Before we dive into this week’s plethora of smaller indie titles…THE BIRDS ARE BACK IN TOWN.
Rovio Entertainment is finally releasing (worldwide) their all-new game featuring everyone favorite furious fowl, Angry Birds Epic. Unlike previous Angry Birds titles, Epic is a free-to-play turn-based action RPG game featuring their popular cast of characters set in Fantasy Piggy Island. Level up your characters, weapons and potions and take on those evil piggies like never before.
Speaking of adventure Lucid Games is hard at work on the second episode of their charming Jacob Jones 3D adventure game series. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery yet, the studio has just released a free version as well, so there is no reason not to experience this brilliant game.
Electronic Arts is back with a new mobile version of the PGA Tour experience called King of the Course. Unlike the usual mobile golf games we’ve seen in the past from EA, this one has a much more arcadey feel, with a shot-shaping swipe mechanic similar to that of Flick Golf.
Damn Little Town is a nice little gem of a tactical digital board game for 1-4 players (in full version) with gameplay divided into two distinct phases, construction and escape. First you build your town and place your settlers and then in the second phase you try to escape the town, which has been corrupted by monsters. With regards to the game, the folks at PocketTactics said “Damn Little Town builds Carcassonne over the Hellmouth. Combining Carcassonne with Survive! is an awfully clever idea and I’m looking forward to this.” I whole-heartedly agree. I’ve had a chance to play a few AI matches and it’s simple to learn with some luck and strategy involved, I’m really looking forward to playing some more.
Team17 Software, the UK developer best know for their Worms franchise is back this week, not with another Worms game, but with (R)evolve. This winner of 2014’s ‘Great British Game Jam’ (the theme of which was ‘resilience’), is a twitch-based game where you are trying to protect the burgeoning life on an alien planet from “a constant bombardment of meteorites from outer space”. You accomplish this by spinning the planet so that the meteorites miss the evolving lifeforms.
Also falling into the twitch gaming category is Jupiter Jump, the first of Noodlecake Studios’ Noodlecade line of games. Jupiter Jump is a one touch game where you play as an astronaut who is flung out of his crashing ship. Constantly propelled forward, the only thing you can do is tap to activate your gravity boosters which causes you to slam down to the planet’s surface. You must try to survive as long as possible, scoring points by going through horizontal green gates scattered across the levels, while avoiding deadly mines floating everywhere. A cool skill and risk/reward component comes into play as you attempt to increase your score multiplier by narrowly avoiding the mines.
Creator of Super Hexagon and indie darling, Terry Cavanagh, has not one but two games releasing today, both of which are making their way over from the PC world. The first is Super Gravitron, the minigame that originally appeared at the end of VVVVVV which is being released as a free, standalone game on iOS. And the second is the aforementioned VVVVVV, which when it was released in 2010 was hailed as many as one of the best indie platformers. It is a $2.99 paid title. I love that indie PC hits like this are coming to iOS and I’m really curious to see how this retro 2D puzzle platformer plays on iOS.
Continuing with the indie theme, Polygon Evolution is an abstract, combative, puzzle game for one or two players in which one player attempts to place and combine hexagon-shape cells with various shapes and colors on them, while their opponent is simply attempting to “spread and evolve”. Developer Alex Dantis calls it a challenging reinterpretation of match-3 game mechanics. It is free to play with both local and online multiplayer.
rainblocks is a sliding, color-matching puzzle game in which players are manipulating a 3×3 grid of blocks to make matches, but there are some interesting special block types and power-ups that can be collected along the way. It has a retro pixel art aesthetic and features a soundtrack by Mega Man composer Manami Matsumae.
Wrapping up the block puzzle game selection is Penku, which has a little bit of a Tetris vibe to it. Groupings of colored blocks can be rotated and dropped from the top of the screen down the gridded play area. Some blocks contain stars called PENKU, once any connected area contains 2 PENKU, the PENKU are freed and that area disappears. The bigger the area the more points you earn, so there is some risk/reward strategy involved when dropping your blocks and the timing of when to wipe out areas to earn the most points.
With the world cup kicking off today, it makes sense to include at least one soccer-related game. Soccer Stars™ is a new free-to-play multiplatform soccer game from Miniclip.com. It looks like a fairly simple game with both online and offline multiplayer, might be a good little time waster between matches.
Rounding out the freebies is Invisible Apartment, an interactive cyberpunk novel by Milan Kazarka illustrated by Camila “Bura” Gormaz. Set in a modern world and centered around a female hacker the story involves surveillance, artificial intelligence and the desire to lead a normal life in a high-tech society.
Onto the paid titles…
Simple Machine, developers of the addictive and fun card game 4 Thrones Solitaire, are back with a habit-forming word game called LEX. In LEX you have a bank of nine random letters which you can use to form words, whenever a letter tile is used, its is replaced. As soon as letter appears in your rack, its individual play timer starts ticking, and you must play that letter before its timer expires. Easier to play, more common letters like R,S,T,L,N and vowels have short timers, while more difficult to place letters like X, Q and Z have longer timers. If any single letter’s clock expires the game is over. The gameplay is fast and frantic as you try to keep track of the timers and think of words. It is a fun and different take on the word game genre that will having you saying “one more try”…a lot!
Oceanhouse Media has just launched the second of their Little Critters books for younger children (ages 2-5) called, Little Critter Shapes. As you probably surmised from the title, this app teaches kids about shapes through colorful, animated illustrations and easy-to-read pages. It is available at an introductory price of just 99¢ (reg $1.99).
Crescent Moon Games is back with a rather fun and creative 3D puzzle game called Twisty Planets. Players carefully rotate oddly shaped planets in a calculated manner to utilize gravity and help Qub navigate thetwisty, cubic environments to find stars, open a portal and escape. As you progress through the 60 levels, new elements are introduced including springboards, moving platforms and teleports and some levels contain hidden objects to find as well. Plus there are even a few Game Center achievement Easter Eggs to find. It is a creative game that, at times, feels a little like solving a Rubik cube as you try to plan several moves and rotations ahead. I’m really enjoying the time I’ve spent with it thus far.
An App Store exclusive, AppEndix brings the 80’s fantasy / sci-fi adventure gamebook ‘Proteus’ to an interactive digital form with Proteus – The Tower of Terror. You are at the Academy of the Grand Wizard Eleutheria and have learned a great deal of magic, of the power of reason, and the martial arts. Now it is up to you to use what you’ve learned to defeat the Ruler of The Tower of Terror. The app features all-new art work, as well as all of the original artwork (“lovingly animated”), atmospheric sound and music effects, customizable animated dice, a unique finger-swipe combat/dice-roll system, fully interactive Quest Sheet and perhaps most importantly…”dozens of ways to die”.
After launching JoyJoy just a couple of weeks back, Radiangames returns with another new title, Fluid SE. It’s a “time-trial racer mixed with the arcade gameplay of Pac-Man” in which you must race through the 40 levels of mazes, collecting dots and avoiding swarms of spectres, (hopefully) finding the optimal path for the fastest time.
While the next app, Deep Space Pussy may sound like the name of a bad porno, the game is actually a retro-styled speed run platformer in which the world just exploded and you are trying to help kittens Mr. Snuffles and Mittens navigate through obstacles on the scattered pieces of earth flying through space to reach their Me-ma Mimsy who is waiting for them with her delicious stew.
Finally that brings us to my personal new release highlight of the week, Double Fine Productions’ (insanely successfully) kickstarted point-and-click adventure game Broken Age ™. Released back in January for the PC, Mac, and Linux to extremely favorable reviews, Act 1 of this adventure makes its way onto the iPad this week.
The game tells the stories of a young boy, Shay, and girl, Vella, leading parallel lives. “The girl has been chosen by her village to be sacrificed to a terrible monster–but she decides to fight back. Meanwhile, a boy on a spaceship is living a solitary life under the care of a motherly computer, but he wants to break free to lead adventures and do good in the world. Adventures ensue”. As expected, the game carries a “premium” price tag (for an iOS game) of $9.99, but that is still substantially cheaper than the PC version which is currently $24.99 on Steam. When it is released Act 2 will be added to the app as an in-app purchase. As someone who doesn’t typically play PC games, but loves point and click adventures, I’m thrilled to see this on iOS and will be diving into it this weekend.
Phew…that was a bit wordy and a lot of apps…hopefully you made it through the whole article.