I’ve actually played a Pirates of the Caribbean movie tie-in game for my Xbox. It was bland, almost playable, and nothing to write home about. But with the launch of BackStab this week, we can all safely put that behind us and revel in what could have been. The game delivers a massively open world (think Assassin’s Creed and Red Dead Redemption) set in the pirate-filled 18th century, where you take on the role of Henry Blake as he sets off on a revenge spree to track down the man who betrayed him during his time in the Royal Navy. Tack-on a family-friendly game, Monster Soup, along with a Mario Kart wannabe sporting a familiar friend and his pals from the SEGA universe (of course it’s Sonic), and a simple but addicting puzzle game in Continuity 2, and you’ve got our iPad games of the week.
It’s summertime, and that means one thing: a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, right? Yes, but let’s set aside the Hollywood treatment of 18th century swashbucklers for a moment. BackStab, Gameloft’s newest and best game for mobile devices, shows us just how good an open-world, pirate-themed Assassin’s Creed can be. You take on the role of Henry Blake, a recently released officer in England’s vaunted Royal Navy. You see, his navy buddy, Edmund Kane, betrayed Henry back in the day. And as both arrive on a massive island, Henry sets off on a bloody quest to track down his prey and stab him multiple times with his shiny sword. Getting from one side of the island to the other is where the adventure lies, and each mission offers up new set pieces and tons of button-mashing goodness. You’ll kill pirates on the beach, in the thick jungle, near volcanoes, and even in several island towns. You can scale walls and jump between rooftops just like in Assassin’s Creed. Set sail to the App Store and grab this summer’s top game today.
Monster Soup ($0.99)
Kids, we need your help! Plubert from Pluto is just plain mad, and he’s taking out his anger on the peaceful, cute peoples of the Soup System by freezing the chicken and beef stock lakes of their planetary home. It’s your job to rescue the little people by joining them together in like groups with your finger. Once you’ve matched them up, they’ll be removed from the soup. Miss a few and they’ll float to the top, instantly freezing in place. The more you miss, the more they freeze, and the ice sheet will march slowly towards the bottom of the screen. Hit the bottom and Plubert wins. Soup frozen. Do your best to match up five or more folks to score multipliers, get power-ups, and even bursts of sunshine to melt a bit of the accumulated ice. As you move from level to level, the ice remains in place, so be super-careful not to miss anyone or your mistakes will move with you throughout your gameplay.
Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing ($4.99)
I’m a sucker for a solid kart-racing game. Whether it’s Mario Kart of yore or SEGA’s newest Sonic All-Stars iPad game, I can’t get enough of that action. The levels will all feel familiar, along with the usual cast of characters, while the racing itself is 100 percent arcade goodness. Beyond the single player challenge, there’s tons of other options, including time-trial ghost racing and multiplayer modes powered by both online matchmaking and local Wi-Fi, head-to-head action. With cars, trucks, planes, bikes, and even banana karts to choose from, there’s tons of fun to be had by all. You can use your accelerometer controls or on-screen touch points, but stick with the tilt controls, and you’ll clean up like nobody’s business. The game, like Mario Kart, is all about the drifting. Practice taking a turn at full drift and you’ll blow through the field like a tornado in a cornfield.
Continuity 2: The Continuation ($0.99)
As a kid, I spent many an hour playing with slide puzzles. These little cheap plastic toys were filled with interlocking colored squares and patterns. Just slide everything around until the colors lined-up or the picture was complete. In Continuity 2, you’ll start with similar gameplay, then add some basic platformer action. Use your iPad’s accelerometer to change gravity within each level to get your little guy from one side to the other to grab the red key of life. Once you’ve slid the pieces into their right spot, double-tap him to get him moving. If you hit another wall along the way, slide the puzzle pieces around to keep him going. Changing the gravity will help you get around the crazy bits, and with 60 levels to explore, this dollar menu app is an instant classic for puzzle fans everywhere.