I knew it had to happen eventually, but every week I was hoping it wouldn’t be THIS week. The seemly endless “Christmas in summer” we’ve been having on the App Store has temporarily come to an end. There were still some decent games to find, though, and the star of the show this time around is LIMBO Game. In all fairness this is a port of an already wildly popular Xbox et al game, but it was my first time playing it and it’s certainly a must have for fans of the platform puzzle hybrid genre. Vertical scrolling shooter fans might enjoy BeeCluster. While it lacks many of the amenities of modern SHMUPs it has a distinct atmosphere that actually works well for the genre. If you love the thrill of hitting homeruns but don’t care for the rest of the sport of Baseball electronically, PowerStrike might just be for you. It’s not quite as comprehensive as the Homerun Battle series, but I’m pretty sure you won’t find another batting game where you get to select a dragon as one of your hitters.
These last few weeks there have been so many interesting looking new releases that the only way I could really do this article justice would be to spend a week playing them all before even beginning to write the piece. Since that’s not going to happen, I will as always do my best to bring you an interesting cross-section of the latest offerings. PlayFirst returned to their most lauded franchise this week with the release of Diner Dash Rush. Basically it’s Flo meets Facebook as you still have to happily serve as many customers as possible, but now you have a short time limit and can compete against your friends. Ravenous Games is back with the third installment of their popular retro side scroller series, League Of Evil 3. It’s just like you know and love, but this time with spinning wall blades and level replays thanks to the Everyplay video service. Sugar Rush is a crazy new “Facebook to iOS” game from Full Fat. A 60 second time limit, the board closing in from both top and bottom and some insane multipliers make for one wild ride.
This is one of those rare cases where I let my objective reviewer guard down and thought to myself “this game is going to be great. After all, it came from the mind of Ron Gilbert, so how can it go wrong?” I was basically setting myself up for mild enjoyment, because we all know over-hyping something diminishes its “wow” factor, or utter disappointment. Thankfully Scurvy Scallywags not only failed to disappoint, but it actually exceeded my lofty expectations. I’m not going to dig myself into a hole by saying this is the best game ever, but boy is there a lot to love here.
If you’re familiar with me, at least when it comes to my reviews, you know that I’m a big fan of Tin Man Games and their Gamebook Adventures. I remember this sort of thing when the books were actually printed and you had to use real dice for combat and pen and paper to keep track of your inventory. There are clearly so many advantages to an electronic version of this form of entertainment, and to date Tin Man Games has one of the best interfaces available. It doesn’t hurt any that their stories are generally quite interesting as well. So far The Forest of Doom has been no exception to the rule, though I will say that as a whole this one seems much harder than any of the ones I’ve played in the past. I guess that means I’ll just have to put more effort into beating it.
I’m really impressed with how many weeks in a row there has been a strong selection of games to choose from. Strategy buffs should check out Rivals for Catan, a port of a card game that is based off of a board game that has also been ported to the iOS platform. You construct cities, build transports and in true strategy fashion try and take over the world. If you prefer a little Pokemon style action then Monsters Invade: Oz might suit your needs. This game has colorful hand drawn visuals, plenty of quests to complete and 100 monsters to collect and train.
With the release of Karateka Classic on the App Store, I thought I’d check out the remake that hit the virtual store shelves in December 2012. There’s no question that this modern interpretation of the vintage karate brawler is more than just a namesake, but it’s hard to tell what the target audience is. Causal gamers will likely get frustrated by the timing in later battles, while hardcore fighters will get bored with the lack of combos and repetitive back and forth combat. About the only ones that will be truly satisfied with this updated version of Karateka are the ones that remember and love the original, but even then there are a couple of interesting twists and turns…
This week’s selection of games was full of fun little surprises, including a movie tie-in that I actually really enjoy. First up, though, is a rogue-like game called Quadropus Rampage, which I almost picture what it would be like if they made an action version of Squids. The game has lots of redeeming qualities, but it’s almost worth it just for the goofy names of all the weapons. If you’re looking for something completely different you might want to try Rescue Me – The Adventures. As the name implies the game involves rescuing people, but the mechanics are clever and it can be quite humorous at times. Now about that movie tie-in: the game is Despicable Me: Minion Rush. Instead of trying to recreate the movie in a game this is simply an infinite runner that takes place in the Despicable Me universe, but there are enough movie references to satisfy fans and it’s just loads of fun.
When it comes to certain genres like marble poppers, there’s not a lot of variation to be expected in actual game mechanics, unless you create some sort of mash up like what has become popular with match 3 games. What does set one entry apart from another is the presentation, and in that regards Sparkle 2 excels even more than its predecessor did. There are a couple of other things that make it rise to the top, though, so don’t think I’ve been unduly distracted by glittery things. In the end, the Sparkle franchise continues to be my favorite marble popping addiction.
So many new games, so little time to play them all. This was an big week for tower defense fans as there were at least 4 sizeable releases in the genre. One of my all time favorite TD games was Kingdom Rush, and now we have the sequel in Kingdom Rush Frontiers. With more than 18 tower abilities, 40+ monster types and 9 heroes to select and cultivate, this game promises to be bigger and better than its predecessor in every way. Speaking of sequels, the cubes are back in Cubemen2. In addition to everything else this installment might bring to the table, the game already offers a mind blowing 1500 user designed levels to play. Com2Us has stepped into the fray with Defense Technica. One standout feature of this offering is the use of tower cards which can be combined to create some unique defense structures.
Well, I broke my “report on the little guys” mantra this week by bringing you the low down on what was probably the two biggest releases of the week, but it couldn’t be helped. Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic has been around for a while, and from what I gather it’s not only a top notch RPG, but it’s one of the best outings the Star Wars IP has to offer in terms of video games. You start as an agent of the republic, but where you end up is full dependent on what you want to get out of the game. If you prefer fantasy to sci-fi I hear that Warhammer Quest is a pretty cool option. It looks like a beefed up board game, has the advantages of an electronic game system, and you’ll never loose any pieces. Finally, one I didn’t mention elsewhere in this article was World War Z. Sure it could be just another zombie shooter, but given Phosphor Games’ track record I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Besides, I’m eager to see how the handle their first free roaming first person game.