This week brings us some major releases from popular studios alongside a surprising number of simpler games with modern gameplay, but retro aesthetics. Topping our list is the port of the mega popular and well-designed Might & Magic Clash of Heroes. We've also got a new racer from the developers of Reckless Racing, a hilarious physics puzzler from the creators of Azkend and Boom Brigade, a simple game about diamond heists and another about headshots, and an interesting retro indie horror title that is truly spooky.
Might & Magic Clash of Heroes ($4.99)
Way back in 2009, Capybara Games and Ubisoft brought us this interesting game based on the Might & Magic franchise. It was a fun, bite-sized chunk of that universe with great art and awesome strategy gameplay that mixed in casual puzzle elements. That game was released on the Nintendo DS, and since then the game has been making the rounds to pretty much every downloadable platform. Now, thanks to Tag Games, it's finally on iOS with its brilliant twenty hour campaign and excellent battle system. The port of this game is, sadly, a bit sloppy, with many bugs and no new features at all. Still, the core game is simply fantastic, and you should look into it.
Cracking Sands ($4.99)
Anyone who's paid attention to recent news and updates from Polarbit Games, developers of Reckless Racing, has probably heard about this one already. I hadn't, so imagine my delight to learn that some of the best racing game developers on iOS were tackling Kart Racing and putting it in a post-apocalyptic Desert Punk/Mad Max sort of environment, with oxymoronic yet adorable chibi characters and art. You can even create your own gas mask and pain-spike-armor-wearing racer. You can also customize your own kart, loading it up with all sorts of weapons, and then take that racer into the online multiplayer. Awesome.
Here we have an indie treat of a game. Developed during a 48 hour Game Jam by Jonathan Whiting and Alan Hazelden, Traal is the rare horror game on iOS. Light on the narrative, it has you wandering around a mysterious and dark dungeon full of Lovecraftian horrors. If your flashlight beam falls upon one of the C'thuloid monsters, you will automatically run in the opposite direction out of sheer terror, often into spikes. It actually manages to create a sense of tension, and has great atmosphere thanks to the sound design. All of this despite being done in pixel art with a very limited color palette. The game is totally free on iOS and on the web, so check it out.
Half-Inch Heist (Free)
Here's a novel new game idea from Mutant Labs, wrapped in a decidedly retro package. It has you stealing diamonds from incredibly high security facilities. I'm talking lasers, missile turrets, robots, moving walls, and the like. You don't actually see a representation of yourself on screen. Instead, you just drag the diamond in question around the screen and dodge a relentless onslaught of obstacles, with each level culminating in a boss fight. The pixel art and chip tunes are wonderfully done, and I like the mash up of old and new school here. It would be infinitely better with relative touch controls instead of one-to-one, though, as you often can't see what's going on.
Tennis in the Face ($0.99)
This week is just full of oddball releases. Here we have one of the strangest physics puzzlers at all, from 10tons of Azkend and Boom Brigade fame. It has you, as a disgruntled professional Tennis player, saving the city from an evil energy drink corporation and their product Explodz. You do this, somehow, by hitting clowns, riot police, and research scientists with robot arms in the face with tennis balls. The level design sets up some very cool chain reactions, made even better by all the enemies bouncing around the level with ragdoll physics. You can trust this to be an awesome game based on the developer pedigree alone.
And finally, we round out this week's releases with another mash-up of modern touch gameplay and retro design sensibilities. You play as a man who has a gun in a pixelated world, and as such it is your duty to mercilessly blow the heads off of every criminal and scumbag in the streets. As you wander the street in a fixed position, you can aim and fire your gun with one finger to take down the enemies that will come raining down the screen, lining up those precious headshots for bonus points. It's simple, it can get pretty hectic, and it's gloriously violent. Check it out if that sounds like your bag.