Let me say this up front: Space Box is a fantastic game. It’s challenging, fun, and has some really great mechanics and art. And if you have a set of virtual-reality goggles to plunk your iPhone into, you can even play it hands-free in 3-D using head-tracking controls.
And that’s where it runs into some trouble, but you shouldn’t let it ruin the game for you.
We’re finishing up 2015, and now that you’re all good and tired of your families, we’ve checked out some great December iOS games to help you decompress in solitude.
This month’s offerings should cover all of your needs, whether you like to relax with a simple match-three title or need something more strategic. We have high-def graphics, pixel art, orchestrated music, chiptunes, straight-up fighting, and strategizing. December had something for everyone.
In no particular order, here were our favorite diversions from the December rush.
With over 1 billion downloads, Temple Run and it’s sequel, Temple Run 2, are the very definition of mobile gaming success.
It’s even better that husband and wife developers and co-founders Keith Shepherd and Natalia Luckyanova are such incredibly nice people. Their startup, Imangi Studios, has found the gold at the end of the rainbow, and they’ve no intention of stopping.
“Frozen Shadows” is the latest (and largest) free update to the franchise yet, giving you new characters like Guy Dangerous and Scarlett Fox to run through a brand-spanking-new ice world. You’ll also get new artifacts, winter costumes, and an absolutely terrifying new demon monkey to run from. Yikes!
“We’re really trying to expand the Temple Run universe,” Shepherd told us on the phone, “in much the same way as a novelist or storyteller would.”
I just leveled up while I was driving to pick my kid up from school. I set up a digital battle using my iPhone while sitting in my driveway, hit “Go,” and then just put my iPhone down on my dashboard while I drove to get him.
I’ve been calling these types of games “auto-battlers” for their central feature: letting you skip tedious, grinding gameplay that tends to be a feature of traditional role-playing games. I don’t have time to micromanage my iPhone; chances are neither do most people, which explains the rise of casual gaming over the past five years or so.
Here are three fun mobile games that let you experience more depth than a typical Flappy Bird clone, but still don’t require too much input to enjoy.
Hey, check it out — another free-to-play game with typical energy mechanics and city building aspects that will be familiar to anyone who’s played a similar build and battle game in the last year or so.
Unlike the other games, however, this one is set in Robert Kirkman’s award-winning comic book series. Titled The Walking Dead: Road to Survival, it’s set in the fortified town of Woodbury just prior to The Governor’s arrival. Fans of the story might enjoy messing about in the universe, especially with the fantastic, comic book-style art that infuses this whole project with an authentic zombie-apocalypes feel.
Check out the gameplay video below to see what I mean.
Bethesda’s runaway hit game Fallout Shelter is getting a well-needed dose of new stuff today, including several balance fixes, some new threats to your vault, and a handy robot assistant who can help you collect resources and scour the wasteland for you.
If you’re one of those word game fiends that has a list of Words With Friends games as long as your arm, you now can actually use that long arm to wear your games on your wrist.
Zynga just updated its hugely popular Words With Friends app to include Apple Watch features, so you never have to go another second without knowing when it’s your turn to spell “ZA” or “MUZJIKS” for the win.
Dominations is one my new favorite games on my iPhone; it combines the gameplay of Clash of Clans (build a city, attack other cities) along with a more historic approach. You’ll take your city from Bronze Age to the Space Age, upgrading your warriors and defenses along the way.
Developer Big Huge Games has scored a big huge hit with this one, garnering 7.2 million downloads across the App Store and Google Play in the space of 60 days.
Players have racked up some serious activity in game, too, as you can see in the infographic below, prepared by Big Huge and publisher Nexon Games.
Hearthstoneaddicts players rejoice! Blizzard’s incredibly compelling digital card game is now optimized for your iPhone or iPod touch.
We’ve heard rumors that some folks even use their iPhone while in the bathroom. Gross! If you’re one of those people, though, get ready to never stop playing Hearthstone again.
Sure, the video game company behind mega-hits World of Warcraft, Starcraft II, and Diablo III has had a version of this easy-to-learn, hard-to-master two-player collectible card game on the Mac and iPad since 2013, but this is the first time you’re able to play it on the small screen without any jailbreaking or hacking needed.
“Hearthstone is now officially supported on iPhone and iPod touch,” says the App Store description. “…Featuring an all-new intuitive interface hand-crafted for the mobile experience, it’s never been easier to take Hearthstone with you anywhere you want to play.”
Getting your game featured by Apple is the best way to jumpstart your indie game success. Sometimes, even games that seem rather basic at first glance can become powerhouses.
Mr. Jump is seeing some phenomenal success with five million downloads in the last five days since its release. It’s shaping up to be another Crossy Road-style success story, and the developers at 1Button games attribute the game’s instant success to Apple.
“I think that being featured by Apple in most countries has initiated the buzz,” says Jérémie Francone, one of the co-founders at the studio. “That’s what really launched the game.”
There are tons of new games out every week, and it’s hard to decide which ones to purchase, let alone which free games to download. We’re here to take some of the guesswork out of your decision, though, as we’ve scoured the best games that have come out so far this year.
From time wasters to deep strategic gems, this list will have you gaming in no time. Grab your copy of these five great –and brand-spankin’ new — gaming experiences today and you can thank us later.
Chances are, the first time you try your hand at Vainglory you’ll get ganked almost immediately by a crystal-toting Glaive.
If you’d rather avoid that ignominious end, you’ll want to read our guide to all things Vainglory. It’s loaded with tips and tricks on how to kick ass in this excellent iOS game, an Apple favorite that showcases the awesome fun possible in the multiplayer online battle arena genre.
You’ll find basic and advanced gameplay tips, plus a special top 10 list for every hero in the game, right from the developers themselves.
What were you doing when you were 17? Probably not publishing a book on how to program 3-D terrain in video games.
Game developer Trent Polack did just that. He’s been playing games since, well, forever.
“My mom says I’ve been playing games since I was 2,” he told Cult of Mac, “but I don’t think that’s possible.”
That lifetime of experience is paying off for Polack, creative director of Team Chaos, a small game studio based in Austin, Texas. His team’s latest project is a collaboration with Rooster Teeth, a video production house beloved by gamers for its hilarious machinima, or films created using video game engines (most notably Red vs. Blue, based on the best-selling Halo series).
In the Rooster Teeth vs. Zombiens, which should hit mobile devices in late November, the Rooster Teeth crew gets turned into cannon fodder as they face off against a swarm of zombie aliens. Cult of Mac talked with Polack about that noteworthy project, his gaming roots and his knack for crafting crazy publicity emails.
If the sheer volume of tower defense games on the App Store is any indication, people (and developers) love them. Defending your base against endless hordes of creeps is a wonderful way to spend some gaming time on your portable device; they’re not super twitch-dependent, and they definitely encourage the zen-like focus a lot of us enjoy when playing games.
Add a hot property like Star Wars to the mix, and you’ve got a game full of potential. Rebels and Stormtroopers in a tower defense game? Sign me up!
This is, however, a Mobage/DeNA free-to-play joint, so it’s hard to tell exactly whether it will be a compelling bit of playtime, or just another way to spam your friends with social media requests. The pre-release sign up allows you to earn some points to be used in-game already; this does not bode well, even with a Star Wars branding.
That said, I’m still pretty excited about playing this game. Check out the developer diary below to see if you’re just as excited.
There’s something incredibly compelling about a mobile game with simple mechanics and a maddeningly frustrating success rate. If you’ve played Flappy Bird or one of the several clones out there, you know exactly what that means.
Gavin Bowman, an indie developer and co-founder of Retro Dreamer, wanted to make a game that he could reasonably finish within one weekend, as part of a “game jam” called Ludum Dare, the theme of which was “connected worlds.”
“I was trying to come up with something for the game jam that I could definitely finish,” Bowman tells Cult of Mac. “So I had to keep the art and mechanic fairly simple to have it be releasably finished versus game jam finished.”
The result is a one-tap wonder of a little game that has you tapping your iPhone (or iPad) screen to send a little sphere off one planet to another that’s spinning around it, like planets and moons tend to do. When you find just the right timing for your tap, the success feels glorious, but when you miss, well, let’s say the f-bomb comes into play quite a bit.
Godus, the much-anticipated video game from god-game specialist designer Peter Molyneux and 22cans, is available now for iOS devices. Godus will let you play as your own private deity, letting you create and nurture a little island paradise on your iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone.
You’ll get to carve out landscapes with the touch of a finger, placing mountains, rivers, and flora wherever you like. You’ll also have the care and feeding of devout, worshipful followers of your very own.
“In Godus your hands will sculpt the mountains and carve rivers,” said Molyneux in a statement. “Your touch will create pastures for your people. You will be loved by tiny worshipers that need your help to grow and your direction to progress through the ages of civilization.”
Halfbrick Studios, the folks behind massively popular endless-runner Jetpack Joyride have decided that the best way to get you to play their games is to give them away for a grand total of nothing.
The Brisbane-based game development studio was founded in 2001, and has gone on to make a ton of popular games across iOS and other platforms, including fruit-slashing hit Fruit Ninja and tongue-in-cheek giant robot game Colossatron.
There’s also Fruit Ninja Puss in Boots, the endless-runner Monster Dash, the song-creation game Band Stars, dual-stick shooter favorite Age of Zombies, and the wacky Fish Out of Water, where you get to flick various marine creatures across the top of the ocean for distance and style-based high scores.
All of these games will work on your iPhone or iPad, and — since you’re buying them at the free price now — you will own them into perpetuity.
You can grab any one of Halfbrick’s premium games for nothing right now, so head on over.
When your girlfriend grabs the iPad and won’t give it back, you know you’ve got a hit game in your hands. Well, her hands. Seriously, I had to arm-wrestle her to get the iPad back so I could do this review.
Demons vs Fairyland seems at first glance to be yet another cute, fixed-path tower defense game with free-to-play in-app purchases, but the sheer breadth of options available to upgrade your tower defenses, along with the adorably cute artwork and epic music, take this game to a whole new level of awesome.
But seriously, she still won’t give the iPad back.
Ekon the Cyborg by Wicked Dog Games Category: iOS Games Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch Price: Free
I don’t know what it is, but they have a very specific kind of frantic energy that appeals to me without being overwhelming. And I like them so much that every time I have an opportunity to play one on iOS, I give it a chance despite the fact that my iPhone has no sticks to twin, so the touch controls usually suck.
Ekon the Cyborg is a new two-pad shooter that somehow has controls that work. And I’m as shocked as anyone. But beyond that, it’s a nostalgic and colorful romp that is pretty much made of my childhood.
Here’s a quick, funny, and surprisingly challenging word game for movie buffs.
Plot Twistz by Adrenaline Punch Category: iOS Games Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch Price: Free
Plot Twistz presents you with a slightly modified plot to a famous film, and your job is to figure out the name of the augmented movie. You get the answer by changing one letter of the original title, which doesn’t sound like much, but you’d be surprised.
If you like rhythm games at all, stop reading right now and go download Record Run.
Record Run by Harmonix Category: iOS Games Works With: iPhone, iPad iPod Touch Price: Free
I can elaborate if you insist, but here’s what you need to know: It’s from the developer of Frequency, Amplitude, Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Dance Central. It’s a colorful runner with simple gameplay and personality for days. And with a few taps, the game will make a level from any song stored on your iOS device.
Hundreds of new games come out every week in the App Store. A select few are the next must-play title that everyone will be talking about (and ripping off) for the foreseeable future. Most of them are perfectly decent but may not receive the attention they deserve. And then you have the third group: games so odd, bizarre, and head-scratching that you’re not sure what to make of or do with them.
They aren’t necessarily bad; they’re just confusing and weird. And worst of all, people may never know that they exist. But that’s why we’re here.
Here are some of the strangest games to drop into the App Store this week, and they’re all about playing with fat stacks of cash. Or change. What you do with this information is between you and your iPhone.
I’ve been playing video games for almost 30 years. I like to think that I’ve developed a certain level of hand-eye coordination and an ability to recognize patterns and learn rules reasonably quickly.
Spirit Run: Fire vs. Ice by Lunagames Category: iOS Games Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch Price: Free
But Spirit Run: Fire vs. Ice, a new endless runner from developer Lunagames, made me question all of that. Suddenly, I was transforming when I wanted to jump, and jumping when I wanted to slide, and just falling the hell off of things that I normally wouldn’t.
That isn’t to say that it’s a bad game; it’s actually quite good. But be prepared to feel like a monkey trying to do algebra. You know, if that’s a thing that one might call upon monkeys to do.