csr-racing-2_887947640_ipad_01.jpgAlong with the usual sales on previously released games, there are plenty of fun new iOS games to enjoy this holiday weekend.

Kicking things off this week is the absolutely gorgeous drag racing sequel, CSR Racing 2. NaturalMotion and parent company Zynga have really done an impressive job with this latest CSR outing, easily regaining the crown of mobile drag racing genre and setting a new high watermark of graphical fidelity that rivals even that of console racing game franchises. The game keeps the same familiar tap-based control scheme of previous CSR titles but adds both a new ‘tuning’ mechanic that allows players a new element of strategy as well as the ability to eek even more performance out of their existing cars to remain competitive without needing to buy each and every upgrade for their cars. Players can also now join crews to work to achieve team goals to earn special prizes, cars and upgrades. The goal of CSR 2 was to be as authentic as possible and the team at NaturalMotion have really gone above and beyond by not only including over 50 officially licensed vehicles, but also making sure that their paint colors matched those offered by the manufacturers, the paint reacted correctly when hit by light, that car doors, trunks and hoods, all opened at the precise speed and that engines and car interiors were all rendered as true to life as possible. Fans of mobile drag racing games will be thrilled by this game and the showroom quality and amazing graphical polish will most definitely turn the heads of even those who aren’t.

lego-star-wars-force-awakens_1106014973_ipad_02.jpgNext up is LEGO® Star Wars™: The Force Awakens, another excellent new LEGO game Based on the latest film in the Star Wars franchise, Warner Bros. gives it an excellent treatment on mobile with a choice of two control schemes and a couple of neat new game mechanics that add a new puzzle element to the game. The app is free to download which gives players access to the first chapter of the game consisting of two stories, one where you play as Poe Dameron and BB-8 and another where you get to play as Rey and BB-8. For a single $9.99 IAP, you can unlock the “All Content Season Pass” which includes the full Force Awakens story, Prologue: Battle of Endor, three additional adventures and four character packs. Note that some of this content hasn’t been released yet, but you will have access to it once it does get released. Alternatively you can save $3 and for $6.99, just gain access to all 9 chapters (24 stories, plus free-play) of The Force Awakens story.

gordon-ramsay-dash_1089048531_ipad_01I’ve been pretty vocal in my displeasure with the way Glu Games implements and pushes its IAP in their free-to-play-games so it has been quite some time since I’ve downloaded one of their games. However, when I saw Gordon Ramsay DASH, I just couldn’t help myself and I had to try it. Essentially a Gordon Ramsay-themed version of Glu’s own cooking time management game, Cooking Dash 2016. Players race around the kitchen trying to quickly and correctly prepare dishes for hungry customers and use their earnings to purchase equipment and/or ingredient upgrades that will help you earn more money or server more customers in later rounds. The free-to-play mechanics seem a little more toned down than in other Glu titles, but using in-game currency to purchase upgrades is obligatory if you want any chance of earning three stars on all levels and there is that pesky energy meter which will limit how much you can play in one sitting. Despite my reservations about it being a Glu game, I have really been enjoying this one and new items, recipes and elements are added at a nice clip to keep the game interesting and challenging.

dungeon-tiles_1093342095_ipad_01.jpgDungeon Tiles is a neat little endless puzzle game from Iyoda, creators of last year’s Sword & Dragon that combines elements of threes and a dungeon crawler. The game is played on a 4×4 grid with colored tiles depicting pictures of gold, swords, dragons and hearts. You slid your finger to slide all of the tiles in a certain direction and tiles of like types combine with one another when they collide. If you combine 3 or more like tiles they will disappear, otherwise you get multiplier bonuses for matching 3 or 4 tiles. Combining gold, earns you gold which can be used to purchase special powerups, combining swords attacks dragons, combining hearts increases your lives/health and combining dragons increases the number of dragons you have to fight. The goal is to survive as long as possible by killing the dragons and avoiding running out of lives. There is also a really cool turn-based head-to head two player mode where your swipes also affect your opponent’s 4×4 board and you can send dragons over to the other player as well. A fun little solitaire or multiplayer game, it can also be played on the Apple TV.

nanuleu_1126212440_ipad_01.jpgAnother really neat game that came out this week is Nanuleu, a different sort of take on the tower defense genre where players attempt to grow a network of trees to protect the land from an invading dark force. Players start with a single magical tree and a small supply of water, seeds and minerals. Branching out from their tree, they must strategically build roots to reach designated locations for planting water trees and mineral tress. For each mineral tree and water three that is planted, they increase the rate at which these resources are generated, allowing them to build more roots to reach other magical trees and build defenses against attacking invaders. The goal is to avoid being decimated by invaders and to capture all of the magical trees. There are multiple difficulty levels as well as other secondary goals to strive for as well, like beating the game within a certain amount of time.

neo-turf-masters_1082674903_ipad_01.jpgKings of retro ports, DotEmu returns to the App Store this week with SNK’s popular mid-90’s arcade golfing game NEO TURF MASTERS. Utilizing that oh so familiar multi-tap system for selecting shot power and accuracy, fans of these classic arcade-style golfing games will immediately feel a satisfying sense of nostalgia as they tee it up, aim and let ’em fly. You’ll have to contend with both the wind and the condition of your lie when planning out shots, but besides your shot strength and accuracy you can also make adjustments to your stance, club selection and spin to try to hit the hole and score that par or birdie. As a kid who grew up playing a lot of these style of golf games as a kid, I have a bit of a fondness for this one, but those looking for a more modern digital golfing experience may find it a bit frustrating at times (then again, that’s what golf is all about isn’t it?)

How about a couple of titles for the kids?

snot-fluff-a-space-adventure_1112861301_ipad_01.jpgFirst up is a colorful and beautifully illustrated amusing, yet charming interactive storybook from OhNoo Studio. Snot & Fluff – A Space Adventure centers around two main characters named Snot and Fluff. “Snot is a traveler and an adventurous globetrotter. Fluff is his opposite – a homebody who loves baking new and new cookies. One day, Snot, who is bored with everyday life, starts a cosmic journey and forgets about his friend for a while. Longing and lonely Fluff builds a rocket and sets off to look for Snot.” It is an engaging tale which touches on themes of friendship, courage and helping others. On each of the story’s 44 pages there are loads of little things for kids to interact with and discover and there are even 4 hidden stars to find on each page, encouraging them to tilt, tap around and explore. The entire story is wonderfully narrated by professional actors as well as accompanying sounds and music. It is a very nice production that is sure to keep your kids interest through multiple readings.

my-town-beauty-spa-saloon_1124344384_ipad_01.jpgMy Town : Beauty Spa Saloon. This was a insta-buy for my 6 year-old daughter who is a HUGE fan of the My Town series of imaginative play apps. This eleventh outing adds a fun new day spa to the My Town universe where your kids can give characters new hairdos and nails at the hair and nail ‘saloons’, get new outfits at the clothing store, massages go to the gym or just have a relaxing time in the Jacuzzi and sauna. The app also introduces a few new elements to the series including giving characters the ability to blink, change their shoes and the aforementioned new hair styles. There are no ads (except for more My Town apps) or IAPs. Your kids will have hours of fun with this one!

the-slaughter-act-one_1056603685_ipad_02.jpgAs a lifelong fan of classic Sierra and LucasArts point and click adventures all it took was a couple of screenshots and I knew I wanted to find out more about The Slaughter: Act One, from London-based developer, Alex Francois. Admittedly for a noir adventure set in the foggy streets of Victorian London with a serial killer terrorizing citizens, I found the game started off a bit too slow and on-rails for my taste, but fortunately once it picked up some speed and I got to some more interactive bits with puzzle solving, things certainly turned around and I have enjoyed what I’ve been able to play of the game thus far. If the title of the game and the ‘serial killer in Victorian London’ didn’t already tip you off, we are done talking about kids titles and this adventure is meant for adults. Players take on the role of an investigator named Sydney, weaving an interesting narrative as you visit brothels, slums, taverns and your dreams in search of clues to catch the killer. Francois has done a great job recreating that classic look and feel of Lucas Arts-era adventure games and The Slaughter features loads of dark, yet humorous dialog. I’m looking forward to playing through the rest of the game and seeing how the story plays out.

galaxy-of-trian_971683863_ipad_01.jpgNext we have a new digital board game adaptation of the successfully Kickstarted dynamic tile-based, sci-fi strategy board game, Galaxy of Trian. Each player takes command of an alien faction and battles with other players over both territory and technology. Players take turns drawing and playing tiles from two communal stacks of tiles. These double-sided, triangular tiles can be played on either side provide that the player is making a legal connection to those tiles already placed on the table. Having one side of each tile be blind to all players adds a nice element of both luck and strategy. Players earn victory points by taking control of “closed nebulae and planetary systems” (and for closing areas of outer space) as well as for controlling planetary systems and nebulae at the end of the game. The player with the most victory points at the end of the game wins. There is a 10-mission solo campaign or you can play against friends online or vial same device pass and play. Note that the developer Grey Wizard has stated that “due to unforeseen circumstances, the multiplayer aspect of Galaxy of Trian is not working as intended in the current version of the game, but they are working to fix the issue as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile the game is on sale at a launch price of $4.99 (vs the regular price of $6.99).

Finally we end the post with a couple more of those inventive and creative indie PC games that we love to see ported to iOS for mobile users to enjoy as well.

dead-in-bermuda_1091598017_ipad_04Released on Steam last August, Dead In Bermuda is Plug In Digital’s really cool survival management game with some RPG and adventure elements mixed in for good measure. Your airplane has just crash landed on a small island in the Caribbean and now you must lead a team of 8 survivors, assigning each one tasks like gathering food, building shelter, patching up the injured, etc. so that you won’t succumb to hunger, thirst, fatigue, sickness injuries or even depression. You’ll quickly discover that while Bermuda is a beautiful tourist destination, surviving on the island is no easy or relaxing feat. By performing tasks, team members gain experience and develop their survival skills allowing both you and them to craft new items, upgrade your camp and generally help you survive longer. You must foster relationships between characters, each of whom have a whole RPG-like skill tree of traits, skills relationship and states which keep you clued into their over all health, well-being and overall usefulness to the rest of your team. I’m happy to see such an unconventional, engaging and thought-provoking game come to iOS. With its inherent challenge, over 100 map areas to explore as well as randomized elements which alter the setup each time it offers some nice replayability. I’d put it in the same category as other PC survival simulation ports like Don’t Starve and This War of Mine as a game that I may not play every day, but certainly something I am grateful to have on iOS and a title that I would return to periodically to see if I can do better. Well done!

crypt-necrodancer-pocket-edition_1085123968_ipad_01.jpgAlso released on Steam last year, Brace Yourself Games’ award-winning, hardcore rhythm-based dungeon crawling game, Crypt of the NecroDancer was ported to iOS this week as well. A really original concept for a roguelike, players must tap with the beat to move their character through the randomly generated dungeons, killing a variety of enemies along the way. Each enemy type has their own rhythmical movement patterns and learning these allow the player to plan attacks and approach enemies in step with just the right beat and from a safe direction to take them out liked a contract killer. It doesn’t feel at all gimmicky, but instead offers a really solid and satisfying retro roguelike experience that feels perfectly suited to mobile. Crypt of the NecroDancer offers great replayability, three different touch control schemes, MFi controller support, Apple TV support and an excellent soundtrack from Canabalt and Super Meat Boy soundtrack composer Danny Baranowsky.

That’s all I’ve got for you this week.

Go to the second page of this post to watch the trailers for these games.