Whoa, October is here already? Scratch that, October is almost over already. I guess I should get to work on my kids’ costumes — my younger daughter has decided that this year she’s going to be a banana with a mustache, and my older one has decided she wants to be a vampire angel, whatever that means. But for now, I’ve got a handful of iOS apps — mostly treats — that you may enjoy.
Royal Revolt — free universal app (with optional in-app currency)
Royal Revolt is a “reverse tower defense” game. Or maybe a “tower attack” game. The story is this: you’re a young prince who returned from a trip only to find that your father has died and your power-hungry aunt and uncles have claimed the throne. So you battle the usurpers, calling upon your trusted troops. You have direct control over the prince, tapping to move him along a winding path to the castle at the end. In the meantime, your own meter builds up at the bottom of the screen, allowing you to summon soldiers, archers, wizards, and catapults once you have enough power stored.
Your troops will just move along the path automatically, stopping to attack oncoming enemies and then proceeding forward. In the meantime, the prince can help disarm traps, cast spells to attack enemies or protect your own troops, and do a little hand-to-hand combat. Be careful, though: if your prince dies, then you’ve lost the level. Passing levels will gain you experience and gold, which you can spend on upgrading your troops and spells.
The game starts off pretty easy but you may have to do a bit of grinding to level up in order to take on the harder levels. There are also bonus levels which are only unlocked by earning enough stars by finishing off levels as quickly as possible, which becomes increasingly challenging as you progress. You can pay for in-app currency to speed things along, but it’s definitely worth the (free) price of entry to try it out.
One Epic Knight — free universal app (with optional in-app purchases)
Fans of endless-run games like Temple Run and Subway Surfers will get a kick out of One Epic Knight, which features a goofy-looking golden knight running through a castle, collecting loot and avoiding hazards and enemies. Everything is swipe-based, but there’s a lot more variety than in the other two: you go up and down stairs, around corners, and slide under spinning sawblades. There are only a couple types of enemies, but a wide array of traps, obstacles, pits, and other hazards to avoid.
Collect loot to purchase upgrades in the store, and pick up swords and shields in the game to attack enemies or smash through obstacles. The knight also makes funny comments in a surfer-dude sort of voice as he runs around, and the rag-doll deaths are pretty amusing. Also great is when you grab the big ham hock that occasionally appears: the knight goes on rampage, hollering “MEEEAAAAT” and smashing things until he’s done eating. Overall, ti’s seemingly-simple concept has kept me entertained for a long time.
Horn — $6.99 universal app
Remember Infinity Blade? It was the first app to use Epic’s Unreal engine, and the graphics and action sequences were astounding, though the gameplay ended up being a bit repetitive, with sort of a one-punchline story. Horn uses the same engine, but takes the game in a different direction: you can run around and explore things a bit more, rather than just tapping one of two directions (at most) to proceed. There’s also a story that you’re piecing together as you play the game. Horn is a blacksmith’s apprentice who wakes up to find his town overrun by weird mechanical creatures, and he soon discovers that these creatures are actually townsfolk and animals. He starts setting them free, while also trying to figure out what exactly happened to his town.
There’s a good bit of humor mixed in with the action and adventure, and playing through the game unlocks various journal entries if you want to dig deeper into the story. Also, as you gain experience and collect the pygite crystals scattered around, you can use them to forge new weapons or upgrade existing weapons. The game includes in-app purchases which aren’t necessary to play the game, but as the costs of upgrading weapons increases significantly, you’ll find yourself tempted. I haven’t finished Horn yet, but I’ve been sucked into the story and am eager to find out where it goes.
Polara — $2.99 Universal app
Polara is a platformer that has some similarities to endless-run games like Canabalt, but with an interesting twist. The story part of it involves some sort of bio-defense suit that can change between red and blue, making agent Lara immune to weapons of that color. She breaks out of the testing facility and hits the rooftops, evading the security systems by means of her color-changing suit.
The game play is simple: Lara runs automatically, and you tap one side of the screen to jump, the other side to change color. Whatever color she is, she’s immune to that color projectiles. However, there are also platforms, moving sidewalks, and boosters which are only active if you match their color. This makes for some very fancy tapping as you change color mid-jump in order to avoid weapons and ensure that you have a place to land. There are also sections of the game that borrow from Gravity Guy, where your color determines whether gravity is up or down — but you still have to deal with the aforementioned obstacles while you’re at it.
There’s a story mode which has 50 set levels, with a few bosses and a so-so storyline. (Note to parents: there is some mild profanity that appeared halfway through the story, so use your discretion.) There are a few survival modes which use different types of obstacles; some of these are available immediately and some need to be unlocked by playing the story mode. There are a bunch of achievements and bonuses to add some replay value, but the biggest draw is simply the challenge of navigating the obstacles with your color-changing suit.
Whoowasit? is a Ravensburger cooperative board game from several years ago by Reiner Knizia, well-known for his mathematical-puzzle games, though this one plays out more like a traditional kids’ board game. The evil wizard stole the magic ring from the wise king, and has hidden it somewhere in the castle, in the guise of one of the castle’s residents. As you move through the castle, the talking animals can give you clues about the thief: man or woman, tall or short, wearing black boots or not … but before they’ll help you, you have to find the food they want. Meanwhile, there’s a ghost who moves around the castle, and if he catches you he scares you back to the nursery where you started. There’s a ticking clock, too: if time runs out before you find the thief, then the evil wizard has succeeded!
The original board game came with a talking electronic treasure chest which game the clues and told you what foods the animals wanted, and this app reproduces the look and feel of the game. It does add a few helpful features, like greying out rooms that you can’t reach and zooming in when you’re interacting with an animal, but for the most part it plays out like the physical game, which had the electronic element anyway. It’s a mixture of luck and deductive reasoning, sort of like Clue but cooperative, and because of the spoken instructions younger kids can figure it out on their own, while adults will be challenged to solve the mysteries before the time runs out.
If you have the physical game, you can also use the app as a replacement for the electronic chest, though I’m not really sure why you would unless you’re just tired of changing out batteries in the chest.
Atari has a new update of their classic brick-breaking Breakout game in the form of Super Bunny Breakout. You are Rodney, a bunny who has escaped from your cage at a lab, and you decide to break out as many of your fellow prisoners as you can before leaving. Instead of a row of bricks, there are various lab items: flasks and test tubes, shelves, and even cages with other animals. As you smash things, you can catch the freed animals and avoid the ooze that drips from the flasks, which slows you down.
You’ll rescue other creatures (including a creepy pair of sentient marshmallows), who each have their own super-charged power. During the game, if you release your finger, the paddle will catch the ball/character and allow you to switch out — each character has its own energy meter which depletes when you miss the ball and charges up when you feed it.
The game is fun and the cutscenes are amusing, but the controls are a little finicky: quite often trying to maneuver near the bottom of the screen doesn’t work very well. Try out the free version to see if you like it first.
Oh! Sheep — free universal app, $.99 unlock and in-app currency
Here’s a good one for fans of logic puzzles, though you’ll need timing and dexterity, too. Oh! Sheep has a bizarre story about an evil Dr. Friedrich who’s planning to destroy the earth using some berries — but fortunately the intergalactic sheep have arrived to stop him. Right. The gist of the gameplay, though, is that you control the sheep, who eat up the berries before Dr. Friedrich can get to them, and then make it to the platforms to beam up to their ships.
Eating a berry changes the sheep into that color, which then allows you to hit switches of that color. You also need to match the color of the exit platform. Control is by drawing paths for the sheep to follow, and in cases where timing matters this can get quite tricky — particularly because you can earn extra stars on a level for using the fewest possible paths. Later levels introduce a lot of other gadgets: teleporters, lasers, robots that chase you if they spot you, and so on.
The one thing I don’t like about the game is the bonus level unlocking — you have to collect three of a certain gem to unlock the bonus levels, but there are only a few ways to get them. Even spending real money to purchase in-app currency doesn’t buy you those gems. it’s also not clear to me what the coins are for: you can spend real money to buy diamonds, and you can turn diamonds into coins, but then the coins don’t buy anything — it’s the diamonds that are useful, as far as I can tell.
The game itself, however, is fantastic. So far there are only 90 levels (45 in the base game and 45 more if you pay to unlock the game) but they were challenging and kept me engaged for a while. I haven’t earned all of the stars on each level yet, either, but I’m working on that. If you like a good puzzle, definitely give this one a spin.
We’ll close out this Core Dump with one more time-management game: Hotel Transylvania Dash. It’s the classic game but with the Hotel Transylvania theme. You play as Dracula, running your successful getaway for ghoulish guests, and it’s your job to keep all of them happy. Check them into their rooms, bring them room service, and then check them out and dump the laundry when they leave.
Each type of guest has particular quirks: the aquatic monsters like to go swimming so they’ll need extra towels (which means extra laundry); the blobs eat a lot and will need more food; the Yeti is a bit of a rockstar and won’t let others past him in the hallway until you take care of him. Oh, and don’t forget about that human kid that showed up — he’s a nuisance who runs into the other monsters’ rooms and you’ll have to escort him back to his own room.
It’s pretty similar to other time-management games so don’t expect too much variation, but if you like this sort of thing then the Hotel Transylvania theme is a fun touch, just in time for Halloween.
Disclosure: GeekDad received review codes for these apps.