10 App Store Games To Watch [7/6/16]

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If you’re like me it’s the middle of summer right now, so shame on you for not taking advantage of what is hopefully nice weather outside.  Now that I got that out of the way, let me tell you about some of the games I’ve been playing recently.  My electronic sports skills are about on par with my real life ones, which is to say basically non-existent.  Thankfully One Tap Tennis eases the pain by providing a fairly entertaining racket experience that only requires a well timed touch on the screen – and you get a zombie as one of your playable characters.  For those that are hooked on the 2048 genre like I am, Retro Knights: 2048 proves to be an interesting variant to the formula.  As you swipe to make combos you’re actually building an army which you can upgrade and then send out to defend the village that you live in.  Squaredance is for those that like a little thought with their action.  Slide pieces around to match ones of the same color and clear them from the board, but watch out for all the dastardly obstacles that will keep the pieces apart or in a worst case scenario destroy them.

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Pixel Super Heroes [5/31/16] – Take Canabalt and give it a comic book theme and you basically have Pixel Super Heroes.  Now I realize there are many infinite runners I could pick on, but between crashing through windows to enter buildings and the birds flying from the rooftops as you plow through them, this definitely has some inspiration from Canabalt (as do all the other runners that employ such features).  Besides the superhero motif, this particular runner has some other really nifty features.  For every 5000 coins you collect you can unlock a new hero, and while you usually start off the game with only one (unless you use the spin bonus at the end of the run and win multiple starting heroes), you can add others to your entourage along the way.  They basically act as extra lives, so as long as you keep one alive you can keep running.  And, as best I can tell you can have as many in the game as you’ve unlocked, as long as you can keep all of them alive long enough.  There are challenges to complete to earn you extra coins, and you also get coins from saving individuals which is accomplished by running lots of times.  There are 22 civilians to save, 31 heroes to unlock and 50 achievements to earn, so there’s definitely a lot to work towards.  And, it’s just fun revealing who the latest knock-off hero is that you’re going to add to your arsenal.

Pixel Super Heroes LYTO MOBI, Pixel Super Heroes – Free

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Floaties – Endless Flying Game [6/7/16] – Yeah, I know this is another endless runner / flyer / whatever game.  There are some things that help set this game apart from most of its contemporaries, however.  Much like Pixel Super Heroes you can have multiple characters on screen at once, though in Floaties you’re limited to 4.  For a significant part of each run these characters will be different colors, which is important because the obstacles you face are different colors as well, and if one of your avatars matches the color of the obstacle it won’t be destroyed when you accidentally run into it.  And, as long as you collect certain items along the way you can keep replenishing your avatar count up to 4.  For every one hundred coins you collect you can unlock a new avatar design, and each one comes with a special ability that can be upgraded 5 times.  Each character also comes with its own set of quests to complete, and the characters are lumped into groups of 5, each group having its own theme complete with different obstacles and a unique method of darkening the screen when you get the “don’t touch me” icon.  There are 6 Game Center achievements to earn, which while not seeming like a lot is really just sort of a bonus after completing all the missions and unlocking every character.  There are also 3 leaderboards to rank on.  There’s even a multiplayer mode for up to 4 players, though it’s restricted to everyone being on the same device.

Floaties - Endless Flying Game ElitApps, Ltd., Floaties – Endless Flying Game – Free

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One Tap Tennis [5/18/16] – Finally, developers are starting to get me when it comes to sports games.  First off is a Tennis game that takes all the guesswork out of which move to try and make.  There’s a patterned bar on the court, and as long as you tap the screen when the ball is over that bar (which is indicated by another easy to see line that crosses over the bar) then you’ll return the shot.  The closer you get to the middle the better your score for the shot, and hitting the sweet spot gives you double score.  Once you have filled up the bar at the top of the screen you’ll win the match.  The game is played in multi-match tournaments, and when you complete a tournament you’ll unlock a new character.  I’m not sure the characters actually do anything for you in terms of game play, but some of them look really cool.  Within a tournament you have the option to save after each successful match by watching a video.  If you opt not to save then on your first defeat you’ll head back to the start of the tournament.  Once you’ve completed the first three tournaments you’ll unlock World Match mode, where you compete for a spot on the Game Center leaderboard.  It would be cool if you could actually play other players, but maybe that will come later.  In addition to the leaderboard there are 16 achievements to earn, some of which might present a decent challenge – for instance, getting 10 perfect shots in a row.  If sports games intrigue you but you prefer more of a casual experience, you should probably check out One Tap Tennis.

One Tap Tennis Chillingo Ltd, One Tap Tennis – Free

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Frantic Shooter [6/15/16] – Much like any popular style of game play on the App Store, I remember a time when it seemed like everyone wanted to make a dual stick shooter.  Frantic Shooter does an interesting job of taking things to the next level.  Within your arena you basically move around and try to blow away everything in sight.  Rather than two virtual controls to move your character around the screen, however, they will automatically shoot the closest thing to their weapon (not necessarily what you can see, mind you).  All you have to do is swipe to move your character longer distances or slowly drag your finger to move them more precisely.  Along the way you’ll fight bosses that you’ll often not see much of until the very end when you demolish them in a Matrix inspired slow motion sequence.  The purple boxes on the screen power up the current weapon that you’re using, while the yellow boxes marked with a C add to your coin count.  500 coins earns you a new character, or you can use your money to buy different primary weapons.  Interestingly enough, when you “buy” a weapon it’s more like leasing, because you can only use that weapon for a couple of hours before you need to buy it again.  There is a leaderboard, which I’m going to go out on a limb and say has been hacked based on the top score of 928+ million, but at this point there are no achievements.  While the intense chaos might make multiplayer less than palatable, it might be nice to see a future version of the game that supports some sort of competitive play beyond the leaderboards.  Otherwise, Frantic Shooter is a nice game for blowing off some steam every now and again.

Frantic Shooter Bulkypix, Frantic Shooter – Free

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Squaredance [6/20/16] – According to the fairly sparse iTunes description, the object of this game is to “join the colors and clear the field”.  At its base Squaredance is one of those games where you try and touch like colored blocks together by sliding the around the board.  And, as you might expect, swiping the screen moves all objects that are capable of moving in the direction you swipe.  This variant of the genre adds several interesting nuances to the game play, however.  In some cases there are little dots of color that you must collect which never move.  If a tile has an X on it then you don’t want to touch it or you’ll lose the piece that it comes in contact with, and there might be times where that X actually moves with the rest of the pieces.  Special blocks prevent pieces from moving and when used strategically can keep your important pieces out of harm’s way.  There are even cases where you can expand the playing field by bumping certain blocks.  The game offers no leaderboard or achievements, so be prepared to receive your reward simply by flexing your brain and sometimes your reflexes.  There are 96 levels to complete, and if you pay 99 cents for the level editor you can make your own.

Squaredance Philipp Stollenmayer, Squaredance – Free

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Battle Blocks – Puzzle [5/3/16] – This actually has a longer title, but I figured you’d figure that out once you saw the iTunes link.  This is sort of like Tetris, except that you just place the pieces on the board instead of them falling from the top of the screen.  Oh, and so far I’ve run into blocks that explode, blocks that won’t go away unless you get them with a block that explodes, and blocks that look like dice and give you a score multiplier based on the number showing on the block when you clear a line with it.  There’s a single player game that rewards you with new blocks as you progress through the levels.  Apparently there are even boss battles, though I really haven’t gotten that far yet.  Where the game really shines, however (and you won’t see me saying this too often) is in multiplayer mode.  You can challenge other players or accept a challenge from another player, and then in real time you try to be the first person to score 500 points.  You have access to the exploding and “stubborn” blocks, and if some of your blocks actually get blown up you’ll lose points instead of gaining them.  One thing that’s cool is that once the match is complete you both get points towards the global leaderboard, though obviously the winner gets a lot more.  There are actually 51 achievements to earn in Game Center as well.

Battle Blocks - Puzzle, Player vs Player and Boss Battles! Guerson Perez, Battle Blocks – Puzzle, Player vs Player and Boss Battles! – Free

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Retro Knights : 2048 [6/25/16] – I really like the 2048 concept of game play, but the main reason I grabbed this one was because I thought the Gameboy style graphics were cool.  The iTunes description wasn’t all that descriptive, and I had no idea I’d be getting a mini strategy game in the mix as well.  In standard fashion you swipe in a direction, and all pieces that have an open space next to them will move in that direction.  If two of the same pieces collide they’ll merge to form a better piece, and the round is over when there are no free spaces on the board.  In Retro Knights the pieces are soldiers, and once you’ve filled the playing field they will be sent out from your village to destroy the invading armies in a little animated show that you can skip if you wish.  Once you unlock a certain level of hero you can upgrade that level to make it even stronger.  You can also increase the overall strength of knights or make the opposition stronger in which case they will drop more coins.  The game offers a leaderboard based on high score and the ability to double your earnings each run by watching a video.  If you’re into the whole 2048 craze this is definitely one of the better variants I’ve played.

Retro Knights : 2048 JIN KWON JEONG, Retro Knights : 2048 – Free

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Empire&Boat [8/22/11] – So when I first decided to include this one I didn’t realize how long it had been around.  But, then I decided I didn’t really care.  I’m not sure how I missed it before now, but I’ve been having a lot of fun playing it so I figured it was worth sharing anyway.  Basically Empire&Boat is like an aquatic space invaders, except you’re on the top of the screen shooting down at the enemy.  You’ll have to destroy wave after wave of enemy while dodging all sorts of nasty torpedoes, mines and the like.  Occasionally a whale will swim by, and in Stage mode if you destroy it a power up will surface for you to get.  Don’t worry, though, because I think they are robotic so you’re not hurting any simulated “real” wildlife!  In stage mode there are 10 locations across the world to conquer, each with 2 stages that you can earn up to three stars on.  If you don’t get all three the first time you can try again when you have a better boat.  There’s also Infinity Mode if you’d like to test your staying power and earn more gold towards your boats.  There are a total of 10 boats that you can acquire, and several of them have multiple weapons upgrades.  Empire&Boat does have Game Center integration, but there is only one leaderboard which is a bit of a shame because this seems like the perfect type of game to have a board for each location.  Still, for a game that’s been around for five years it has held up remarkably well, and it’s perfect for someone that likes good old fashioned arcade style game play.

Empire&Boat Zepetto, Empire&Boat – Free

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Unicycle Boy [2/25/15] – I’m guessing you can figure out what the protagonist is based on the title of this game.  What you probably won’t discern is that he shoots a handgun filled with what appear to be large bb’s at quirky enemies while trying to balance said unicycle across multiple fun and sometimes challenging levels.  Aesthetically the game seems like it was designed with the younger set in mind, but especially given the task of keeping the unicycle in check so you don’t accidentally roll off a cliff or into some bad guys, there’s enough oomph to make it enjoyable for “more mature” folks as well.  There are 5 regular coins hidden on each level, as well as a giant coin at the end of the level that is worth three of its diminutive brethren.  Before long you’ll unlock the level editor, which as you’d expect allows you to create your own levels.  Once that’s unlocked you’ll start winning new building blocks as you conquer more levels.  I’m not 100% sure how you play levels that other users have created, though I suspect that it is via the World Door which I haven’t unlocked yet.  Unicycle Boy is a fun take on the platform game, and a great game to play with younger kids if you have them.

Unicycle Boy Spool, Unicycle Boy – $0.99

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Action Hero [12/13/09] – So as I was still digging through my old devices to try and find a game that I used to play and couldn’t remember the name of (which, by the way, I did finally locate), I ran across this little gem from Donut Games. It turns out that unlike the similarly named Last Action Hero from the 90’s, this adventure not only holds up fairly well but is actually rather fun. The premise of the game does seem a bit like an action sequence from a Schwarzenegger film, however, as you race across the roof of a speeding train to take out as many bad guys as you can before that subtle electrical pole sneaks up and knocks you off the train. You get points for each train car you touch, as well as every bad guy you clobber or Molotov cocktail you knock out of the air. There are 13 achievements to earn as well as a Game Center leaderboard, but the high scores on the board lead me to believe your chances of “climbing the ladder” this late in the game are pretty slim. The character designs seem a bit antiquated, but the overall comic noir style of the visuals is still pretty appealing, and love the wacky balloon bordered sound effects ala Batman ’66. With its single game play mode, lack of power ups and zero characters to unlock Action Hero might not be the deepest game around, but it’s a solid reminder of why Donut Games is one of the best casual games designers on the App Store.

Action Hero Donut Games, Action Hero – $0.99

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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