We’ll of course be starting this week’s roundup with Disney Crossy Road. This highly-anticipated title is much more than just a simple re-skinning of the original Crossy Road. Disney and HIPSTER WHALE have taken the core gameplay that is beloved by so many, expanded it with nine distinctive new worlds (Inside Out, Wreck It Ralph, Zootopia and more) each of which contains many of your favorite characters from these Disney franchises and then added creative new mechanics to keep things fresh and added some interesting new challenges to the basic gameplay. There are so many charming little details to discover and uncover as you play through the game. Whether it be particular character traits, themed obstacles and of course…loads of characters to unlock. For the Crossy Road purists, the Mickey Mouse & Friends world is closest to the original game, but features cute 8-bit versions of classic Disney characters and very Disney styled streets to cross. Whether you are still a die hard Crossy Road fan, or have left your road crossing days behind you, unless you have a heart of coal, well gawrsh this one is going to be mighty hard to resist. My 6.5 and 9 year old daughters LOVE this game and get giddy like…err…school girls…everytime they unlock a new character. I highly highly recommend downloading this one.
Keeping with the Disney theme, next up is KINGDOM HEARTS Unchained χ from SQUARE ENIX. Popular in both Japan and the US since the PS2 in 2002, this is the first time the Kingdom Hearts franchise has made its way to iOS. In this free-to-play RPG, the player takes turns exchanging attacks with waves of enemies in a sort of turn-based combat. Generally you can get in several blows on specified or random combatants before they will then have a chance to attack. You keep trading blows until either you take out all of the enemies and continue on your quest, or they take you out. To aid you in combat, you will be “collecting and evolving hundreds of character medals, which contain the harnessed power of popular Disney and FINAL FANTASY heroes and villains”. To enact these you simply swipe over them in battle as they cycle through during fights. I’ve only touched the surface on this one, and since this will be my first experience/hand-on exposure to Kingdom Hearts, I’m not really sure what to expect. I know the series has a strong following, so I’m curious to see how those long-time fans feel about this mobile implementation. One thing I should note is that while the app itself is only about a 53 MB download, the first thing the app does when you load it up is to download over 1 GB of additional data, which took at least 30+ minutes to complete over my home Wi-Fi.
PKTBALL – Endless Arcade Smash Sport is the latest title from HoPiKo and ALONE… developer, Laser Dog. It is a multiplayer arcade/sports ping-pong style game with plenty of character. A real test of reflexes, the game plays out in a top-down perspective where players hit a ball back and forth using swipes or drags. Go for a quick, powerful and effective return by simply swiping your finger at the ball (like it were the racket) or drag your player toward the oncoming ball and release to take a more measured swing. The action is fast and furious as you try to see how long you can outlast your opponent. There are new characters as well as multiple themed courts which can be unlocked (each with their own soundtracks). Players can test their skills against an AI opponent, or for more chaotic fun, grab up to three friends for a crazy multiplayer match on the same device.
Starring the characters from Cartoon Network’s We Are Bears animated series, Stirfry Stunts is a Diner Dash-style cooking time management game where players are trying to “use Ice Bear’s awesome cooking skills” to quickly and efficiently serve up delicious meals to waves of hungry customers. Look at what customers are ordering, grab the ingredients and toss them on the grill. However grill space is limited and so is your customers’ patience, so you need to be quick, correct and not let any food burn. Money earned can be used to purchase upgrades to your kitchen, like additional plating areas, food items and more. This is a cute gateway game into this genre and perfect for all ages.
Looty Dungeon is a casual, stylized dungeon crawler and the debut iOS release by the Austin-based development studio Taco Illuminati. Players select from over 35 unlockable characters, each with their own unique fighting/play styles, and then try to safely navigate an endless series of dungeons by either battling (or avoiding) monsters and environmental traps and hazards as they make their way to the exit. I could see some arguing that the game is too easy, but for those looking to dip their toes in dungeon crawling waters, the appealing art style, characters and boss battles could make this a fun, free intro to the genre.
Chameleon Run is an eye-catching new isometric level-based autorunner developed by Czech-based Hyperbolic Magnetism and published by Noodlecake Studios. Fast-paced and often unforgiving, this game is brilliant breakneck fun. In each level, your goal is to make it to the end by traveling across suspended pink and yellow platforms while avoiding everything else. The catch is that the color of your chameleon, must match the color of any platform that you land on. The controls are simple, tap the left side of the screen to change colors and tap the right to jump and double jump. Despite the simplistic controls, the game is super challenging and each level has three objectives, which could include collecting all of a certain item during a run or even traversing the entire level without changing your color, which I’ve gotta tell you, in some of these levels, that seems like it’d be damn near impossible. This is a super-fun game which has great replay value due to it’s innate difficulty and the per-level mission system which forces you to changeup your path and tactics to achieve all of the goals. This one is very well done and worthy of its Apple Editor’s Choice selection.
CATTCH is quite likely my favorite offering to date from indie developer, MildMania, the studio who brought us Darklings. A classic style 2D puzzle platformer, CATTCH, feels perfectly designed for mobile play. Players take control of CATTCH, a super cute cat-like creature trying to defend his world from an invading army of “evil void critters”. The game is beautifully illustrated and levels are fun to navigate with some branching to allow for exploration and experimentation. Offering just the right mix of charm and challenge, if you like mobile platformers, this one is worth a look.
Next up is Preston Sterling, an engaging little point and click adventure game that follows the adventures of its title character, a rogue adventurer and “Hunter of Rare Artifacts” hired by a South African art collector to find and recover a long-lost artifact. That artifact turns out to be none other than Excalibur, the sword of the legendary King Arthur. I’m only partially through the game thus far, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve played up to this point. Classic style point and click adventures or hidden object fans will likely enjoy this well-crafted iOS debut from the team at Animation Arts Creative.
Ravenous Games, the team behind such iOS hits as Tiny Rogue, Devious Dungeon, and the League of Evil series, returns to the App Store this week with an all-new puzzle platformer called Pug’s Quest. You play as a cute pug who is trying to save his dog-napped friends. Your mission involves navigating dangerous, trap-filled dungeons, each level of which consists of three rooms. The maps are randomly ordered so you never know exactly what task lies ahead; fail to make it through any one of the three rooms and you’ll have to start them all over (lives permitting). The pug is controlled via simple swipe gestures (though I’d love to see a virtual d-pad). Aside from the fun, top-down/isometric core platformer gameplay (which at times requires quick play and reflexes) Pug’s Quest also features some neat puzzly aspects as you try to calculate/time the correct path through obstacles. The randomness of the game’s 90 maps affords Pug some decent replayability and since it is Ravenous Games you can expect some nice pixel art and a enjoyable soundtrack.
And finally that brings us to Shadow Bug, the gorgeous environmental platformer from Bro Fist Simulator creators, Muro Studios. You are the dual-blade wielding Shadow Bug, trying to protect your forest from evil; leaping effortlessly from monster to monster, shredding them with your lethal blades. The first thing that’ll likely draw you into Shadow Bug is the game’s stunning BADLAND-ish silhouette visual style. Next is the unique control scheme. Instead of a a virtual d-pad, you control your hero simply by tapping on the left or right side of the screen to move laterally in that direction, or by tapping on a monster for a fierce flying airborne attack, allowing you to leap around levels with the swiftness of a ninja. The controls and the way your hero jumps from enemy to enemy combine to give the game an almost airy and lofty quality like a satisfying round of hacky sack. Even though it doesn’t matter if Shadow Bug hits the ground, I often found myself trying to conserve my momentum, like a real ninja and just flow through the levels with as little ground contact as possible, chaining attacks to climb higher and reach upper sections of levels. It is a great control scheme, and one which works very well on mobile. There are automatic mid-level checkpoints as well as multiple per-level goals which help encourage replayability with tasks to collect all of the crystals and/or complete a level within a certain time limit. Another strong contender this week, keep an eye out for Shadow Bug.
And that’s all I have for you this week…as I said it was an impressive week for iOS games and I hope you’ll decide to pick up some of these great new offerings as well.