May's iOS games
On the hunt for something new and fun to play on your iPhone or iPad? Luckily, the App Store is constantly being flooded with fresh games, and May brought us a solid array of enticing debuts.
Like on-the-go puzzle games? Tiny Bubbles and Homo Machina might fit the bill. Into role-playing adventures? We have Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth and Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians on our list. Looking for something else entirely? Yes, we have other things too.
Flip through the slides ahead to find May’s biggest and most interesting iOS game releases, many of which are free and ready for your amusement. And don’t miss our April list if you’re searching for other recent releases.
Pocket Run Pool (Free)
Game designer Zach Gage has been on a run of reimagining classic games, delivering gems like Sage Solitaire and Really Bad Chess in the process—and Pocket Run Pool is another entertaining twist on a familiar experience. As the title suggests, Pocket Run Pool plays with the classic game of billiards, but turns it into a single-player high score chase.
Here, you’ll need to carefully sink balls based on the number of points you can generate. The number of each ball is enhanced by the score multiplier at each pocket, and if you scratch or miss more than three times, it’s game over. Pocket Run Pool is a fun new angle on a done-to-death mobile genre, and like Gage’s other games, it’s a friendly free-to-play release with extra perks offered for the $3.99 full unlock fee.
Tiny Bubbles ($5)
There’s no shortage of cute, color-matching puzzle games on the App Store, but Tiny Bubbles still finds a unique hook in a very familiar genre. Here, you’ll manipulate clusters of soap bubbles, which carry different colors and must be paired up in bundles of four or more before they can be popped. Luckily, Tiny Bubbles doesn’t stop there.
Instead, it quickly shifts between several variations on the theme, including severing edges between bubbles to mix their colors, dealing with odd creatures within them, and contending with a pesky fish who adds a new bubble after each move. At a glance, Tiny Bubbles might not stand out, but there’s a lot more beneath the surface of this bubble-bobbler.
Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth ($16)
Like the classic Final Fantasy Tactics before it, Square Enix’s Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth has charted a journey from the original PlayStation in the late ‘90s to Sony’s PSP handheld, and now finally ported over to iPhone and iPad. And even after all these years—and with that eye-popping price tag, to boot—it’s still worth the cash for die-hard role-playing fans.
Valkyrie Profile doesn’t have quite the same legendary status as Final Fantasy, but Lenneth is a cult favorite amongst Japanese RPGs, with an epic adventure inspired by Norse mythology, as well as sharp pixel graphics and turn-based team combat. It’s a shame that you can’t try the game free before paying to unlock the rest, but if you’ve enjoyed other sprawling Square Enix epics on mobile, then it might be worth the investment.
Homo Machina ($3)
The human body is an incredible machine comprised of interconnected systems, which work in harmony to perform so many vital tasks. But what if that machine wasn’t built of bones and tissue and guts, but instead of levers, wires, gears, and an army of microscopic people trying to keep everything in check? That’s the premise behind the brain-tickling Homo Machina.
Inspired by the infographic work of physician Fritz Kahn, Homo Machina is a lightweight puzzle game about keeping the body upright and working, as you open up eyes, clear the nose, listen to music, and more. It’s light on instruction; most of the time, you’ll just fiddle with the sights until you figure out the next action. But it’s gorgeously illustrated, with a pleasurably low-key tone and pace.
Eden Obscura (Free)
Here’s another game with a chill, easygoing vibe, albeit in a very different kind of way. Eden Obscura is a game about traipsing around an abstract garden, which you’ll do by swinging around plants and rocks and then flinging yourself through the air towards another destination. The goal is to grab enough little spectra icons and grow more and more plants in each area.
Eden Obscura is a reimagined take on a decade-old cult PlayStation 3 favorite called PixelJunk Eden, and while the goal and trippy, atmospheric soundtrack remain intact, Obscura sports a different look. It actually pulls part of the background from your device’s back camera, and then layers on myriad effects and filters. This freebie is a good pick for relaxing and winding down at the end of a long day.
On the other hand, if you’re looking something to really tax your brain, then you might want to check out Scalak. This original puzzler offers a serious challenge as you attempt to place panels onto objects at the correct points. At first, it’s as simple as dragging and dropping the circle, triangle, and square panels onto their obvious destinations. It doesn’t stay obvious for long.
Quickly, the game finds you rotating objects to find the right fit for a panel, as well as stacking up layers, contending with light beams, and rearranging sets of cubes to find the correct pattern to fit a mesh of pipes onto. Scalak is super tricky, but in a satisfying, worth-the-struggle kind of way.
Disney Heroes: Battle Mode (Free)
Disney Heroes: Battle Mode is a mega movie mash-up starring 25 heroes from recent Disney and Pixar flicks, including The Incredibles, Wreck-It Ralph, Judy Hopps, Buzz Lightyear, and Captain Jack Sparrow. They all wind up in the same world inside of a digital city, in which a virus is corrupting copies of themselves and forcing them into team-based skirmishes.
It’s a neat concept, and the 2D animation looks great—but Disney Heroes spends more time showing you action than actually letting you participate. The fights are mostly automated, and can be fully automated if you choose, and they don’t get any more complex or involving over time. Still, serious Disney fans might find this a solid diversion for filling a few spare minutes.
Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians (Free)
The Might and Magic name is legendary in gaming, spanning more than 30 years of fantasy role-playing adventures dating back to the Apple II—but Ubisoft’s Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians takes on a much different tone. It’s cartoonish and colorful, delivering a free-to-play battling experience in which you’ll command warriors and creatures alike.
Elemental Guardians plays like a streamlined, turn-based RPG, as you unleash attacks and try to clear through aggressive attackers. It’s a lot more hands-on than Disney Heroes, thankfully, and there are hundreds of beasts to amass, upgrade, and unleash in combat. It’s a freemium game and could well feel like a grind with extended play, but the gorgeous graphics might inspire you to give it a shot.
Jurassic World Alive (Free)
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite won’t be the only licensed mobile game to try and recapture Pokémon Go’s location-based success this year. Launched ahead of the new film, Jurassic World Alive is incredibly similar to its inspiration at its core, tasking you with wandering around the real-world to capture dinosaurs that lurk on the in-game map.
From there, it’s a bit different. Rather than capture the beasts, you’ll use a flying drone to suck out DNA samples—and if you snag enough of them, you can replicate one for your own collection, and then use it in battle against other dinos. The Go formula feels like an odd fit for the Jurassic franchise, but if you need a fresh excuse to get out of the house, this will do.
Super Hydorah ($7)
If you ever get an itch for old-school, side-scrolling space shooter games like R-Type and Gradius, then here’s one that you wouldn’t have played in a dank arcade ages ago. Super Hydorah is an exacting tribute to the retro arcade shoot-‘em-up genre, keeping the same kind of delightful pixel graphics while delivering a fresh campaign to blast through.
As the level automatically scrolls sideways, you’ll move your auto-firing ship with your thumb, zipping around as needed to land shots and evade projectiles. Super Hydorah’s levels are a bit larger in scale than some of the old-school favorites, but by and large it sticks to the template. Still, even though Super Hydorah isn’t super original, genre fans should still get a kick out of it.
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