Lat­est iOS games

An­drew Hay­ward looks at this month’s best new re­leases

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

The App Store’s un­end­ing game bar­rage some­times seems like it’s sim­ply com­prised of stacks of clones and done-to-death ideas, but there’s al­ways fun, ec­cen­tric, and ex­cit­ing stuff in the mix. Just look at our picks for this month’s most en­tic­ing game de­buts. No two games are alike in this bunch, which in­cludes the hole-in-the-ground sim­u­la­tor Donut County, stealth ac­tion game Sneak Ops, ethe­real for­est puz­zler Ever­gar­den, and the bas­ket­ball-meets-Nerf-gun za­ni­ness of Shoot­ing Hoops.

1. Donut County Price: £4.99 from

You’ve prob­a­bly never played a game where you get to be a hole in the ground, but Donut County fi­nally de­liv­ers on that tan­ta­liz­ing pos­si­bil­ity. So, what ex­actly does a hole do? Well, things fall into it, and since you can ac­tu­ally con­trol the hole and shift it around the screen, you can make those things fall, such as crea­tures, cars, and other ev­ery­day objects. And the hole gets big­ger as more and more things drop in.

Donut County is off­beat, to the say least, but this won­der­fully weird game is a real de­light. While the core stuff-swal­low­ing me­chanic re­mains thank­fully sim­plis­tic, the lev­els add lit­tle puz­zle el­e­ments that help set them apart and the di­a­logue is hi­lar­i­ous.

2. Sneak Ops Price: Free from­wbtP

Con­sole and PC stealth-ac­tion games such as Metal Gear Solid and Splin­ter Cell are com­plex ex­pe­ri­ences that re­quire pre­cise, tac­ti­cal de­ci­sions. Af­ter all, the goal is to stay hid­den from en­e­mies. Sneak Ops takes its cues from those games, but dis­tills the me­chan­ics down to their purest essence. Here, you’ll still evade pa­trolling guards, se­cu­rity cam­eras, and other haz­ards, but ev­ery­thing is done with a simple tap: you’ll tap to move, tap to hide your lit­tle hero be­hind an ob­sta­cle, and tap to punch and briefly knock out an en­emy. Bet­ter yet, Sneak Ops has a new level each and ev­ery day, pro­vid­ing a smart, stream­lined stealth chal­lenge on the reg­u­lar.

3. Pocket City Price: £4.99 from­jiR5

If you want to play the clas­sic SimCity on iOS, you’re stuck with SimCity BuildIt, the com­pany’s free-to-play ren­di­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, the freemium ap­proach turns the game into a se­ries of nag­ging an­noy­ances rather than an en­gross­ing ur­ban sim­u­la­tion. Luck­ily, in­die game Pocket City is here to fill the void and pick up EA’s slack. First and fore­most, it’s a fully pre­mium game with zero in-app pur­chases. And thank­fully, it’s also wellde­signed for touch de­vices, let­ting you drag your fin­ger to re­zone ar­eas, tap to drop in build­ings, parks, and util­i­ties, and get all of the nitty-gritty in­for­ma­tion you need with­out an over­whelm­ing in­ter­face. It’s ex­actly how this kind of game should play on iPhone and iPad.

4. Ever­gar­den Price: £4.99 from

Ever­gar­den is, as the ti­tle sug­gests, a game about plants, although it’s not like Stardew Val­ley or even Farm­ing Sim­u­la­tor. In­stead, it’s a re­laxed match-three puz­zler about bring­ing a for­est back to life. You’ll do so by com­bin­ing like-sized plants on the grid, while also split­ting off seeds to cre­ate new plants and con­tinue the cy­cle. It’s a lit­tle bit like Threes in puz­zle de­sign with a hint of Flower in the premise, but Ever­gar­den ul­ti­mately man­ages to feel like its own ex­pe­ri­ence. Your fox friend Fin serves up pat­terns for you to match in each level, and grad­u­ally, a nar­ra­tive be­gins to un­ravel.

5. Shoot­ing Hoops Price: Free from

What do you get when you pair a bas­ket­ball with a Nerf gun? You get Shoot­ing Hoops, although that’s not a premise that had pre­vi­ously crossed our minds. It might be the ul­ti­mate ex­am­ple of a pun-based game con­cept, as you attempt to launch the ball into the net via the propul­sive boost from fir­ing the at­tached dart gun.

Like the great Bouncy Hoops, it’s an end­less shoot­ing game that stays chal­leng­ing and en­ter­tain­ing by mov­ing the hoop with each sunk shot, plus it has a dash of Run Gun Sports-es­que, physics-driven wack­i­ness in the mix. At the very least, it’s good for a laugh, although ex­tended play un­locks new, game­play-shift­ing balls to shake things up.

6. Leg­end of Sol­gard Price: Free from

Many know King as the maker of seem­ingly dozens of Saga games, from Candy Crush to Farm He­roes and Bub­ble Witch, each one de­riv­a­tive and frus­trat­ing in its freemium na­ture. But Leg­end of Sol­gard is some­thing dif­fer­ent from the mo­bile gi­ant. It’s an­other free-to-play puz­zler, but it’s one wrapped up in fan­tasy role-play­ing el­e­ments. Here, you’ll con­trol Norse hero­ine Em­bla as she tries to stop the end of the world, which you’ll do by sum­mon­ing mon­sters to de­stroy foes and bat­tle back the frigid, en­croach­ing Rag­narok. It’s still a matchthree game at heart, as you’ll link to­gether like-coloured beasts to send them for­ward to at­tack, but there’s a rich­ness and depth here that’s un­com­mon for King.

7. Rome: To­tal War Price: £9.99 from

Af­ter first hit­ting the iPad a cou­ple years back, Cre­ative As­sem­bly’s real-time strat­egy com­puter clas­sic Rome: To­tal War just ex­panded out to iPhone as well. The 2004 orig­i­nal is a land­mark game, blend­ing his­tor­i­cal sce­nar­ios with real-time bat­tles within a turn-based cam­paign struc­ture, and the same kind of large-scale skir­mishes re­main in­tact on iPhone.

The in­ter­face has been re­built for the smaller screen, although nav­i­gat­ing the dense menus and find­ing your way around is still a bit awk­ward. Even so, it’s an im­pres­sive feat to see this large and en­gross­ing of a game land on a de­vice that can fit inside your pocket, and strat­egy nuts will cer­tainly ap­pre­ci­ate this port.

8. Hun­gry Dragon Price: Free from

Ubisoft’s Hun­gry Dragon isn’t too high-con­cept: it’s truly a game about a starv­ing, fly­ing, winged beast who needs to fill its tummy. And that’s your task here, as you soar in all direc­tions around the side-scrolling en­vi­ron­ment and scarf down any birds, sheep, peo­ple, gi­ant spi­ders, and odd mon­sters you find along the way.

Be­yond the ini­tial amuse­ment of swal­low­ing flee­ing beasts (and the oc­ca­sional sur­pris­ing splash of gore), the quests and pro­gres­sion sys­tem keep Hun­gry Dragon en­ter­tain­ing. With the prospect of much larger crea­tures to com­mand, you’ll want to keep eat­ing un­til you’ve un­locked the next dragon. And thus the chomp­ing cy­cle be­gins anew.

9. Bar­bear­ian Price: £8.99 from

What do you do when you, a bear war­rior, are pulled into a mys­te­ri­ous land full of skele­tal war­riors and other de­vi­ous foes? You fight, of course. That premise is about as straight­for­ward as the com­bat in Bar­bear­ian, which finds you mash­ing vir­tual but­tons as you clear ar­eas of large groups of eas­ily-smashed en­e­mies.

Bar­bear­ian’s lav­ish, hand-drawn graph­ics are a treat, as are the propul­sive mu­sic and sat­is­fy­ing chaos of the hack-and-slash ac­tion. That said, Bar­bear­ian – also just re­leased on PC – does seem bet­ter suited to larger screens, as the iso­met­ric over­head view makes things look rather tiny on an iPhone screen. Play it on iPad if you can; but even so, this is a fun, pre­mium brawler with a lot of char­ac­ter and charm.

10. Star Trek: Trex­els II Price: Free from

The orig­i­nal Star Trek: Trex­els was praised for its fan ser­vice but de­rided for its rep­e­ti­tion and free-to-play ob­nox­ious­ness. Hope­fully, Trex­els II finds a bet­ter bal­ance be­tween those op­pos­ing re­ac­tions. As be­fore, it’s a space­ship man­age­ment game that finds you build­ing out var­i­ous rooms in your ves­sel, over­see­ing re­sources, and bat­tling oth­ers in turn-based skir­mishes. Trex­els II shifts the era to that of TheNext

Gen­er­a­tion, and fea­tures lit­tle pixel ren­di­tions of all the key char­ac­ters from that se­ries, as well as those from other StarTrek shows and movies. You can in­ter­act with them on the ship, as well as ex­plore dis­tant plan­ets while bat­tling en­e­mies and har­vest­ing re­sources.

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