rope-racers_1047610405_ipad_01.jpgIt is the second week of March, and another busy one for the App Store, with plenty of new gaming fare to choose from.

Starting things off this week we have Rope Racers, a quick-playing, multiplayer rope-swinging racing game from Small Giant Games, featuring loads of cute characters to unlock, upgrade and evolve. When the race begins your character will automatically run forward and you just tap and hold the screen to fire off your rope, which will connect to the first surface it contacts, causing you to swing. Release your finger to release the rope and repeat to build up momentum, swing over traps and hopefully launch yourself into first place. You earn coins for placing higher in the races, which can then be used to enter higher-stake races with bigger purses. A second currency (cash) is earned for completing a rolling set of goals, and this can be used to purchase a spin to unlock another of the 30 playable characters. Rope Racers is a fun (and somewhat addictive) little free-to-play game with all of the usual monetization, health monitors and upgrade grinding that you’ve come to expect.

timenauts_1020487660_ipad_03Tokyo-based free-to-play giants, DeNA are back this week with Timenauts. Equipped with your time traveling “Vessel” (each of which has a special ability), you and your misfit band of Timenauts must travel all of time and space to do battle; “the fate of the past, present, and future lies in your hands”. It’s a defense game where you have an energy meter that is constantly filling up. You deploy your various troops into battle to fight waves of enemies. Each type troop currently on your team has a specific energy cost and a regeneration period before more of that troop type can be deployed. You also have to decide when it is most beneficial to spend accumulated energy on expanding your energy capacity so that you’ll have the ability to deploy your more expensive and powerful troop types. The battle is over when either your or your enemies’ vessel has been destroyed. I love the game’s comical art style and it is fun to collect and upgrade the different characters. As you can see in the trailer and app icon (the latter of which is horrible for actually hinting at what the game is about), the launch material is making a big deal out of the fact that comedian Gabriel ‘Fluffy’ Iglesias is a playable character in the game. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t even have know who he is if it wasn’t for the fact that I recently saw a trailer in the movie theater for some movie starring him. Sadly it was almost a deterrent from me even checking out this game figuring it was just another Kardashian-style free-to-play junkware starring a C-list celebrity. Fortunately “Fluffy” is just another character in what at least during my initial experience, seems to be a pretty enjoyable and chaotic defense game with the usual free-to-play trappings.

water-me-please_920743929_ipad_02.jpgWater Me Please! is a cute new sliding puzzle game targeted toward kids, but playable by the whole family. In each of the over 200 included levels, you need to rearrange the tiles to form a path for the water to reach the thirsty flowers. Some levels are timed, some are not. Even in the timed levels you can keep swapping tiles around while the water is flowing; The more water that reaches the flowers, the more of the possible three stars you’ll get for the level. I found the puzzles to be pretty fun, but a little on the easier side for me, however, my nearly 9 year-old daughter has been enjoying this one and has found it just challenging enough.

late-shift_886526292_ipad_01.jpgNext up is Late Shift, a very cool interactive heist film from CtrlMovie, in which the player’s decisions dictate how the narrative will play out. During the course of the film, you will be presented with a possible 180 different decision points, resulting in one of 7 different possible endings. Beyond jut making decisions, you will also at times interact with technology in the film, like screens and keypads, etc. Late Shift is based on a screenplay by first time director Tobias Weber, and Michael R. Johnson, author of Guy Ritchie’s 2009 movie, Sherlock Holmes. The app is free to download which gives you access to the first (of nine) chapters of the film, with the rest of the film is unlockable via a single $9.99 IAP and downloadable in manageable chunks. This is not the first time we’ve seen this style of app on iOS before, but arguably previous attempts have never had this high, cinematic level of professionalism and polish. In 2010 The Weathered Underground launched starring Heroes’ Brea Grant (it has since been removed from the App Store) and in 2013 there was Your Pizza Adventure. I have played through the first chapter of Late Shift (multiple times) which will take you about 10-15 minutes to complete, according to the developer, the full film will last between 65 and 90 minutes (for a single play through) depending on your decisions. It is wonderfully acted and the branching cuts after making decisions are completely seamless. This is definitely worth checking out…a really cool and different movie-going experience! Once you watch the first chapter, especially if you do it multiple times and see how it branches, you are most definitely going to want to watch the whole thing.

castle-breakout-medieval-room_987026140_ipad_05With newly added support for the Apple TV, Castle Breakout – Medieval Room Escape Puzzle! is the debut title from Cloudburst Room Escape. With real-life room escape experiences becoming more and more popular we’ve seen a dramatic growth and influx of these escape room apps on the App Store. Many of them seem hurriedly put together with a pasted on theme. However, in this nicely illustrated, voiced and rendered adventure set in Medieval times, players take on the role of Rex, a Castle’s security expert. Accompanied by the wise cracking Senior Guild of Justice member, Anterwirp, you have been tasked with making sure that the castle’s recently updated security system is up to snuff. Find clues in each room of the castle and use them to solve puzzles to escape the castle. The first 7 rooms/chapters of the game are free-to-play with three additional rooms unlockable for 99¢ each. You also have the option of “learning about our guild’s sponsors (in other words, watching ads) to gain hints. As an added bonus, if you can solve the dragon’s riddle correctly, you’ll get a magical flying ride. If, like me, you enjoy these escape room style games, so far I have found this one to be fairly entertaining.

dirac_1060017016_ipad_01.jpgMediocre returns to the App Store this week with Dirac. With its endless style, it offers a bit more of an arcadey feel than Mediocre previous hits, Does not Commute, Sprinkle Islands and even Smash Hit. Dirac is a game that’s all about combining molecules that are constantly spilling forth from a central atom. To do so, it is just a simple matter of connecting the dots. However, it’s not really quite that simple as you can only connect molecules of the same color and must draw paths between these molecules that do not accidentally intersect with different colored molecules nor the central or an other particles that happen to be floating about. If you can successfully form a closed loop of molecules then anything contained within this loops will be collected as well (regardless of color). The thing is the molecules are constantly moving, spreading outward and away from the center, so you need to be quick, yet time things properly. Do you play it safe and just connect a line of molecules for points, or do you push your luck and try to get an enclosed shape for bigger points and a multiplier? Whatever you do, you can’t let too many molecules escape otherwise you’ll run out and it’s game over. It becomes a delicate balance of making sure to collect all the various colors, to restock them. While I think some of their previous titles have a bit more staying power, if you are a fan of endless high score arcade games, this one will probably be right up your alley. Once things get going, Dirac can get pretty frantic and tough to even keep colors straight in your head, not to mention grab everything on the screen before it has a chance to float off into oblivion.

telepaint_1031530508_ipad_01.jpgTelepaint is a fun. stylized puzzle game by iOS newcomers Acid Nerve. In over 100 levels of gameplay, the player activates various portal points on the screen to allow the adorable ever-walking can of paint to teleport around the level to pick up keys to unlock other areas of the level and eventually reach the paintbrush. There is a nice buildup in complexity of the levels, which require the player to do a little planning ahead in order to get the paint can moving in the proper direction and the order in which they use portals or unlock areas. The game has a nice rhythmic soundtrack and a retro look to it, which includes some fun little visual touches giving it even more character, like the little bit of paint that splashes out of the paint bucket and onto the level as he travels through a portal and a neat VHS fast forwarding visual effect when speeding up the gameplay. Definitely worth checking out if you like logic and puzzle games.

We seem to have a number of kid-friendly new releases this week, so here are a couple more…

my-town-school_1084144010_ipad_02My Town : School is the seventh title in My Town Games’ imaginative play app series. Like a digital dollhouse, kids get to move characters around and have them interact with the environment, making up their own stories and adventures. As the name suggests, this one is set in a school environment and features 9 different locations to explore as well as 11 kids and 7 adults to choose from. By using the formulas laid out on blackboards and posters within the game, kids even get to try out 10 different science experiments by combining items they find in this virtual world. There are also different musical instruments they can play, ball games and more. There is so many new little things to find and discover with each play. My daughters absolutely loves these types of apps, with the Toca Life, My Playhome and now this series being among their favorites. This was their first experience with the My Town series, but after playing with My Town : School, my younger daughter immediately wanted to purchase the entire series with some of her Christmas iTunes credit. 🙂

disney-build-it-frozen_1030457527_ipad_01In Disney Build It: Frozen, children get to build their own version of Elsa and Anna’s kingdom of Arendelle. They can build the North Mountain, the Forest, Troll Valley, Arendelle Castle, and the town of Arendelle itself. They can use their imaginations to give it their own personal touch by using props and customizing buildings’ colors, roofs, chimneys and more. “Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Sven, and Kristoff will play, dance, ride, and even celebrate along with them.” And don’t worry, there are plenty more surprises in store to delight all of the young FROZEN fans in your house including snow globes, Marshmallow those lovable little Snowgie and more.

retro-city-rampage-dx_1088540036_ipad_01.jpgFinally that brings us to the iOS port of Retro City Rampage DX. Already a hit on just about every other platform you can imagine ranging from MS-DOS (yeah they brought it to MS DOS!!!) to Xbox 360, this 8-bit open world throwback is inspired by the original top-down 2D Grand Theft Auto. Loaded with great pop-culture references, you’ll be trying to complete missions while wreaking havoc, rampaging the city, stealing cars, evading the police, having shootouts and even running down cops and pedestrians. There is a full story mode as well as arcade challenges, discoverable mini-games and loads more. Aside from the crazy gameplay, you’ll just want to explore this vast 8-bit world both on foot and by deadly weapon (aka vehicle). The game has been carefully tuned to work on mobile both with the touchscreen and MFi controllers. Despite the insane number of platforms which already got this title this was my first experience with it and there is a TON of content to explore. Easily worth the price of admission, this is a rad, ridiculous romp, especially if you have even a shred of nostalgia for that classic 2D GTA and its needless, over-the-top 8-bit violence and destruction.

And that’ll do it for this week…enjoy.

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