June’s best iOS games
June turned out to be a great month for software announcements from Apple itself at WWDC, and luckily we got a few great releases on the iOS App Store as well. For one, Niantic’s long-awaited Harry Potter-themed followup to Pokémon Go finally made it to iOS, and we also got some fantastic ports of beloved games from other systems. June also gave us a couple of retro-styled games that are perfectly suited to the quick bursts of gameplay that the iPhone excels at.
For more unique games, be sure to check out our roundup from last month.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (Free)
Can developer Niantic once again capture the magic that swept the world in 2016 with Pokémon Go? It’s sure as heck trying to with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, an augmented reality game that takes concepts from Pokémon Go and enriches them with new features, better artwork, more activities, and a deep immersion into J.K. Rowling’s “Wizarding World.” You’ll even get to pick a wand from Ollivander’s (although, weirdly, there’s no sorting hat ceremony).
The appeal of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is also its weakness. Pokémon Go worked so well in part because it was so simple and accessible, but Wizards Unite assumes you already know a lot about its universe. Combine that with its more involved creature battles and features like skill trees and RPG classes, and you’re looking at a tricky spell to cast. For more information, you can check out our impressions story from a couple of weeks ago.
Layton: Diabolical Box in HD ($9.99)
Mobile is the perfect platform for puzzle games, and that’s why I’m happy to see Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box make its way to the iPhone 10 years after its original launch for the Nintendo DS. The good professor and his buddy Luke are on the hunt for a dastardly box that kills anyone who opens it, and so they travel the countryside by train searching for clues by solving well over 100 puzzles. (It’s “Pandora’s Box” outside of North America, by the way, but apparently the marketers don’t think we’re taught mythology or history.)
It’s technically a bit short, but it radiates with charm and it's stuffed with puzzles that run the gamut from logic challenges to sliding games. There’s a lot to love here.
Forgotton Anne (Free to try, $9.99 to unlock)
I hesitate to recommend Forgotton Anne (and yes, that’s the spelling) because it’s not so much a game as an interactive anime movie with some platforming elements and puzzles tossed in. There isn’t even a health bar and you can’t die. You shouldn’t let that dissuade you from experiencing this beautiful story, though, particularly if you’re an admirer of Studio Ghibli films like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away.
Anne is an "enforcer" in a realm that’s populated by the lost objects of our world, and those forgotten odds and ends are rising up in rebellion. The only real mark against Forgotton Anne’s tale is that some of the later platforming sections feel unnecessarily difficult. Forgotten Anne was also released for every other major gaming platform, but the iOS version has the massive advantage of being able to try it for free, with the option to unlock the full game for $9.99. (If you buy it from the Mac App Store, for comparison, you’ll have to pay $17.99.) As a bonus, the iOS version also comes with unlockable concept art. (Editor's note: Edited to clarify pricing.)
I’ve always believed mobile games are at their best when they emphasize quick gameplay bursts you can complete while you’re riding on buses or waiting in lines. And that’s a big part of the reason why I love Minit. As the name hints, it’s all about doing as much as you can within a minute before you die thanks to a curse attached to a sword you stumble across. Each time you die, though, you start over at rest points you discover while using your sword to carve new paths through the brush. Along the way, you’ll discover new zones, new items, and new folks to help you on your journey towards redemption.
Minit may look as though it first saw life back in the days of the original Nintendo Game Boy, but its intuitive exploration, wonderful soundtrack, and endearing personality work together to deliver a distinctly modern experience.
Sprint RPG (Free)
Rounding off June’s games is Sprint RPG, another game about doing as much as you can before time runs out. It’s meant to look a lot like old-school dungeon crawlers, but it plays sort of like a modern rhythm game. You rush through corridors toward doors that will take you to the next level, all while using the movement and attack buttons at the bottom of the screen.
Should you take a wrong turn or barge into a monster when you should have hit it with your sword, Sprint RPG will take a bite out of the timer. It’s simple but intense, and it’s fun once you find your rhythm. It’s free, but prepare yourself for some ads between stages.
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