Compiling the past week’s best games was a little tricky this time around, what with SEGA’s KingdomConquest (it’s free!) occupying so much of my time. But alas, a game reviewer has got to do what a game reviewer has got to do.
Fortunately there are a few quality games this week, most notably EA’s latest Need For Speed game and a follow-up to the very cool castle defense hit Trenches. I’d also mention Smurfs’ Village, but judging by the numbers, you’ve probably already heard of it.
Need For Speed Hot Pursuit ($4.99)
The racing genre is once one of the most competitive in the App Store, though as of late, the steady stream of iPhone racers has been less than steady. Of course one franchise that has been consistent is Need For Speed, as this week’s release of Hot Pursuit marks the third iOS game Electronic Arts has released in the series. The twist in this release is that you’re put in the role of a cop (or in multiplayer mode you can play as the racer), challenged with navigating your way through a 24-event career mode. Currently there are 15 cars you can control, and the aforementioned multiplayer mode works via either local Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. If there’s a big omission here it’s that Hot Pursuit only offers tilt controls, and while there are plenty of mentions of retina display, the game doesn’t look a whole lot different than its predecessors. Still, Need For Speed has been, and remains, one of my favorite racing series on the iPhone, and like the others this version will not disappoint.
While you don’t always want to judge a book by its cover, it’s safe to judge Stenches: A Zombie Tale of Trenches by its name. Indeed, this game is an extended version of the Zombie Horde mode from the castle defense game Trenches, with 200 wave levels and new bosses to deal with. Like the original, a highlight of the game is its wonderful presentation, with both a great art design and a good deal of effort put into the game’s audio. On the down side, if you’ve got the original there’s not a lot here to convince you to get this game – at least until the promised future updates that will include multiplayer options and more enemies.
Smurfs' Village (Free)
If there are two things that iPhone gamers can’t get enough of, it’s farm management games and nostalgia acts. Capcom’s Smurfs’ Village boasts both of those features and it’s free, a good formula for an App Store hit. In this game, Gargamel has destroyed the Smurfs' old village and sent the little blue creatures scurrying around a forest. You must track down Smurfs and get them into your new village (which you do by leveling up), and build and maintain this new home. There’s not much here you haven’t seen before, though there are three mini-games to spice things up a little. While the game is free, you can purchase "Smurfberries" to help speed things up via in-app download, which explains why this app is both near the top of the Free Apps list and the Top Grossing Games list. As far as nostalgia acts go, this one is entirely bearable, and recommended for fans of FarmVille and similar types of games.
Civilzations Wars ($0.99)
Don't let the name fool you, the extra 's' at the end mean that this has nothing to do with the popular Civilization series. But Civilizations Wars is a similar type of game, heavy on strategy instead of typical action gameplay. The Chillingo-release game has three sets of civilizations each with different abilities and all after the same goal – to travel north and discover a mystical secret power from the past. The battlefields consist of various towers, with you strategically sending troops to various bases in hopes of retaining control of them. It’s real simple, but quite hectic and easy to get lost in. There’s also an RPG element here, with you earning experience points for victories and then having the option to use those on improving your civilization's skills. It's not a great game, but at 99 cents it’s not a bad one and a good choice for those who enjoy war strategy games.
SPACE BOSS ($1.99)
SPACE BOSS is a dual-stick shooter in which – get this – you fly around space fighting bosses! Now that I got that out of the way, it’s also a pretty fun title that has the loveable trait of being free – at least for a little while, as to get the full version you’ll have to pay $1.99. The space fighter you control is quite small, but the bosses are massive and take up most of the screen. There’s a great deal of detail put into the bad guys, and all four of them have unique looks and qualities. In all, there are eight weapons you can use, though this is a somewhat limited game with little replay value unless you’re into constantly upping your high score. Still, because the first taste is free there’s little reason for you not to give SPACE BOSS a try, as while it may not be fun forever, it still is fun for a while.