June's iOS games
You never know when you might want (or need) a fun new game ready and waiting on your iPhone or iPad, and thankfully, there’s no shortage of fresh releases on the App Store. June certainly brought its fair share of iOS debuts, and we’ve picked 10 of the most intriguing games worth checking out.
Pokémon Quest puts a different kind of spin on the catch-‘em-all favorite, while Ark: Survival Evolved is a dinosaur-taming survival epic, Golf Club: Wasteland imagines the future Earth as a golf course for rich Mars citizens, and Up Left Out is a charming and relaxing puzzler. Those are just a few of the picks for this month, so click through to the slides ahead to find out more. Also, our May roundup has further recent releases worth scoping out!
Pokémon Quest (Free)
When it comes to Pokémon games on the App Store, there’s the massive sensation Pokémon Go… and then a handful of other odd experiments of varying quality. The latest of the latter bunch is Pokémon Quest, which recently debuted on the Nintendo Switch before hitting mobile.
Pokémon Quest takes visual cues from Minecraft, thanks to its blocky interpretations of familiar monsters, but it’s really more of a dungeon crawler on autopilot. You’ll enter an area with your crew of Pokémon, and then they’ll automatically approach and assault any other Pokémon in view. You can tap buttons to trigger special attacks, but it’s between the battles that you’ll find more to do, such as equipping abilities and cooking unique stews to summon new friends. There’s not much to Quest, really, but it’s another cute diversion for Pokémon lovers.
ARK: Survival Evolved (Free)
After finding a huge audience on PC, Mac, and consoles, we’re surprised to see ARK: Survival Evolved make the leap to iOS so solidly intact. This is a massive experience, and while the controls and UI aren’t perfectly suited to touch (despite some smart tweaks), it’s still a pretty compelling game to snag and give a shot.
As the title suggests, the task here is survival: you’re dropped into a dinosaur-filled world with no skills or items, and you’ll have to scavenge resources and craft weapons and tools to hang around in this volatile environment. And then you can tame those dinos, form tribes with other players, and have some real fun in this world. It’s also free-to-play on iOS, although a paid subscription is available with some big perks in tow.
Suzy Cube ($4)
Super Mario Run is a fun yet streamlined take on the classic 2D platform-action formula, but if you’re looking for an official iOS take on Mario’s more recent 3D adventures, you’re not going to find it on the App Store. Luckily, that’s where a game like Suzy Cube comes in. NorthernBytes’ game comes across as a fine tribute of its pretty clear inspiration.
Suzy Cube plays a lot like the Super Mario 3D Land and 3D World games from a few years back, even borrowing the interface and feel and flow of the levels as you explore various worlds, overcome obstacles, and avoid enemies. It doesn’t pack in quite as much personality as a Mario game, but Suzy Cube controls well and is a nice mobile alternative that costs only a few bucks.
Golf Club: Wasteland ($3)
Golf Club: Wasteland is such a delightfully odd experience. It is indeed a golf game, but instead of taking place on beautiful courses, Golf Club takes place among the abandoned ruins of Earth, which wealthy, vacationing settlers from Mars sometimes visit in order to play a few rounds.
In practice, Golf Club plays much like the great Super Stickman Golf games, yet with a slower pace and without the wacky power-ups. Each side-scrolling hole finds you navigating the ball through and around the bleak terrain towards the cup, but these environments are full of amusing surprises and cultural references. It’s an attractive game despite the dreariness, and we also enjoyed listening to its "Radio Nostalgia," a faux Mars radio station with “Earth songs from the 2020s” and call-in commentary from Martian citizens.
Up Left Out ($1)
We were big fans of Rainbow Train’s 2016 puzzler gem Klocki, and now the studio is back with another easily understood yet surprisingly complex original game with Up Left Out. And while it’s an entirely new premise, it keeps the same kind of nicely relaxing tone as Klocki.
Up Left Out’s challenges are all about “unlocking” the blocks within seemingly simple sliding puzzles. Each block must be moved to unlock it and complete the stage, all while you’re working within confined layouts. But here’s the catch: Some blocks can only be moved in certain directions--which means working out your pattern of decisions—and then you have to deal with the various modifiers that further tweak the concept. It all adds up to another clever gem from Rainbow Train.
Can’t get enough of HBO’s sci-fi western hit, Westworld? Well, the second season just ended and it’s likely to be some time before the next one begins—but maybe you can while away the time with Warner’s new Westworld game for iPhone and iPad.
It’s a simple freemium simulation inspired by the show’s android-filled amusement park, and it’s your task to populate the park with the A.I. “Hosts” and pair them with guests. Over time, you’ll unlock more and more of the park (like Escalante and Las Mudas) from the show while opening up new areas below the surface. If it looks a fair bit like Fallout Shelter, that may not be a coincidence: Developer Behaviour Interactive worked on both, and Fallout publisher Bethesda just sued them for copying the game and stealing game code to make Westworld. Yikes.
Muse Dash ($3)
Many side-scrolling running games get you into a rhythm of tapping or swiping to continue propelling past hazards and enemies, but Muse Dash makes it explicit. Here, your actions are timed with the beat of each song, which helps you get into the flow of pummeling incoming enemies and collecting items that pass by.
We’ve seen rhythmic platform games in the past, but Muse Dash is certainly worth a look if you like tapping along to peppy jams while colorful, cartoonish sights fill the screen. The game includes 30 songs at present, each with multiple difficulty levels to help you get acclimated before bumping up—and if you don’t mind the anime aesthetic, it’s a joy to look at and listen to.
Silverfish DX ($4)
Silverfish DX plays much like a freeform Pac-Man: One phase of the game is avoiding enemies and snagging items, and then the other turns the tables and finds you pursuing and detonating the very foes you once feared. It looks like an arcade shooter, in fact, but like the great Pacifism mode in the visually-similar Geometry Wars, it’s all about strategic and tense dodging and weaving.
Here, you’ll move your little creature around the squirming swarms of space bugs, collecting pulsing items to boost your energy meter. Once you fill them, you can exact your revenge for a few frenzied seconds. This enhanced new version of an older iOS game offers quick bursts of fun.
In the Dog House ($3)
Nitrome publishes a lot of frantic little iOS games, but In the Dog House is instead a methodical puzzler. It’s simple, really: You’ll need to guide a pup (who’s home alone) to his food dish, but there’s no clear path thanks to jumbled-up hallways.
To fill the pooch’s tummy, you’ll need to rearrange the parts of the house to create a route to his dinner. That’s a pretty straightforward drag-and-drop process at first, but as different modifiers come into play, the solutions become much less obvious. In the Dog House still seems pretty low-key even on the higher levels, but anyone with an affinity for pups and play-at-your-own-pace puzzle games might find it a treat.
VectorMan Classic (Free)
The Sega Forever promotion continues on with another old-school Genesis game given fresh life on iPhone and iPad. VectorMan might not be as iconic or fondly remembered as Sonic the Hedgehog, but fans of Sega’s 16-bit console remember the game as one of the late-era gems—a strong, side-scrolling action game with impressive graphics for the time.
VectorMan Classic holds up solidly on iOS. Sure, the touchscreen D-pad and buttons aren’t ideal for precise action games like this, but they do the trick. And if you have an MFi gamepad handy, that’s an upgrade worth taking advantage of. As with other Sega Forever releases, this one’s an ad-supported freebie, although you can pay $2 within the app to kill the interruptions.