10 App Store Games To Watch [8/1/16]


The App Store continues to be flooded with new games, and I continue to try and dig out the ones that aren’t some variant of slots or a game that was “loosely” based off of a template from a “learn to code in 12 easy steps” online course.  I found another online game that suits me in the form of ION Space.  It’s a dual stick space shooter that handles my two biggest multiplayer pet peeves perfectly: there’s no chat option, and each game forces you to start fresh so you’re not bullied by the folks that play it 80 hours a week to your measly 2 hours.  Kitten Squad gives Legend Of Zelda style game play a social bent.  Thankfully the “save the animals” aspect is presented fashionably and not shoved down your throat, and while the levels can get a bit repetitive it still manages to provide some old fashioned console game fun.  The Counter Of Death is akin to taking the limited control scheme of Dragon’s Lair and applying it to a Kung Fu game.  It’s surprisingly entertaining, and thanks to the restrictive controls is much more accessible on the touch screen than many full blown action games.


The Counter Of Death [6/29/16] – This game is kind of quirky and I really like it.  It’s kind of like someone took the cut scenes from an 8 bit favorite like Ninja Gaiden and made them interactive.  You’re trying to rescue your girlfriend, and in order to do so you’ll need to conquer floor after floor filled with Kung Fu fighting thugs.  There are no complicated control schemes, however.  All you have to do is anticipate their attack and press the high or low button to block the appropriate move.  Once you’ve countered every punch they throw at you, as indicated by the number of flames underneath their portrait, you’ll take them out with you good chop.  You then add their flames to your haul for the current run.  Occasionally you’ll have to defend yourself from shurikens, but I don’t think you get any flames from them.  There is also a boss at the end of each floor that will take multiple hits to defeat.  Once you’ve been defeated you can use the flames you’ve earned to buy more hearts if you have enough.  I love the visual style, and the sound and music really hearken back to the 16 bit era of gaming, which is probably my favorite time.

The Counter Of Death yun whan kim, The Counter Of Death – Free


Break Away by Hondune Games [7/2/16] – Imagine taking a Picross game but playing it in reverse, and instead of tapping the blocks away you used a slingshot based brick breaker mechanic.  If that makes any sense then you’ve got a good feel for what Break Away is.  You start with a playing field comprised of a certain number of bricks across and down, and you must create the specified pattern by knocking the unnecessary bricks away with some balls and a slingshot.  The pattern is revealed at the beginning of the level, but if you forget then you must use one of your “reveal” power ups to show it again – or, you could just restart the level if you wish.  You’ll have a variety of balls to use including ones that get two hits before they disappear, explosive balls that remove several bricks at once, and ghost balls that don’t become solid until you tap the screen.  Working against you will be ghost bricks that balls will pass through, bricks that require multiple hits to destroy and bricks that can’t be destroyed at all.  There is also a selection of other objects that often hinder but can sometimes help you depending on how you handle them.  The game currently has four level sets and the typical couple of extra slots with the words “coming soon” dangling over them.  If you’re tired of the same old retreads when it comes to brick breaking games, Break Away is certainly worth looking into.

Break Away by Hondune Games Brandon Proulx, Break Away by Hondune Games – Free


ION Space [7/5/16] – This is the way on online game should be.  Load it up, press play, and you’re instantly in a game.  There’s no waiting room, and I’ve never had a problem connecting to a game yet.  Make your statement and wipe out the competition or don’t make the cut and come back again when you’re rested, but you don’t have to worry about snarky comments or idle banter because there is no chatting feature.  The perfect scenario for a loner in a multiplayer world.  The game itself is a top down twin stick space shooter.  As you destroy resources (and the occasional enemy if you’re lucky) you’ll level up, at which point you can boost one of several stats.  Since this is not a persistent world you’ll get many opportunities to check out what order works best for you in terms of boosting your abilities.  Every so often you’ll also get the chance to change your ship which has the bonus of giving you a better weapon to defend yourself with.  The neat part about upgrading is that it happens “on the fly”, so you don’t have to go to a secondary screen or pause the game.  The slight down side to this is that selecting an upgrade means you’re giving up some control of your ship, even if it’s only for a second.  Still, as far as casual online multiplayer games goes, this is one of the best I’ve played in quite a while.

ION Space burak ozcan, ION Space – Free


Steps [7/11/16] – Steps is another sterling example of a basic casual game done right from the folks at Ketchapp.  All you have to do is roll your cube (or other object once you acquire enough gems) from the beginning to the end of each level.  The levels are procedurally generated, and you get to watch them be constructed, and fall away, as you roll through them.  You’ll encounter all sorts of fun traps like spikes, walls that squish you, and platforms that move away to reveal more spikes.  There are also fans that won’t hurt you but can delay you enough for the decaying path behind you to catch up with you, as well as red blocks that push back and try to prevent your progress.  It seems like they introduce new traps every couple of levels, which is kind of cool.  In addition to the gems you can collect there are also shapes to be found along the path, though I’m not quite sure what they do.  There are also letters that will spell out words when you get enough of them, which I’m sure affords you another bonus.  There are missions to complete which can earn you even more gems, and there are two Game Center leaderboards: one for high score and the other for the number of levels you’ve beaten.  The thing I like about Ketchapp is that they manage to take concepts that feel like they’ve been done a thousand times before and add a certain something to make them enjoyable again.

Steps Ketchapp, Steps – Free


Wardwell House [11/11/15] – This is kind of an odd game, and to be perfectly honest I’m not 100% sure I really liked it.  However, no matter how many times I thought I should just quit and move on to something else I ended up seeing it through to the end, so to me that says something about the game.  It’s really more about exploring an environment than actually playing a game, as there are only a couple of occasions where you have to “do” anything as opposed to selecting a direction or examining an item marked with a yellow dot.  Still, there’s a mesmerizing quality about the atmosphere that makes you want to know why you’re there and what this mysterious locale is all about. The 360 degree panoramic view reminds me of some of the old Mysterious Island games, and I really like the black and white visuals.  It’s a wonderful change of pace from the hidden object style that permeates the adventure game scene.  I just hope that if this developer makes more adventure games that they try to incorporate some puzzle elements into future outings.  And as a non-descript spoiler, the ending was a bit of a letdown.

Wardwell House Moolion Inc, Wardwell House – $0.99


Kitten Squad [7/14/16] – Welcome to Legend Of Zelda: The Socially Conscious Edition.  I was a bit worried that this game would be so saturated with PETA propaganda that it would be unplayable, but thankfully that isn’t the case.  Instead it’s a fun if not somewhat repetitive romp through various caves and buildings, destroying evil robots and freeing poor animals that have been imprisoned.  Of course each main mission does come with a tale of woe about the animals you are rescuing, but if you don’t feel like learning about the plight of the wildlife you can skip the presentations.  Once on a mission you’ll proceed through each room, blasting away until you’ve eliminated all the mechanical adversaries in that room.  Collect any hearts they drop to replenish your health, and gather the coins so that you can buy cool swag between missions.  And in a nod to Super Crate Box, you’ll often get the chance to change up your weapon throughout a mission with a random replacement.  If you need some extra coins you can visit the pirate pug to get side quests that refill on a daily basis.  There are no environmental puzzles and you don’t have the ability to get more base hearts, but the multiple missions and randomly generated, replayable levels make this a nice substitute for a proper Zelda installment.

Kitten Squad People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Kitten Squad – Free


Polyforge [7/11/16] – This game helps support the adage that “simple rules”.  Each level has a multi-sided face spinning in the middle of it.  Your avatar is spinning the opposite direction of the shape around its perimeter, and all you have to do is tap the screen to launch your avatar towards the shape.  The goal is simply to hit each face of the shape once and only once.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Well, thankfully “simple” does not equal “easy”, as this game can get quite challenging as you progress through each level.  Thankfully if you’re connected to the internet you’ll occasionally get the opportunity to continue from where you made a mistake by watching a video, but sadly I’ve found that all too often that doesn’t keep my from blowing it again right away once I’ve continued.  In level mode it’s one mistake and you’re done, unless of course you get that second change though the video.  At least you only have to redo the level that you were on.  There’s also an endless mode that I think is even more fun, as you not only get to make a few mistakes, but the size of the shape shrinks and grows depending on how well you are doing.  Overall this is an addictive causal game that puts a fresh new spin on things.

Polyforge ImpactBlue Studios Pty Ltd, Polyforge – Free


Hungry Shark Evolution [6/25/15] – Yeah, I know Hungry Shark World just came out not too long ago, but that one isn’t compatible with my device, so I thought I’d give its predecessor a try.  If you’re into the “eat things that are smaller and try to grow bigger” style of game, this is one of the best I’ve seen both in terms of visuals and variety.  You start out with a reef shark, and when you get enough experience you can upgrade to a bigger shark.  There is also a special area that is unlocked when you’ve reached 350,000 points that provides you with additional sharks (probably for pay, though I can’t say for sure since I haven’t unlocked it yet).  Your primary goal is to eat everything that’s smaller than you, aside from a couple of critters that are bad news no matter what size you are, and avoid the things that are bigger and want to attack you.  As long as you stay alive you’ll earn experience and also collect coins.  When you find special shells you’ll unlock missions, and completing those earns you additional coins as well as gems.  Gems can be used to continue a game when you die, and both gems and coins are used for various purchases and upgrades.  Of course if you don’t collect them fast enough you can buy some via IAP if you wish.  While I’ve enjoyed the game I was a bit on the fence in terms of writing about it, but after this last run where I must have eaten at least 10 different swimmers and divers I decided it was worth mentioning.  Just remember, this is one time you should feel free to feed the wildlife.

Hungry Shark Evolution Future Games of London, Hungry Shark Evolution – Free


RogueMON – Free roguelike indie game RPG [7/8/16] – Most of me didn’t want to report on this one, because frankly it tends to be in rather poor taste.  To that regards, please don’t let your kids play it (unless, of course, your kids are grown and out of the house).  RogueMON is the Pokemon game for people with a warped sense of humor.  But, if you set that and the game’s 80’s shareware look aside, RogueMON is actually a fun take on the Pokemon genre.  As you would expect you start with one creature, and you can collect more than 50 others as you play through the randomly generated levels.  There is no story, so in typical rogue-like fashion when your last fighter dies you start from the beginning.  As you capture new creatures you’ll unlock them so you can use them when you start a new game, but you always start with only one creature, so if you want a bigger party on a particular run through you’ll need to capture more “participants” along the way.  Throughout the course of play your creatures will gain experience and eventually learn new attacks, which like everything else you lose when the game is over.  But, from that regards it’s like a brand new experience every time you play.  I like the fact that combat is interactive – once you’ve selected an attack you still have to tap the screen at the right time to execute it, and the same goes for defending yourself.  I also think it’s cool that when you capture a monster you can either add it to your party or consume it to boost the XP of the character you captured it with.  And, even though the visuals are a bit dated and the character concepts can be a bit crude, the designs are still pretty cool in many instances.  This is definitely not the most politically correct monster brawler around, but it’s unique features make it worth checking out.

RogueMON - FREE roguelike indie game RPG Burger Circus, RogueMON – FREE roguelike indie game RPG – Free


The Raccoon Escape [7/23/16] – Welcome to “Doodle Jump 2.0”.  Actually, the only thing this game really has in common with Doodle Jump is the fact that you’re constantly going up.  You see, in Raccoon Escape you control a raccoon that’s tied to a rope.  Instead of tilting the screen to jump, however, you actually have to tap gears that appear on the sides of the avenue you’re ascending.  The more gears you tap and the less time you take between taps, the more quickly you’ll ascend. This is a good thing, because each level has some sort of obstacle that you’re trying to outrun.  In the first level it’s a column of lava.  Unfortunately that’s apparently not enough of a deterrent, so there will also be obstacles coming down from the top of the screen.  To avoid these inconveniences you’ll need to swipe left and right, and at times you’ll probably wish you had another hand or two.  There are at least two areas to explore, one of which gets unlocked when you’ve travelled far enough in one go at the first area.  I’ll let you know when I get there.  As with most of these games there is currency to collect, in this case acorns, which you can use to upgrade your power ups or buy swag to adorn the raccoon with.  The visuals are some of the best I’ve seen from this type of game, looking more like a Saturday morning cartoon than the hand drawn scribbles that often define The Raccoon Escape’s peers.  As you get going faster and the screen gets more cluttered the performance seems to suffer just a bit on my aging iPad 2, but on the amazing side the game has been running for an hour and a half now without crashing.  If you like casual climbing / falling games, The Raccoon Escape puts a nice polish on the genre.

Raccoon Escape Crossing Answers, Lda, Raccoon Escape – Free


Tiny Wings [2/18/11] – This edition’s “retro relook” comes in the form of Tiny Wings.  I actually loaded this up as a result of trying a recent game that uses a similar game mechanic but sadly crashed and burned after a few minutes on my device.  Thankfully Tiny Wings has no such issue, but more importantly it becomes highly addictive in a very short period of time.  All you have to do is tap on the screen when your bird goes down a slope and let go when it heads up a slope.  If you get the rhythm going correctly you’ll get far, but get off kilter and the nighttime will catch up to you and put you to sleep.  Complete missions to raise the score multiplier, and ultimately just get the highest score you can.  That’s all I remember from when I initially played the game, but even that was enough to keep me entertained for quite a while.  Apparently at some point they added a second mode where you get to race against three computer opponents across 20 different hilltops, which is also a blast.  And, if you happen to have the iPad only HD version of the game you can also challenge a live opponent to split screen mode on the same device.  All in all Tiny Wings is still a prime example of what this style of game play can offer.

Tiny Wings Andreas Illiger, Tiny Wings (TMA Review) – $0.99
Tiny Wings HD Andreas Illiger, Tiny Wings HD – $2.99

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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