10 App Store Games To Watch [8/28/16]

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The intro has always been my least favorite part of the roundup to write, but I suppose you have to start somewhere, right?  My addition from this list is most definitely Micro Machines.  The game is based off of a series of small scale cars from the 80’s and 90’s, and after spending more time with the game than I should I’m half tempted to see if I still have my old collection somewhere.  Unfortunately Micro Machines requires you to be connected to the internet, but it is definitely worth it.  Tower Knights! is an interesting take on the tower defense genre.  You have one tower to protect, and you play in a 360 degree environment (to an extent).  If the “flat map” variety of tower defense has left you a bit bored, you’ll want to give Tower Knights a try.

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Dark Reactions [8/12/16] – I actually thought this was an adventure game, so I was ready to delete it once I realized it was actually a platformer.  Guess I should have read the description better instead of mainly looking at the screen shot.  I’m glad I stuck with it, because it turns out that Dark Reactions is actually a rather challenging, if not sometimes frustrating, journey that’s fairly well designed.  The visuals lean towards the dark and gloomy, which sometimes makes the puzzles a bit more difficult, but it suits the atmosphere of the game quite well.  As does the music, which is by far the best part of the aesthetics.  The game uses an interesting mechanic to move where you hold a side of the screen to move in that direction, and then if you want to jump you tap the other side of the screen.  It seems simple, but I’ve died more than my share of times because a tapped to go the other direction without letting go of the opposite side of the screen first.  Some jumps can be unnecessarily excruciating because of this, but in the end I believe nothing is insurmountable (I say even though I’m currently stuck in one area).  If you’re a fan of platform adventures you should definitely give Dark Reactions a try – while many of the traps are cheap and passing them is often a matter of luck, you still feel a sense of accomplishment as you arrive at each checkpoint.

Dark Reactions Omer Liran, Dark Reactions – Free

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Infinity Duels [8/9/16] – Magic Cube has quite a diverse portfolio of games already, and yet they still managed to come up with something different in the form of Infinity Duels.  The game is a tale of revenge, ala the “you killed my father, prepare to die” mantra from The Princess Bride.  In fact, each time you restart the game you’ll come back as your own son, complete with an increased number after your name to signify the bump in lineage.  While you’re parading as any given incarnation of yourself you’ll fight a variety of titans, one on one, using two columns of cards to execute your attacks.  Tap on a card with a sword or special power to attack, and tap on the plus signs to boost your health.  If you tap on a blank card, however, you’ll break any combo that you’ve built up, and you definitely don’t want to tap the skull and crossbones.  As you defeat monsters you’ll level up, at which point you can select one of three upgrades which range from boosting your max HP to augmenting the various power ups you’ll run across along the way.  At the beginning of each run you can increase your HP, attack and experience gain if you have enough coins, and you also sometimes start out with skill bonuses, though I’m not sure what accounts for that.  Because there are so many different combinations of paths you can take to building up your power ups, progression through the game is different every time.  There may not be much depth in terms of plot or quests, but this is a great time killer when you’re waiting in line and don’t want to get tangled up in something complex.

Infinity Duels Magic Cube, Infinity Duels – $0.99

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Gilbert’s Hamster Dream [7/30/16] – Games made simply as promotions for some store bought product have about as much chance of being good as a game based off of a movie.  Thankfully, Gilbert is an exception to that rule.  In this game you play a pretzel goldfish (you know, the snack food you might have eaten when you were a kid) and you’re racing through a child’s playroom while trying to stay away from a hamster that’s actually kind of cute.  Sadly there is only one location, so it does get a bit repetitive after a while.  Also, there is no integration with any major social network.  However, there are 30 challenges to complete, and you can also earn badges which you can apparently save to your goldfishfun.com account if you tie it to the game (don’t worry, I won’t judge).  There are a few power ups to upgrade, and you can actually buy some gear to dress up your goldfish using the coins you collect.  And surprisingly enough, instead of just looking stylish the gear actually increases your score multiplier, making it somewhat useful.  For a free game with no IAP and a family friendly atmosphere, it’s really not that bad of a game.  I just hope they produce an update that lets you use your coins to purchase different flavored goldfish for your avatar.

Gilbert’s Hamster Dream Campbell Soup Company, Gilbert’s Hamster Dream – Free

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Micro Machines [7/12/16] – I remember these from when I was a kid.  In fact, if I dug around through some of my old boxes I’d probably come across a small collection of them (pun slightly intended).  I’m not sure if I’ve ever played any other electronic incarnations of this franchise, but I’m definitely digging this one.  The concept of building your cars out of parts that you acquire from pouches of random pieces is really cool.  Then you get the chance to level them up, mod them with cool equipment that takes your racing and demolition skills to the next level, and trade of your spare parts to help a friend out or for the specific pieces you need to complete your own collection.  There are different groups of cars which put you in higher challenge brackets, and special incentives actually encourage you to build up and race with multiple cars.  You can join a club which gives you even more incentives and hopefully a friendly user base to trade items with.  I have access to three types of competition so far: the standard race, battle mode and elimination mode, and I’m hoping that one or two others might get unlocked as I progress up the ranks.  Then again, it will probably be hard to beat the Hungry Hungry Hippo level, because how can you top getting your little toy car chomped by a plastic mammal?  I will say that it could be real easy to spend some IAP in here in order to be able to get the cars you want, so be sure to keep an eye on your kids.  Otherwise, have fun and remember what it was like to be a kid yourself (unless you still are, then just grow up!)

Micro Machines Chillingo Ltd, Micro Machines – Free

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Tower Knights! [3/3/16] – Welcome to the game that puts a new spin on the tower defense genre.  First of all, instead of placing towers to defend some keep or exit to another location, you’re actually defending a lone, solitary tower on each level.  To do this you can use the hero that you control, but be wary because if that hero dies you’ll have to restart the level.  You can also unleash powerful spells that spiral down the side of the tower and take out your foes.  Better yet, expand your tower by building floors that have weapons like fireball shooting monsters, sandbags that temporarily block advancing troops or rocket launchers.  You can also upgrade floors that you’ve built a weapon on.  Keep in mind, though, that for each enhancement you make all other ones go up in cost.  As you conquer islands you’ll be rewarded with coins that you can use to upgrade your tower, power ups and the heroes themselves.  Since coins come mainly from completing levels and you get a much smaller amount the second time you go through a beaten level, after a while it will become difficult to earn enough money for upgrades unless you’re willing to shell out some IAP.  Just keep that in mind if you’re letting someone play it that has access to your App Store information.  There are 26 achievements to earn and a leaderboard based on the number of islands you’ve conquered, but more importantly there are plenty of levels to conquer that don’t skimp on the challenge.

Tower Knights! Crazy Labs, Tower Knights! – Free

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Ugly Invasion [8/6/16] – Can you fill in enough of the area to complete each level?  In Ugly Invasion you use monsters to clutter up each level.  Tap a spot and the monster grows until you release it or it gets struck by one of the annoying little enemies often bouncing around the screen.  If you lose a monster or two it is not necessarily the end of the world, but you only have so many monsters per level to complete your goal.  Also, the monsters are circular, so they aren’t necessarily going to stay where you create them.  The fact that the board is fluid adds to the fun for the most part, unless of course you’re trying to trap some of your opponents to make your job easier.  You can earn up to three stars on each level, but after a while that becomes especially challenging because while you’re trying to dodge everything and create enough monsters to fill the level, a little pac-man like creature is trying to make its way across the progress bar to eat your stars.  The stars you’ve earned can be used to purchase new monsters, some of which have special abilities.  Even better, the spent stars are taken away from levels you’ve completed, and you can go back to those levels to earn even more stars.  There are 5 worlds with what appear to be a total of 40 levels to master, and there are 13 achievements to earn, though these are home grown and not through Game Center.

Ugly Invasion Lukasz Mrugasiewicz, Ugly Invasion – Free

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Drop Dead Twice [6/27/16] – Do you like the idea of slashing your way through a game but are getting tired of the source of your aggression always being some sort of food (or occasionally rampant ninjas)?  How about applying your quick swiping skills to defeating zombie hordes?  Drop Dead Twice is sort of like what I would imagine the zombie apocalypse being if it were envisioned by the creators of The Simpsons.  Wipe out wave after wave of the undead by swiping through them, but be sure not to accidentally hit the living, or you’ll accidentally turn them into zombies and have to wipe them out as well.  And, each converted survivor takes a heart away from your life.  So does any zombie that gets past the right side of the screen, so make sure you keep an eye out for the ones whose head or upper torso keeps on crawling once you think you’ve dispatched it.  You can collect coins to unlock and upgrade three different power ups, as well as unlocking two additional playing fields.  There are 10 achievements to earn through Game Center, as well as a leaderboard to climb based on your highest score.  If you’re looking for a different perspective on surviving the zombie apocalypse, Drop Dead Twice might just be for you.

Drop Dead Twice Igor Edington, Drop Dead Twice – Free

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Captain Legend: Reborn [8/20/15] – This game reminds me just a bit of the classic The Lord of the Roads, except with a military bent instead of a fantasy theme.  You start with a lone soldier ala Rambo, and you have to take on increasingly difficult squads of enemies to get to the main villain.  The first way Captain varies greatly, however, is that there are actual defined levels instead of just an endless road to travel.  It also adopts the Skyforce Reloaded setup of having four goals for each level (beat it, fight by yourself, don’t get injured and destroy all the enemies), and when you accomplish them you’ll be able to play the level again and beat all four goals in a more difficult mode.  This allows you to earn more money and more experience for your soldiers.  As you progress through the game you’ll unlock additional weapons to use, as well as more soldiers, skills and talents.  Also, while the levels aren’t generally very long there appear to be a lot of them, so it should keep you pretty busy for a while.  You do need money for all of your upgrades which you are more than welcome to buy via IAP, but besides what you collect on the levels you can watch videos to get a decent amount of loot.  There is a leaderboard, but unfortunately it is run through something called KTPlay instead of either Facebook or Game Center.  Even without that there’s plenty to accomplish, and you get to blow lots of stuff up.

Captain Legend: Reborn Rinzz Co. Ltd., Captain Legend: Reborn – Free

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Fold the World [10/28/15] – When it comes to iOS puzzle games, I feel pretty safe in saying that Fold the World is unique.  You control Yolo, a two headed slinky that is trying to save sheep from the Lord of Darkness.  Each playing field is a piece of cardboard that can be folded in several key locations, which is good because the path you need to take is often obscured underneath the folds.  The game starts off fairly easy, but before long you’ll need to be folding, moving a bit, unfolding and then thinking about your next step to get to the end of each level.  At times the reset button will become your best friend, though it never gets so frustrating that you want to give up.  If you do get stumped you can use rainbow gems to skip a level, but you’ll also need those to unlock new level sets, so use them cautiously.  Of course you can also earn gems by watching videos, and you can also purchase both gems and the additional levels via IAP.  The puzzles are extremely well designed, though sometimes it might be hard to appreciate the genius while you’re banging your head trying to actually solve them.  Along the way you’ll collect puzzle pieces that tell Yolo’s story via one panel cartoons, and you can choose to read them as you go along or view each world’s tale once you’ve completed all the levels.  Between the wonderful animation for Yolo and the popup book style for the menus the graphics are really neat, and the music is lots of fun as well.  Game Center offers 32 achievements and a leaderboard, yet this is one of those games that’s perfectly satisfying just finishing each of the levels.

Fold the World Crazy Labs, Fold the World – Free

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Sunshine HD – Here comes the Sun [11/9/11] – For this roundup you’re getting a double whammy of the “retro relook”, but only because I didn’t think I had written about this one before.  This is an earlier effort from one of my favorite indie developers, Quantum Sheep, and it involves you helping the sun to bring joy into peoples’ lives.  You don’t have direct control over the sun; instead, you tap the screen to launch fireballs at the grumpy clouds and make them disappear.  As you do so you’ll increase your happiness score, which is important because each level starts with an already substantial sadness score, and you won’t beat the level if your happiness score doesn’t exceed the sadness score by the time all four seasons have passed.  Shooting clouds fills up a thermometer which acts as a score multiplier, but miss a cloud or two and that thermometer will start to empty.  Worse yet, if you hit something that’s not a cloud you’ll set it on fire and actually increase the sadness score!  Beat the sadness score on a level to move on to the next, but pulverize it by two to three times and you’ll unlock new hats that make the game even cuter.  There are 12 achievements handled by the game itself, and 9 leaderboards on Game Center: 1 for each of the 8 levels and 1 for total happiness.  And as usual, you have great pixel art and fun music to round out the package.

Sunshine HD - Here comes the Sun Quantum Sheep, Sunshine HD – Here comes the Sun – $0.99
Sunshine - Here comes the Sun! Quantum Sheep, Sunshine – Here comes the Sun! – $0.99

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Super Crate Box [1/4/12] – For my real “retro relook” this time I thought I’d remind you about Super Crate Box.  Part of the reason for this is because I realized I’ve referenced it in more than half a dozen other roundups, so I figured I should check it out again and see if it still holds the same zing that I’ve been touting it for.  It turns out the game is just as fun now as when it was released four years ago.  The name says it all, as your primary goal is to get as many crates as you can.  Sure you’ll want to take care of the bad guys as well, because if they make it to the bottom of the screen they’ll come back meaner and faster than before.  Still, if you want to unlock new boards, characters and weapons it’s the crates that you’ll need.  Hordes of monsters, a random selection of weapons and a snug playing field make for a crazy, dynamic game that never gets old.  There are even 31 achievements to earn and 4 leaderboards for each of the three available levels.  When you need a break from something a bit more time consuming or thought provoking, Super Crate Box is a great way to have some simple, mindless fun.

Super Crate Box Vlambeer, Super Crate Box (TMA Review) – $1.99

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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