10 App Store Games To Watch [9/19/16]

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I hope you guys are ready to get your game on, because as usual the App Store doesn’t disappoint when it comes to mobile entertainment.  My good buddies over at Nitrome, none of whom actually know me, released cool casual game Redungeon.  It’s sort of an infinite runner with a rogue-like look and feel, upgradable characters and their trademark wonderful pixel art.  Vertigo Racing brings the world of high stakes single car racing to the iOS world, and boy do I mean high.  All the tracks are along cliffs, and it’s not uncommon to find yourself heading over them in the quest to go faster than you really should.  Circuroid brings the 80’s classic Tempest into the modern era, but like its predecessor it uses relatively simple graphics compared to its peers.  Don’t let that fool you, because the action can get intense and trying to unlock all the power ups quickly becomes addictive.

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Monster Run. Free retro pixel-art platformer [7/8/16] – As retro pixel art goes, this game is fabulous.  The characters are well designed, the backgrounds are nicely drawn and full of nifty little details (if you can take a moment to appreciate them), and everything is nicely animated.  The game itself is a slick little platformer where you simply have to get from point A to point B without dying.  There are four different commands: jump, double jump, gravity and blink.  Gravity and blink are similar, though gravity literally flips you upside down while Blink just flips you from one side of the platform to the other.  Each level is worth a certain number of coins, but your number of deaths is subtracted from that total, so if you’re a bad player like me it’s possible you won’t earn anything on some levels.  You can also spin the “Wheel Of Fortune” to earn additional loot, but be wary of this because you can just as easily loose money off of this gamble.  Sometimes you can watch videos to earn money as well, and then there is the ever faithful IAP method of bolstering your bounty.  All these coins can be used to buy new characters or unlock additional locations, though you can open up new worlds simply by completing enough levels on the previous one.  There are three leaderboards in Game Center, one for each world, and they are based on the total number of deaths you incur in that world.  There are also 34 achievements to earn.

Monster Run. Free retro pixel-art platformer Forsbit LLC, Monster Run. Free retro pixel-art platformer – Free

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Tracky Train [7/1/16] – Tracky Train turns the idea of building a railroad into an action game by combining it with the concept of an infinite runner.  Instead of controlling the train directly you guide the machine that lays down the track, and it’s your job to make sure that the train doesn’t crash.  You can cross over tracks you’ve already laid only if there’s nothing in your way on the other side of the tracks.  You also have to avoid the myriad of obstacles in the way like houses, livestock and the actual passengers.  Build the tracks alongside the passengers and as long as there’s enough room left in your train you’ll pick them up.  Then you need to direct the tracks next to the stations so that the passengers can be dropped off.  Besides building up your score these tasks are good because they slow down the train, which will speed up over time.  If the train catches up to you it will crash into you.  As you drop off passengers you’ll work towards unlocking new trains and locations to explore.  The trains can be upgraded to hold more passengers, and the locations just add some variety to the proceedings.  Game Center offers a leaderboard for longest distance traveled, as well as 22 achievements to earn.

Tracky Train Crash Lab Limited, Tracky Train – Free

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NinjAwesome [6/22/16] – This is more of a limited infinite runner than a platform game, but I guess between the theme and the visuals it reminds me of the NES era Ninja Gaiden games.  The basic premise is that you need to jump, slide and shuriken your way through deadly obstacles and freaky villains.  There are 4 mini-runs you can take that will earn you yellow pill like things that act as money, as well as experience and treasure chests.  In order to reap the rewards for that mini-run you must complete a goal like running for so many meters or collecting a certain number of scrolls, and then you have to wait for a period of time before you can make that run again.  There is also an infinite run mode, but all that earns you are the pills.  With the pills you can upgrade various status like health, magnet strength and how many times you can throw your shuriken before you need to take a break.  After you earn enough experience you’ll go up a level and be rewarded with some gems.  Gems can be used to continue when you die or to open chests immediately instead of having to wait for a certain period of time.  Chests, in turn, will give you things like coins, gems and different types of shuriken.  Through Game Center there is a leaderboard for the endless mode as well as 9 achievements to work towards.

NinjAwesome GameResort LLC, NinjAwesome – Free

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Gardenscapes – New Acres [8/25/16] – One of the things I really liked about the Gardenscapes series was how it blended the idea of hidden object scenes with something other than an adventure game.  I was excited when I saw that New Acres had been released, and then a bit surprised to learn that they had switched from hidden objects to match 3 for the means of earning what you need to fix up your garden.  Turns out that it still works pretty well.  In order to get your garden in tip top shape you need to complete a series of tasks, each of which require one or more stars to finish.  Of course you’ll get those stars by beating match 3 levels.  There’s nothing particularly innovative about the match 3 mechanics, but they are solidly implemented and I do like the fact that you can double click a power up to use it instead of having to swap it with another piece.  In addition to the stars you’ll earn some coins when you complete each level, and these coins can be used for continuing match 3 levels when you’ve run out of moves, buying additional power ups or switching out upgrades likes benches with a different style if you decide you didn’t like the original one you chose.  Of course in typical freemium fashion you have a certain number of hearts which you lose when you don’t complete a match 3 level successfully, but if you don’t mind waiting patiently while those hearts refill you won’t have to dump a ton of money into IAP to enjoy this new garden renovation experience.

Gardenscapes - New Acres Playrix, Gardenscapes – New Acres – Free

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Redungeon [6/23/16] – Redungeon is another fine casual gaming experience from Nitrome.  In this case you spend your time wandering around randomly generated dungeons, but instead of fighting the various denizens of the underground your objective is to run as far as you can, collecting as much loot as you can along the way.  Of course the actual layout of the dungeon does its best to work against you, filled with moving platforms, tons of deadly projectiles and plenty of opportunities to fall off the edge.  The latest updates have introduced fire and ice, the latter of which seems to have greatly increased the difficulty for me.  Still, it’s cool to see all the different configurations the random generator comes up with, and while they can be challenging none of them are impossible as long as you pay attention and don’t get too tap happy on the controls.  As you roam the dungeon you’ll collect plenty of coins, and these can be used to unlock new characters or upgrade the ones you already have.  Each character aside from the starter one has a unique ability to bring to the table, and every character has additional special abilities when upgraded.  The game offers two leaderboards via Game Center, as well as 17 achievements to earn.  I’d also like to point out that the pixel graphics are incredible.  Everything is highly detailed and extremely well animated, with cool touches like the vampire splitting into a bunch of bats that fly away when it gets killed in certain situations.

Redungeon Nitrome, Redungeon – Free

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Mekorama [5/15/16] – Mekorama is a puzzle game where you have to get a cute little robot from his starting point in a given level to the red circle that indicates the exit to the level.  Levels might consist of parts you need to turn, boxes that must be moved or platforms you have to raise and lower.  Thanks to the pseudo 3D nature of the playing arena you’ll have to use your imagination sometimes to try and figure out where you need to go, especially with levels where part of the path is concealed inside of a structure.  You can rotate the level, but you can’t move it off of its fixed angle, which sometimes makes things a bit tricky to navigate.  The game comes with 50 levels standard, and you can design others to share with your friends and the world at large.  To import levels you can simply use your camera to scan the QR code or add a picture of the level to your photos and allow the app to have access to your camera roll.  I found it a bit hard to place objects in the editor, but if you have some patience or are used to designing levels for games you probably won’t have much difficulty with it.  The overall game interface is pretty stylish, representing the levels as cards and the “menu” as a set of timecard style holders that you can swipe to flip through.  The game is free with a requested donation if you like it, so give it a try if you like puzzle games and are looking for something that feels pretty different from everything you’re used to.

Mekorama Martin Magni, Mekorama – Free

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Circuroid [8/30/16] – Circuroid is like a modern day Tempest.  If you don’t know what that is don’t worry, just Google it (I actually had to Google the description because I couldn’t remember the name).  The graphics and sound have certainly received an upgrade, and I don’t recall if power ups were as prevalent or even a thing in Tempest, but the general idea that you circle the perimeter of the playing field shooting all the bad stuff coming at you from the center of the screen is the same simple concept that made Tempest surprisingly addictive.  Each object you destroy gets you a point, which at the end of the game translates to experience.  Fill up the experience circle and you’ll unlock a new power up, which you receive at various intervals throughout the game.  It’s always fun crossing that threshold and seeing what the next great instrument of destruction is going to be.  Speaking of thresholds, make sure you don’t let a single object cross the perimeter of your playing field or the game is over.  You get one chance to continue if you are willing to watch a video, and then you’ll have to live with whatever score you get.  The game offers 50 achievements and a leaderboard via Game Center, and with 10 power ups that each have three levels to unlock, you’ll certainly have plenty to do.  Circuroid is free to play, but you can remove ads and activate double experience with an IAP purchase.

Circuroid Big Frost Games, Circuroid – Free

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Brutal Street [4/4/15] – Imagine turning Streets Of Rage into a single screen game and then adding an element of strategy to it, and you’ve got the idea behind Brutal Street.  You start with a single gangster and quickly build up your roster as you conquer the mean streets and make a name for yourself.  Each character can be enhanced with equipment you acquire through battles or buy using the money you collect from each victory.  Victories also earn you energy which can be used to build up your members’ skill trees.  The skill tree starts off pretty linear, but after a while you’ll have plenty of customization options which means you can build the characters the way you like and it also adds some replayability to the game.  You’ll add a total of 8 gangsters to your roster throughout the game, but you can only use three at a time unless you pay to open up additional “active” slots.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, because you have to be pretty observant to manage all those people at the same time.  The action is real time, and as you get further along you’ll have more enemies at once, so making sure any one character doesn’t take too much of a beating at any given time is critical.  It also helps if you remember to unleash your characters’ specials every now and again, as they do a wonderful job of turning the tide of battle.  This is a unique take on the beat ‘em up genre, and one that I really enjoy.

Brutal Street Black Pearl Games Limited, Brutal Street – $0.99

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Vertigo Racing [9/7/16] – I am not normally a big fan of racing games where you’re not actually racing against anyone, but something about Vertigo Racing has managed to suck me in.  While I know very little about cars I’d say everything in this game more than qualifies as “vintage”, and there are several slick looking vehicles to choose from.  Each one can be upgraded several times in terms of speed, acceleration, fuel consumption and ability to take damage, and you’ll need to get them all in order to beat every cup in the game.  There are 10 courses to run, each of which has a cup for each car.  It appears that you only need to earn one cup to unlock the next course, but of course completists will want to get every cup, and probably work towards upgrading every car to its maximum capacity as well.  In addition to earning a cup for every car, each level has a series of challenges you can complete, usually of the “do X for so many seconds” variety.  What I really like about the challenges are they are cumulative over multiple races, and they can be completed using a mix of cars.  If you look at the in-game achievements screen it says there are 45 to earn, but Game Center says 85.  Either way that is quite a few achievements, and those are independent of the challenges.  Each level has its own leaderboard as well.  And to top it all off, the visuals, while not really competitive with games like Real Racing 3, have a certain style that really makes them appealing.  Car racing fans should really consider taking Vertigo Racing for a spin.

Vertigo Racing Chillingo Ltd, Vertigo Racing – Free

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Inks. [5/4/16] – Inks is a pinball game that focuses on style more than substance, and it actually works out to the game’s advantage.  The boards tend to be fairly minimal in nature, but then the whole point of the game is not to rack up a million points with a single ball.  In fact, there are no points in this game.  Instead, your task is to strike each area on the board that has a colored surface.  When you do that surface will explode its color, and as you continue to hit the ball around the board it will leave a streak of color matching the last colored surface it touched.  In the end you’ll have a surface that looks like a child finger painted over it, and the beauty of it is that if you play the board ten times, you’ll end up with a different result every time.  Upon completion of the board you can send your masterpiece through various social channels by clicking the camera button, or you can play the board again or move on to the next one.  While there is no score, per se, there is a ranking system of gold, silver and bronze depending on whether it takes you one, two or three balls to complete the board.  Any more than that and you’re doing it just to say that you didn’t give up.  You can even earn a star if you complete the board on the first ball and under a certain number of hits with the paddles.  Besides the gold, silver and bronze rankings, there are 28 achievements to work towards as well.

INKS. State of Play Games, INKS. – $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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