Even though it was a Holiday week last week, we saw a bit of gaming news. There was a big sale in the App Store. Codemasters announced plans to bring more games to iOS. The Xbox One prepares the oncoming apocalypse by announcing that Xbox Live will begin to quarantine trolls and griefers together. Microsoft also announced that the Xbox One would use Kinect to redeem gift cards.
Our last bit of news is also our first game, as an indie classic came to iOS. A classic franchise gets an arcade facelift. A webcomic creator’s love note to Chose Your Own Adventure comes to IOS with an audio bonus. iOS gets it’s first MOBA game, and it’s also on the Mac. FInally we have an action RPG that’s equal parts David Lynch and Legend of Zelda.
Limbo – iOS (Universal)
Limbo is another of the indie darlings from the PC to migrate to iOS. Though Limbo is a puzzle platformer, its story isn’t exactly Saturday Morning Cartoon material. You take control of a boy awaking in a dark place. The presentation here is genius, as all you can see of the boy is an outline and his eyes. You can only go to the right, exploring the world further. You’ll find bear traps, dangerous spiders, and murderous children rigging booby traps to halt your progress.
The controls are surprisingly fluid, you drag your finger around the finger and touch to control the action, though you’re never told via on screen tutorial. This may be Limbo’s biggest curse, it doesn’t tell you much. Beyond a pause screen that allows you to move between the levels you’ve completed, there isn’t much of a UI period. Though this is intentional to immerse the player in the world, it can keep them from enjoying the game enough to get there in the first place.
What’s Good: Beautiful design work makes this a singular game that elevates the genre.
What Sucks: Lack of a tutorial makes learning the controls more difficult than it needs to be. Some puzzles only solvable by trial and error.
Buy it?: If you’ve never played this game on another platform, this is a must play. Grab it for $4.99 on the App Store.
Diner Dash Rush – iOS(Universal)
Diner Dash was an early casual classic back when casual was synonymous with Flash game. Flo has been around in the intervening years, building an army of titles in the App Store. However, the formula has got a bit laden with add ons, and so Flo was redesigned and Diner Dash was slipped down to an arcade take on the original formula. Like Bejeweled Blitz, you get a game stripped down the bare essential with a hard time limit. Diner Dash Rush removes the cafe building, instead you have a single cafe that you play in every game.
If you haven’t played Diner Dash, or just need a refresher, the premise is a simple one. Customers come in, you need to seat them, take their order, serve their food, give them the check, and clear the table. You get bonus points for chaining these together for multiple tables, but make anyone wait too long and they leave less satisfied reducing your score. Customers fall into a few categories, teenagers, business people, and the elderly. This changes how the customers react to waiting, and how long they stay after you serve their food. Rush adds a new element, if you do well enough in the three minute main game, you’re given a bonus period where the customers leave at full happiness regardless of how long they waited at the table. Your scores are tracked against your Facebook friends.
What’s Good: Fun and quick arcade take on a time management game. Updated visuals give the game a more modern feel.
What Sucks: The simplistic take isn’t going to be for everyone, this removes everything but core gameplay.
Buy it?: Grab this from the App Store if you’re looking for another quick time waster.
Trial of the Clone – iOS(Universal)
Choose Your Own Adventure books were a staple of any 80’s or 90’s school library. It was with that nostalgia in mind that Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal creator Zach Weiner created the book Trial of the Clone. It was a love letter to those games and the more complex game books like Fighting Fantasy. So it is fitting that Tin Man Games has created an interactive version of the book, that also includes the hilarious audio book version read by Wil Wheaton. The app also tracks the character sheet info for you as well, and automates the random rolls.
This is geeks stuff, Trial of the Clone parodies Star Wars and a host of sci-fi tropes. While none of this is especially new ground, it manages to feel fresh by Weiner’s wacky takes on the jokes. He impressively seems to have built more than a few paths through the book that change your experience as you move act to act.
What’s Good: Manages to be both nostalgia and parody while still being a strong experience on its own. Wil Wheaton’s narration is a great addition.
What Sucks: Humor might be a bit too specific for some players.
Buy it?: If you were a fan of game books when you were a kid grab this game for $3.99 on the App Store.
Arena of Heroes – iPad/Mac
MOBA games have been a recent by hugely popular genre, with League of Legends and DOTA becoming You Tube spectator sports. There hasn’t been much action on the mobile front in the genre, but Arena of Heroes brings the genre to the iPad and syncs with a Mac version of the game as well. This is free to play, so to get anything more than the five basic heroes you will need to spend a little bit of cash. However, this allows you try out the game and see if it’s something you’ll enjoy.
Arena of Heroes has two game modes, online multiplayer or asynchronous multiplayer. You are given charge of five heroes and you need to get across a stage to destroy your opponent’s power plant. He of course has five heroes and is trying to do the same. Each player is given automated minion that advance and attack automatically. Each of the three lanes on the stage is guarded by a turret for each player, ensuring that it isn’t simply a matter of running headlong into the heroes. This is turned based, so you can think through your strategy enough to ensure that it’s quick reflexes that always win.
What’s Good: Nice character design. Easy difficulty curve. Multiple multiplayer modes allows for you to choose how closely you want to watch the game.
What Sucks: Even with the ease of access, this is likely going to be a bit on the complex side for more casual players.
Buy it?: This is free on both the Mac and iPad, you’ll need to pay to unlock more characters. Download them both here.
What happens when you take the core elements of the Legend of Zelda, and remake them into something darker? You get Anodyne. This is the David Lynch version of Hyrule: darker, more surreal, but the elements are eerily familiar. The player takes the role of Young, an adventurer trying to unlock the secrets of his own unconscious. The surrealism of the game is given a bit more perspective by the setting, but the design is still engaging from the outset. The look is purely 16 bit in a way that isn’t lazy, the sprite design is well done.
What may really define Anodyne from being simply a clone is that they worked on a secondary game mechanic, card collecting that gives the game it’s own feeling. As you go through dungeons smacking monsters with your broom, you’ll find cards around that represent the game’s monsters and characters. You’ll need to explore thoroughly to find some of them, and they actually unlock certain doors in the game. As you still find keys that unlock other doors, they actually serve some purpose other than a replay MacGuffin.
What’s Good: An excellent take on a classic genre game, but retool in a way to make it feel fresh. Secondary collection question actually affects the game world.
What Sucks: Narrative takes a bit to build, surreal design may be off-putting to some players.
Buy it?: Fans of classic RPGs or interesting design should pick up Anodyne, it is $4.99 on the App Store.