We have an interesting array of games for you this week. There is a classic arcade game for iPhone. Then, we check out a mixture of bowling and Super Monkey Ball for iOS and an action RPG for iOS. Typography nerds get a puzzle platformer on iOS. Finally, we have Double Fine’s surprise seasonal appropriate release. But first, here’s the weekly run down.
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Rockstar Games was still working last week to make up for the troubled launch of Grand Theft Auto Online, by giving players a half million of in game cash. Though it’s essentially a commercial disguised as another sequel, the Great and Powerful OZ tinged Temple Run is available for free on the App Store. Ubisoft screaming Rabbids is about to get a full-fledged game on iOS.
Dragon’s Lair 30th Anniversery – iPhone
For all the complaining about Candy Crush and other freemium apps, they don’t have anything on some of the arcade classics. Dragon’s Lair has probably swallowed up more than a few college funds in its day. Though it’s story about Dirk the Daring rescuing Princess Daphne from an evil dragon is pretty typical, the game was anything but. In the time of colored sprites, Dragon’s Lair was fully animated by Disney alum Don Bluth. It achieved these graphics by using animated clips on laserdisc. This does mean that the game has aged incredibly well in the looks department, but it’s very limited in its gameplay.
You will find that this game is essentially just a giant game of trial and error. There are some scenes where you get prompts that clue you into which direction you need to push, or when to swing your sword, but the vast majority you learn by failing, and repeat. The game is only about two hours long, which may not be worth the $4.99 unless you’re waxing nostalgic.
What’s Good: Well translated version of the classic game, great animation style.
What Sucks: Gameplay often relies on trial and error more than intuition or reaction, short.
Buy it?: If you’re aching for the classic days of the arcade, pick Dragon’s Lair 30th Anniversary on the App Store for $4.99.
Rollabear – iOS (Universal)
Rollabear is the type of game that mainstream gaming has largely been missing in the last few years. Combining Super Monkey Ball with bowling, the game is instantly fun. The simplicity of the game is what’s appealing. You pull back your bears in a sling shot, and they roll down a track. You need to collect boxes and still get a decent score.
Each level has five boxes. Getting these and a strike in one go nets you five stars. Herein lies the game’s real challenge: trying to solve some of these levels is hair-pullingly difficult. The campaign has a few dozen levels, and the game also includes a challenge mode. Achievements unlock additional characters, which adds to the replay value.
What’s Good: Unique design combination of genres creates a simple game with a lot of depth.
What Sucks: Not a lot of handholding to complete some of the challenging levels.
Buy it?: If you’re looking for a fun little time-waster with a lot of replay value, grab Rollabear for $0.99 on the App Store.
Tale of a Pale Swordsman: Reaper – iOS(Universal)
In the middle of a truce between tribals and imperials, a faceless swordsman that looks a bit like death appears. You play that swordsman, wandering in the jungle, unwinding a tale about the conflict between technology and magic. Reaper does a good job of balancing its story with some engaging action gameplay. The sword play seems pretty close to games like Muramasa or Odin Sphere. The game’s story is limited to text conversations at the bottom of the map, but the action scenes actually look pretty good. The game has a distinctive art style that should help it stand out.
The controls rely on regions on the left side of the screen to move left or right, and a gesture area on the right side of the screen you use to control attacks. It’s a bit touchy, but you can get used to it. The trickiest bit is that the basic attack is automatic, but you have to judge the distance and timing correctly to prevent your opponent from responding. You get a pretty good amount of content for the free app, and you can unlock the additional quests and special weapons for $4.99 or just get the additional quests for $0.99. Don’t feel the pressure to grab the expansion right away, as the game’s basic quests are pretty substantial.
What’s Good: Interesting story, good art style.
What Sucks: Controls can be a bit tricky to get the hang of.
Buy it?: If you like action RPGs give this game a try. Grab it for free on the App Store.
Type Rider – iOS
Typography nerds, if you only own one game on your i-device, this should be it. You’re not going to find a game that rewards your exploration with biographies of Claude Garamont and John Baskerville. (Yes, hipsters; there were fonts before Helvetica.) The game itself is an abstract platformer where you play a colon winding its way through abstract landscapes, musical instruments, and books. You are attempting to collect all 26 letters of a font, five articles about its background, and an ampersand that’s hidden in each world.
The game seemingly has simple controls. Touch on the right side to move right; touch on the left to go left. You jump by tapping the opposite side of your movement direction. This is the first mistake in the controls, as you can’t change direction quickly. The game has a wall jump, and this is really buggy as well. There are a few areas in the game where grabbing a hidden letter is more luck and persistence than skill. There are areas where you’ll need to swim as well, and the controls break down in these areas too. Despite these frustrations, the game is still overall well done, and a rewarding play.
What’s Good: Great concept and level design.
What Sucks: Controls are a bit of a mess.
Buy it?: If the idea of a typographic history lesson combined with a video game appeals to you, this may be your one chance to play it. Grab Type Rider on the App Store for $2.99
Costume Quest – iOS(Universal)
It’s no secret that this column features every new Double Fine game, even when its release is a bit of a surprise. One of those reasons is that Double Fine continues to make games that celebrate fun, and games themselves. Costume Quest has you in the role of a boy or girl out on Halloween trying to rescue your brother and sister from candy stealing Grubbins. You spend time mixing trick or treating with RPG-style combat. The trick here is that your costume becomes your battle character, giving the game a sort of Calvin and Hobbes feel.
As you collect your candy, you’ll find side quests that give you additional costumes. These costumes have abilities like a shield, roller skates, or a light up sword that allow you to access new areas. You’ll need to use these to explore some parts of the game, opening up further side quests and items. If you’re still looking for more material after you finish the game, there is an additional DLC quest for $1.99. If you missed this game when it was on consoles and PCs, the controls were mapped well, and you should check this out.
What’s Good: Fun story, a lot of content.
What Sucks: Charging for the DLC on a few years old game seems a bit excessive.
Buy it?: This is a fun game and perfect for Halloween. Grab it for $4.99 on the App Store.