iPhone Game Friday: New Releases

Today’s the day, folks: a brand new generation of iPhones to be had. Don’t waste any time getting those shiny new devices equipped with some terrific games you can play.

This week’s collection of App Store highlights includes a wild variety of experiences, from farming to tank battles, and an important public service announcement. Have a look…

Chipotle Scarecrow

Chipotle Scarecrow

If someone had told me last week that I’d be reviewing and enjoying a game produced by a restaurant franchise as an elaborate marketing move, I would have joined you in thinking that it was a ridiculous prospect…except…it’s really good!

See, Chipotle Mexican Grill hired the incredible talent at Moonbot Studios to develop their vision, and the end result is a fantastically playable and brave idea that’s been executed so well, with so much enthusiasm, that it’s impossible not to love. The game features four distinct worlds with their own challenges that range from dodging obstacles, to rescuing trapped animals, to planting socially-conscious crops in your field and then feeding the fruits of your labour to the residents of the City of Plenty.

The premise is light enough to cement the game as casual, but it manages to be surprisingly meaningful and genuine without unpleasantly pushing any agendas. Yes, it’s a game made by a restaurant chain to promote their values and their food, but it’s also a game about appreciating good crops, good food, and good gameplay that doesn’t rely on violence or cheap thrills to amuse. Chipotle Scarecrow is a strange and wonderful creation, and I highly recommend it.

Price: Free
Developer: Chipotle Mexican Grill / Moonbot Studios
Download: App Store

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Strata

Strata

Way back in 2010, one of my top 5 iPhone games was released. It wasn’t particularly popular, nor was it flashy. It was an unassuming puzzle title about ribbons called Colorbind, and it was impossible to put down. One of my greatest disappointments is that the game was not updated nor expanded by its creators. Luckily, Minneapolis-based Graveck Studio has taken it upon themselves to revive the concept.

Strata is both visually and conceptually similar to Colorbind: you are presented with coloured ribbons and asked to layer them in a way that corresponds to the underlying pattern printed on the environment. The levels start out simple and small, but as your skills develop, the designs expand into larger and more bewildering arrangements requiring some finely tuned visual puzzle skills.

Hundreds of challenges await, and each level can earn you a “perfect” score if you manage to solve it without having to retrace your steps and retract any ribbons — a near impossible feat once you get to the difficult stages. The presence of IAP mars an otherwise perfectly presented game. Strata is a worthy spiritual successor to Colorbind, and a fantastic game in its own right.

Price: $0.99
Developer: Graveck
Download: App Store

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Heroes of Loot

Heroes of Loot

Few studios do the retro pixel thing as well as OrangePixel does, so it’s always exciting to see these guys put out a new title. The latest creation from the team comes in the form of Heroes of Loot, a dynamic dungeon crawler that strikes a balance between depth and accessibility.

The game’s dungeons are all procedurally generated, meaning that you’ll never find yourself bored in familiar territory. The quests are also randomized, and will earn you a decent selection of loot along with the experience you’ll need to level up your adventurer. You can choose from four different classes, and the game keeps you on your toes with timed quests, challenging enemies, and surprises lurking in secret areas…

If you go in expecting deep gameplay and a rich story, you’ll be sorely disappointed, but if you play Heroes of Loot as a casual dungeon crawler, then you’ll realize that it’s impeccably designed for those moments of downtime where a bit of fantasy fun seems appropriate. Look forward to content updates, and enjoy the lack of IAP as you try it out!

Price: $1.99
Developer: OrangePixel
Download: App Store

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Boom! Tanks

Boom! Tanks

Rumbling engines of destruction, tanks have always been exciting machines. Boom! Tanks is a tank combat simulator with a strong arcade leaning and an upgrade system that offers you many ways to develop your chosen tank.

Three different campaigns offer plenty of opportunity to collect new tanks, as well as the cash that you’ll need to spend on buying weapons, armour, ammo variations…even new paint schemes! It’s an engaging system supported by a good control scheme that does a pretty good job of staying out of your way.

In order to keep things from getting stale, Boom! Tanks features some excellent additional content in the form of daily assignments, engineering challenges, and border skirmishes — each presenting a fresh spin on the core gameplay. The lack of multiplayer is perhaps a strange omission, but it won’t change the fact that there’s plenty to see here for a single player.

Price: Free
Developer: The Codemasters Software Company Limited
Download: App Store

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Where's My Water 2

Where’s My Water? 2

Where’s My Water 2 is a tragedy. Why am I including it? Because this is a cause worthy of your attention, and it’s only fine readers like yourselves that can prevent this sort of disaster from happening again. Consider the following…

The first game in this series was excellent; thrilling, cute casual gaming developed with a big budget and a lot of enthusiasm. IAP snuck in, but even so it was a solid package. Fast-forward to today and we’re presented with a sequel so hideously crippled by monetization that it’s legitimately difficult to play. Let me say that again: playing the game is hard because of how much extortion you have to wade through — even if you participate!

If it’s not an energy meter running out, it’s a timer. Or a social update needing to be posted. Or some IAP to buy. Somewhere underneath all this is a game. Maybe even an excellent one that builds on its predecessor in interesting ways. I wouldn’t know — I deleted the damned thing after the Nth time an $18 energy increase was recommended to me so I could play for more than a few minutes at a time without being interrupted by nagging.

Disney designed this game to be openly hostile to gameplay. It compromised its own product so severely that I don’t even have to tell you not to play it: even the most earnest fans will literally have difficulty getting to the “game” part of this game. You know, the fun part. The part about crocodiles and water. They’ll run out of energy or patience long before.

This should have been a star sequel. Instead, it’s a franchise that’s been defeated by an infestation of every monetization scheme Disney could think of. This is not okay. My job is to share good games with you in the hope of encouraging the industry to make more of them. Do us both a favour and steer clear of this sewage.

Price: Your Energy, Time, and Patience
Developer: Disney
Download: App Store

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What Have You Been Playing?

Remember, if you spot any amazing games during the week, we welcome your comments about them. See you back next Friday!