App Store Games of the Week: July 16th Edition
- July 16, 2010 13:46 PM PT
It's a well-documented fact that hundreds of apps and games hit the iTunes App Store each week, but how many of these pocket-sized endeavors are worth your hard earned cash? Each week, we pick out the best (or simply the most notable) of the bunch for our App Store Games of the Week.
Modern Conflict HD
iPad only (iPhone/iPod Touch version separate)
As of late, the iTunes App Store has seen a surprising number of Risk clones released -- especially for the iPad. Modern Conflict -- which at first glance might sound like a Modern Warfare rip-off -- sets itself apart from said clones by taking Risk's classic turn-based formula and transforming it into a real-time strategy game. Using tanks and helicopters, players must capture territories through strategic planning and well-timed execution, storming their enemies' lands and taking their bases. Three campaigns, each with multiple selectable difficulties, and a randomly generated survival mode ensure you that you'll get your money's worth, but an unfortunate lack of multiplayer strikes a hefty blow to the game's balance.
I put more hours into Modern Conflict than any other on this week's list, and the darn thing nearly made me late turning in this feature. There's a surprising amount of strategic depth to be found, and there's no greater joy than waiting until my opponents have ordered all their troops away from a base, then striking with a massive squadron of helicopters to steal everything the poor fools ever knew or loved. I like this game a lot, and I think that it does almost everything right, but the lack of multiplayer seems like such a glaring omission. Here's hoping we'll see multiplayer in an eventual update.
Ever since playing the fantastic Xbox Live Indie Games hit Miner Dig Deep I've been hoping for a similar game to find its way to the App Store. Miner Disturbance fits the bill quite well, combining the RPG and digging elements from Miner Dig Deep with enemies that give it an almost Dig Dug-like quality. Missions vary from level to level, asking players to collect a certain amount of an element within a time limit, or take down a particular enemy. This is all controlled with an eight-way virtual joystick and two buttons -- one for digging, and one for jumping.
Everything is in place for this to be an amazing game, but one niggling issue brings the entire experience down: the controls. The virtual joystick worked great for me most of the time, but when trying to dig upwards at an angle -- something I found myself frequently tasked with -- they became extremely problematic, often making me accidentally walk off a ledge in a frustrating turn. Now, the game has a great art style, level design, and overall feel, and its inclusion of RPG elements lays the foundation for addiction, but the wonky controls soured the overall experience for me, making too many situations that should've been fun more tedious than anything. Miner Disturbance is a fun game for sure, but the iffy controls really take away from the enjoyment.
FPS, RPG, RTS; it seems like every game that comes out these days fits into some genre with a bland, three-letter acronym. That's why it's so refreshing to see a game like Helsing's Fire come along. Sure, you can toss it into the all-inclusive "puzzle" label, but what's on show here is something undeniably new.
By placing a torch in a 2D, top-down environment, Dr. Helsing and his jovial associate Raffton are tasked with illuminating any and every baddie not hidden behind a physical obstruction in the environment. Once illuminated, an enemy can be destroyed through the use of a number of unique potions. The goal of each level is to take out all of the enemies while avoiding any human casualties.
The dialogue between Dr. Helsing and Raffton is consistently amusing, and delivers a quasi Sherlock Holmes vibe. The art is fantastic and the actual light mechanics of the torch are impressive, making for an all around high-quality feel. The game never stops hitting the player with new gameplay mechanics throughout its 90 levels, so it never loses its fun and original appeal, and the boss battles are some of the most unique and challenging I've seen in an iPhone app. This is a game that would absolutely only work on the iOS platform, and it's hands-down one of the best games on the App Store. It gets my highest recommendation.
Nimble Strong: Bartender in Training
Ever since the birth of the App Store, I assumed the day would come when somebody would combine elements of Phoenix Wright with a bartending simulator. That day has finally arrived, and Nimble Strong surprises with its ability to educate as well as entertain. The fast-paced adventure follows an archetypal slacker who, after losing his wife and his best friend, has stumbled into a job as a bartender at a local dive. In between legitimately interesting story segments, Nimble Strong will teach you how to create over 70 popular drinks with surprisingly in-depth guides.
I'm actually not a big drinker, so I assumed that I'd be terrible at this game, but by choosing dialogue options to key the game's characters to how clueless I am, I was able to get extremely thorough instructions on how to make nearly every cocktail imaginable. Now I can horrify loved ones with my new-found expertise, eventually following the proud Rigney tradition of crippling alcoholism. Hooray beer! All jokes aside, this is really just a particularly fun educational game, so if you're interested in picking up some amateur cocktailing tips, be sure to give it a shot.
Fruit Ninja HD
iPad only (iPhone/iPod Touch version separate)
I've known the good people over at Halfbrick Studios for a while now, even before they exploded into App Store stardom with Fruit Ninja for the iPhone. Over a million downloads later, the fruit-slicing game that people just can't get enough of has come to the iPad in beautiful high-definition. New multiplayer modes, support for eight-finger dicing, and pretty HD graphics easily make this the best way to take out your anger on nature's juiciest denizens.
Fruit Ninja has undeniable mass appeal; I've seen people from age two to fifty-two play and love this messy game, so I know that the iPad's two-player modes are going to make a lot of families happy. The best thing about this release is the promise of continued support from Halfbrick, who have done an excellent job updating the iPhone version with free added content so far. Just admit it: going all kung-fu on some fruit is fun, so if you own an iPad, don't skip out on this HD re-release.