sky-force-reloaded_976116090_ipad_01.jpgIt was certainly an interesting week of new iOS game releases, with a couple of new, updated versions of previously released games plus an extensive and engaging crop of paid offerings.

Two years ago, Infinite Dreams launched a mobile version of the 2004 top down scrolling space shooter Sky Force. It was both beautiful and addictive, but now two years later, the studio has really outdone themselves again with a brand new version called Sky Force Reloaded. Capturing that same nostalgic feel of classic vertical shooters, the game gains gorgeous modern graphics and an entertaining narrative as you play (and replay) levels to meet specified goals of percentage of enemies killed, people rescued, etc. As you play, you earn currency which can be used to buy upgrades for your ship (or additional ships) that will inevitably allow you to last longer and/or destroy a lot more enemies. Fans of classic arcade vertical SHMUPS like Xevious and Zaxxon will feel right at home as will newcomers thanks to the game’s superb visuals and intuitive touch controls.

nonstop-knight_979151411_ipad_02Published by flaregames, Nonstop Knight is a new mobile action RPG aimed at a more casual audience. The game follows a brave knight on an endless journey to rid the kingdom of hoards of evil enemies. It almost gives you the feel of a clicker mashed with an action RPG as you dispatch your foes with a single tap of your finger to unleash certain special moves (which then have a short cool down period before they can be evoked again). Designed for short, on-the-go play sessions, the game even continues to earn players gold while they are away, with the knight idly killing minions and a collecting coins. On your quest you’ll find and equip newer and better armor and weapons and you can use collected coins to purchase knight upgrades to increase your damage, armor and more, allowing you to progress further and further each time.

Next up from Noodlecake Studios (who just announced a July release date for Super Stickman Golf 3) is Dig Deep!. This is an intergalactic endless faller in which players take on the role of Roger, “the most famous mustachioed, toupeed miner of the galaxy”. Earth’s gold stores have been depleted so an Intergalactic Mining Guild had been formed to find more of this precious commodity. The game is procedurally generated so no two games will be alike and as you progress through the game you’ll unlock Roger’s various companions, each of whom has different abilities which may be helpful in completing certain missions. Leveling up your characters and mining gear is the key to digging further and further each time.

lost-frontier_1008496061_ipad_01.jpgLost Frontier is a brilliant turn-based strategy game, from Mika Mobile, the creators of the popular Zombieville USA and Battleheart series. The game starts off in a fairly typical western setting, but eventually adds more steampunk and supernatural elements. Players choose their hero (aka Living Legend) from the close range gunslinger John ‘6-eyes’ McGraw, long-range sharpshooter Wyatt “Long-Arm” Wilcox or medic Doc Valentine and then strategically move and/or attack with units and try to get the upper hand on your opponent before they can corner your gang or strike first. The game offers a comprehensive 24 chapter story mode which introduces players to the basic gameplay as well as the characters. It starts off fairly easy, but the hand-holding ceases quickly and soon your grit is tested with the introduction of loads of new unit types as you progress through the game. You can play through the entire Story Mode with any of the three different Living Legends, leveling them up ad you go. There are a total of 9 different Living Legends (who act as the leaders of your units) to unlock throughout the story mode and each has a unique characteristic and style of play. For more demanding players, there is also a lengthy Challenge Map mode consisting of 20 missions which will really put your strategic thinking skills to the test. This mode kind of throws everything at you all at once, so it is good to go through the Story Campaign first. Finally, there’s a Custom Game mode where players get to select the map and rules of engagement and then play against either AI or (same-device, hot-seat) human players. Mika Mobile always puts out quality products, but I had no idea this was coming so Lost Frontier was a really pleasant surprise this week and a rather solid turn-based strategy game with a delightful Old West theme.

pixel-cup-soccer-16_1092276838_ipad_01.jpgTwo years after the release of the original iOS version of Pixel Cup Soccer, developer Batovi Game Studio has released a new, updated version called Pixel Cup Soccer 16. They’ve taken the feedback they’ve gotten from their first release and have been working hard to evolve the game into the “ultimate arcade retro style soccer experience”. With its fast paced gameplay and simplified controls for just shooting, passing and tackling its is very approachable and inviting for casual players looking for a fun pick up and play soccer game for their iPhone, iPad or even the Apple TV. The game supports single player (player VS computer), two players (player VS player), or Party Mode (in Competitions). The lack of physical controls can often make mobile soccer games feel a bit daunting and overwhelming, however, Pixel Cup Soccer 16 is easy to control, allowing players to hit the pitch and hop right into the action. The game features charming pixel art graphics and solid retro play, plus there are some definite improvements in this latest iteration including a substantially better AI, which gives the opposing teams their own unique play style and challenge.

my-town-dance-school_1112068171_ipad_01.jpgMy Town : Dance School is the tenth title in the popular My Town imaginative play series of apps for kids. As the title suggests, this one opens up a brand new location, a dance school, for kids to play with and explore. “Practice in ballet lesson, get dressed for your cheerleading class, Prepare your dance show and customize the stage.” Your kids can dress their favorite characters from the previous My Town apps (and some new ones) in over 40 costumes, have them attend ballet, modern dance and cheerleading classes and put on a stage show. Both of my daughters, especially my younger one (age 6.5) loves this series and as a dancer herself, I’m sure she’ll be ecstatic about this new one.

rok_963246470_ipad_02.jpgRok is a bit of an odd one to categorize. If I had to classify it, I’d call it a sort of 3D polygon puzzle adventure game which follows a frail old man, with telekinetic abilities, who has been held captive for hundreds of years in a Norse prison. The time has come for him to make a break for freedom and you must help him escape this rather secure cavernous prison. A disembodied voice assists and guides you on your lengthy journey. Should you get stuck during any of the puzzle portions, there is a hint mechanism that highlights the objects with which you can interact. While the game can be slightly frustrating at points, overall I am enjoying my experience with Rok thus far and big kudos to Brooklands New Media for the fresh idea and experience.

one-hundred-ways_1070235580_ipad_01Released last year on Steam, Sunlight Games’ puzzle game One Hundred Ways has gotten an iOS port. In each of the game’s 115 levels (it seems we got a few bonus levels) you must place various switches, springs, portals, levers and other tools onto the gridded play area to help a rolling ball reach its goal. In each level you place your pieces from the tool box onto the board and then press play to see if the ball will successfully navigate the course , interact with your tools and reach its intended destination. Iif not, you re-position the tools, rinse and repeat. Since I was a kid, I have always gravitated toward these Rube Goldberg machines style puzzle games. I played through just over a quarter of the levels so far and while fun, they didn’t offer up too much of a challenge, the solution was usually pretty straight forward. I’m hoping that the difficulty increases a bit more rapidly for the remainder of the levels. For this mobile release, the user interface has been converted over for touch, however there are still some very PC-centric oddities with the UI that act as a constant reminder that it’s a port and not an app designed specifically for an iOS device. Once you get around these minor quirks, I’d certainly recommend this as fun puzzle game for kids/teens, but the jury is still out as to whether or not this’ll put up enough of a challenge to keep adults engaged.

human-resource-machine_1005098334_ipad_02.jpgFrom Experimental Gameplay Group, the minds behind such games as World of Goo and Little Inferno comes Human Resource Machine, another unique gaming experience. A logic/programming puzzle game set in a sort of dystopian future, Human Resource Machine is a fun, yet challenging experience. Get ready to spend quite a few ‘years’ working your way up in the mail room. In each level (represents one year of work), your boss gives you a job to complete, which involves automating the process of moving numbers from the INBOX to the OUTBOX by developing a program to filter the items based on a very specific set of rules. You are provided with a growing set of programming constructs, like conditional jumps, addition and subtraction functions and must formulate a short little program to properly cycle through all of the numbers in the INBOX, putting ONLY the correct ones in the OUTBOX. There are bonus ‘stars’ for keeping the number of instructions at or below a specified number as well as keeping the number of executed program steps under a certain number. As someone who does script-based programming every day for my job, I immediately took to the game and love the challenge it presents. While I have been able to complete all of the levels I’ve tried thus far, getting those bonus optimization points can be quite a brain burner. As you’ve come to expect from EGG, the game is wrapped in quirky and interesting story, complete with funny dialog that anyone who has felt like a corporate drone before will appreciate. If you enjoy puzzly games and thinking logically, then this one is highly recommend!

never-alone-ki-edition_1065127755_ipad_03First released on PC and consoles in November 2014, the award-winning atmospheric puzzle platformer Never Alone: Ki Edition has now made its way to iOS platforms in a deluxe new release from E-Line Media. One look and it’s easy to see why this indie gem has been so well received on other platforms. This beautiful experience has players controlling both a little Iñupiat girl named Nuna and her arctic Fox companion as they search for the source of an eternal blizzard that threatens their way of life. As the two trek through the treacherous barren arctic landscape they’ll reach obstacles and puzzles which must be solved to make forward progress. Players must swap back and forth between controlling Nuna and the Arctic fox to make uses of each character’s special abilities. The fox can do wall jumps as well as communicate with the spirit animals to help the duo reach higher locations, while Nuna can grab and move objects. The stunning backdrop and the way the characters complement each other’s abilities make for a rich and captivating journey. The game was developed in close collaboration with the Iñupiat, a hunting and gathering society of native people from Alaska who date back thousands of years. This has resulted in a game which is both entertaining as well as enlightening. Interspersed throughout Never Alone are well-produced, optional downloadable video clips, which give you further insight into the Iñupiat people, the history of their land, their traditions and more. While I can’t help but draw comparisons to the 2014 iOS release Last Inua – An Arctic Adventure, all fall in favor of Never Alone, which is hands down, the superior game. This is another fantastic indie PC port that iOS gamers are lucky to have and well worth supporting and buying.

And on that high note, that’s all I have for you this week.

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