iPhone Game Friday: New Releases

April wanted to go out in style, leaving us with many gaming gifts before passing the torch to the lovely month of May. Now here we are, ready to check out what the new month has in store for us.

This week we look at a profusion of excellent sequels involving everything from robot unicorns to random heroes to everyone’s favourite drawing game. Hop in and load up your iPhone for the weekend!

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Random Heroes 2

When I reviewed the first Random Heroes, I found it to be a great diversion for Ravenous Games — something that was similar in gameplay to their League of Evil series, but more focused on mayhem than clever platforming.

Now that the sequel has arrived, I find myself thinking that it’ll be hard to go back to the original now that Random Heroes 2 has shown me how amazing this formula can get. On the surface, not too much has changed — you’re still playing as a hero (one of 18 unique characters this time around), and you’re still doing a lot of gear collecting and shooting (22 weapons) but the wealth of excellently designed levels, hidden areas, collectible items and upgrades makes the entire experience feel more complete.

You’ll also benefit from the full array of Game Center features including achievements, and needless to say, iCloud saving lets you pick up where you left off from your iPad if you like. Random Heroes is a fine example of a studio celebrating what it does best, and fans of retro shooters can rest assured that this irresistible hit was worth waiting for.

Price: $0.99
Developer: Ravenous Games
Download: App Store

Robot Unicorn Attack 2

Leave it to [adult swim] to provide your daily dose of zaniness. Robot Unicorn Attack 2 is the mighty sequel to the game that was every bit as incredible as its title led you to believe. So what’s changed? Well, a whole lot as it turns out.

Imagine everything that was awesome about the first game, but add customizable unicorns, dynamic levels, daily goals and prizes, and the ability to fly. Doesn’t really get much better than that. Yes, “customizable unicorns” means exactly what you think — get a new mane, switch in a new pair of wings, and pick a more fabulous trail to leave behind as you prance through the game’s 2 environments at war.

There are giants, frost owls and space whales. There are achievements and leaderboards. There is joy and colour and excellent music. There is no excuse not to try this game.

Price: Free
Developer: [adult swim]
Download: App Store

Draw Something 2

So, the big comeback. Zynga is one of the most actively maligned iOS developers ever, largely because they wrote the book on how to provide terrible IAP experiences (then they probably charged per page, but I digress … ) A lot was riding on their ability to leverage the massive Draw Something brand to turn things around, and I’m relieved to report that they’ve made a lot of progress.

In fact, Draw Something 2 makes a good impression. I took a look at the “Premium” version, which still includes IAP but eliminates the advertising between turns and grants you a free pen and some star & coin bonuses for your $3. Underneath the money grabbing lies a fantastic social game; Draw Something 2 now features feeds of your drawings that can be shared and followed, there are thousands of new words, new game modes including daily challenges, more tools to draw with, more colours and even a “Free Draw” mode where you can experiment and doodle.

For the less social among you, Zynga has even provided a way to turn off the new social features and keep the fun between you and your approved contacts. Needless to say, it’s still a Zynga game so you can look forward to plenty of IAP incentives, but if you’ve gotten used to overlooking those then you’ll find Draw Something 2 to be a legitimately great sequel that offers huge improvements to the familiar and addictive gameplay that made the original such a hit.

Price: $2.99
Developer: Zynga Inc.
Download: App Store

The Nightjar

Recently, the folks behind the chilling and unique audio-only game, Papa Sangre, have developed their award-winning engine into one that can be implemented in other games. It should come as no surprise then to see them use that engine to utterly revamp another of their tales: The Nightjar.

A sci-fi adventure, The Nightjar is the story of a dying spacecraft being pulled slowly into a black hole. There are only 30 lifeforms left on the ship, and only one of them is human — you. Having the all-star voice acting of Benedict Cumberbatch narrating your adventure certainly adds to its appeal, but what really makes this game unique is how incredibly vibrant its world is. That Somethin’ Else has managed to achieve this without using visuals of any kind is nothing short of remarkable, and it serves as a perfect demonstration of how crucial good audio is to a game.

Though The Nightjar is not a very long title, the length works in its favour; preventing the atypical gameplay style from overstaying its welcome with gamers. If you have a good pair of headphones, a quiet room, and a 4th-gen-or-higher device then this game may well be one of the most memorable things you experience on your iPhone. Don’t miss it.

Price: $4.99
Developer: Somethin’ Else
Download: App Store

DinoCap 3 Survivors

Sometimes I feel like dinosaurs don’t get enough attention in games. In an App Store saturated by zombie shooting, I’m happy to offer you a look at a different target with DinoCap 3 Survivors, the latest installment in the series from Triniti Interactive, famous for the Call of Mini series.

DinoCap 3 is a game about shooting dinosaurs. Seven different kinds of beasties will attack you throughout the game’s modes, and you’ll have more than twenty weapons available to dispatch them with as you progress. These can be augmented using 26 different passive skills that imbue your character with various upgrades and abilities to help you survive.

There are boss battles, moments of panic, and a truly magnificent art direction on display here, which leaves only the controls as a potential downside since you can only shoot right where you’re facing, leading to some unnecessary tangles. With some tweaking, DinoCap 3 Survivors could easily become your new addiction though, especially if you like your games lean and mean.

Price: $0.99
Developer: Triniti Interactive Limited
Download: App Store

What Have You Been Playing?

Thanks for playing, everyone. See you next week!