Starting off the week we have Adventure Time Puzzle Quest, an all-new match-3 puzzle game from D3, publishers of the very popular mobile title Marvel Puzzle Quest. Trading super heroes for a boy and a talking magical dog, Adventure Time Puzzle Quest puts players into the Adventure Time universe, playing as Finn, Jake, and all of your favorite characters from Cartoon Network’s popular animated series as they go on epic quests through the Land of Ooo, using match-3 mechanics to battle baddies and collect the loot. Choose your adventuring party from your unlocked characters, level them up to unlock additional, crazy abilities and craft collected loot into battle ready items. Whether you are a fan of the series or not, if you are looking for a humorous free-to-play match-3 game, Adventure Time Puzzle Quest’s witty dialog and 30+ magical, fun-filled quests and daily events will have you coming back for more.
For those of you who like those quick, “try again” style mobile games, we’ve got a couple of them for you this week. First there is Fingers of Fury (from Dynamighty, makers of DynamightyCounterspy. It is a rapid, single-finger, endless kung-fu fighting game which pays homage to the Bruce Lee films of the early 70s. Try to take down increasingly more difficult waves of attackers by either tapping on the left side of the screen to unleash a slower spin kick which can take out multiple enemies or the right side of the screen to throw a fast punch to take out a single enemy. Timing is everything, throw the wrong type of attack style and you’ll lose the battle.
Then from Nitrome, we have another game that comes down to timing, a strangely addictive auto runner/vaulter appropriately called Vault!. You are a headband wearing, red-nosed, grape, prune or bean-looking thing named King Edward who is endlessly running forward, carrying his pole-vaulting stick at the ready and you must press and hold the screen to lower his pole at just the right moment to cause him to vault over various holes and obstacles that get in his way. Timing is key for when you start your vault and release, to be sure that you get the right height and distance and don’t jump too early or entirely miss placing the end of your stick on solid ground. There are trampolines, crumbling pathways and more just to keep you on your toes and additional unlockable characters to keep things fun. See if you can master your vaulting skills and rise to the top of the leaderboards.
Next up is the first of two 80s arcade classics (and staples from my childhood) which make their way to iOS this week. I’m not sure if this is to take advantage of the 80s video game nostalgia brought about by Sony Picture’s PIXELS film releasing this week, but Qbert Rebooted brings everyone’s favorite orange, trumpet-nosed, self-censoring, pyramid-hopping ball-like creature back into the limelight. Offering both the classic 2D arcade mode, with retro, jaggy graphics (for the purists) as well a new “rebooted” puzzle version with modern 3D graphics, 30+ new levels with 3-star goals, selectable characters and 3 new enemies (Homer, Uppercut and Treasure Chest). I love that they’ve included both versions of the game. There is no virtual d-pad on this one as you might expect, instead it uses a new swipe-based/tap control system.
Before this week’s release I was not at all familiar with this next series of games. The original Callys Caves was a retro-style platformer released on iOS in 2013 and followed the adventures of a little girl named Cally who was trying to save her parents from the clutches of the sinister Dr. Herbert. It appears to have been removed from the App Store, but in June 2014, developer Jordan Pearson released a sequel, Callys Caves 2, which featured improved graphics and gameplay. Now he’s just released Cally’s Caves 3. Featuring another parental kidnapping, and the introduction of an apostrophe into the title, this third (and final) entry in the series is quite an enjoyable little mobile platformer with even further refined controls and new RPG mechanics for upgrading Cally’s abilities.
How about a little something for the kids…
When I was a kid, I remember really enjoying a book called The Twits. Written by Roald Dahl in 1979 and published the following year, this cautionary tale told the story of an ugly (in all ways), vindictive, and spiteful couple known as the Twits who play mean and horrible tricks on one another and eventually become the target of revenge by their pet Mugglewump monkeys whom they’ve mistreated. Aimed toward kids aged 6 to 11, Roald Dahl’s Twit or Miss reunites these childhood characters for a “foulsome food fight” as Mr. Twit is gorging his face with “moldy morsels” and it’s up to the player to swipe the flying bits of food back toward Mr. Twit before they can hit Mrs. Twit and wake her. Additionally, missions can be accomplished to earn extra points. This could be a silly (and completely free) little time waster for young fans of the book.
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition is one of the most anticipated titles of the week. A remake of the popular and award-winning point-and-click, voodoo murder-mystery released by Sierra in 1993, original creator Jane Jensen has painstakingly remade her game with updated high-res graphics, new scenes and puzzles and a remastered soundtrack . Gabriel Knight follows the title character, a struggling author as he and a bookstore owner “investigate a series of savage ritual killings in New Orleans and their connection to voodoo’s sinister mysteries”. Obviously a labor of love, it is easy to see how much work went into finally bringing this title to light. While I am a long-time Sierra fan, this was one series that somehow escaped me, so it’s nice to experience it now. The app is free to download and gives players access to the first “Day” of the adventure. If you want to continue, you can purchase Days 2-3 for $2.99, Days 4-6 for $3.99 and Days 7-10 for $3.99. So to play through this entire adventure it’ll cost you about $11. Phoenix Online Studios has put together a very nice presentation and iPad-owning fans of point-and-click adventures will definitely want to download the free app and try out at least the free first day’s content and odd’s are you’ll want to se the adventure through to its conclusion.
Speaking of adventures, Telltale has released the fifth episode (of six) in their Game of Thrones – A Telltale Games Series. So if you already purchased the season pass, then you’ll want to download that content now. If you didn’t go the season pass route, you can buy this latest episode via a $4.99 in-app purchase.
Amazon Game Studios returns to the App Store this week with an iOS port of the third game in HotGen’s To-Fu puzzle platformer series. To-Fu Fury has players flinging a squishy, stretchy, cubic ninja warrior around maze-like levels, sticking onto wooden surfaces, landing on moving platforms, knocking over walls, avoiding dangerous spikes and baddies and collecting chi. Your performance on each level is judged on both speed and economy of movement. So if you are going for “three stars” you’ll need to be quick, but reserved. Though in all honesty many of the levels will be challenging enough even without trying to speed run through them. There are even boss battles! Already an entertaining series, this newest entry adds a cool new dimensional aspect to the game with a isometric 3D view that helps you line up your “shots” like never before. Easily the best in the series, this is an excellent successor worthy of checking out.
I kicked off this post with Adventure Time Puzzle Quest, but another noteworthy match-3 mashup which released this week is The Long Siege. A blend between real-time defense and match-3, players are trying to quickly slide columns and rows of tiles to form groupings of specific types to deploy troops onto the battle field to defend their tower and attack the enemies tower. It makes for a different feel from the usual castle defense game where you are typically waiting on coins to accumulate so you can summon your next troop, with cool-down timers and the amounts of coins being the deciding factor on what you can deploy. Instead, in The Long Siege it’s a much more frenetic experience as you are furiously trying to form matches of certain tile types to heal your tower or send out the (footman, scout or mages) you need to fight. Using the coins you collect during battle you can improve your troops, cannon, shields and more as you attempt to complete quests to level up and unlock new abilities. Overall, it’s a fun mashup that will have your fingers flying during battle.
One of the most pleasant surprises of the week is a gorgeous and unique puzzle game called Prune. This zen-like experience sees players strategically swiping their finger to grow and shape budding trees so that they can avoid various dangers, reach the sunlight and bloom, “bringing life to a forgotten landscape”. A clean minimalistic design, the game features a beautiful, peaceful soundtrack which allows you to chill out and lose yourself in your task. In real life I don’t have a green thumb, but that doesn’t seem to matter in Prune, and you feel a nice sense of accomplishment when you see your little seedling start to bloom. A calming and beautiful experience, worthy of a look.
Finally let’s end this week’s post with another flashback to the 80s arcade era with
BANDAI NAMCO’s iOS port of their super-popular console game, PAC-MAN Championship Edition DX. No free-to-play mechanics in its final release form, this “premium” take on THE arcade classic features a number of game modes (score attack, ghost combo, time trials, etc), 10 unique zone layouts, and 132 stages. There are three difficulty levels and players can even select from six different visual styles from classic pixelized to modern 3D. Using a super responsive swipe-based control system, this game feels and performs great. You can even swipe a little early and sparks will indicate the direction you plan to turn to give you visual confirmation. Instead of the traditional level-based gameplay, players try to rack up the points with ghost combos and spawning more and more fruit. By eating all of the pellets on one side of the maze, you spawn a new fruit and eating the fruit clears the current maze, with fruit points increasing each time. Pac-Man has a special new “bomb” ability that can be triggered with a pinch gesture repelling away all surrounding ghosts. Lining up rows of angry ghosts will lead to some huge multipliers and 3200 points per ghost. There are also these really cool new green, sleeping ghosts which sit still, waiting for you to move past them, then they too join in the chase. The more points you earn, the faster the action gets until you either complete the timed challenge or lose a life. I can easily see why this game has been so popular on consoles. It takes a childhood favorite and adds cool new gameplay elements. I’ve got a bad case of Pac Man fever…
And on that high note, we’ll end this week’s coverage… enjoy.