iPhone Game Friday: New Releases

Where do we even start this week?

In the wake of the new iPhones hitting the market, we’ve seen an incredible wave of new games hitting the App Store—as expected— so let’s not waste any time taking a look at what’s new!

Angry Birds Star Wars II

Angry Birds Star Wars II

While we wait for a new generations of movies in the series, it’s good to have the Star Wars franchise kept actively in our imaginations by Rovio. Their sequel to Angry Birds Star Wars takes many steps forward, but it continues to frustrate for its oldest flaw…

For the first time, the line-up of playable characters is huge this time around: 30 different familiar faces are now available to you, all rendered in the cute style we love. There’s also a duality to the game in the sense that you can now play as Jedi or Sith (birds or pigs) for the first time ever. That being said, ultimately we’re still talking about new clothes on a very familiar old friend—none of the true gameplay innovations like we saw in Angry Birds Space exist here. There is, however, a new physical angle being explored in the form of Telepod character figures that you can buy in stores to “teleport” your favourite characters into the game. I guess this is a new era of out-of-app purchases?

Anyway, this brings me to my one pervasive complaint with this entire series: no cross-platform sync of progress. Whether you’re trying to keep things going from your iPhone to iPad, or you simply have to reinstall the app on a new device, it’s bewildering and awful that you still lose all your progress. It isn’t like Rovio doesn’t have the resources to provide a robust cloud save solution to handle this, which means it’s an intentional omission.

It continues to be a bother for some of us, but realistically it’s not going to slow Rovio down, and they’ve perfected the Angry Birds formula so well by now that any new game in the series can be easily recommended. It’s beautiful, fluid, franchise-flavoured fun and that never gets old.

Price: $0.99
Developer: Rovio Entertainment, Ltd.
Download: App Store

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Infinity Blade III

Infinity Blade III

Here’s a confession: I don’t think this series is particularly fun. Sure, Infinity Blade is the benchmark for mobile graphics and it certainly offers very well designed gameplay (their swipe-slash mechanic remains unmatched, despite many attempts), but at the end of the day they never really kept my attention for anything besides the visuals.

So here we are at Infinity Blade III, and I’m happy to repot that my impressions are finally changing. For the first time ever, Infinity Blade feels like a complete game, not just a souped-up tech demo. The game’s cyclical nature remains sort of tedious, making me feel like a very powerful hamster in the world’s most fantastically-rendered hamster wheel, but the added gear options, customization choices, and general polish make for very good improvements.

There are IAP in this game, and there are even timers—remember how much we loved those last week—but not to worry. This is freemium done as respectfully as we can probably expect these days; the game is extremely generous with its rewards, ensuring that just playing it will net you plenty of coinage for upgrades and the like. As for the timers, they’re pretty reasonable and feel more appropriate given the context of waiting for potions to brew.

Overall, we’re talking about an unbelievably cool game here. For the first time, the plot is engaging, and the technical aspects remain so accomplished as to have no peers on the App Store. A marvel of mobile gaming, Infinity Blade III is worth buying, even if only to show off your new iPhone.

Price: $6.99
Developer: Chair Entertainment Group, LLC
Download: App Store

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Incredipede

Incredipede

Another of my favourite indie titles has made the migration to iOS this week, so I’m happy to introduce you to Incredipede.

Colin & Sarah Northway are not only a cool couple, known for their game-design-on-the-go antics, they’re also extremely accomplished at their craft. Incredipede follows in the footsteps of Colin’s work on the Fantastic Contraption Flash game from way back when in the sense that you’re still building an interesting gizmo. Only this time, the gizmo is alive—and her name is Quozzle.

Quozzle is an Incredipede, which is a creature that you get to define as you go along. Growing new limbs as needed allows her to navigate a huge variety of environmental obstacles, and the stunning artwork and immersive audio treatment go a long way toward keeping you invested in this strange puzzle game. Besides a diverse set of more than 100 levels, Incredipede has a fantastic level editor included as well so you can test your creativity and create new worlds.

With no IAP to worry about, Incredipede is a gorgeous and utterly unique contribution to the puzzle title that feels right at home on the iPhone. Give it a try and see what manner of creature you can create!

Price: $3.99
Developer: Sarah & Colin Northway
Download: App Store

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Dragon Finga

Dragon Finga

Something about fighting games makes them unbelievably addictive to me. Maybe it’s all the hours of Mortal Kombat from when I was younger, but regardless, my ears always perk up at the mention of a new entry in this genre. Dragon Finga brings together the fun of fighting games and the accessibility of casual titles, wraps it up in a sense of humour, and delivers it to the App Store for our enjoyment.

Playing this game is a departure from what I’m used to from fighting games, where precision control is paramount. In Dragon Finga, you technically control things by tapping wildly. Tap and drag to move your rag doll fighters, and tap targets to have them bash away at them. It’s imprecise, messy, and somehow perfect. It’s also hilarious to watch, which perhaps contributes to the feeling of awkward-but-good.

Ultimately this isn’t a game for purists. It’s something of a gateway drug to more “proper” fighting games, but I prefer to think of it as a hysterical deviation from the norm that serves its purpose as an entertaining distillation of fighting games in a format that’s much better suited to a mobile phone than the more complicated options are. It’s free to play, but you’ll run into the paywall pretty swiftly if you’re in a hurry. Worth trying for sure!

Price: Free
Developer: Another Place Productions, Ltd.
Download: App Store

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Riddick: The Merc Files

Riddick: The Merc Files

Riddick is the ideal anti-hero. He’s just a bit too nasty to be truly sympathized with, but he’s too much of an awesome badass to dismiss. Seeing him make an appearance on the App Store is a wonderful treat.

The top-down perspective is not the most exciting way to put yourself in Riddick’s shoes, but it’s not all that bad. Controls are just a series of taps, nothing special, which means that the gameplay never feels particularly deep despite its open-ended design. While the levels are mostly linear, there are several ways to go about completing your objectives, so you can choose to approach things your own way. That’s a pretty awesome idea, but it doesn’t get explored as deeply as we might hope.

With a sedentary pace, fans expecting a heart-racing game will be disappointed. But as long as you go into the experience knowing that you’re getting into a stealth action game, and a relatively simple one at that, you’ll find that Riddick: The Merc Files is a pleasant and well made game, with lots of new content promised in regular updates.

Price: $2.99
Developer: Gaming Corps
Download: App Store

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What Have You Been Playing?

Wow, that’s quite a haul. Go forth and try out some new games, friends—we’ll see you back here next week!