Pirate Subs! snatches the lead in iPad Games of the Week

by Tim McLain

Fill your summer with these casual games without breaking the bank!

First, forget Jack Sparrow, Blackbeard, and those other moldy oldy pirates. Today’s ocean-going swashbucklers are better organized, hunt in packs, and use the latest submarine technology to plunder unsuspecting victims. That’s the premise of Pirate Subs, which brings a fresh dual-attack mode to your Apple tablet, along with an eerily familiar soundtrack (Pirates of the Caribbean, anyone?)

The rest of our weekly roundup is a 100% free set of “quick to pickup but hard to put down” sports-related gems, offering table tennis, running, and baseball experiences you won’t find anywhere else.

Pirate Subs! ($.99)

If you’ve seen the new X-Men movie, then you’re ready for Pirate Subs. In this dollar menu explosion-fest, you’ll tap on underwater pirate subs to launch them above the water (no magnetic super powers necessary), then swipe across the airborne swashbucklers to send a deadly cruise missile into their hulls. BOOM! Rinse and repeat. Avoid the whales and dog-paddling polar bears to keep the game going, and combine your attacks into multiple explosions to boost your score. The game goes even deeper, offering five ways to destroy your foes. Classic mode is a never-ending mode to kick things off. Next is timed mode, where you get a single minute to rain death on the subs. Expert mode cranks things up to 11 in terms of toughness, while Zen mode takes the underwater animals out of the mix so you can’t accidentally kill a creature. Cheat mode, folks, is where the real fun lies. Turn off gravity, attack only mini-subs, invincibility, crazy-huge uber blasts, and more await. No score is recorded when you cheat, but the fun factor is boosted by 10,000%. Trust me.

World Cup Table Tennis HD (FREE)

I’ve worked at several Internet startups over the years. They all sported at least one ping pong table. I’m happy to report that despite my ho-hum table tennis skills that this new free app does an excellent job recreating the whole paddle and little white ball experience. It’s you against a disembodied opponent, and you’ll need to simply drag your finger around the screen to get your paddle in the right place at the right time. Your iPad will decide when you’ll smash a return or drop a shot in just the right spot. AI mode was a blast, while head to head lets you play against a fellow human on the same device. Career mode opens up a set of countries to play against, with some players much better than others. Tournament Mode lets you pick a country to play for, then blast your way through a traditional set of brackets. Finally, Arcade Mode folds up half a table which is marked with specific spots to hit with your ball. While some shots go awry for no reason I could discern, overall this is a freebie that will feed your need for ping pong goodness anywhere.

Run Run Dash! (FREE)

Taking its cues equally from two Hitchcock movies (an 8-bit, angry Cary Grant if he ran from The Birds anyone?) and Pixar’s Bird On A Wire animated short, this freebie will have you dodging dive-bombing blue birds while running from side to side, gathering power ups and generally trying to stay alive. With squished 8-bit graphics and an '80s electronic soundtrack to round things off, there’s a ton of fun to be had in this freebie. How long can you avoid the inevitable? New birds continually land on the wire above, and you’ll need to bring your A game to dodge them all. A poolside time killer that’s worth an install, even if you find it isn’t your cup of tea. Run, run, dash your way to the App Store!

XLARGE “X-Baseball” (FREE)

Another 8-bit gem that will appeal to arcade game baseball fans and iPad owners in general, XLARGE X-Baseball is a hoot from start to finish. (And, trust me, there’s not much difference between the two!) You’re at the plate, facing a pitcher and open ball field. Above you, birds cross your field of view. Below them is a happy crowd of spectators. Tap the screen anywhere to swing the bat; land a solid hit, and the ball will cruise up into the air and take out a bird. Score! That’s all there is to it. How many birds can you take out before you strike out? With a fun sound effects track that will take you back to the golden age of Intellivision and the Atari 2600, this is a must-install for old timers and younglings looking for some quick, free fun this summer.

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