iPhone Game Friday: New Releases

Every so often, a week comes along where so many amazing games are released that it takes me almost as long to narrow down my choices as it does to evaluate them all. This was one of those weeks.

After the jump, you’ll encounter strategy, music, arcade addiction, monsters and the end of the world. Probably worth a click then, right?

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Rymdkapsel

rymdkapsel

Out of left field, a fantastic new strategic simulation emerges with a name far more complicated than its gameplay and a complexity far more sophisticated than its art style. Meet Rymdkapsel.

Pegged as a “meditative strategy” game, Rymdkapsel is a game about managing a space station in hostile alien territory. The focus is less on micromanaging units and more on savvy development of a strong base, with a tactically sound layout and expansion potential. In fact, it even looks a bit like an isometric Tetris with little “people” living on the resulting structure.

Gameplay is simple but rewarding, sessions can be satisfyingly long, and the minimalistic presentation keeps the whole experience from seeming unnecessary cluttered or flashy. This is a perfect example of restraint and polish succeeding over fluff. While it undoubtedly plays better on the larger screen of an iPad, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to restrain yourself from playing this game everywhere you go once you try it.

Price: $3.99
Developer: webbfarbror AB
Download: App Store

RymdkapselScreenies

Dropchord

Dropchord

Interestingly enough, my first experience of Double Fine Productions’ new music game, Dropchord, was via the Leap Motion controller. It’s a fantastic game, and I was thrilled to discover that they’ve made sure to bring it to the App Store and other platforms.

Using two fingers, you control a beam that floats within a circle, with each finger controlling one of the intersection points with the circle’s edge. The goal is to sweep this beam around the environment to collect shiny blobs, while simultaneously avoiding “scratches.” These little red obstacles will reset your bonus counter, which you’ll want to keep filled as often as possible to engage in a frenzied round where you can rack up huge point scores.

With some all-start musical contributions and a wicked Tron-style visual presentation, Dropchord is a trippy and immersive title that features both a level-based and endless play style to satisfy whatever kind of system you prefer. More arcade-y than what we’re used to seeing from Double Fine, Dropchord is nevertheless a thoroughly admirable game that’s a must-play for fans of music and games that aren’t just re-skinned copies of familiar mechanics. Play it with headphones!

Price: $2.99
Developer: Double Fine Productions, Inc.
Download: App Store

DropchordScreenies

Pivvot

Pivvot

Whitaker Trebella is one cool dude. Not only is he a talented composer for games, but he’s also been very successful at developing them himself, garnering much praise and critical acclaim for his debut title, Polymer. Back again with another original wonder, Trebella introduces us to Pivvot.

A game of “strategic avoidance,” Pivvot challenges you to keep up as your finger struggles to keep the glowing orb from smashing into obstacles. The orb is attached to a circle that zips along the procedurally generated paths, and the obstacles range in size and threat to keep you on your toes. Whether you’re playing the “journey” mode or the “endless” mode (and their expert variations), you’ll find yourself sorely tested.

Pivvot is universal, syncs your progress between devices, and is fully integrated with Game Center and Facebook for leaderboards. Much appreciated is the utter lack of In-App Purchases of any kind, and there’s also a very neat feature that allows you to share replays of your best efforts via social networks or email. Pivvot is without a doubt a worthy follow-up to Polymer, with different goals and an entirely fresh gameplay experience that offers the perfect blend of challenge and accessibility for mobile gaming. Unmissable.

Price: $2.99
Developer: Whitaker Trebella
Download: App Store

PivvotScreenies

The Drowning

The Drowning

There’s nothing new about FPS games appearing on the App Store, but The Drowning sets itself apart by challenging the familiar control schemes that seem shoe-horned in, and offering something that, while unfamiliar, is much better designed for touch interaction.

The story’s flimsy construction is of little concern as you’re playing, because The Drowning does an excellent job of engaging you in the mechanics of its gameplay. Extensive weapon upgrades and an interesting world make the journey from boss to boss an interesting one. Unfortunate IAP is to be expected with the “free” entry, but patient players will be able to make their way through without resorting to any purchased content.

Unity’s powerful engine shows off its capabilities here, providing wonderful graphical fidelity and impressive smoothness, especially on an iPhone 4S or above. It isn’t deep, and it isn’t perfect, but The Drowning pushes the envelope for iOS FPS games, and offers the best control scheme for the experience that we’ve ever seen.

Price: Free
Developer: Mobage, Inc.
Download: App Store

DrowningScreenies

Knightmare Tower

Knightmare Tower

It seems like Juicy Beast is making a habit of re-building classic Flash titles for iOS, as it did for Burrito Bison. This time, it’s Knightmare Tower that they’ve resurrected, and the game is as ridiculous and thrilling as you remember.

In Knightmare Tower, you’ll find the world’s most amusing combination of Doodle Jump mechanics, rockets, monsters and statistically unlikely numbers of daughters to save. As you shoot upwards through the tower, avoiding lava (naturally), you’ll be bashing in the faces of various monsters and struggling to complete the 70 quests.

Uncomplicated and monstrously addictive, Knightmare Tower is just what the doctor ordered to cure those boring subway rides.

Price: $2.99
Developer: Juicy Beast Studio
Download: App Store

KnightmareTowerScreenies

What Have You Been Playing?

There are many hours of excellent gaming fun to be had in that list, so I hope you enjoy yourselves and I’ll see you back here next week with a fresh collection of the App Store’s finest!