The retro craze is in full swing, with many developers making games that look, sound and often play like games that came out 20 years ago or more. In some cases they have even made modern versions of those games that try to retain the “flair” of the originals. Game of Watchcraft: Spawn of Squishy takes an entirely different approach to the concept. It poses the question “What would Warcraft look like as an LCD game?” If you don’t know what that even means you can either count yourself fortunate or underprivileged depending on your perspective. Either way the developers have done a fine job of recreating a brand new “classic”, though a true fan of Warcraft would have to tell me if it captures the essence of that universe or not.
This week was full of exploding cats, martial arts chickens and zombies that think humans are the infection. Zombie Farm Battles is a card game based spin off of the Zombie Farm series featuring all the zombies you’ve come to love plus a bunch of new ones. Build up your undead horde, mutate and combine to create the ultimate army and wreak havoc on those annoying humans. On the other hand, maybe you just want to help Dr. Mouse rid the world of cats. In the Pipes inspired game Ice Cream Cats – Control the Pipes Flow Puzzle Game it’s up to you to make sure each cat gets fed the ice cream they love until they can’t hold any more and end up exploding. Perhaps you just want to master one of those arts that are supposed to be designed for defense and not offense. If you don’t mind stepping into the feet of a chicken there’s Tiger & Chicken, a fun action game with giant crabs, floating elemental spirits and Shaolin trained poultry.
With school back in full swing, Mobile Systems – one of the largest publishers of dictionary apps on iOS – is offering Concise Oxford English Dictionary with Audio for the iPhone and iPad completely free. Normally sold at $19.99, this popular dictionary has over 240,000 words, phrases, and definitions, and over 50,000 audio pronunciations of both common and rare words. Suffice to say that this is probably more than adequate for the average person. To compare, the non-concise version ($49.99) includes over 350,000 words and 75,000 audio pronunciations. This freebie offer is only good for today (Sept 3rd), after which the price will stay at $0.99 until Sept 9th.
Mikey’s been a busy boy. He’s still looking for shorts and fighting bad guys, and now he’s added grapple hooking to his repertoire. This sequel to the game Mikey Shorts feels very similar to the first installment, but sometimes that’s okay, as is the case here. The levels are quick, the challenge builds up nicely over time, and you can decide whether you want to make it about the stars, the cash or simply getting to the finish line. Plus there are a whole lot of costumes to collect for those of you that like collecting things.
There were some pretty interesting releases this week, and I think this list presents a decent cross-section of the lot. After bringing us a quirky puzzle game in the form of Tiny Story!, On5 takes us in a totally different direction with Indie Pixel. In this online only game you are a pixel, and you must work together with other players to form certain shapes before time runs out. If you prefer a more serene approach to things you might want to give Cloud Spin a try. This high flying adventure will test your skills if you want, but you can just as easily enjoy it by indulging in Free Flight mode and just enjoying your surroundings. Then there’s American Greetings, who didn’t so much provide the community with a solid set of games as they offered gamers a new way to pay. Buy an App Coin to unlock the game, and even folks without an iTunes account can “gift” specific games to their friends.
Macphun’s Snapheal, an extremely easy to use photo editing software for Mac and highlighted by Apple as “Best of 2012″ in the photography section, is now Free until September 3rd. Normally priced at $14.99, Snapheal lets users remove objects, blemishes, text and other unwanted distractions from photos - as well as perform general image enhancements - with just a few clicks. It’s certainly not as feature laden or powerful as Photoshop, but for what it does, it does it well and fast. To score your free copy, head over to Snapheal’s giveaway page and enter your name and email. Then share it either on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ and the download link and activation code will be sent to your inbox. Check out more info and the app in action after the break.
Gamers are always clamouring for that next big thing that they’ve never played before. I would hope that at least once in a while something new would come along, but I don’t hold my breath for it. Instead, my main concern is that developers focus on ways to take the styles of game play that we have grown to love and make them even more interesting. Personally I feel Rejected Games has done just that with An Alien with a Magnet. I find myself loading it up even when I had the intention of playing something completely different, simply because I want to take it for another spin. You might almost say it has a magnetic quality about it. But we don’t go for those bad puns around here.
I suppose you’re all expecting me to gush about Plants vs. Zombies 2, the sequel to a cultural phenomenon. Well I’m not going to do it, though I suppose if you’re a devotee of the original you’ll find a lot more zombie busting to do this time around. Speaking of sequels, the anime inspired RPG tale continues in Sage Fusion 2. More game play, an engrossing story and thoughtfully planned encounters should make for an appealing adventure. To finish out this thought, Erica Reed is back in Cognition Episode 2. If this title even simply maintains the quality of its predecessor then any true adventure game aficionado will want to check it out.
Much like the protagonist in the first game I wrote about, this week’s games were out for revenge, not wanting last week’s fine collection to get the better of them. The only thing worse than a post-apocalyptic nightmare is being cast into the midst of the demons for something you didn’t do. That’s the premise behind Trial by Survival, where you must fight off the hordes for 14 days to prove your innocence. While we’ll most likely never see Zelda on the iOS platform, Kingdoms Fall makes a valiant attempt at bringing us a similar experience. The graphics have an RPG Maker feel to them and the controls could use a bit of work, but there’s a lot of potential to be had with the game. Line drawing games seem to have simmered down a bit in the last few months but they’re still coming, and one of the latest is Animal Line Crossing – Draw to Control the Farm. It’s a cute variant of the theme that will appeal to kids and could still prove somewhat challenging to adults as you get into the later levels.
Last week was another really solid week for good iOS game releases. Spacetower is a new entry in the tower stacking genre, but its space oriented theme is the least of its different features. The big innovation is that you can directly control each section of the tower, landing it like if you were playing a lunar lander style game. If the idea of a platformer where the levels are generated based off of your music library seems cool but SongRush just didn’t quite do it for you, maybe you should try Pitch Jumper instead. The main character looks like it came out of the cast of creatures from Disney’s Lilo & Stitch and unlike SongRush, you can’t die in Pitch Jumper. So you like cute aliens but prefer a bit more action? The creature with the cat is back in Monster Shooter 2: Back to Earth, a sequel that so far in my opinion surpasses the first.