Lat­est iOS games

An­drew Hay­ward looks at this month’s best new re­leases

iPad&iPhone user - - FEATURE -

With loads of new games flood­ing the App Store each week, it’s hard to keep track of fresh re­leases – and es­pe­cially tricky to try and find the good ones in the mix. Luck­ily, we’re here to help. This month we’ve a nice mix of head­line de­buts, in­clud­ing crafty card game Mir­a­cle Mer­chant, ar­cade-like ex­pe­ri­ences Pi­geon Wings and Data Wing, and other high-pro­file re­leases like Ti­tan­fall: As­sault and Dark­est Dun­geon.

1. Mir­a­cle Mer­chant Price: £1.99 from tinyurl.com/yc62stw2

TinyTouchTales has a knack for cre­at­ing in­no­va­tive and in­trigu­ing mo­bile card games, like Card Thief and Card Crawl, and the de­light­ful Mir­a­cle Mer­chant only con­tin­ues that theme. You’ll take the role of an al­chemist whose work is in high de­mand, and as cus­tomers ar­rive, you’ll have to work up spe­cial po­tions based on what they de­sire. But you’ll also have to work with what’s in front of you, which are in­gre­di­ent cards. Us­ing buy­ers’ pref­er­ences as a start­ing point, you’ll ar­range four cards from your decks to cre­ate the most pow­er­ful po­tion you can, and card se­lec­tion isn’t your only con­cern, so is po­si­tion­ing, as their align­ment to each other helps de­ter­mine the end re­sult. It’s a great game with a fan­tas­tic, hand­crafted ap­peal.

2. Pi­geon Wings Price: £1.99 from tinyurl.com/yb­daasrc

Pi­geon Wings has noth­ing to do with Tiny Wings, another bird-based iOS favourite, but it could like­wise turn into an on-the-go ob­ses­sion. In this de­light­ful lit­tle in­die game, the tit­u­lar Pi­geon flies not with his ac­tual wings, but with a speedy plane – be­cause he’s a spy sent to de­feat a ne­far­i­ous, ‘mys­te­ri­ous aero­nau­tics ti­tan’. Each quick level plays out like a race against the clock, and a bat­tle to sur­vive as you zip through tight cor­ri­dors to­wards the fin­ish line. It kind of feels like the great Chameleon Run in that re­spect, al­though Pi­geon Wings feels to­tally dis­tinc­tive. It also works per­fectly on iOS, as you hold one but­ton to go and then tilt up or down to steer, only oc­ca­sion­ally tap­ping another but­ton for boost or to shoot at a boss.

3. Data Wing Price: Free from tinyurl.com/y84xx3kc We’ve got one ‘Wing’ af­ter another, but Data Wing does its own thing on the App Store. It’s a very min­i­mal­look­ing rac­ing game, es­sen­tially, but not in the usual sense of ve­hi­cles and speed boosts and such. Here, you’ll con­trol a lit­tle dig­i­tal courier that must whip through a com­puter sys­tem at record speeds, and the how and why are both rather in­ter­est­ing.

First, the how: you’ll con­trol your lit­tle ar­row much like the ship in ar­cade clas­sic As­teroids, but you can ben­e­fit by rid­ing along walls to boost against their bar­ri­ers. That’s neat. And se­condly, you’re un­der the con­trol of an AI that talks to you (and un­der­mines you), and over time, a com­pelling story builds. Data Wing: it’s one of a kind and free, too.

4. Ti­tan­fall: As­sault Price: Free from tinyurl.com/ya7jt­ncb Ti­tan­fall’s fren­zied first-per­son shoot­ing ac­tion and trade­mark gi­ant mech suits are a lot of fun on PC and con­soles, but they prob­a­bly wouldn’t trans­late per­fectly to touch – so Ti­tan­fall: As­sault tries some­thing dif­fer­ent in­stead. It’s a card-based tac­ti­cal ac­tion game in which you’ll drag sol­diers and mechs onto the screen, all to try and cap­ture and de­fend crit­i­cal spots on the map.

That might seem like an odd form for a frantic ac­tion game, but it ac­tu­ally works rather well in kind of a Clash Royale sort of way. You’ll use your lim­ited re­sources to drop units into bat­tle and try to out­think and over­power your op­po­nent, and dom­i­nate the map. It puts this strong fran­chise to smart new use for mo­bile.

5. Dark­est Dun­geon: Tablet edi­tion Price: £4.99 from tinyurl.com/y7r­je93w Dark­est Dun­geon was one of last year’s most cel­e­brated Mac re­leases, and now it has made the move over to iPad (but not iPhone) in this much cheaper Tablet Edi­tion. Aside from the change in de­vice, the full ex­pe­ri­ence seems in­tact – and that’s a very good thing, since this dun­geon-crawler is one of the most com­pelling role-play­ers in re­cent mem­ory.

In ad­di­tion to bat­tling against var­i­ous war­riors and beasts, you’ll also fight off stress, as ail­ments like para­noia, fear, and more rear their head for your char­ac­ters. It’s a unique hook to what’s oth­er­wise a very chal­leng­ing, but seem­ingly re­ward­ing grind, com­plete with some re­ally sharp hand-drawn art­work and sharp nar­ra­tion along the way.

6. Bal­ance The Hat Price: Free from tinyurl.com/y9b22pge While those last cou­ple of games are pretty in­volved, there’s of­ten great fun in sim­plic­ity – es­pe­cially when it comes to iPhone games. Bal­ance the Hat def­i­nitely fits that bill, and it man­ages to sell its con­cept well with just the ti­tle: an item will fall on your head, and you’ll have to try and keep it up­right and bal­anced for as long as you can.

It might start with a hat, but be­fore long you’ve got a bounc­ing ball, a stack of blocks, or a gui­tar, and as the sec­onds tick up, drops of water and even small bombs fall down to try and dis­rupt your run. Bal­ance the Hat isn’t par­tic­u­larly deep or com­plex, but it’s plenty amus­ing, plus it’s to­tally free, al­though the pop-up ads are fairly fre­quent.

7. Swim Out Price: £2.99 from tinyurl.com/y8pg7Lgz Swim­ming pro­vides ex­cel­lent phys­i­cal ex­er­cise, and like­wise, Swim Out of­fers up a pretty com­pelling men­tal work­out as well. In essence, it’s a pretty re­laxed puz­zle-solv­ing game that drops you into the deep end as a swim­mer look­ing to com­plete some laps – only there are other swim­mers, kayak­ers, and can­non­ballplot­ting kids block­ing your pre­cious path.

Get­ting around them re­quires you to watch and over­come their move­ment pat­terns and try to out­smart the grid of ob­sta­cles, oc­ca­sion­ally us­ing some well-po­si­tioned beach balls to help clear the route a bit. Sur­pris­ingly, it comes off a lot like Lara Croft Go and Deus Ex Go, al­beit with a re­ally pleas­ant, easy­go­ing vibe.

8. Silly Walks Price: Free from tinyurl.com/yau324hd Walk­ing, an­thro­po­mor­phic food? Sold! Luck­ily, the game be­hind that won­der­fully goofy con­cept is ac­tu­ally pretty fun as well, as Silly Walks chal­lenges you to keep your stum­bling cheese­burger, ra­men bowl, or pizza slice pointed in the right di­rec­tion. And how that works feels pretty unique.

You’ll tap the screen to take a step with one foot, at which point the char­ac­ter slowly be­gins spin­ning in place. Once you’re aligned in the di­rec­tion of your choos­ing, tap again and the other foot lum­bers for­ward. This con­tin­ues on un­til you’ve reached the goal in each stage, across the kitchen, back­yard, and gym, or un­til you’ve ended up as a grim splat some­where along the way.

9. Bot­tom of the 9th Price: £4.99 from tinyurl.com/yaft7dzj You can find tra­di­tional base­ball sim­u­la­tion games on the App Store, but Bot­tom of the 9th is some­thing very dif­fer­ent: it’s an adap­ta­tion of a dice-based board game, now on your phone. In­deed, there’s a board game about base­ball, span­ning both hit­ting and pitch­ing alike, and now you can ex­pe­ri­ence the dig­i­tal re­cre­ation of that.

Seem kind of silly? Per­haps, but Bot­tom of the 9th was a pretty clever phys­i­cal board game take on the sport, and that holds true on your iPhone. You’ll guess pitch lo­ca­tions, roll the dice for swing out­comes and power, and use spe­cial abil­i­ties to juice your swings. It’s def­i­nitely unique, al­though the lack of iPad sup­port right now is rather odd.

10. Spin Ad­dict Price: Free from tinyurl.com/y9wsy9yv The best end­less run­ners cul­ti­vate a pow­er­ful ‘onemore-play’ style of ad­dic­tion, so hey, at least Spin Ad­dict is ap­pro­pri­ately named. This clever twist on the genre has you guide a small piece of metal (of all things) as it glows red hot, and tries to con­tinue spin­ning for as long as it can along a nar­row ledge with­out slow­ing down and cool­ing.

How do you stay hot? By spin­ning through lit­tle check­points that of­fer a speed boost, and at times, you’ll have to swipe to ro­tate the en­vi­ron­ment around you to bring those crit­i­cal spots into the path­way. It’s not quite as frantic or com­plex as the afore­men­tioned Chameleon Run, but it feels like a con­tem­po­rary: smart and unique within a crowded genre.

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