Yep, Games Of The Week is a little late again. I’m worse than the White Rabbit these days. But rest assured, these games were totally worth the wait. First, I’ll take you through the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) title based on a popular PC/Mac RPG franchise. Fans of Adventure Time can check out a game where they can make their own levels. Then finally, we have a new mobile RPG from the creator of Final Fantasy.
Witcher Battle Arena – iOS (Universal)
I am not sure if it’s because of League of Legends’s total domination of the PC MOBA genre or just a coincidence, but Witcher Battle Arena is the third MOBA I’ve reviewed for the iPad in the last year. This one is based on the epic PC RPG series, and it has a bit more of an action-y vibe than other iPad MOBAs like Vainglory or Fates Forever.
Witcher Battle Arena is a serviceable take on the genre, and it features capture points rather than turrets. The arenas are all pretty small, which really speeds up the matches: Vainglory’s matches run around 15 to 20 minute, while Witcher Battle Arena matches usually take about half that time.
You don’t have to be familiar with the franchise to enjoy Witcher Battle Arena: It stands apart as a mindless multi-player hack and slash.
What’s Good: Quick pick-up-and-play MOBA.
What Sucks: A little light on strategy and variety.
Buy it? If you’re big on MOBA’s but want something quicker on mobile, Witcher Battle Area is worth checking out. Download it on the App Store for free.
Shades – iOS
Shades has obvious parallels with Tetris, but it adds a unique element that will give even the most ardent puzzle gamer a new challenge. Instead of a bunch of different shaped blocks, all the shapes in a this game are rectangles. Rather than challenging you to rotate and move blocks in order to complete rows, Shades asks you to create lines of the same color. There’s one problem, though: Blocks of the same color merge to create a slightly darker color. There are five shades of color, and the blocks that drop change shades at random. As with Tetris, blocks drop more quickly as you advance through the game.
The rather unique take on the falling-block genre makes Shades a lot more interesting than yet another match-3 title or Columns clone. All too often, unique puzzle games fall victim to cloners. Hopefully, Shades won’t face nearly the flood of clones that drowned Threes, as this is a really fun game.
What’s Good: Unique premise. Easy to learn puzzle game.
What Sucks: My place in the global leader board.
Buy it? if you’re a fan of unique puzzle games, check out Shades. Download it on the App Store for free.
Adventure Time: Game Wizard – iOS (Universal)
It’d be safe to bet that an Adventure Time platformer would be successful. But if you expand that idea into a game where you can make your own levels, well, now you have a game people will remember.
Create-and-share levels have been a feature since Sony did Little Big Planet, and then there is the granddaddy of user content, Minecraft. But Adventure Time: Game Wizard is the first iOS original game to feature this level of customization, and judging by the number of levels available, people like it.
The main game follows Finn and Jake as they find a magical book that lets them draw themselves into new adventures, but an angry wizard creates enemies that stand in their way.
This is a full-fledged platform game, with a bit of an old-school Metroid feel. You can go back and open new areas as you explore, getting new treasures and opening new area. In the main game, you find new characters and collect coins that unlock additional material in the level creator. Though these live in a section labeled “shop,” you won’t find any in-app-purchasing funny business. Anything you need, you’ll get by playing the main game. (It does appear that the game’s developers plan to sell extra creator content at some point, but it’s free for now.)
You can build a level in the level editor in two steps: First, choose how large a map you want to make by selecting a sheet of “graph paper.” Next, you draw out your map in the graph paper itself. The level editor is fairly intuitive—the only drawback is that you need to turn off editing mode in order to scroll around—an annoyance that makes designing bigger levels a bit of a pain.
Once you finish designing your level, you choose a a character and play though it. Once you complete the level, you can submit it for others to try, though you will need to sign up for an account to do so. (Your level will pass through a moderation/curation process, so it will not go live right away.)
What’s Good: Excellent platformer with a really deep level designer.
What Sucks: Editing tools can be cumbersome in some areas.
Buy it?: If you’re a fan of the cartoon, platform games, or creating you own levels, check out Adventure Time: Game Wizard. Pick it up on the App Store for $4.99.
Shadowmatic – iOS (Universal)
Shadowmatic is based around a really cool concept for a puzzle game: It takes a tonal cue from the Zen Bound series, with ambient music and a pretty minimal UI, but rather than have you tie rope around an object, you move objects in light in order to find a hidden shadow. For example, you may align objects to form a shadow in the shape of a boat or a cat. I know it sounds a bit on the silly side, but it’s a fairly mediative puzzle game.
This isn’t the kind of game that you grind your way through in order to get the high score—Shadowmatic is much more of a casual affair. If you get totally stuck, you can use coins that you unlock when completing levels to get hints. This kind of relaxing approach to a game is really refreshing, but it may not be for everyone.
What’s Good: Good looking game. Easy to pick up and play.
What Sucks: Might be a little too low-key for some players.
Buy it? If you’re into relaxing puzzle games, check out Shadowmatic. Pick it up on the App Store for $2.99.
Terra Battle – iOS (Universal)
Terra Battle caught a lot of attention because it has Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi’s name attached to it This shouldn’t come as a shock, though, seeing as his company, Mistwalker, developed the game.
Terra Battle is a twist on the standard RPG formula: Rather than have your characters face each other with a menu of commands, your characters and enemies are placed on a grid. You then move around the grid and can attack enemies when you have them surrounded on two sides either horizontally or vertically. The combat system seems pretty simple, but there’s a lot of nuance that actually makes it quite deep.
The story centers on a world on the brink of doomsday—a shocking new direction for RPGs—and you have to unite the various races of the world to save it. (Those original Final Fantasy games had similarly vague stories as well.) The story itself is a bit lacking, unfornately: The only background info you get comes via short, terse text blurbs that appear at the start of every level. The game also features online co-op, with a separate set of non-story missions.
What’s Good: Creative battle system puts a twist on RPG combat.
What Sucks: Weak and generic story.
Buy it? If you’re a fan of RPG’s and want to see some interesting battle mechanics, check out Terra Battle. Pick it up on the App Store for free.