iPhone Game Friday: New Releases

On this day in 1908, Mother’s Day as we know it was first celebrated in the United States. This weekend, if you’re treating mom to some gifts, don’t forget about the gift of gaming.

Today’s batch of freshly-picked App Store goodies includes a long-awaited space sim, a zombie game with a twist and some fascinating papery fun. Come see!

Zoombies: Animales de la Muerte!

Despite the surge of zombie games recently, it’s obvious that there is still gold to be found in this mine, as High Voltage is eager to demonstrate with their quirky and violent new title, Zoombies: Animales de la Muerte!

As you may have guessed from the title, the interesting twist here is that the zombies are animals, not people. You play as a pair of school kids on the world’s worst field trip, and it’s up to you to stop the zombie animals from escaping the zoo and wreaking havoc on the world. This is a task that requires weaponry, and you’ll have a healthy arsenal of interesting killing tools at your disposal to keep the beasts at bay. Gameplay is somewhat like a combination of Plants vs. Zombies and the boomerang controls on any Nintendo DS version of the Zelda series.

The game presents extra depth in the form of power-ups, traps, upgrades and “missions” of sorts within each level that can net you extra coins to spend. The level of presentation polish is as high as you’d expect from the makers of Le Vamp, and the charm is just as prevalent. Unfortunately, they’ve opted to include IAP, though they are thankfully not too obtrusive. All in all, Zoombies makes for a tremendously entertaining spin on the zombie story, and one that is ideal for quick gaming on the go.

Price: $2.99
Developer: High Voltage Software
Download: App Store

Star Command

Among the first successful KickStarter games, and one of the most ambitious debut titles in recent memory, Warballoon Games’ Star Command has exploded onto the App Store in a shower of gorgeous pixels and witty nods to the sci-fi greats.

A sense of humour is deeply rooted in this game’s core, informing everything from the story and text options to the stunning animations — many of which are supremely impressive in their level of detail and smoothness, especially considering we’re talking about pixel graphics. Throughout the game, you will find yourself desperately fighting to survive — it has been called a starship disaster simulator, and that’s a good way to look at it. Difficulty ramps up quickly, challenges are thrust upon you X-COM style, and the old-school attitude of the gameplay is a far cry from the hand holding present in most modern games.

While it may not be for the faint of heart, Star Command offers a wonderful universe to explore, populated by interesting aliens and many laughs. If you can imagine a streamlined Kairosoft title with excellent combat and the best art and music you’ve ever encountered, then you’ll be well on your way to imagining what Star Command is like. Oh, and did I mention there are no IAP at all? This is $3 very well spent.

Price: $2.99
Developer: Warballoon Games
Download: App Store

Paper Titans

Ages ago, I reviewed a game called Kumo Lumo that was ahead of its time on almost all fronts: it offered some of the most stylish graphics the App Store had ever seen and combined them with innovative gameplay. Now, its creators have come back with a brand new game that channels a Media Molecule vibe.

Paper Titans is the result of their hard work, and the wait was worth it. I cannot overstate how incredibly polished and immediately endearing this game is. The puzzle gameplay is a blend of creation and exploration, as each level requires that you make use of several assembled paper weirdos to find three stars and collect the ending card.

The tap & drag controls are simple and effective, and while the levels are never challenging or particularly fascinating, the art direction and charm kept my interest and encouraged me to keep exploring. Paper Titans is respectfully free from IAP and while its focus may be more on the presentation than the content, the end result is still a worthy diversion from your day.

Price: $2.99
Developer: Blitz Game Studios
Download: App Store

Ninja Striker!

Ninja fans rejoice — Rogue Ninja has just released a follow-up to their first title (called … Rogue Ninja), and this time it’s an action platformer called Ninja Striker! Ninja ninja ninja.

Fact: this game is way more fun than you might think just by looking at the screenshots. They fail to convey how lively everything is, and how satisfying it is to bash and slash enemies until they burst into a score. You can also string together several attacks to earn combo scores, and the game provides enough variety in both enemy and level design to keep you amused for brief sessions.

To be clear, this is no sprawling epic. Ninja Striker is unashamedly a basic game with a basic purpose: ninja fun. That being said, it is wildly entertaining and offers perfectly sized doses of fun for short moments of boredom. Besides, who doesn’t love ninjas?

Price: Free
Developer: Rogue Ninja
Download: App Store


Sorcery is a fascinating and unique RPG based from Steve Jackson, whose work you know from his partnership with Peter Molyneux — they were the fine minds behind Lionhead Studios years ago. In a departure from anything resembling a typical iOS game, Sorcery plays as a sort of interactive storybook, utilizing the unique ‘inklewriter’ engine.

The gameplay is a series of choices, expertly presented and artfully designed to craft a story that reacts and responds to your input in meaningful ways. It sounds like nothing but a glorified romp through a complex dialogue tree, but the reality is more interesting, peppered with quests and combat and other surprises that keep this from being just a static reading experience.

This area, The Shamutanti Hills, represents the first of four zones to be covered in this episodic adventure. Your saves from this section will of course carry forth into the following instalments, and while the episodes aren’t exactly cheap by App Store standards, the lack of an IAP assures us that the developers are confident in the value of their product. And it’s easy to see why.

Price: $4.99
Developer: inkle
Download: App Store

What Have You Been Playing?

Enjoy the weekend and come back next week for our next collection of mobile gaming stars!