars that can be used to upgrade several aspects of your ship, as well as buy special weapons at the beginning of each run once you’ve unlocked them.  You’ll also be able to collect eight different ships and 30 booster cards.  Add to that the 30 achievements you can earn and there is plenty of game play to go around in Sky Force Reloaded.  The game does choke a bit on my legacy iPad 2, and it even crashes fairly routinely, but this is one of the few games that I’m willing to put up with that hassle for.  I can’t wait until I get a newer device so I can fully enjoy the game.

Sky Force Reloaded Infinite Dreams Inc., Sky Force Reloaded – Free

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Dynamons – Role Playing Game by Kizi [4/20/16] – When developers first started making Pokemon style games for iOS it was exciting because I was always a huge fan of the collectable creatures game play.  Unfortunately after a while they all started to feel the same, having buggy or boring overworld crawls combined with creature battles that were uninteresting and often employed tiny, unappealing visuals for the creatures.  Dynamons handles the first part by implementing a basic overworld map where you simply progress from location to location by clicking on that location.  While that all but eliminates the exploration aspect of the game, it makes for a tighter approach that’s easy to play for a while, put away for a while and come back to without being completely lost on what you were doing.  You can revisit locations to get extra experience, easily find healing centers without wandering all over the place, and so far it doesn’t seem to be buggy.  The combat is fairly straightforward.  You can take three creatures into battle and switch between them at will.  The attacks are all laid out at the bottom of the screen, and it’s obvious when one is refilling and can’t be used.  When an opponent gets weak you can attempt to capture them so you can build up your army.  The creatures look good and some of the attacks are actually pretty slick.  Dynamons might not have the same depth as some of its peers, but it’s one of the most entertaining variants of the “capture the creatures” games I’ve played in quite a while.

Dynamons - Role Playing Game by Kizi Funtomic (2008) LTD, Dynamons – Role Playing Game by Kizi – Free

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Tetdraw – Relax Puzzle [12/13/12] – Okay, I know this is going back a bit far even for me, but I decided to fire up the old iPod Touch 4 to look for a game I couldn’t remember the name of, and in the process started playing some of the stuff I had installed on there.  Tetdraw is actually a rather creative interpretation of the falling brick puzzle genre.  You have pieces of different shapes and you have to try and clear away entire rows or columns in a grid, but then the game starts to deviate from its source material.  Instead of guiding falling pieces to their final resting spot, you have to draw the pieces onto the grid.  So the game doesn’t get too easy you only have three shapes at a time to work with, and you can’t rotate them to fit in the positions that you need.  As this is meant to be a relaxing game there is no timer, though you will lose if you end up with no moves to make (I think, as that hasn’t happened to me yet).  Instead of an endless cavalcade of pieces there are distinct levels with goals like clearing a certain number of lines or achieving a particular score.  Each level also has one special, be it clearing a row or column, adding or removing a brick, or temporarily applying gravity so all the pieces fall to the bottom of the screen.  The special is unlimited in use, but you do have to wait a few turns for it to recharge each time you execute it.  The game offers 14 achievements and a leaderboard (which has clearly been compromised given the high scores), and there’s also a “perfection tree” that grows as you improve your game play.  I’m not really sure what the point of the tree is, but I guess it is more incentive to keep playing the game.  Plus, this runs quite well on my iPod Touch 4 running iOS 6.x, so if you’re still using an older device you might be in luck.

TetDraw - Relax Puzzle SMS Services O.o.o., TetDraw – Relax Puzzle – $0.99
TetDraw - Relax Puzzle SMS Services O.o.o., TetDraw – Relax Puzzle, 30.74MB – $0.99

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KaBoom Monsters TCG [7/20/15] – KaBoom Monsters is not your typical combat card game.  It uses the game mechanic where you lay your cards on a grid, and you take over your opponent’s cards when the card you place has a number that is greater than the opponent’s number on the adjoining edge.  As this style of game play often seems relegated to mini-games I wasn’t sure what to expect from a full-fledged adventure, but KaBoom Monsters has been a rather pleasant surprise.  The game is comprised of 2 different maps with a total of 50 battles.  Along the way you’ll win new cards and you can also buy booster packs to increase your army.  You can only take 15 cards into battle at a time, but once you start accumulating multiple copies of the same card you can merge them together to make a single, stronger ally.  You’ll also unlock different equipment that can then be crafted using materials you win in battles and applied to existing cards to bolster their effectiveness.  One thing that really enhances this style of game play is that the cards only last for a certain number of turns, so just because you “own” a majority of the board doesn’t mean the situation can’t turn at a moment’s notice.  There are 20 achievements to earn, but no leaderboard (it wouldn’t make much sense for this game).  The only thing missing is some sort of multi-player mode.

KaBoom Monsters TCG Broken Arms Games Pty Ltd, KaBoom Monsters TCG – Free

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Mine Quest 2 – Tactical Combat Dungeon Crawler [5/6/16] – I really wasn’t sure how fun a game about breaking bricks in a mine would be, but luckily I’m a bit of a grinder when it comes to RPGs and the like anyway, and this game has plenty of that to go around.  It turns out the game has RPG elements as well, but rather than upgrading your character you’ll spend your loot upgrading your equipment.  You’ll also be able to collect materials and blueprints and craft new equipment, which in turn earns you more XP.  And there are also creatures to fight, and in the vein of games like Pokemon there’s a “element pecking order”.  Thankfully it tells you before you enter each dungeon what the recommended element type is, so you can equip yourself accordingly before descending into the depths.  You’ll also want to make sure you continually upgrade your pickaxe, because you only get so many moves to get through a dungeon, and smashing up rocks can be quite energy consuming.   You just need to make sure you make it out of the dungeon before your energy runs out or you lose everything you’ve acquired on that level.  There are no achievements of any kind, but there’s enough to do in the game itself that you really won’t miss that feature too much.

Mine Quest 2 - Tactical Combat Dungeon Crawler Tapps Tecnologia da Informação Ltda., Mine Quest 2 – Tactical Combat Dungeon Crawler – 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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