This past week saw a couple significant releases from some big players as well as some really strong releases from popular indie developers. First up is R-Type, one of the most lauded old school shooters of all time. If you’re a shooter fan but want something a little more “modern” there’s Dodonpachi Resurrection (you’ll need one of the latest generation of iDevices to run this bad boy). For the RPG fans we have Phantasy Star II, a retro release that lets you experience the 80s Sega Master System phenomenon just as it was meant to be right on your iPhone. Chillingo also released Knight’s Rush, the third in a series of casual games featuring anime inspired medieval characters and lots of action. And naturally there are plenty of options for those who want something not mentioned in the above list as well.
Two important theatrical phenomenons received iPhone games this week. Top Gun 2 lets you continue the adventures of the fighter pilots made popular by the hit 80s film. In Jaws, on the other hand, it’s up to you to save the naive and innocent swimmers from the deadly grip of the great white shark. For the pocket strategist there’s Nobunaga’s Ambition, the first iDevice version of a series that began in 1988. For the person who needs to keep a to-do list but finds the effort boring there’s Epic Win, the “game” that lets you earn experience and upgrade a character just for doing your chores. And, if you’re a zombie slayer in hiding you get two cool looking offerings this week in the form of Zombie Escape and Zombie Flick.
I think this week’s biggest news is the potential Angry Birds killer Cannon Cadets. It looks like it might have more of a puzzle solving bent to it, which will hopefully keep it from being labeled “just another clone”. For you action fans there’s Shoot To Kill, a freemium game that’s the first in a potential line of “free for freaks” games. You only need to pay if you want useful save games? Platforming fans were treated to the second installment of the revitalized Ghosts ‘N Goblins series, and if it’s anything like the first it should be a blast. Oh, and I guess there’s that little sequel to a largely unknown iPhone game called iShoot 2…
This week’s biggest story is probably a little iPad game called Splinter Cell Conviction HD. I haven’t actually engaged in the adventures of Sam Fisher on any device yet, but rumor has it that the series is pretty popular! If you’re into stealth action games, this is the one to try. For the nostalgic folks there’s The Manhole, a title that’s more of an interactive, exploration based storybook than a true game. This hails from a time where Macs were desktop only and didn’t have an “I” in front of their name. Keep in mind that the primary target here is kids, so unless you have some history with the game or some children you might want to look elsewhere. If you’re on that never ending quest to find the best ball rolling game you might want to give Dark Nebula – Episode 2 a try, as it looks to up the ante on the first episode in every way. A few other games came out as well, so I’m pretty sure there’s something for all tastes like usual.
It’s time to get your inner god-smasher on with this week’s biggest release – Hero Of Sparta II. I’m probably in the minority of those who wasn’t a huge fan of the first one, but for the rest of you, this one sounds bigger, badder and all out better. I’m even tempted to give it a shot. If you’d like to see how the makers of We Rule would tackle farming there’s We Farm, ngmoco’s answer to FarmVille. For the tower defense fan who’s “seen it all”, there’s Cowboys Vs. Zombies, an interesting take on the genre that has you defending several towns against zombie onslaughts using the fighters of the old west. And, for the old school construction gamer there’s SimCity Deluxe, the next iteration of the long running franchise to make its way to the iPhone. Just like Hero Of Sparta II it appears to be a decent improvement over the first, so if you’re looking for some city building action, you might want to check it out.
This was certainly a good week to be an iPhone owner. U.S. store patrons finally got a taste of Castlevania as Castlevania: Encore of the Night made it into our store (check last week’s roundup for the details). Also of note was the release of Risk: The Official Game. There were definitely some nice looking clones over time, but it’s always good to see an original take back the throne. If you’re a Finger Physics fan – either publicly or in the closet – then you’re no doubt excited about Finger Physics: Thumb Wars, the sequel that makes solving puzzles a global contest. The burgeoning pirate wanna-bes of the crowd will definitely need to check out Plunderland, the ragdoll physics based side scrolling pirate ship game. And, for the sports nut there’s Let’s Golf 2, the latest installment of Gameloft’s popular “over the top” golf game.
This week was almost a better one for iPad releases / ports than iPhone offerings, but there were still some solid looking titles on both fronts. For you tower defense fans comes one of the biggest science fiction licenses in the world – Star Wars: Battle For Hoth. I personally can think of some better uses for the property (where’s our iPhone version of Pod racing?), but I will admit that the thought of fighting AT-ATs is always intriguing. If you like scrolling shooters then you’re in for a treat, as one of my favorites in this genre has finally received a full version. Air Attack puts you in some serious 3D shmup combat, including taking on a pretty defensive castle. If you’re looking for a game with some unique play mechanics, check out Spider: Bryce Manor HD. The iPhone version was great, so I’d expect nothing less from the iPad port.
So who’s ready for another great week of new iPhone / iPad releases? Me too, but this week wasn’t quite as spectacular as some in the past. We did get some remastered lovin’ in the form of Monkey Island 2 Special Edition for both iPhone and iPad, and The Last King Of Africa from Benoit Sokal was also released, so adventure game fans have plenty to do. If you’re into FPSes, there’s a new contender in Archetype that promises intense 5 on 5 combat action. And for RTS fans there’s The Gravedigger, a quirky new entry that lets you pit a priest and his faithful followers against a disgruntled gravedigger and his legion of the undead.
We’re still in that phase where a lot of notable games are simply ports from one device to another, but overall this week has been a lot more interesting than the last several. There wasn’t a whole lot of “big news” this week, though I do find the 19.99 price tag for Bridge Island HD kind of interesting, especially since the game doesn’t come from one of the “big players”. It’s good to see that others are trying to help raise the bar on iDevice prices, and I hope it does well for them. Something notable to me was the release of 1942: First Strike, as this was one of my favorite vertical scrolling shooters when I was a kid, and I still refer to it on a regular basis when writing reviews of SHMUPS.
Unless you’ve not had access to any “latest and greatest” news sources over the last week, you probably know the big noise in iPhone gaming was the release of the iPhone client for Facebook phenomenon Farmville. Unless I’m missing something, this is basically a game about planting crops. Guess I’m not hip enough for that action. For CCG fans, this week saw the release of Arena 9, a trading card game that you can play against real opponents or computer AI. This game spurred its own bit of drama over questionable artwork, but I’ll leave that for you to Google if you’re interested. Coincidentally, this week’s 10 to watch list all fall in the $2.99 or less category, so why not pick up the whole lot?