10 App Store Games To Watch [11/25/16]
If you live in the U.S. then Halloween is a distant memory (relatively speaking), Thanksgiving just passed and Christmas is around the corner. After that comes the uncertainty of a new year and, this time around, the transition to a brand new leader of the country. One thing that remains the same, however, is the fact that you can always find new games on the App Store. Most of the games in this list pleasantly surprised me, as I knew little about them before taking the plunge to try them. I think the one that caught me off guard the most, however, was Mikey Jumps. I actually was aware of this one and quite excited about it, but after initially playing it felt it didn’t really live up to the Mikey name. Then after spending a lot more time pressing the “play again” button and constantly getting knocked down three quarters of the way through a given world, I realized that it might just be the best Mikey game yet. Oh yeah, and there are nine other games on this list as well!
Paint the Frog [11/3/16] – To me there seems a certain irony when one small mini-game from a collection blossoms into a full blown game, but that’s basically what happened with Paint the Frog. Originally part of the Tap the Frog collection (a great time to be had there as well), this is an expansion of the mini-game where you have to tap certain frogs in a group to make them all the same color. Initially I think the idea was to learn how to quickly determine which group had less frogs, because ultimately you wanted to make it through as many groups as possible. In this expanded version there is certainly still some merit in that, but there are a couple of factors that through some wrinkles into that equation. First of all, some frogs will be holding coins that you can use to buy power ups, and the majority of those frogs could be in the larger group. Also, if you use a certain power up it introduces the king frog which gives you bonus points when tapped, and again this frog could be in the larger group. Of course there’s nothing that says you can’t simply tap the specialty frogs and then change their color back, but that’s all about your particular playing style. As you earn points you level up, rewarding you with a new title, extra time on the clock and I believe some coins as well. There’s a leaderboard for high score as well as 6 achievements to earn, and the game is simple enough you can pick up and play for five minutes or spend hours on it if you’re not careful (well, the latter might be an exaggeration, but you never know).
Playmous, Paint the Frog – Free
Tiles & Tales [10/25/16] – For a while the “big thing” in hybrid games was the match 3 / RPG mash-up. Once in a while we still get one of those that’s fun and maybe even innovates a bit, but now it seems we’ve moved on to a new hybrid: a combination of RPG and 2048 style game play. Tiles & Tales is one such game, and boy am I enjoying it so far. There is a bit of a story involved, but like most of these games it is secondary to the simple task of completing each level by slaying monsters. In this case each level is a randomly generated selection of three waypoints – a monster, a treasure chest and a healing station. At each waypoint you get a specific number of turns to make the highest combination you can out of various tiles including swords (attack), keys (unlock treasure chests), healing packs, crystals and coins. When your turns are used up, the tile with the biggest number that is appropriate to your situation will be used. When you successfully defeat a creature crystal tiles will be redeemed and applied towards your portal meter, and when that gets full the level is over. If you successfully unlock a treasure chest you’ll also redeem any coins that are on the board, and you’ll be given a power up tile that offers abilities like merging all of a certain tile type into one tile or instantly killing an enemy. The way the game redeems the tiles is already different than I’ve seen in other games of this type, but another really cool feature is that if you go straight to the next level instead of going to the overhead map in between then your current board will stay intact, power ups and all. There are daily and weekly quests you can complete to earn coins as well, and all of these riches can be used to buy perks which make you stronger as the game gets more difficult. You can also earn gems through timed rewards as well as buying them via IAP, and these will let you buy a couple of new heroes to use on your quest. Besides the game play itself being a lot of fun, the graphics are some of the most detailed I’ve seen for this style of game, whether it is leaves blowing in the wind or a rainstorm to dampen the mood. Mash-up fans should check this out now, and if you’ve been searching for a reason to play a 2048 style game, this might be for you as well.
Trilith Entertainment Limited, Tiles & Tales – Free
Big Bang Racing [7/29/16] – Big Bang Racing is a crazy, cartoony racing game presented from a side view perspective. The races are fairly short but nonetheless can provide quite a challenge, especially since you don’t get to preview them before you run them. There are plenty of races to run, because in addition to the content supplied by the developers there are thousands of user courses available. You don’t need a separate program either, as the designer is built right into the main game. Multiplayer races are comprised of four players from around the world, and if you don’t place first you get five chances to redeem yourself before you need to move on. There are also the single player races where you try and collect map pieces to further your progress on the overhead map. You can level up to earn rewards, use coins to buy parts and enhance many aspects of your vehicles, and even get cool hats for your avatar. There are global and local leaderboards to rank on as well as trophies to earn depending on how well you place in a race. Currently there are no achievements of any sort, however. On the other hand, you can form teams and compete in order to win cool in-game prizes. Big Bang Racing is a fairly simple game with a pick up and play attitude and lots to upgrade, so it’s just right for the casual video game racer.
Traplight Ltd., Big Bang Racing – Free
Tiny Miners [9/26/16] – I’ve played several of these “dig to the bottom of the level” type games, but for some reason this one has caught my attention more so than most. You choose between a guy or girl (or an alien once you’ve reached level 10), and you set out to excavate various mines for loot, loot and more loot. There are of course coins to collect, as well as health potions in case you spend too much time running into things. There are also blue potions that will give you a super drill for a few seconds when you’ve collected enough of them and vials of magic dust that can be used to imbue your equipment with additional benefits. More intriguing, however, are the various components you find while you’re digging around. These components can create some nifty tools when combined, so you need to make sure you collect as many of them as possible. Of course you’ll have to actually experiment with various combinations of components to see which ones yield the best items, but that gives the game an additional level of mystique and provides you with something else to look forward to. There are missions to complete that help you work towards mega chests filled with wonderful items, and completing levels earns you experience that will reward you with goods and a refilled energy bar when you go up an experience level. There’s a leaderboard for most coins collected and 46 achievements to earn, and if you can connect to Facebook you’ll have the ability to join a clan, though I’m not sure what that does as the combination of Facebook, Tiny Miners and my ailing iPad 2 is not a good one. If you are still running such an old device you might experience some crashes as well, but if you can deal with that or have a newer device, Tiny Miners is definitely worth a look.
About Fun, Tiny Miners – Free
Tormentum – a Point & Click Adventure [4/19/16] – Normally I try to avoid lite versions of games, especially if they don’t provide much game play compared to the full product. In this case, however, I’m going to take a leap of faith that the full game is simply 3-4 hours more of what I played in the demo, and to me that’s worth mentioning here. I love adventure games, and I get particularly excited when I find one on the App Store that doesn’t involve searching for a bunch of hidden objects. Tormentum goes a step further and as its name implies presents itself as a point & click style game, albeit one in which your character doesn’t roam around the screen. Still, it brings back lots of memories from when I grew up as a Sierra Online child of the 80’s. What little you get to absorb of the story seems interesting enough, and after traipsing through the first three locations of the game I certainly want to know why the region’s inhabitants are being locked up in cages and brought to an ominous castle. The interface is clean and effective, the mini-games are a nice distraction without getting in the way, and the object puzzles are thoughtful yet intuitive. The graphics do a great job of presenting a grim world, and there is some really nice character design in the little bit the demo offers. I’ll be picking up the full version of the game as soon as I can, and if you’re a connoisseur of adventure games I’d suggest you do the same.
Mikey Jumps [11/9/16] – With its single screen sublevels and lack of a three star rating system for level completion, this just wasn’t feeling like a Mikey game to me. Then, after hitting “retry” time and time again until I completed world 2, and time and time again until I completed world 3, I realized that this might just be the most brilliant Mikey game yet. There is a lot of challenge packed into each single screen sublevel, and the fact that you have to complete all the sublevels in a single run in order to beat a world turns out to be a test of merit rather than a burden. It makes you question whether you’re really learning to master the sublevels or just getting lucky with the ones you’re passing. There are 200 levels altogether, and if you’re an average gamer like me you’ll spend a fair share of time on each world before moving on to the next. If the game actually cost money I’d say you’d be getting your money’s worth, but at a price point of free you’re getting far more than the price of admission. There are six characters to choose from and hundreds of accessories to unlock, which is a fun feature to have even if nothing actually affects the game play in any way. There are two leaderboards to rank on and 20 achievements to earn through Game Center, but you should feel accomplished enough beating all 200 levels. If you haven’t already indulged in this addictive consumption of time, I suggest you do so now.
BeaverTap Games, LLC, Mikey Jumps – Free
Level: A Simple Puzzle Game [10/29/16] – I think “simple” puzzle game is a bit of a misnomer, because while it’s easy to learn it’s actually a bit difficult for me to remember what each element in the game does and how the interact with each other. Still, I love the basic concept of the game as well as the minimal visuals. On each level you have several platforms, potentially in multiple rows, that you want to get lined up with each other. To do that you must move a selection of shapes around to the different platforms. The lightest shape is the circle, and then you have a triangle which equals to circles and a square that equals three circles (which also makes it slightly more weighty then a triangle). Besides that you also have hollow shapes which actually raise the platforms instead of lower them. Then you have bars which connect platforms and cause them to raise and lower in tandem and gears that do the same thing except with platforms that aren’t physically connected. Chains force you to separate adjoining platforms enough to break them, while magnets and the lock / key combination must be lined up in order for them to go away. Finally you have black shapes that can’t be moved, and you also can’t move a platform with a lock if there is no corresponding key. The first few levels act as a tutorial, and you can view this information at any time via the Tutorial menu, but a quicker all in one cheat sheet would be nice. The game offers 80 levels to master and 8 achievements to earn, and it appears that you can play the whole thing for free, though if you’re not a patient person you can unlock level sets early or refill your lives (lost when you run out of moves or restart a botched level) via IAP. This is a nice game for people who like a challenge without pulling their hair out and who appreciate playing at their leisure instead of racing against a timer.
Starch Inc., Level: A Simple Puzzle Game – Free
Plantera [11/17/16] – I’m not much for farming simulations, especially given that most of them try to emulate Farmville instead of trying to do something new. Even Plantera probably won’t hold my attention for long, but I applaud the fact that the developers took the genre in a new direction. Instead of an isometric or top down view, Plantera employs a side scrolling perspective to its ever expanding garden. You start out with one “farmer” and the ability to plant carrots, and as you earn experience you’ll unlock new plants, trees, and creatures to add to your garden, as well as additional farmers to help gather resources. So you don’t have to sit idle you can actually help the farmers by knocking fruit out of the trees or digging up vegetables, and you can even help gather the goods yourself to speed up the process of acquiring coins. And just to make sure things don’t get too easy you’ll have to fend off fiends that want to destroy your crops or animals, such as magpies, rabbits and foxes. You’ll even have to deal with the occasional mole, which could have been more amusing had they implemented a mini whack-a-mole style game. There are 28 achievements to earn and a leaderboard based on your experience level, and unlike many leaderboards you still have a chance of ascending this one to a decent level at the moment. Adults and older children might not be into this one for the long haul, but the combination of a simple to use control scheme, colorful characters and bouncy music should guarantee this to be a hit with the younger kids. And if you as a parent find yourself secretly picking some fruit and fighting off magpies, don’t feel too bad about it.
VaragtP Studios AB, Plantera – Free
Button Up [10/26/16] – Finally, a developer has truly taken the concept of the 2048 puzzle game to the next level. There are no grids in this game, nor will you slide anything around in the traditional sense. Instead, the pieces are buttons, and you launch them slingshot style into each other to try and generate higher numbers. Since the board doesn’t get filled up in the traditional sense, the game is over if there are more than 12 buttons on screen at once. To add to the challenge, after every five moves a button will be “sewed down” to the board, and the only way to remove it is to hit it with a like numbered button. If you line up your shots correctly you can make multiple combinations in one go, and if you get a combo of three or more you’ll spawn a multiplier that automatically increases the first button to land on it by the multiplier. You can connect with Facebook to compete with other players for high score, though at this point there is no Game Center integration. Also, the only alterations to the game are new skins for the buttons and backgrounds, which have to be purchased via IAP, but hopefully the “incentives” for purchasing the game will be expanded upon in the future. Still, this is a great alternative for fans of 2048 style game play that feel like the genre might have stagnated a bit.
Fuzzy Button Games Inc., Button Up – Free
Backdrafts [11/4/16] – This is a wall defense game, but thankfully it takes a unique approach to the genre… at least from the standpoint of the setting. Instead of a gun toting brute or a magician with a crazy spell book, you take on the role of a baby dragon trying to protect your stash of gold. You start off merely defending yourself from peasants with pitchforks, but as the game progresses you’ll have more difficult adversaries to fend off. You do so by tapping the screen to launch fireballs at the bad guys, but keep in mind that you have to account for the fact that they are continually moving. Eventually you’ll also have to deal with running out of fire, at which point you have to put your dragon in “stasis” to recharge, which means you temporarily can’t attack. As if that weren’t bad enough, if someone gets close enough to your gold they’ll take a sack and try to run back where they came from, and if they are able to get away with ten sacks then you have to restart the level. You can reclaim sacks of gold from fallen enemies by touching them for a couple of seconds, but this once again leaves you open to attack. The game starts out pretty benign but quickly turns rather challenging. Over time you’ll earn gems which can be used to buy power ups before you start a level, but they are awfully expensive for being of one off use. There are currently 40 levels to master with more levels and game play modes on the way. It would be nice to see some achievements added to the mix, but the two biggest features this game needs right now in my opinion are an alternative for earning gems and some path for permanently upgrading your dragon. You can buy gems via IAP, but given they only work towards single use items, that’s not much incentive to want to dump cash into the game.
Id&aL, Backdrafts – 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: