10 App Store Games To Watch [1/22/17]

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The wait is over – my first roundup of 2017 is officially here.  So as not to disappoint, I made sure that nothing I covered was released after the end of last year!  Seriously, though, I’m trying to catch up just a bit as always, and as long as a game is still available and fun to play I figure it’s worth covering.  I continue to try and bring you a diverse lot of games, and this time around I dug up a couple with a bit more substance, including an adventure game and a tabletop style RPG.  I think you’ll find a few things in here to help get your 2017 game playing season off to a good start, so let’s kill the chit chat and get to the games…

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Rusty Lake Hotel [12/14/15] – I really didn’t know anything about this game going into it, and I’m glad for that.  Had I known the premise behind Rusty Lake Hotel I’m not 100% sure I would have tried it, but as it turns out this is one of the most interesting adventure games I think I have played in 2016, and it certainly has a unique plot.  I’m not positive how to approach this because I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say it gives new meaning to the phrase “guess who’s coming to dinner?”.  The game takes place over six nights, each one of which requires you to explore a certain room in the hotel.  It’s almost like playing six “escape the room” games rolled up in one, except that unlike most of those there is actual character interaction in this game.  Something else that sets the game apart is that you actually earn stars for each room you solve, so there might be incentive to go back and play again if you don’t get three stars in every room the first time around.  The puzzles are challenging, the characters bizarre and the artwork has a unique bent to it.  In short, this is one adventure worth embarking on.

Rusty Lake Hotel LoyaltyGame B.V., Rusty Lake Hotel – $1.99

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Star Drives [12/12/16] – Star Drives is a simple casual game that was clearly developed by a Star Wars fan.  You control a spacecraft, and your job is to keep it orbiting your home planet while avoiding all of the craft that are orbiting the planet next door.  Fortunately there’s only a small area where the orbits overlap, but your neighbors won’t make it easy as you’ll eventually get multiple craft orbiting at once going different speeds and often opposite directions.  Luckily you can speed up and slow down on a whim, which are skills you’ll need to master in order to stay alive for very long.  As you pass a certain spot in your orbit you’ll collect coins, and I believe you get one coin for each enemy that is orbiting the other planet.  You’ll also get earn coins the first time you reach certain scores, and you can double your coin intake by watching a video after the round is over.  All of this loot can be used to buy better ships which will increase your speed, give you more braking power and sometimes give you extra lives.  The game does have a leaderboard and 14 achievements to earn, but oddly enough they come via Goggle Play.  There’s certainly nothing earth shattering or deep about this game, but as filler it’s fun to take for a spin every once in a while.

Star Drives Inlogic Software, Star Drives – Free

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Arcane Quest 3 [7/1/16] – This is one of those games that is clearly meant to emulate the tabletop game play experience, and it does quite a nice job of simulating games like Heroes Quest.  You select a party of 4 characters from a possible 10 different classes, 6 of which need to be purchased via IAP.  You’ll then explore a series of dungeons where you vanquish monsters, collect loot and level up your characters.  You know the drill.  In typical board game fashion you’ll move all your pieces, attack when in range, and then pass to the opponent who will move and counterstrike.  When you win a battle the character that delivers the deadly blow receives some experience, and if you’re lucky they’ll drop something useful for you to pick up.  As you level up you’ll earn skill points, and each character can learn up to 7 skills.  There is a multiplayer option which I have yet to explore, and you can also play dungeons built by other people from around the world.  The thing with the custom built dungeons is you always seem to start with fresh characters, and so far I haven’t found one that I can beat.  If there’s a ranking system for difficulty it’s not evident, and this would be a nice feature to have.  On the plus side, as long as there are interested players there will be fresh content.  The game offers 32 achievements and 3 leaderboards through Game Center, and it offers a fairly polished experience for those who prefer the slower, methodical pace of a turn based board game.

Arcane Quest 3 Marco Pravato, Arcane Quest 3 – Free

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Color Glide – Puzzle Game [12/8/16] – I must warn you right off the bat, if you’re still running an iPad 2 or equivalent level iPod / iPhone device, you’re going to have problems with this game.  That being said, from what I’ve been able to play I really like it.  The basic premise is simple and familiar: slide blocks around the screen to get them in certain spots.  As you might guess from the name there’s an element of color to the game, but unlike other games of this type once you slide a piece to its destination both the piece and the target spot disappear.  It starts out pretty basic, but before long you’ll need to combine blocks to make the right colors.  Then you have to worry about walls that only like colors can pass through, death tiles that destroy the first block that touches them and warp tiles that transport your block to another warp tile on the board.  There are 37 levels in the base game, and three additional level packs you can buy using gems that you earn while playing the game, watching videos or via IAP.  There are also daily levels to play.  Game Center offers a leaderboard based on the number of levels that you earn a gold trophy on as well as 7 achievements to earn.  You can even save your game on the cloud to play between devices.  If you have a newer device or don’t mind reloading the game after every couple of levels, Color Glide is worth checking out.

Color Glide - Puzzle Game T&V Business Ventures, LLC, Color Glide – Puzzle Game – Free

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Silly Sausage: Doggy Dessert [12/22/16] – The pliable pooch that would give plastic man a run for his money is back, and he’s just as entertaining as ever.  I’m not really sure if there’s a true mission to this game, but the basics are that you must dodge a myriad of sweet traps, collect a bunch of gems and pass all 50 checkpoints.  The gems are used to record your position at a given waypoint, otherwise when you die you’ll find yourself whisked all the way back to the last save point you actually “purchased”.  As fun as the game is, there are certain traps you’ll pass that you won’t have to revisit if you don’t have to.  The mechanic is simple – swipe in the direction you want to stretch, and then swipe to change directions.  You can even swipe in the opposition direction to head back where you came.  The trick is that once you start stretching, you’re vulnerable until you either return to the position where you started or find a location that Silly can actually latch on to (not all surfaces are created equal in this game).  Along the way you’ll need to make use of items like speed boosts, bombs and keys to progress past certain points.  There are even bonus rooms that are unlocked by watching videos and are great for those of you that feel puzzles should be timed.  The graphics are cute, the music is soothing and while it might seem like a kids’ game, there is definitely plenty of challenge to be had here.  There are also 23 Game Center achievements to earn if you’re up to it.

Silly Sausage: Doggy Dessert Nitrome, Silly Sausage: Doggy Dessert – Free

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Puzzle Royale [12/5/16] – Oh look, another match 3 mash up.  As I always say, as long as they bring something new to the table or do something you expect really well, bring ‘em on!  In this case the “other” part of the game is a “last man standing” style game where you stand on opposite ends of the playing field with your adversary and unleash what are hopefully stronger monsters at a faster rate so that they can overtake your enemy’s army and ultimately your enemy himself.  The match 3 portion comes in because that’s how you generate the monsters that you send towards your enemies.  Train against computer opponents or battle in a league against players from around the world so that you can level up your main character and earn gold, gems and cards.  Cards give you the resources to upgrade your monsters, and coins allow you to actually perform the upgrades.  You can also use coins to upgrade your main character or buy and upgrade mercenaries.  And of course gems are used to speed up any of these processes.  There are daily quests where you can earn additional coins, and 24 Game Center achievements to earn that also give you some gems.  Game Center also provides you with 3 leaderboards to rank on.  With plenty of ways to earn coins and lots of folks to battle, Puzzle Royale is a great way to kill time for several months after you install it.

Puzzle Royale NANOO COMPANY Inc., Puzzle Royale – Free

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Cog! [12/16/16] – While this game certainly won’t win any awards for innovation, it takes a simple concept and packages it up quite nicely for an addictive causal experience when you have a few minutes to kill.  All you have to do is tap the screen to make a ball move from one segment of a tunnel to the next, being sure to avoid the cogs that are circling around each segment.  There are gaps between the groups of gears on each segment, but the gears are moving at different speeds and in different directions.  So as you have probably guessed by now, this is one of those “simple to comprehend, potentially hard to master” games.  Luckily you can pick up power ups along the way (assuming you can catch them) which include a shield, the ability to slow down time for a bit and a bomb that wipes away a couple of segments worth of gears.  You can play the game in either portrait or landscape mode, though in an interesting twist the orientation of the board doesn’t change, so in landscape mode you’re going left and right while in portrait mode you’ll travel up or down.  It doesn’t really affect game play at all, but for a moment or two it can be disorienting, especially if you switch in the middle of a game.  The visuals are simple but appealing, and the multi-track soundtrack is easy to listen to and really compliments the aesthetics.  The leaderboard is hosted through Game Center, but oddly enough the 16 achievements aren’t.  The best part is that the game is currently free, and there doesn’t appear to be any IAP at the moment.

Cog! Kevin Loughran, Cog! – Free

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Samurai Santaro – Dark Onmyoji [4/11/14] – This game has been around for a little while, so I’m not really sure what prompted me to finally try it.  I’m glad I did, though, because I really like the idea behind the game.  It’s an interesting cross between runner and shooting gallery, and it provides enough challenge that it never gets dull.  You travel the countryside in an effort to rescue the princess, taking down bad guys to stay alive and shooting targets to bolster your score. Each level has three stars to earn: one for completing the level, another for shooting all the bad guys and the third for not taking any damage.  Stars get you coins, and you can repeat any level to earn the stars you might have missed the first time around.  You also get coins along the path, and these coins can be used to enhance aspects of your character as well as buy and upgrade special skills.  These skills are unlimited, but there is a “cooling down” period between each use.  I’m not sure how many levels there are altogether, but the general structure is that you play 4 regular levels and then fight a boss.  The visuals are pretty slick, the bosses are nifty, and they certainly make sure that the levels ramp up in difficulty as you move along through the game.

SAMURAI SANTARO - Dark Onmyoji PROPE, SAMURAI SANTARO – Dark Onmyoji – $4.99

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Hack The System [10/13/16] – I think the concept of hacking simulators has existed ever since computers became personal, but the complexity of windows and menus and such has never really translated well to mobile devices in my opinion.  One other recent attempt at turning the skill of hacking into a casual affair failed mainly due to the insane difficulty of the game’s execution, but Hack The System manages to handle it in such a way that it’s entertaining and easy to get into.  Whether or not you come out of it truly feeling like a hacker is an entirely different problem.  You infiltrate each system by tapping at just the right time to move your packet up to the next node in the network.  If you collide with the red firewalls the hack fails and you’ll have to try again.  One would figure that it’s no big deal, because you just wait until there’s an opening in the firewall and then tap.  The problem is that you also have a limited amount of time before the system simply times out on you.  When the game first came out I tried it and while it was an interesting concept it seemed like something was missing.  Then they added power ups, which are certainly a game changer.  Collect them, upgrade them and choose up to six different ones depending on your play style, but you won’t want to enter the cyber world without them.  If you want to feel like you’re breaking into Fort Knox this game probably isn’t for you, but for a causal, reaction based experience that poses as a hacking system, Hack The System will definitely kill some of your spare time.

Hack the System Jeffrey Yim, Hack the System – Free

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Sea Hero Quest [5/3/16] – This game is basically three nautically themed mini-games rolled up into one.  In the first three levels of each section you have to find three buoys in the order they are numbered, which will reward you with a map piece or journal entry.  You can stare at the map as long as you want until you start the level, but then you’ll have to find the buoys by memory.  It’s not so bad until they start putting the buoys out of order, or the map shows you the relative position of the buoys but not the lay of the land, or there are environmental obstacles like fog or currents that steer you off course.  The fourth level has you locating a flare gun, which you then have to fire in the direction you think you started from.  Finally you get to the monster chase where you’ll have to navigate treacherous waters and ultimately snap a picture of your quarry, because of course you wouldn’t want to hurt these big but friendly beasts.  Finishing levels rewards you with stars that can be used to decorate various aspects of your boat.  Content wise it feels a lot like a kid’s game, but there’s enough challenge that adults might get a kick out of it as well.  Plus, it would be a great game to play with younger kids if you have them.  The game offers 7 achievements and 2 leaderboards through Game Center, but much more importantly, if you answer a few semi-generic questions and let the game track your playing habits it can apparently help in research towards learning about and potentially treating dementia.  I don’t really understand how this last part works, but if it’s doing researchers some good it seems like a win-win for a fun and free game.

Sea Hero Quest GLITCHERS LTD, Sea Hero Quest – 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:

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