PAX East 2013 : Featured iOS Apps That You Can (And Probably Should) Buy Right Now

PAX East 2013 : Featured iOS Apps That You Can (And Probably Should) Buy Right Now

pax_east_logo-660x340There was so much great iOS content at PAX East this past weekend, that I didn’t even get to see everything that I had planned on checking out. It is difficult to figure out where to begin, so in this post I’ll cover just the apps that we saw which are available for purchase right now and I’ll cover the ones that will be coming out over the coming weeks and months in a future post.

All of the developers we had a chance to meet with were super friendly, proud of their work, and really eager to show us their games. This is just one of the reasons I really love PAX. It is so nice to meet many of the people in person and be able to ask the developer questions about the game, their process and just get some insight into the games and choices that were made.

Universal

Little Chomp
ClutchPlay Games

99¢

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This was one of my favorite (already available) iOS games I played at PAX East and definitely my older daughter’s when I got home.

Little Chomp is a physics-based puzzle platformer that has players flinging around an adorable caterpillar, who is leaping between leafs, mushrooms and vines, chomping up fruit, collecting stars and trying to avoid all manner of baddie including ladybugs, spiders, frogs, bees birds and more. Chomp is controlled with a familiar slingshot mechanic, by tapping and pulling back on his rear at which point an aiming path appears to assist you.

The game starts of slow and ramps up pretty quickly, requiring you to speed through certain sections to avoid bees and birds. The stars you collect can be traded in for power ups and keys to unlock hidden sections of levels and the fruit that is collected can be used to unlock 108 different colored butterflies. This is my daughter’s favorite part of the game, because you feed a caterpillar the specified fruits and then he wraps himself in a cocoon. Then it’s up to you to rub the cocoon and like magic, out pops a beautifully colored butterfly.

It is a really charming and challenging game for both kids and adults, especially if you try to earn all three ribbons on each level and go for the achievements. There are a number of purely optional IAPs simply for speeding up play, but the entire game can be played without spending any more than the 99¢ cost of admission. Kyle and I spent quite a bit of time going through the game and talking with Amy and John of ClutchPlay. While playing, I heard more than one passerby exclaim “Yaaay Little Chomp, I love that game!”, so even though I hadn’t had a chance to play before PAX, it is definitely a popular title and one worth checking out.


Universal

Universal

Color Sheep / Orion’s Forge
Trinket Studios

99¢

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Last month Trinket Studios not only released their first, but second iOS title as well, Color Sheep and Orion’s Forge.

They are two very different games, with the first, Color Sheep, being a quick arcade-style, test of reflexes and memory and Orion’s Forge being a more casual laid back puzzling experience.

In Color Sheep players are a sheep that shoots rainbow-colored lasers out of his mouth to obliterate oncoming wolves. Using a series of swipes and taps, you must quickly combine red, green, blue, ‘dark’ and/or ‘bright’ to form the color that corresponds to the fur of one or more of the hungry pigmented wolves headed your way. There are 21 different colors to learn / unlock along the way (20 if you don’t count white). The game quickly becomes chaotic (in a good way) as you try to remember the various color combinations when your life is (literally) on the line. It’s fast and fun.

mzl.eukirpmh.480x480-75On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, you have Orion’s Forge. It’s a puzzle game ans alien parable game where you must position different colored towers (some repel, others attract star particles, etc.) on the playing surface such that the particles are deflected into one or more receptacles that collect the particles and rise up to form a new star. Each time a star is born, it is placed within a constellation which in turn represents something from the alien parable. The parable is revealed a few lines at a time as you create stars.

It is an interesting blend of ideas and a really original concept. Both games are worth checking out, but if you only go for one, my money would be on Color Sheep, gotta love those laser sheep!



iPhone

Major Magnet
Iddiction

99¢

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Major Magnet is an interesting platformer that I first played when it cam out, but as I said on episode 28 of the podcast, I just couldn’t get into it.
However, my experience with the game at PAX East, increased my opinion of the game and it was more fun than I recalled to be zipping from magnet to magnet. It’s a fun platformer with not necessarily a new gameplay mechanic, but a nicely polished and packaged presentation. that gives it a classic platformer feel.

If missed (or like me, dismissed) this platforming game when it was first released, I highly recommend going back for another look.


Universal

Spaceteam
Henry Smith

Free

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Up until PAX East I had only heard about the game Spaceteam (ALL GOOD THINGS), but had never actually played since it required two or more people (locally) to play.

However, at PAX it seamed like everywhere we went people were talking about the game collecting in groups while waiting in line, ditching the physical card and board games they’d brough with them to play this fun and very social game.

I was able to partake in a number of games during PAX and every time it evolved into fits of laughter by all involved partied and people just watching from the sidelines. The way the game works is that each player loads the free app on their iDevice and you connect to one another either via WiFi or Bluetooth. It seemed to work best with 4 players, although there is an experimental mode that allows for up to 8 players, but we had trouble getting that to work.

You are all members of the same space mission and each is given a different random control panel with all sort of button, switches and sliders each of wich has some crazy name or even is just represented by symbols. When your first mission starts, each player is shown a command that must be performed, but who’s control may or may not be on your control panel, so you have to shout out the command to the other players so whomever has that control can perform the action and to ramp up the confusion, sometimes players will be shouting conflicting commands. When there is an asteroid all players have to shake their devices or other times everyone will have to flip their devices. There will be points where your panels will start getting covered in slime and unreadable, so you need to wipe them off. Or a panel will come loose and start swinging, so you have to grab it and put it back in place.

Players try to last through as many missions as possible before they inevitably fail to issue too many commands and lose the game. As I said everyone one playing this game has so much fun, even the spectators. It could be a great ice breaker at your next party/even as long as people have iOS devices. There are some completely optional add-on packs that can be purchased within the app, but the free core game is so much fun on its own. You should definitely check this one out.


Universal

PWN: Combat Hacking
82 Inc.

$1.99

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Have you ever seen one of those ridiculous (buts somehow cool) Hollywood hacking scenes in a movie like Swordfish? You know the ones, where everything inside a computer looks all 3D (heck they even recently did it in Wreck It Ralph).

The arcade/strategy game PWN: Combat Hacking plays homage to this Hollywood trope. Setting players up as a skilled hacker, trying to take control of 3D virtual networks by winning hack-offs. Yeah, it is as fun as is sounds.

Kyle and I had a really fun time competing against one another throwing , viruses, firewalls and more as we each tried to gain control of this massive 3D geometric collection of nodes spread out on our respective iPad screens. There is also a single-player campaign system where you choose your hacker (who has a unique talent) and build up his repertoire as you take out opponents, making your way to the top of the hacker hierarchy.

Don’t believe me, well even Penny Arcade comic strip writer/creator Jerry Holkins (Tycho Brahe) recently mentioned how much he likes the game. This is a fun and very unique pick up, unlike anything else on the store.


iPhone

The Seed
Little Bit Games INC.

99¢

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This a a zen-like puzzle game from new developer Little Bit Games.

In each level players are given a limited number of water droplets which they must use to try to propel a seed to the one grassy patch in the level so that it can grow. It uses a similar format/interface to that of iBlast Moki in that you lay everything out ahead of time and press a go button to see it play out and if you are successful.

The droplets explode on impact with the seed or another droplet. They are manipulated using an intuitive series of pinching and twisting gestures to change their power and direction of splash-back. While there are many correct solutions to each level, it requires a good deal of thinking and trial and error if you want to solve some of the more difficult puzzles.

With no time limit and unlimited retries, it is a casual game that can be enjoyed slowly, allowing to take your time solving the puzzles.

Currently only the iPhone/iPod Touch is officially supported, the iPad release that we got to play with at PAX should be available soon as a free update once the devs update the app to be a Universal app. So if you buy it now, you’ll get the iPad version for free when the update is released.


Universal

Time Surfer
Kumobius

99¢

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I didn’t actually have a chance to speak with the Kumobius team at PAX East, but Time Surfer is definitely a game deserving of it’s Indie Showcase nomination.

An evolution of gameplay that we saw in Tiny Wings (and it’s 10 million clones) Time Surfer is played in a similar fashion, but adds a really cool VCR-like rewind feature that lets you undo your demise and attempt to dive sooner or do things differently to avoid certain death. It’s a neat addition that really changes up the strategy and gameplay of the Tiny Wings genre.

Couple that with unlockable characters from other popular indie games and you’ve got something pretty special.


iPad

Dungeon Hearts
Devolver Digital

$2.99

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Last but not least is a title that almost ended up on my future titles list, but it just came out on the App Store yesterday.

Dungeon Hearts is a brilliantly designed and sometimes brutally difficult RPG puzzle game that many are comparing to Namco’s Puzzle Quest. Having never played Puzzle Quest myself, I cannot speak to the two games’ similarities, but I can say that it is a fun mix of RPG, match 3 and real-time strategy.

The difficulty level ramps up pretty quickly, but the more you play, the more your strategy will develop, allowing you to make it further. Just remember…combos are key. This is a welcome new addition to the iPad gaming landscape.