Quick, the apes are back!
But there’s more to this roundup than Temple Run’s sequel; you’ll play as a pixel blob, a tin man and more with this week’s finest App Store game releases. Let’s play.
After a brief detour publishing Burrito Bison, Ravenous Games has returned to making slick original 8-bit retro titles. This time, they’ve departed from the League of Evil franchise and branched out into new, infectious territory: Infestor!
It may as well be said that Infestor is by far their best work. League of Evil provided secure and polished platforming, but Infestor is more ambitious: it adds a genius new mechanic that makes the experience feel brand new. Instead of just jumping to reach the end of each level, you’ll need to “infest” wandering humans — Kirby style — to gain their abilities and make use of them to progress. The humans have unique skills and the combination encourages for some truly clever solutions to the levels.
Without a doubt, this is the Ravenous Games title to own if you’re new to their work. It offers the best of their design, mechanical and creative skills wrapped into a terrific package with all the iCloud saving, Game Center achievement goodies you could possible want. A dollar very well spent.
Let’s take a moment to admire how flawlessly Imangi has handled this sequel. Despite their overwhelming success, they not only avoided succumbing to the temptation of growing into an ad-spewing monstrosity company (still just a handful of people!) but they also managed to develop and release a strong sequel without undue fuss: no months of advertising here, just a heads-up a few days before release.
Logistics aside, it almost goes without saying that it’s a great game. The core formula remains the same — as it should — but fresh nuances like ziplnes, mine carts and an aerial environment add some depth to the experience and ensure that your desperate escape never feels boring or repetitive. Besides that, there’s more of everything: achievements, power-ups, hazards … it’s a carefully considered sequel that doesn’t try to be too many things.
After turning the genre into a phenomenon, Imangi comfortably re-establishes itself as the ruling example of a runner done right. Temple Run 2 is a magnificent achievement for fans of casual gaming, and you owe it to yourself to include it in your collection.
Also in the category of all-star pixel game developers, OrangePixel is well known for Meganoid and Stardash. New in their lineup of titles is Gunslugs: a side-scrolling arcade brawler that combines the best of dynamic level generation and frantic action.
Make no mistake: this is a truly crazy game. The action is fast-paced and wild, the procedurally generated levels are engaging and unforgiving, and the variety of actions you can perform make for an ever-changing gameplay experience. Whether you’re shooting a variety of weapons on the ground or piloting a vehicle, your war against the Black Duck Army (yes, really) will be intense.
The best part of the game is easily the wealth of easter eggs hidden within. Secret levels and fun details make it rewarding to spend time with and explore Gunslugs, even though you’ll be hard pressed to pay attention to details when you’re blasting for your life!
Tin Man Can is a game about a hovering robot called Tic who’s been pulled into another dimension by a wormhole. A runner at heart, Tin Man Can borrows some ideas from Tiny Wings and delivers a beautiful game.
The challenge lies in collecting enough fuel cells and “hovatrons” to keep yourself moving. You can spend hovatrons on cosmetic upgrades and even some cheats, but the stand-out feature is the ability to race against friends in real-time online multiplayer. The one-tap controls help keep things accessible, and while there are a number of power-up items, it would be nice to see more added in updates — especially more that drastically alter gameplay.
There are 60 levels spread across four different worlds, and it’s worth paying attention to the art direction because it’s superbly realized. All in all, Tin Man Can is an adept spin on the genre that offers plenty of robotic bang for your buck.
Last up today is a fascinating hybrid title called Rocket Island. This can best be described as a cross between a match-three game and an RTS, with more emphasis on the Bejeweled-style gameplay. But with a twist.
The twist is that the game takes place on two panels. On the left, you’re tasked with developing hexagonal tiles from basic dirt all the way up to rockets that can transport citizens to safety. The tiles evolve to their next stage when swiped together in groups of three or more, with longer combos earning you more points. Meanwhile, the right panel shows you how your moon colony is progressing.
Right now, the game lacks some dimension, but it’s a more ambitious concept than usual and we like to highlight devs that take chances with their games. Hopefully, updates will bring more depth to the gameplay and some more incentives to prolong replay value.
What Have You Been Playing?
We also saw a new title from Square Enix last week — their first made-for-iOS Final Fantasy. It may be a big name, but there’s almost nothing positive to say about it, so it’s not included in the roundup. Fans of the series may wish to chance it, but if you like genuine gameplay with your games then I can’t recommend it.
See you next week!