Après moi le Deluge: Sorting through the last-minute iOS game releases

By Owen Faraday 20 Dec 2012 0
A massive flood of games has appeared for iPhones and iPads this week - all from devs hoping to get out ahead of App Store approvals shutting down for the holiday on Friday. We've already seen Lords of Midnight (which is completely aces and highly recommended), RAD Soldiers, and Penny Arcade: Gamers vs Evil this week - but that's just a handful of the releases that have slid under the door.

I'm going to attempt to give you a flavour for the ones I've had a chance to get hands-on with, and direct you to buzz about the ones I haven't.

Pixel Defenders Puzzle

Learning it the hard way is the easy way.

Pixel Defenders Puzzle is an ingenious blend of genres - it takes the matching puzzle gameplay of Spry Fox's Triple Town and adds in some light fantasy combat. It's quite challenging and the game's production values have a pleasing heft to them. The biggest knock on the game is that it has one of the most torturously-paced tutorials I've played in a long, long time. Skip it entirely and learn as you go - it's decidedly less painful. Pixel Defenders Puzzle is 99 cents on the App Store and a universal app.

Anomaly Korea

Static defenses are so 19th century. You can never just go around.

This one is the sequel to Anomaly Warzone Earth, a tower "offense" game that I had quite a lot of time for. I haven't had a chance to play Anomaly Korea yet but it doesn't seem to deviate too much from the formula established by the original - not a bad thing, really. The original has you choosing paths and weapons to get your fragile troops through a gauntlet of towers. If escort missions in other games drive you nuts, steer clear - but it's worth a look for everyone else. Anomaly Korea is a universal app and selling for a "special launch price" of $2.99.

Ravensword: Shadowlands

Resurrect dead on planet Jupiter. Dragonborn-again.

Not to be confused with the excellent fantasy wargame Ravenmark. While in previews, this 3D open-world RPG drew many comparisons to the Elder Scrolls PC and console games, and it sure looks the part. We've not had a chance to play this one, but there's already reviews elsewhere. TouchArcade has many virtues, but tough criticism isn't generally one of them - so take their 5-star review with a grain of salt. Slide To Play's 3 out of 4 review praises the game's ambition but points out some frustrating bugs and UI limitations. Ravensword is a universal app on sale for $7.

Lost Treasures of Infocom

Very likely. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

I didn't know this was in the works or I would have started crowing about it long ago - a native iOS front-end for Infocom's interactive fiction classics of the 80s. It's a free download and comes with the seminal Zork, with other games available as IAP. There's no sign yet of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy but you'll know if that gets released because this blog won't get updated for a week. I don't know if this works with the Apple bluetooth keyboard but I'm downloading this as I type so I'll let you know sharpish. Free download, universal app.

Sidius Nova

I'll go! Maybe it's a recruiting tool like The Last Starfighter.

Reader Ken S. tipped me to the existence of this light sci-fi 4X game. It's quite stripped down compared to proper 4X titles like Ascendancy - but that may be the key to its appeal. The combat in the game takes the form of lane control conflicts a la Total War Battles Shogun. Kotaku's resident strategy head Luke Plunkett has played it and has only good things to say. Sidius Nova is an iPhone app, and it's free with no apparent in-app purchases. No, I don't get it either. (UPDATE: This game is awesome. Get this game.)

Collapsible D: The Final Minutes of the Titanic

Driftin' Gotta find that Sprinter Trueno..

Despite sporting one of the year's worst titles, this board game conversion sounds brilliant. You are aboard the theretofore unsinkable ocean liner and have to make your way through the chaos to one of the lifeboats before the clock strikes "Never let me go, Jack". Don't rush to the App Store just yet, though - Neumann over at 164 warns us that the version released this week is in Italian. While undoubtedly beautiful, it will also be incomprehensible to most PT readers, so maybe hold off until this one gets an update. Collapsible D is iPad-only and $4.99.
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