iPhone Game Friday: New Releases

Big day in gaming today as we kick off the next generation of consoles, but the industry has become much bigger than that now.

Whether you’re not interested in the big gaming machines, or you’re just after something fun to do while you’re waiting in line for a pre-order, we have some sweet iOS games for you…

Star Wars: Tiny Death Star

Star Wars: Tiny Death Star

Talk about an all-star collaboration…NimbleBit, makers of the famous Tiny Tower, have partnered with LucasArts and Disney Interactive to bring us a Star Wars themed spin-off that packs a serious punch.

In a nutshell, Tiny Death Star is what you’d expect: Tiny Tower but instead of building a civilian skyscraper, you’re constructing science fiction’s most iconic space station. The core gameplay remains very much unchanged, but NimbleBit has made some excellent additions that make good use of the franchise license. From cameos to “underground” levels for military rooms, to spies that need to be captured, Tiny Death Star takes what made Tiny Tower great and builds intelligently from there.

It’s for the best that they didn’t go too wild, as this formula is very successful. Tiny Death Star is best compared to Angry Birds Space, where the foundations are the same but there are clever extensions that make good use of the new environment. On the flip side, the IAP situation is not great here—you’ll find yourself pushed to buy “Bux” way more than is comfortable. That’s freemium for you though. Still, a very enjoyable spin-off of one of the most addictive games on the App Store. May the Force be with you.

Price: Free
Developer: NimbleBit & LucasArts/Disney Interactive
Download: App Store

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Rayman Fiesta Run

Rayman Fiesta Run

If you’re like me, you’ve been a fan of Ubisoft’s Rayman franchise from its early days. The mobile outings thus far have been fairly conservative when compared to the “main” games in the series, but Jungle Run was nevertheless an amazingly vibrant runner. You wouldn’t think it was possible, but Ubisoft have truly outdone themselves with Fiesta Run: it’s simply the most visually stunning game in recent memory.

Sure, Infinity Blade has more console-quality stuff going on, but it feels nowhere near as alive and effervescent as Fiesta Run’s 75+ levels. It’s difficult to express how much of an improvement Fiesta Run’s design is. The levels are outstanding in every respect, the graphics engine is new, the animations are stunning, and—most importantly for a runner—the controls are the most responsive you’ll find anywhere.

Fiesta Run leans more heavily toward platforming than its predecessor, but it’s still a fast-paced game. The hops between “layers” of the level make for a fun perspective shift, and there are a handful of boss fights to break up the action. Fiesta Run is not without flaws: I could do without those ads, for example, and the IAP feels unnecessary—but overall it’s a magnificent addition to the series.

Price: $2.99
Developer: Ubisoft
Download: App Store

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Pathogen

Pathogen

Pathogen is a fascinating node-based strategy game that feels very much like a board game that’s been digitized.

Gameplay involves a territory grab via the placement of nodes (called cells in the game), but there are three different levels of cell strength and you can only take over enemy territory with superior cells. There’s also a recharging element to the more powerful cells, so you must plan your moves carefully to avoid missing out on crucial manoeuvres. The underlying systems are all based on a cross between Othello and principles of disease replication.

Chain reactions will make you smile, and the game’s 80s retro presentation keeps the focus on the gameplay. Best of all, there’s both a difficult single-player and a very well executed multiplayer arena where you can challenge friends or strangers. A map editor is the cherry on top, and considering the fact that there are no IAP or ads, Pathogen manages to be both brilliant and respectful. A rare treat.

Price: $2.99
Developer: Birnam Wood Games
Download: App Store

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LEGO The Lord of the Rings

LEGO The Lord of the Rings

Sometimes when you’re making mobile games, you try to keep things compact so that people can download your title easily. Other times, you throw optimization concerns to the wind and port a franchise game across pretty much as is. Like LEGO The Lord of the Rings.

Previously available on every console under the sun, the latest LEGO game to hit the App Store makes a welcome transition to iOS. I make fun of its size because it remains a monstrous 3GB download (unless you transfer it via iTunes), but once you do get it onto your phone it’s the same charming, hilarious, and accessible approach to franchise games that LEGO has become famous for.

The game itself is vast for a mobile title, featuring more than 90 playable characters, a great story arc, a good collection of weapons and magical items, and all the wonderful details that made it the best LEGO game to date. This remains true on the go, so whether you’re a fan of LEGO, Lord of the Rings, or both, I wouldn’t miss this.

Price: $4.99
Developer: TT Games
Download: App Store

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Naught 2

Naught 2

Last up today is a gravity-based platforming sequel with the familiar black & white aesthetic that Limbo introduced us to. Naught was a good game, but Naught 2 is a great one.

Naught has grown admirably, with new physics, new skills like jumping and diving, and polished controls that feel more in tune with you than they used to, regardless of whether you’re using the accelerometer controls or the on-screen ones. The use of gravity is wonderful here, and the level designs are more involved and creative than in the first Naught, though at the expense of being more difficult. Personally, I find that to be an improvement but if you were finding yourself getting frustrated with Naught, then Naught 2 will challenge you further.

Naught 2 currently includes the first “chapter”, with a free update promised that will expand content beyond the 30 levels you’ll be able to play through now. The feeling of navigating the levels is joyous, even in the midst of the creepy atmosphere and more well defined story. An all around excellent sequel.

Price: $1.99
Developer: Blue Shadow Games S.L.
Download: App Store

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What Have You Been Playing?

Have fun this weekend! See you all next Friday.


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