Well, I’ve spent a lot more time lately playing iPad games than writing about them, so I’ll catch you up on several that have been keeping me busy (though I have to admit that Carcassonne and Hero Academy are probably my most commonly-played apps at the moment). For this Core Dump, I’m going to be brief: just the basic gist of the game and my overall impression, so you can get done reading and get busy playing! (Note: all the apps are universal, for iPhone and iPad, except where noted.)
I know I’ve played Cuboid online before, although a quick search is mostly turning up knock-off Flash games. Basically you have a 1×2 block which you move by flipping it either end-over-end or rolling along its longer axis. The goal is to drop the cuboid down through the square portal — which means you have to maneuver it so that it tips up straight through the hole. Later levels include switches that activate bridges, teleporters that split the block into two cubes, and lots of fiendishly-designed puzzles. You can grab the app for free, or pay $1.99 for the ad-free version.
I never played the original, but I’ve played a whole lot of Defender Chronicles 2. Mind you, I’m not great at it and my heroes haven’t been leveled up much. It’s a tower defense game, but it’s vertical: rather than a top-down view, you get a side view as enemies walk up or down paths to get past your defenses. There’s an RPG element to this one: you get one of four heroes on each level, and they can be leveled up and equipped with various items. You build fighters, spellcasters, and archers, as well as some guilds like the Lizardmen or Dwarves. Some of the levels are really difficult (at least for me) to get full stars by not letting any enemies through. If you like tower defense, this one’s pretty fun. One nice touch: in-app access to the forums where you can look up tips and ask for help. $2.9 on iTunes
Luxor is a puzzle/arcade game similar to Zuma, where you shoot colored balls as they move along a track toward a goal — you try to prevent them from reaching that goal. Luxor Evolved is the latest iteration of the game, with a retro vector look to it. The Luxor games have an Egyptian theme to them, so here you get a weird techno-Egyptian look. You move left and right along the bottom of the screen, firing colored balls at the chains that come by. Match at least three balls and they vanish. But you also score lots of power-ups, fight epic boss battles, and play secret bonus levels with ’80s arcade themes like Pac-Man (pictured above) or Donkey Kong. At $4.99, it’s not cheap, but it’ll give you some high-octane fun.
Speaking of arcade games, the Midway Arcade app includes a bunch of classic arcade games in a single app, designed to look like walking through an arcade. The base app (currently $.99 on iTunes, but regular price is $1.99) includes six arcade games: Spy Hunter, Rampage, Joust, RootBeer Tapper, Defender and Arch Rivals. It also throws in Air Hockey, Arcade Basketball, Pool, and Roll Ball (skee ball). For a buck each, you can unlock the Fantasy Game Pack (Wizard of Wor and Gauntlet I and II) or the Action Game Pack (NARC, Total Carnage, and APB). Okay, so they throw in a few filler games with the good stuff, but if you’ve got an iCade and are looking for some more games to play with it, this isn’t a bad deal. Plus, how many quarters did you feed into these machines in the ’80s — probably more than three bucks, right?
Tap Tip Block ‘Em is a bizarre little game. Poor Nick just wants to get married, but every night his house is assaulted by weird monsters: zombies, aliens, and demons. You stand in the middle of the room, turning back and forth to check all the windows and doors and walls where the creepies try to get in, and then frantically block things back up when they break down your barriers. Block windows by tapping to hammer up a board; draw lines to chain up the doors, and stack heavy objects on top of the cellar doors. In addition, some of the monsters require other gestures to finish them off. The graphics are a little weird and Nick’s panicky gasps can get annoying, but if you like frantic button-mashers (or screen-mashers, as it were) then grab this for $.99 before July 4. (After that, it goes to its regular price of $2.99.)
Atari is working on new versions of its classic games, like Asteroids and Breakout, and the latest in the line-up is Centipede: Origins. Like the others, it’s a cheap app ($.99 in iTunes) with in-app purchases for coinage — the coinage is optional but it can get you better weapons more quickly. As in the original, you move around freely in the bottom portion of the screen, firing automatically, as various bugs encroach. Centipede segments turn into mushrooms when they’re shot; fleas jump straight down the screen leaving trails of mushrooms, and spiders bounce around at the bottom of the screen. There are four worlds, each with its own twists (though the first world is based on the original). You can also load up on weapons and powerups like rapid fire or a boom shot that blasts through mushrooms. Not sure if I like this quite as much as the original, but it’s okay.
I’ve always liked sliding-block puzzles and tangrams, but Cross Fingers puts a new spin on the idea. Each level has a number of pale blocks which need to be put together to fill the black hole in the middle. But you can’t just pick them up and move them around — you have to slide them, and only along the grid lines (orthogonally or diagonally). Red blocks make things harder by springing back into place and only sliding in one dimension. Arcade mode is like playing Tetris but with four new blocks entering at a time. The free version gets you the first 30 levels as a taster, but for $.99 you can get the full version with a ridiculous 570 levels. Turn off your multi-touch gestures for this one; you’re gonna need all your fingers.
When Dice Hate Me Games published Carnival last year through Kickstarter, they threw in a little one-card game called Lucky Dice. It’s a simple game: you roll nine dice, three at a time, and place them on a 3×3 grid. You score each row, column, and diagonal: doubles are worth 5 points, triples are worth 10 points, and straights are worth 15 points. It’s tiny and takes about 30 seconds to play a game — plus it’s free! (For iPhone — you can run it on the iPad at 2x.)
I love Where’s My Water?, the physics puzzler about getting water to Swampy the alligator so he can take his shower. Now there’s a version featuring Agent P. from Phineas & Ferb, called Where’s My Perry? The title is a little misleading: you know exactly where Perry is — he’s in the transport tube, trying to get to the briefing room. But Dr. Doofenshmirtz has been messing with things and the tubes aren’t working — so you’re using the backup hydro-generators … which require water. Dr. Doof, Major Monogram, and Carl the intern all make appearances (and comments) throughout the game, and there are collectible files on various other agents and the Doof-inators. A great bunch of puzzle games, even if you already have the original, because there are different features in this one. Plus, you know, it’s got Perry. $.99 on iTunes gets you 80 levels for now, but I’m sure there will be frequent updates with additional puzzles.
Scotland Yard is the classic hidden-movement board game, and I was excited to see that it’s now available for iOS. The app lets you play single player with AI, or multiplayer either with pass-and-play, Wifi or Bluetooth, or online with Game Center. The game is a faithful translation of the board game, but it looks a bit more like the newer, updated version, which is quite busy and can be difficult to read, even on the iPad’s larger screen. (I don’t know how it looks on the iPhone, but I imagine it would be quite tricky to see the bigger picture.) I haven’t gotten to play this one as much multiplayer yet, but I’m hoping to give it another shot — my first impression is that it feels a little slow, but maybe the AI is just trying to replicate real players who can’t make up their minds. $4.99 on iTunes
Time for another time-management game! Fix-It-Up Eighties is a sequel to Fix-It-Up: Kate’s Adventure, featuring Kate’s parents. They really have some fun with the ’80s themes (lots of teal and hot pink). Customers drive by to sell you their cars: you repair them, paint them, trick them out, and wax them. Then you can either park them in the lot where you’ll earn rental income periodically, or move them to the sale lot to sell them. In the meantime, you have to get more parts to do all the repairs, and you’ll have various other objectives on each level, from hitting certain benchmarks to building a Chinese dragon float for a parade. You can try a few levels for free, or get the whole shebang for $2.99.
Back in December I reviewed Squids, a turn-based physics game that pits your team of squids against a bunch of undersea baddies. Well, they’re back in Squids Wild West, which picks up where we left off. You’ll meet several new squids (like Calamary Jane) and you’ll get to tame some wild seahorses that you can ride into battle. Like the original, there’s an RPG element to it as you upgrade your squids and pick your team of four for each level. Beware: some of the bonus levels are really difficult, and you’ll probably need to come back after you’ve leveled up your squids. The app is currently $.99 for the launch, but regular price will be $1.99. There are in-app purchases for extra items, but you don’t have to spend money if you’re willing to just collect pearls in-game instead.
Disclosure: GeekDad received promo codes for the games reviewed here.