I’ve never been a fan of the freemium model employed by so many games on the App Store these days, but ever since I’ve had my iPad I’ve been hooked on two of them. The first is Mystery Manor , which I reviewed just before Christmas, and the other is Appy Entertainment’s latest release, SpellCraft School of Magic. Like everything else in their portfolio it’s different from anything else they’ve done, and it’s also not quite like any other dungeon crawler I’ve played. In addition to the combat you actually have to grow your own ingredients to cook your own spells, and you can even get a pet to care for that will help protect you in exchange. This may be a dungeon crawler “lite” in some regards, but it offers enough to keep me coming back for more on a daily basis.
As the year draws to a close I’ve started thinking about my time writing the weekly “10 Games To Watch” article, and I soon realized that I’ve been doing this since May of 2010. As such I thought I’d take a few moments to reflect back on my first year’s worth of articles and point out some of my biggest hits (and worst misses). That way, if you’re in need of a few extras games because of some new iTunes gift card burning a hole in your account, you’ll have some idea of the ones you missed that are worth checking into again – or avoiding, as the case may be.
‘Tis the season to be jolly, and also for iTunes Connect to shut down for a few days (this is the method developers use to submit games to the App Store). Amazingly enough, though, a lot of developers were on the ball and got their games submitted so they could be reviewed and out in the first couple of days of the Christmas week. Among those releases were Dungeon Hunter 3 and Zenonia 4, the next installments of 2 of the most popular hack ‘n slash RPG series for iOS systems. While it sounds like Zenonia 4 might be the best yet in the series, Dungeon Hunter 3 took a step away from its predecessors to provide a completely different type of game play experience. If you’re more into platform games you might give the retro inspired Terra Noctis a try, while strategy fans with attention issues should cling to Strange Adventures In Infinite Space.
Blobster Christmas is the story of a boy and his blob… oh wait, that’s a different game. Blobster Christmas is the tale of a gelatinous mass that overruns a city… no, that’s a cheesy old movie that was remade into a worse movie in the 80′s. Actually, Blobster Christmas is the seasonal version of a cool little platform game from Chillingo that I reviewed some time ago (for a different site, but we won’t tell). You can check out that review here, and you probably should because it sums up this new game quite well.
Over the last few years I have become a big fan of hidden object games, even finding myself a frequent shopper at the Big Fish Games web site. For all the games that fall in this category that I’ve played, however, I don’t think I’ve played one quite as diverse, frustrating and satisfying as Mystery Manor: Hidden Adventure. If you’re defiant against in-app purchases (IAPs) or have no patience you’ll certainly want to avoid this game, otherwise prepare for the most interesting hidden object game experience you’ve had in a long time. If you’re really a fan of such games you’ll get hooked.
So would you be all that surprised if I said this game had a fairly cute protagonist, a bunch of obstacles and some rope? Thankfully, though, Rope Rescue HD has nothing to do with feeding said protagonist cookies, cakes or any other kind of sweets. In fact, in relation to the game’s name, the action involves a parrot using the rope to unlock cages and free baby parrots. This is actually a clever little game, and it’s nice to play a rope puzzle game that isn’t really about physics and doesn’t involve fire (well at least not all the time). It’s actually quite challenging despite its cute facade which makes it a distraction for kids and still fun for adults.
I imagine that those of you that have been following iOS gaming news are expecting me to jump right in and talk about Grand Theft Auto III, but I’m sure there are enough folks spreading the details on that one right now. I thought I’d direct your attention towards Legion Of The Damned, a turn based strategy game that allows up to four players to participate in brawls on randomly generated or custom made maps. Hidden object game aficionados will do well to check out Mystery Manor: Hidden Adventure, a free to play mansion exploration game for the iPad that actually has some social aspects integrated into it. If you’re into lifestyle simulations you might consider Venture Towns, the latest offering from Kairosoft or The Sims FreePlay from Electronic Arts. One takes a broader perspective as you build up a town, while the other lets you get up close and personal managing the lives of up to 16 Sims. Best of all, the latter offering is free.
Judging by the iTunes description for Act of Fury I had a feeling it was going to be something different, and boy was I right. It’s a scrolling shooter.. kind of. The thing is, while it looks the part and controls like one, you don’t actually shoot anything. Instead, you use the powers imbued in you by a failed experiment in order to destroy things that you get close to. Between the unique game play mechanic, the variable upgrade system and the need to revisit old levels in order to progress further in the game, Act Of Fury takes scrolling shooters in a direction that I rather like.
One of the few comic book characters to weather the video game curse fairly well is Batman, and the Arkham series has really stepped up the Caped Crusader’s game, so to speak. Now we’re lucky to get an iOS installment of the franchise called Batman Arkham City Lockdown where you get to face off with many of the Dark Knight’s iconic foes, as well as the special adversary Deathstroke. Role playing fans that don’t own a Nintendo system of some sort can finally sink their teeth into Chrono Trigger, a tale that spans many time frames and has been considered one of the best examples of the genre to appear on any console. Behemoth has finally brought their Alien Hominid franchise to iOS devices via Alien Hominid: PDA Games, and while it might not be what fans expect visually, it certainly packs a lot of fun into its simplicity. And if you’re looking for something completely different there’s Playing History: The Plague, a game that turns a great disaster of the 14th century into an adventure game. Sounds a bit bizarre, but it might both entertain and educate you at the same time.
I never thought I’d care much for games about growing plants, but like a lot of other things iOS devices have convinced me that such endeavors aren’t so bad. The latest such game to catch me attention is Drawin’ Growin’ by Taito, and this game is certainly different than the others I’ve played. Your task is “simply” to make sure the plants get the right amount of water or sunlight, depending on the color of their pots. However, your job is not as placid as it seems. Many things will get in the way of your success, and how well and quickly you deal with them will determine your ultimate rewards. There are times where the action can get a little overwhelming, but for the most part so far it’s been a pretty relaxed and interesting adventure.