It’s unfortunate that Original Duck Hunt and Prince of Persia Retro weren’t released slightly sooner, as both games would have fit right into last week’s retro-style Games of The Week list. But enough about the past; this list is all about the here and now.
Crash Bandicoot is back in the iTunes App Store, and games like Assault Squadron and The Package demonstrate the iPhone's visual capabilities. And while this week’s list may be a bit light on nostalgia, it more than makes up for it with quality.
1. Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2
A sequel to one of the iPhone’s very first game, Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2 ($9.99) may not be as important as the first title, but it’s certainly a better racing game in just about every way – from improved graphics, to smoother visuals, to more game modes. There’s nothing in the game that will surprise fans of the series (or fans of any kart series, whether it be Mario Kart or Shrek Kart), but it does the right things and follows the typically successful formula for these types of games. There a two control methods – tilt and on-screen controls – and both work and will each gain followers. There are also eight game modes, including a multi-player mode and a very cool mission mode that will be appreciated by those who like to have a reason to revisit a game. There are 10 characters and 12 tracks in all, so there’s a good deal of content in this game, which you would expect given its price. Speaking of the price, that should be the only reason you don’t get this game, as aside from that, it's kart gaming at its most fun.
2. Assault Squadron
It’s nearly impossible to talk about The Binary Mill’s Assault Squadron ($2.99) without using the word frenetic – see, I couldn’t even make it an entire sentence. This space shooter is heavy on action, but gamers will also appreciate that it mixes in both a vertical view (like Galaga) as well as a horizontal view. Regardless of which one you’re using, you’re sure to be faced with tons of enemies and bullets, especially on the more difficult settings. There are also multiple control modes, so you can use tilt, a virtual d-pad or on-screen touch to maneuver one of four ships, which all have unique abilities and strengths. There is a downside, though, as this title only has six levels. While they stand apart from each other and are reasonably deep, it’s impossible to not want more. As long as you can get past that, you’ll likely love Assault Squadron, as there are plenty of things it does well.
3. The Package
Rock Pocket’s The Package (99 cents) is a physics puzzler in which, through the use and placement of various tools, you have to deliver a package to its destination. The game takes place in a warehouse and you have the option to use things such as ramps, springs and fans to complete 20 levels. The graphics are, somewhat surprisingly, a huge highlight and selling point of this game, though it has to be mentioned it’s designed for 3G devices and that performance on older ones is iffy. In addition to its fantastic look, the game’s levels are challenging and clever enough for even the pickiest puzzle fan, and the addition of bonus golden packages to each level give you an extra challenge if you so choose. The game cost $3.99 when it was released less than two weeks ago, and while that may be a bit steep, The Package is well worth its current 99-cent price tag.
4. Pirate’s Treasure
The ever-popular dual-stick shooter genre grew by one this week with the addition of Pirate’s Treasure ($1.99). Much of this game will be familiar to fans of the genre; one virtual stick controls your character’s movement, while the other controls your shooting. The look is also familiar, as it's got an overhead camera and bright, cartoonish graphics that are reminiscent of Guerrilla Bob. There’s also a campaign mode included in the game, in which you must do things like stay alive for a certain length of time or kill a specific amount of enemies in order advance to the next level. While there are 50 levels in Pirate’s Treasure and plenty of effort to give the game some replay value, the gameplay can get redundant. It’s not the best dual-stick shooter we’ve seen, but it’s a solid one that is sure to attract many gamers.
You may think that the match-three puzzle game has been done to death by now, but to the credit of many developers we continue to see interesting twists on the popular game. PressOK’s Spinzizzle ($1.99) is, you guessed it, a match-three game with a nice twist; the game board rotates and different colored balls fall into place, depending on which way you turn it. It’s the very definition of a pick up-and play-game, as it’s immediately evident how to play the game and what your goals are. There are 21 levels and four wildcard balls (such as the link ball and rainbow ball), so while this game is probably best for casual puzzle fans, there’s enough here to entertain you diehards as well. I’m not as big a fan of the game’s visuals as others, but they definitely don’t distract from the overall experience; for those of you who have grown tired of the many Bejeweled knockoffs, Spinzizzle may be just what you’re looking for.