iPhone Game Friday: New Releases

Happy September, friends! Luckily, we’ve seen a great influx of new titles to help assuage the pain of returning to school, so come on in and pick out some games to keep you occupied in the downtime between classes …

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This week is a big one for self-directed sandbox gaming. Making its way to the App Store at long last, the critically acclaimed Terraria debuts outside of Steam, bringing its fantastic Minecraft-style gameplay to our favourite smartphones.

Making use of the same collecting and crafting systems that made Minecraft such a hit, Terraria offers a wide world with a lot more combat and adversaries, including 5 dangerous bosses hidden throughout the dozen or so different environments. Each of the worlds is packed full of things to do, and the open world encourages exploration.

Terraria is without a doubt one of the most gripping titles for fans of sandbox gaming, and one that’s not damaged by the transition to a touch interface. It remains a personal favourite for killing some time during the day. Highly recommended and free of any IAP!

Price: $4.99
Developer: 505 Games
Download: App Store


Junk Jack X

Junk Jack X

Another all-star sandbox game, this time one that’s native to iOS. The original Junk Jack was a surprisingly complete take on the Minecraft experience, and Junk Jack X is a deep new sequel that brings a plethora of polish to an already impressive title.

For starters, a new multiplayer mode joins creative mode and a new collection of planets to offer brand new ways to experience the game. There are a gigantic number of items available to wear, craft and use in Junk Jack X, and more than 1500 collectible treasures to be found as you explore. The game features a very useful guide that will introduce you to the many systems, which is good because otherwise you might miss things like the excellent farming mechanic.

Taking everything that was great about the original Junk Jack and turning the dial up to 11, Junk Jack X is a stunning sequel that was well worth waiting for.

Price: $4.99
Developer: Pixbits SRL
Download: App Store


Link the Slug

Link the Slug

A science experiment gone wrong leads to the overwhelming invasion of cute slug creatures you’ll be dealing with in Link the Slug. A BulkyPix game through and through, Link the Slug oozes craftsmanship on all levels, and provides a spectacular casual gaming experience.

The puzzle-based gameplay is nothing innovative: it’s based on a match-two system where tapping like-coloured slug pairs will zap them into oblivion. Each stage requires that you destroy every last slug, and the difficulty emerges once obstacles and multiple possible paths confuse the solution. It never gets too hard though, making it a great introductory puzzle game for kids or casual gamers.

Ultimately, Link the Slug is a perfectly competent and enjoyable puzzle title, but it fails to muster the same creative energy as The Sandbox — my personal favourite BulkyPix game — did.

Price: $0.99
Developer: BulkyPix
Download: App Store


Dark Nebula HD Episode Two

Dark Nebula HD – Episode Two

Dark Nebula is actually an oldie — it first appeared on the App Store way back in 2010 — but it was among the greatest labyrinth games we’d ever seen at the time, and its new HD reboot makes it worth a second look.

The vertical levels offer a challenging diversity of obstacles to avoid, and the tilt controls feel responsive and accurate. The interesting thing about the Dark Nebula series was how it expanded beyond basic labyrinth gameplay to include combat, and the addition of 25 new enemies and boss fights highlights this differentiating factor.

Needless to say, the game’s already-impressive visuals look incredible now at Retina resolution, and the title continues to be a must-play, though one might have hoped for a brand new game in the series rather than a simple reboot after so long. Next time, maybe?

Price: $2.99
Developer: Free Lunch Design AB
Download: App Store




For those of us with a fascination for old-school hacking history, a game like 868-HACK is going to be very appealing. Falling firmly into the rogue like sub genre of RPGs, 868-HACK is a fiendishly unforgiving game about cracking through data sectors. The grid-based gameplay is somewhat difficult to describe, but very easy to grasp once you start playing — you’ll need to dodge viruses and glitches to progress, and if you want a spot on the leaderboards then you’ll need to activate the special nodes in each level. Except that doing so will unleash more enemies …

A delicate balancing act, a tough slog, a hacking simulator? 868-HACK can be called all of those things, and whether you’re ultimately up for the challenge or not, it’s definitely worth trying and supporting the creation of smart games on iOS.

Price: $5.99
Developer: Michael Brough
Download: App Store


What Have You Been Playing?

Good luck with classes, students! For the rest of us, this is just another step closer to pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks — a great place to try out some of these titles, incidentally … see you next week!