This is a fantastic week for iOS gamers, with loads of great new titles and exciting new content for existing ones.
On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week we were treated to the Arachnid Quarter of Hearthstone’s new single player campaign, Curse of Naxxramas, Playdek’s new ‘Rise of Vigil’ Ascension expansion and Telltale’s thrilling fourth episode in Walking Dead: The Game – Season 2.
Now as we arrive at the big Thursday release day, we start to see the arrival of quite a few new games, a number of which I first got to preview at PAX East back in April. They run the gamut from giant franchises like Gameloft’s Modern Combat 5: Blackout to developer debuts like Revolution 60 from Boston’s all-female development studio Giant Spacekat.
Since I just mentioned it, let’s actually start this week’s roundup with Revolution 60. Described as “Heavy Rain meets Mass Effect.”, Revolution 60 could be considered more of a two-to-three hour interactive movie than a typical adventure game. It is free to play for the first 20-30 minutes or so and then there is a one-time $5.99 purchase which unlocks the remainder of the game. Set in the future, a team of female special operatives must steal a space shuttle and stop a weapons platform which has drifted off course and is about to cause a diplomatic incident (if not an all-out nuclear war) should it accidentally be triggered. Using a combination of time-sensitive touch gestures for combat and triggering events, the game leads you through an engaging story, enhanced by some nice animation and great professional voice-acting work. Along the way you will have to make decisions that will have a direct effect on the outcome of your game and lead to a unique experience. Giant Spacekat has also released a companion book on iBooks called “Revolution 60: The Chessboard Lethologica.” ($3.99) which introduces you to the exciting world behind the game.
Last year Rolocule Games experimented with bringing console-like experiences to the AppleTV with their Wii Tennis like game Motion Tennis for Apple TV. I tried it and had mixed results due to some lag issues, but now they are back and tackling the rhythm and dancing genres with Dance Party for Apple TV. Using the studio’s same award-winning ‘rolomotion’ motion tracking technology you hold your phone and mimic the onscreen dancer and are given feedback on how you are doing are doing, much like your typical Wii Dancing game, but on your Apple TV. There is support for multiple players at the same time and it even tracks your calories so you can get fit while having fun. I’m definitely going to have to check this one out.
Tiny Thief developer 5 Ants Games are taking a huge departure from the puzzle genre for their Sophomore effort. Football Maniacs Manager is a free-to-play soccer team management sim, where you trade and upgrade your players, pick plays and then watch the game play out through a series of short cartoons to see who wins. You don’t actually play the matches yourself like you would in an arcade soccer game, but if you are into the management end of the sport, then this one has a nice, fresh aesthetic to it.
While I’m kind of burned out on runners at the moment myself, certain unique aspects of this next game looked interesting. Fish & Shark is an endless swimmer set in a 3D Minecraftian world where you tap-hold-release the screen to make your good fish or bad shark (your choice) jump over structures of varying heights. You have the option of a two player split-screen mode where both players race simultaneously to see who can make it the furthest. As you progress, your perspective keeps shifting between a sideways view and over-the-should third-person view.
How about some puzzle and strategy games?
Poptile is a really simple puzzle game that in some ways is a little like Tetris in reverse. You have a column shaped playing field containing a series of oddly shaped blocks of different colors. You tap on a block to break it and remove it, causing those above it to fall down. If they make a match then you can trigger a chain reaction where more blocks will break and be removed. Every time you tap on a block, all existing blocks move up one row, closer to the top of the screen and you must keep any blocks from touching the top of the screen or it is game over. Not a lot of depth and it relies pretty heavily on luck, but it could be your new little waster. The game is free to play, and you can spend 99¢ to remove the ads or 99¢ to get additional color themes.
MESA is a purely head-to-head online turn-based strategy game where players take turns selecting tri-colored hexagonal tiles off of a structure trying to match colors in order to unlock special abilities. Which will assist you in your quest to earn more points than your opponent. I’ve just kicked off my first game against a random opponent to check it out and I’m learning as I go. It seems like this could be a fun little strategy game to let you engage in some friendly competition with your Game Center friends.
And now for the paid games…
Kings & Corpses is a Chess-like puzzle game where you move around your pawns and king around a 4×4 gridded playing area trying to defend the king from the zombie infection. Each game is randomly generated to add to the challenge and replayability. The game was created by Rock Paper Missiles indie developer, Danny Perski.
Our next two titles are both available at special launch prices of $1.99, so don’t delay on picking them up if they sound interesting to you.
The first is a trippy and creepy looking 3D open-world adventure game called Dream Revenant. In this game published by Bulkypix, You take on the role of Carson Hughs, “a man haunted by a forty-year-old mystery”. On your deathbed in the hospital, you escape into a dreamworld conjured by your own subconscious mind and try to “confront and perhaps unravel the dark secrets of your past”. From the trailer it looks like it features some nice voice work and soundtrack.
The second is another game I had the pleasure of previewing at PAX East, The Phantom PI Mission Apparition. This one comes from Rocket 5 Studios and is quite a bit different from anything we’ve seen from them before. The Phantom PI is a charming puzzle/adventure game suitable for most ages where you are a paranormal investigator who specializes in helping ghosts who are being bullied in the afterlife. Your main mission is to help deceased rock-n-roll legend Marshall Staxx escape the torment of a hungry little ghoul named Baublebelly. Using simple touch-based control you must explore the large spooky old mansion, solve puzzles, capture wisps, collect diamonds, find hidden items, avoid traps and make your way through 20 levels of fun. There are loads of hidden treasures to discover along the way like 25+ collectible cards and a detailed scrapbook holds 100+ collectibles.
How about a little something for the kids…
Next up are a couple of notable kid-friendly titles that feature some excellent voice-acting work and are sure to entertain.
First is ShipAntics: The Legend of The Kiki Beast, the latest title from StoryToys Entertainment. This time they’ve teamed up with the talented folks at Studio POWWOW to create a charming and entertaining adventure game aimed at kids ages 6 to 9. ShipAntics deftly combines funny TV-quality cartoon sequences with interesting point-and click style puzzles and other interactive elements. With its high production values, outstanding animation and nice level of player engagement, this could very well be StoryToys Entertainment best title yet. Just check out the trailer for a peek at the outstanding quality of the animation.
This next one is for all the little My Little Pony fans out there. PlayDate Digital is back with another of their excellent interactive storybook adaptations of a My Little Pony adventure. My Little Pony: Power Ponies is based on Power Ponies, the sixth episode of the fourth season of the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic animated series. Spike accidentally casts a spell which sucks he and the Mane Six through a magical portal and into a comic book world where they must defeat the supervillain, Mane-iac in order to escape. Like PlayDate’s previous MLP interactive storybook apps, My Little Pony: Power Ponies offers a clean easy to use interface, with clear narration, highlighted characters on each page which come to life when tapped by the child and perform some sort of animated action or recite dialog performed by the actual animated series cast.
Anyone out there remember an addictive little puzzle platformer game from the early 90s called Lemmings?
Well Meerkatz Challenge is pretty much Lemmings, but with meerkats. A limited number of meerkats just keep pouring out of their home and walking forward and blindly off cliffs (if you let them) and it is your job to try to help as many of them as possible reach the goal safely. Unlike Lemmings where different characters had different pre-assigned abilities, in Meerkatz Challenge you can assign or remove abilities to any meerkat on the fly. It’ll take some quick thinking, creativity and deduction skills to save these daydreaming critters. If you enjoyed Lemmings back in the day…now doubt you’ll want to check out Meerkatz Challenge from Travian Games.
One of the many games from Cartoon Network that I got to see at PAX East was The Great Prank War. It combines elements of both linear and tower defense games and wraps it in a storyline from CN’s The Regular Show. Gene, the manager of rival park East Pines uses a time machine to back in time so he can win the prank war and take over the park. Now it’s up to our heroes, Mordecai, Rigby, Muscle Man and Skips to take it back. The game plays out over four different seasons, each ending with a big boss battle. In each level you must attack and take over towers to hold off enemies (using each characters unique and obscure choice of weapon) as you work your way toward their base at the end of the winding path. To be successful you’ll keep an eye on the towers you’ve captured, repair them when necessary, tag team with your other hero and level up your characters to unleash more powerful abilities. I’ve never seen The Regular Show before, but I’m still enjoying this game and its humorous and irreverent take on the defense genre.
Nickelodeon, who recently dropped their first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game, Rooftop Run to free, are back with a new TMNT game, simply titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This is the official movie game of the upcoming Michael Bay film, which may have already scared some of you away. I know what you are thinking…Michaelk Bay…a movie game…but hear me out, because this one was developed by The Game Bakers, creators of Combo Crew. It too appears to be beat-em up style game where you “jump, spin, punch, and kick waves of street gangs, mutants, Foot Clan, and legendary bosses”. You can upgrade your weapons and if you chain attacks you can trigger a Turtle Power mode which allows you to fight with all 4 turtles at the same time. There is both a Story Mode penned by IDW Publishing Writer Tom Waltz as well as a survival mode.
Finally we have the biggest title of the night, Modern Combat 5: Blackout. This is Gameloft’s latest entry in its popular first-person shooter series. The game has gotten the usual bump in visuals and looks spectacular on the latest iOS hardware. Unfortunately there is no MFi controller support right out of the box, but hopefully that will be coming in a future update. In the meantime there is some customization that can be done to get the virtual controls to your liking. The game features both a single player campaign as well online multiplayer mode both of which earn you experience points which can be used to level up and customize your perks and weapons. This replaces the old currency system and as such the game only costs $5.99 and is devoid of the usual IAPs.
It is worth noting that Modern Combat 5: Blackout does require an internet connection to play even the single player content, so that could be a big negative for some.
And that will do it for this week…have fun gaming!