smash-squad_978886710_ipad_01Last week saw a fun mix of both free and paid new releases, quite a few of which came from first-time developers. There were also several returning vets that seemed to continue to knock it out of the park.

Let’s kick things off this week with Smash Squad. A much different sort of game than what the folks at Wargaming are traditionally known for, Smash Squad is a top-down, turn-based battler where players unlock all sorts of crazy heroes, upgrade and evolve them and form them into squads to enter into the arena to do battle. The actual gameplay is a bit like pool or shuffle board where each of your heroes is represented as a disc. You tap, drag back, aim and release to send the disc flying toward enemy discs, banking off walls or using traps built into the area to deliver the most damage possible. The differing heroes each have unique abilities and certain types of heroes work better against certain types of enemies, leading to a bit of strategy and planning. With loads of heroes to collect and evolve, this fun little freebie could be habit-forming.

rodeo-stampede-sky-zoo-safari_1047961826_ipad_01.jpgRodeo Stampede – Sky Zoo Safari, is a hoot of a one-finger endless game w/ a sort of roguelike element as players try to last a lot longer than 8 seconds as they ride a wide variety of cute animals, steering them through canyons trying to avoid plants rocks and other animals. The longer you ride an animal, the angrier they will get and more likely you are to get thrown off. However, at any time you may choose to leap from their current beast and try to land on a new beast to ride. The first time you come across a new species you may leap onto them to try to tame them and add them to your Sky Zoo. This is exactly what it sounds like, a floating zoo in the sky where tourists come to see all of the animals you’ve collected; earning you money that can then be spent to upgrade and/or expand your zoo. As you ugrade your zoo, animals also get upgraded allowing you to last longer, etc. It’s a fun and addictive little game with cute 3D polygon graphics and loads of different types of animals.

redungeon_1119569595_ipad_01Redungeon is a new endless dungeon crawler from the folks at Nitrome. Swipe to move your knight through an endless, randomly generated trap-filled dungeon, collecting coins and loot which can then be used to upgrade your knight or unlock additional playable heroes. The game is challenging and each time you play it’s a completely new dungeon setup. The grinding for upgrades (especially for expensive new characters) can be a bit cumbersome, but the game is free to play and the random level setups and increasing difficulty the further you get, give it nice replayability.

idoyle-interactive-adventures_993664103_ipad_02.jpgThe entertainment is afoot…based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s first of 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories, iClassics Productions’ latest interactive fiction app, iDoyle: The interactive Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – A Scandal in Bohemia takes on Sherlock Holmes. The mystery begins when a married Dr. Watson is visiting Sherlock Holmes and a masked stranger appears at the door pleading for Holmes’ assistance. But no mask can keep Holmes from quickly deducing who this mask stranger really is…and then it’s time to solve a mystery. Doyle’s original story was first published on 25 June 1891, now nearly 125 years later (to the day), this original Sherlock Holmes tale gets a beautiful deluxe edition complete with an original score, fancy type layouts, beautiful illustrations and interactive bits in another of iClassics’ stunning apps.

perchang_1112532917_ipad_01.jpgPerchang is the self-titled debut for development studio,
Perchang. It is a neat little physics puzzle game with a little bit of a dexterity element. Players have a couple of colored buttons which control like-colored flippers, teleporters and other gadgets on the screen. Gadget colors can be toggled to allow for more precise movement of just certain items as you try to guide automatically moving little metal balls to their desire location(s). They’ve built up a nice mix of puzzles using these elements and some will require a little noodling to figure out just the right combinations and timing, especially if you want to earn a gold rating (which helps to unlock additional, more difficult Gold Runs).

hyperburner_982763237_ipad_01.jpgSmooth controls and magnificent graphics immediately immerse players in the action of Hyperburner as they try to twist and turn to fly their ship through seemingly impossible crevasses in constantly rotating futuristic-looking tunnels or obstacle-filled expanses. There have been a number of titles that have tried to bring this tunnel navigating experience to iOS, but many fail either due to poor pacing, lackluster graphics, touchy controls or some combination of the three. Developer Bad Potion seems to have addressed all of these issues with a solid tunnel navigating experience with a fleet of ships that seem effortless to control, but sadistically difficult to master.

super-steampuff_1103804173_ipad_03Super SteamPuff is vertical-scrolling shooter with a unique layout and a really cute flat art style. The player is on the left half of the screen, with enemies appearing on the right side of the screen and in a game that is a frenetic race of dodging your opponents’ fire while snagging powerups and laying down a barrage of fire of your own. In Super SteamPuff’s endless mode you must survive waves of enemies and then crazy boss creatures or you can take on an AI opponent or another human player in a local multiplayer (PVP) matchup on the same device. Collected hex coins can be used to unlock additional characters via the Infinite Probability Machine (aka “the toaster”) and you’ll also unlock special badges and flags to personalize the game as well. A nice job from another first-time developer, Weyrdworks.

lighteaters!_981228524_ipad_02LightEaters! is the debut iOS release from a unique new crowdsourced gaming development platform called BrightLocker. This web-based community “selects, funds, develops, and publishes video games ideas through the power of the crowd”. Their first title is a side-scrolling puzzle game where you are playing as a boy who has just moved to a spooky new home with his parents. Afraid of the monsters he knows are waiting for him in the dark, he still sleeps with a flashlight under his pillow. Each night with the assistance of his handy flashlight, he explores one of the game’s 35 levels filled with ladders, crates, elevators and platforms trying to find hidden toys, pets and of course the exit, before he chickens out. He needs to be careful when he comes across a Light Eater. They eat his flashlight’s power as well as his nerve, so he must quickly turn off his flashlight to hide (in the dark) from the Light Eaters until he can get away and it’s safe to turn the light back on. However, if he spends too much time in the dark, the boy will lose his nerve to go exploring and you’ll have to start the level over.

teeny-titans-teen-titans-go_1032743715_ipad_02.jpgCartoon Network and Grumpyface Studios (Attack the Light, Castle Doombad) have once again teamed up to bring us Teeny Titans, a great new 3-on-3 figure battling game set in the Teen Titans GO! universe. Centered around a humorous and somewhat satirical story where a new craze of collectible superhero and villain action figures has swept over Jump City. Caught up in the craze each of the Teen Titans now wants to collect all 70 of these battling figures and battle to become the Jump City Mega Teeny Champion. The battling mechanic is fairly simple, yet still strategic and satisfying as you build up combinations of three of your unlocked characters to take into battle against opponents you meet around town or in tournaments. This gains each figure XP and allows you to level up your existing figures and unlock new abilities. Money earned during battles can be used to purchase new figures. One really cool aspect of the game is the way it so perfectly recreates the real-life experience of sifting through the inventory of figures hanging on store shelves, trying to find that rare new figures to add to your collection. Rather cute, addictive and engaging, Teeny Titans will most definitely appeal to gamers (and collectors) of all ages whether or not you are a familiar with the Teen Titans GO animated series. For regular viewers of the series however, there is a ton of fan service, there is even a brand-new exclusive character voiced by George Takei. Another great surprise that came out of nowhere this past week, highly recommended!

twilight-struggle_942766453_ipad_02Finally, originally due to release to its Kickstarter backers way back in March 2015, the embattled Playdek has finally released their iOS adaptation of GMT’s award-winning two-player card-driven strategy game, Twilight Struggle. Set during the Cold War era, one player takes on the role of the United States and the other as the Soviet Union. Based on actual historical events, both sides are trying to “spread their dominance throughout the world via political influence and coup attempts”, however, if either side triggers nuclear war, it’s game over.” For just over 5 years, Twilight Struggle held the top position on BoardGameGeek until it was finally ousted at the start of this year. As for this app, it is 15 months late and this initial release is missing some of the promised features like promo cards and expansion as well as iPhone support and support for older (pre-retina) iPads as well as promised Android and Linux releases. The PC release which came out a month or so ago has been getting some really positive buzz, however some stability issues have already been reported for this iPad-only release. I myself was a backer of this project back in 2014, and at the time of this writing, I, like many other backers am still waiting for my promo code to get my copy of the game. If you were smart enough NOT to back the project and go through all of the heartache and delays, then you can now pick up the game for just $7.99 (compared to backers who paid $15 including the forthcoming digital promos and expansion, should they actually come to fruition).


UPDATE: About an hour after posting this, I finally received my copy of Twilight Struggle.

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