So we saw that Infinity Blade 3 was coming, and that the new iPhone 5S is going to allow for some serious graphics for iOS games. (Though it’ll be far more exciting when that chip is powering the next iPad.) If you’re burning the midnight oil to grab an early Apple.com order, or camping out at your local Apple store, we’ve got some games to help you pass the time.
Skip-Bo – iOS(Universal)
This is a classic family card game translated for iOS. It’s a faithful translation, but is missing a few features. If you’ve never played the original card game, Skip-Bo is a take on King’s Corners with more specialized cards. It’s a quick ten to twenty minute game. You have four stacks and everyone is playing cards on there, counting each stack from 1 to 12. Your goal is trying to clear out your deck before the other players. Like a lot of classic games, there is a lot more strategy than it seems at first glance.
Where this version falls down is the failure to include a pass and play mode, or at the very least some sort of multiplayer. Skip-Bo is a family game, and a lot of people would like to recreate that using this title. The AI doesn’t ever present much of a challenge, even on the hardest setting. Adding the human element would give this game more staying power.
What’s Good: Classic game on iOS.
What Sucks: Lack of multiplayer, weak AI.
Buy it?: If you like Skip-Bo and aren’t looking for much of a challenge, grab it for $1.99 on the App Store.
Small World 2 – iPad
Keeping with board games, Small World 2 for the iPad was just released. Small World is a strategy board game that puts the emphasis on quick play. Each game is limited to 10 turns. You select a race of fantasy creatures (Orcs, Vampires, Elves, etc.) and you conquer as much of the world as your can. The trick is that as you advance you get fewer tokens to conquer, and eventually you flip your species into decline. You repeat, but if you opponents do not reclaim your territory in decline, you continue to get points.
There is both online and local play, and you can mix humans and AI. There is a multitude of permeations you can do to keep your game interesting. There are three expansions that add new species to your deck. The game is a bit complex trying to pick up and play, but there is a really in–depth tutorial. (If you prefer to read, you can grab That should get you enough info for a couple of quick play throughs until you really start to work on your strategy.
What’s Good: An in-depth strategy game that you can finish in about twenty to thirty minutes. Really excellent tutorials and info.
What Sucks: Game can be a bit intimidating for new players.
Buy it?: If you’re a fan of nerdy boardgames, and own a few funny shaped dice, grab Small World 2 for $9.99 on the App Store.
Strata – iOS(Universal)
Strata started off as a Mac game, but it hasn’t lost anything moving to iOS. If you missed the game the first time around, it’s a pretty simple concept. You get a grid of squares with some of them marked a specific color. You then have to drape ribbons across ensuring that the top ribbon matches the square at the bottom of the pile. It’s essentially an order of operations problem, but it’s a very pretty one. Strata is a well designed game, disguising it’s fiendish puzzles with soothing music, and excellent visuals.
What makes the best puzzle games is a simple concept and a gradual learning curve. Strata has both of these, and the good design sense should fit with people looking for something to fit the new aesthetics of iOS 7. The game could use iCloud support for progress, as it’s beautiful to look at on the iPad, but the gameplay is rather suited to quick bursts of play on the phone as well. There’s also levels hidden behind IAP, which should have just been included in the up front price.
What’s Good: Great looking game. Simple but challenging gameplay.
What Sucks: Missing cloud sync. IAP for more levels.
Buy it?: If you’re looking for a fun puzzle game, or just appreciate good design, check out Strata for $.99 on the App Store.
Legend of Dungeon – Mac
Make no mistake; if you play Legend of Dungeon, you will die. It isn’t a matter of if, it’s when. A retro inspired random dungeon crawler, Legend of Dungeon closely resembles Gauntlet. The graphics are 8-bit inspired, and side scrolling. You do move on a 2.5D plane, moving between rooms of a randomly created dungeon. As you advance lower and lower into the dungeon, the enemies get harder. You find equipment and power-ups that keep you in line with your enemies, but if you don’t keep up that’s the end of your game. No continues, no resurrections, no 1-ups, there is nothing that will bring you back. You get your score, your often pitiful place on the global leader board, and the chance to start all over again.
If that doesn’t sound fun, we can’t be friends. You also shouldn’t play this game. If you have some friends that also like difficult dungeon crawls, Legend of Dungeon supports up four players locally. You’ll need to track down three or four controls, unless you get real creative with keyboard settings. This game is likely a bit of a nostalgia affair, and has a lot of geek in jokes. There is a level of the dungeon that came up populated with pixelated parodies of the Plants vs. Zombies characters. A dead end held an alien with a UK Phone booth called the Time Master. I’m sure that there’s even more stashed around the corners of the game, making it well worth your time to explore the game.
What’s Good: Excellent gameplay, including local multiplayer support. Plenty of in jokes and other geeky content to keep game interesting.
What Sucks: Difficulty curve might be too much for some players.
Buy it?: If you like challenging games, rouge-like RPGs, or are looking for a multiplayer game on your Mac, grab Legend of Dungeon for $9.99 on the game’s website.
Where’s my Water 2 – iOS (Universal)
Where’s my Water is the game that put Disney on the mobile gaming Map. It was a fun little puzzler that like Angry Birds, was friendly enough for kids and challenging enough for adults. Where’s my Water 2 adds some additional varieties of puzzle, but definitely brings more of the same core gameplay. So if you liked the first game and have exhausted it’s supply of levels, as well as the Perry and Mickey spin offs, Where’s my Water 2 brings even more for you. There are new Challenge modes that allow you replay levels with tougher conditions to unlock bonus.
There are power-ups and hints that you unlock, and because this is a free game for kids IAP to annoy parents, that make levels easier. It seems that some levels require the power-ups to get the three ducky score. That does combine the pressure for IAP with completists, and feels a bit exploitive. It’s a small infraction, but should at least be acknowledged. This is likely going to be problematic for younger players and their parents.
What’s Good: Fun gameplay and cute cartoon cutscenes.
What Sucks: IAP is pretty aggressive when some levels require power-ups to complete.
Buy it?: Fans of the original, and people with IAP turned off can check out Where’s my Water on the App Store.