iPhone Game Friday: New Releases

Welcome back to Game Friday!

Grab your iPhones and get your thumbs ready for some exciting new titles including some brain teasing games, some puzzling block fun and a little spaceship combat.

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Word Shift

Word Shift

Word games aren’t exactly a rarity these days, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for innovation in the genre, as David Wicks demonstrates with Word Shift.

Rather than simply finding words and tracing them, Word Shift is a bit of a brain teaser in that you’re required to swap tiles in an effort to form words. It can be a bit tough to understand without playing, so imagine you have the letters OLFW; if you were to drag the letter W over to the left side, it would form the word WOLF in the game, with the rest of the tiles reflowing along the path your finger followed. This makes spotting potential words a tricky business, and is a great brain exercise.

Outside the main game mode, there’s a speed mode and a terrific local multiplayer mode where both players use the same device and compete for points. It’s a great games, designed simply and with attention to detail, and there are absolutely no in-app purchases or social bothers to get in the way of your play. Word Shift is unique, challenging and well worth the cost.

Price: $2.99
Developer: David Wicks
Download: App Store

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Blip Blup

Blip Blup

Blip Blup is the best puzzle game we’ve encountered in a long time. From the makers of the cute Whale Tail, Blip Blup is a grid-based game about spreading colour across the game board.

In each puzzle environment, your touch will unleash a pulse of colour that travels as far as it can. The goal is to cover the entire arena with colour in as few pulses as possible. This simple setup quickly escalates as new tile types are introduced that redirect colour, block it or even cause you to instantly lose. Ten level packs offer more than 140 puzzles, each of which has a familiar 3-star system to encourage you to be efficient with your pulses.

Game Center achievements and leaderboards combine with iCloud syncing to ensure that you’re always able to progress and compete, no matter what device you’re on. If you’re not convinced, there’s a free version available for you to try, but if you’re anything like me then this is one title you won’t be able to put down. Two thumbs way up!

Price: $1.99
Developer: ustwo
Download: App Store

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Chock A Block

Chock A Block

Chock A Block is a straightforward block puzzle game that combines basic match-3 gameplay with a bit of Tetris influence. To play, you’ll slide coloured blocks around the variously shaped arenas to try and pack together as many as you can of the same colour. Once you have a sufficiently large grouping of them, you can tap to collapse them into new blocks or clear them.

Diamond blocks that are left over once you’ve cleared everything else will net you a load of points. There are four game modes, the basic one offering you ten lives and taking one away each time you leave a block stranded at the end of a level; then there’s a time trial where speed is key; a zen mode offers endless, no-penalty gameplay; and of course, there’s a survival mode where you must keep clearing blocks as more and more fall in.

Technically, there’s also a Challenge mode where you can invite a friend to try and beat your high score on a level, but it requires an account with Claymore Games and isn’t particularly interesting as far as multiplayer interactions go. Luckily, in all other respects this is a fun and enjoyable gaming experience for fans of arcade puzzling.

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

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Pixoban

Pixoban

Pixoban is just what you’d expect from the name: a take on the classic crate-pushing Sokoban classic that’s wrapped in a new retro coating and set inside of an alien ship.

Pixo, the main character, is abducted by aliens, and his first instinct (for some reason) is to clean up their ship for them. They’re messy aliens, you see. Anyway, the setup is sufficient to launch you into the game’s 126 puzzles, which increase steadily in difficulty. Otherwise, the gameplay is virtually unchanged from the original, save for the presence of hats as rewards for progress.

At the moment, the controls are unstable and swipes will sometimes result in completely incorrect movement directions, which naturally makes for some moments of frustration. The developer, Mark Alexander, has been very quick with fixes and updates though, so you can expect that this inconsistency will be corrected swiftly — maybe even by the time you read this! If you can deal with the controls, then you’ll find Pixoban to be a terrific refresh of one of the industry’s most beloved mechanics.

Price: $0.99
Developer: Mark Alexander
Download: App Store

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Starship Battles

Starship Battles

Space seems to be a good place for huge battles, and if you’re a fan of such sci-fi aggression then you’ll love Starship Battles.

Starship Battles isn’t terribly deep, but it makes up for that with solid mechanics and stunning graphics. With one of five ships, you’ll be placed in space and asked to survive the onslaught of enemy vessels. While you have your hands full doing that, you must also remember to gather resources to fund your expanding fleet by swiping around the environment and tapping to collect. Your battles against enemy motherships require some strategy; shooting at them directly with a torpedo and your shields will drain a bit, leaving you more vulnerable to their swarming fighters. Avoid torpedo use and they’re harder to kill.

Ultimately, the strategy doesn’t run too deep and you’ll mostly be tapping like a madman to kill small ships, shmup-style, while figuring out how to obliterate their mothership and keep enough resources coming in to allow you to improve your technology for the next round. With just enough content to keep things engaging for short play sessions, Starship Battles is a lean and enjoyable diversion for sci-fi fans.

Price: $1.99
Developer: Empty Flask Games LLC
Download: App Store

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What Have You Been Playing?

Thanks for playing and don’t forget to wish your dads a happy Father’s Day this weekend!