Daily roundups are great, I love making them, but it’s very easy to let a game slip if the name just doesn’t grab you and the format leaves little room for me to give recommendations. Starting from now, every Sunday will have one of these articles providing you with my favourites of the week’s releases and a little description of why I think it deserves to be played. They won’t be in order of recommendation as I’m not fond of rating games against each other so it’s worth checking the list in its entirety for hidden gems.
Obviously, a lot of this comes down to my personal taste which can be slightly eclectic so if you see something you’re loving missing then leave a comment so others (and me, of course!) can share in the enjoyment. So, without further waffling, click below to see my picks from the week beginning 13/10/14:
Radical Rappelling (by Halfbrick Studios) [Free, Universal] NZ Soft Launch
Halfbrick have, in my opinion at least, lost a little of the clout their name provides in recent months. With “Yes, Chef!”, “Bears vs Art” and “Band Stars” haven’t really resonated with the audience as much as their most successful titles. Radical Rappelling might not replace “Fruit Ninja” as their biggest moneymaker but you’d be hard pushed to say it wasn’t as addictive. Playing out as a vertical endless runner provides a nice twist to a traditional genre and the high octane action almost demands one more go. It’s currently only available in New Zealand, so I’ll make an article on how to create overseas accounts for those without one soon.
Night Shift Ninja (by SRRN Games) [Free, Universal]
Whilst I’m yet to find a stealth-oriented iOS title that comes close to the mastery displayed in Mark of the Ninja, Night Shift Ninja does an admirable job of providing a bitesize artistic sneak ’em up. There are moments of frustration, especially with the shuriken aiming, but it’s generous with content and as a starved genre on the platform it more than suffices.
Strung Along (by Tommi Saalasti) [Free, Universal]
I make no secret of my love for QWOP-style gameplay. Games like Daddy Long Legs and Soccer Physics which take inoperable control schemes and make them fun can be hilarious if temporary. Strung Along takes the ephemeral experience and expands upon it with hugely challenging levels and a great theatrical style. It’s also a great example of free done right, helping to prove that the price tag isn’t inherently evil.
Slowpe (by Michael Gasparik) [Free, Universal]
Taking the Flappy Bird (bear with me!) and increasing the difficulty to 11 sounds like sado-masochism but the result is surprisingly successful. Your avatar constantly rotates very quickly, and tapping the screen propels it in the opposite direction of the void in the circular icon. The first dozen attempts will no doubt end miserably but once you get to grips with the propulsion it’s incredibly satisfying to hurtle through the abstract landscape.
Tap Lander (by Andrew Warne) [Free, Universal]
Obviously inspired by Lunar Lander, this is another example of taking an existing formula and stacking the odds against success so high that most won’t see the completion screen. It’s vertex style is simplistic yet stunning and the controls are perfectly tuned; if you die then you probably rushed with over-confidence. You get a selection of levels for free before purchasing an unlock for the 48 more which is incredibly good value considering even the first one can take dozens of tries.
ADAM – Artificial Defence Automation Module (by Mudloop) [Free, Universal]
ADAM impressed me from the first screenshots and the gameplay only furthered that. Your pretty typical endless runner is elaborated upon by splitting your character into two parts. Whilst ensuring your head avoids obstacles by raising and lowering it, you need to utilise conveyor belts to hook onto so you can raise your head body over ground-based hazards. It’s both unique and familiar so coupled with the great visuals you get a fantastic freebie.
Helix (by Michael Brough) [$2.99/£1.99, Universal]
I have to admit that upon hearing of Helix’s supposed lifting of the game mechanics from Spirit I lowered my expectations. As it turns out, those remarks were largely ignorant as the only similarity is a circular movement to dispatch foes. As always, Brough takes simple ideas and makes them flourish into alien and organic lifeforms; consistently surprising and impressing. As an adrenaline-fueled highscorer, Helix is simply one of the best; it might not surpass 868-HACK but then the chances of that were slim but it’s still an absolutely essential purchase.
Galaxy Siege 2 (by MyFreePlayYard) [Free, Universal]
Galaxy Siege 2 is essentially Starborn Anarkist’s slower, smarter brother. You assemble your ship from various integral parts, placing weapons and gadgets at optimal angles in order to destroy enemies and harvest useful materials. Eventually, your vessel is mammoth, armed to the teeth and capable of farming an entire asteroid field of all useful debris. The experience is short but entirely free with enough to entertain either shmup fanatics or strategy players.
Galactic Junk (by Upside Down Bird) [Free, Universal]
Playing similarly to Luderia’s Spooklands, Galactic Junk is a twin-stick shooter minus the twin part; you maneuver your ship through the inertia generated via firing your weapons. In an interesting change from the norm, the world is a massive procedurally generated arena whereby you are scored for how far you can travel from the starting point. Along the way, you’ll find asteroid belts, deadly alien races and currency for upgrades; with an ever-evolving opposing army there’s a surprising amount of replay value beyond chasing highscores.
Left Turn Otto (by Thomas Hall) [Free, Universal]
Sometimes the Appstore throws something at you so perfect yet unexpected that you realise how wonderful the world of iOS gaming really is. Left Turn Otto is charming, expansive, tough, humourous, creative and almost entirely free – possibly one of the best downloads you could make for weeks. As you have probably discerned, the titular Otto can only turn left so your mission is to guide him through a gauntlet of mazes, obstacles and further puzzling mechanics; it’s something I’ve seen attempted before but never as successfully as LTO manages it.
Lion Pig (by Selosoft) [$1.99/£1.49, Universal]
I’ll admit that Lion Pig may not appeal to everyone; it revels in the archaic nature of the 8-bit platformer, with all the positive and negative connotations that brings to the table. The chunky sprites are bold and bright with supremely charming animations but the controls are simple and slow which, whilst intentional, can be off-putting to those expecting a more fluid adventure. I’d argue that Lion Pig is essentially how Mikey Boots would have been within the limits the Commodore would have placed on the development. The speedrun gameplay is entertaining if somewhat lacking in challenge but it’s clearly a love letter from the developer than is very difficult not to like.