Bug Heroes leads iPhone Games of the Week

Jan 13, 2011

Lots of genres are represented in the games that came out this week, but all the games we’ve featured as the Best of the Week have a common theme — they take their genres in new directions. Be it depth of gameplay, art style, additional features or simply exploding, every offering we’ve pegged stands out […]

Lots of genres are represented in the games that came out this week, but all the games we’ve featured as the Best of the Week have a common theme — they take their genres in new directions. Be it depth of gameplay, art style, additional features or simply exploding, every offering we’ve pegged stands out a little from their casual game archetypes, with which the App Store is pretty much overflowing. Fans of low-impact, addictive games will find a lot to enjoy here: details below.

Bug Heroes ($1.99)

The two-stick shooter is a genre that’s flooded in the iTunes App Store, but Bug Heroes stands apart. It quickly becomes a combination of strategy, customization and defense, as well as the standard run-and-gun we’ve come to expect from shooters on iOS devices. The game lets you quickly switch between three different bugs to control, each with different abilities and strengths. Ant is the weakest and carries a machine gun; Beetle is a huge melee fighter, good for taking on groups of smaller enemies; and Spider is a quick-moving assassin for taking out armored bad guys. During each level, you’ll split your time between protecting your bugs’ stash of food and growing it by venturing into the level and searching for more. As two-stick shooters go, Bug Heroes is engaging and satisfying, with some diversity and thinking mixed into the usual aim-and-shoot formula.

Block Rogue ($1.99)

Looking back to a simpler time, Block Rogue invokes the dungeons and puzzles of the late 1980’s classic, The Legend of Zelda. However, instead of having players fight enemies and gather weapons and items as they explore maze-like dungeons, Block Rogue screens out a lot of the elements to just focus on dungeon puzzles. Each of the 325 rooms is a puzzle that has to be solved by pushing blocks, boulders and switches around the room in order to activate pressure plates. Once all of the plates are weighted, the doors to leave the room open, allowing the player to head in one of two directions. Your goal is to work through the dungeon to discover 25 hidden book pages along the way, which will restore your character’s lost memory and illuminate the story of the dungeon. The puzzles can be randomly generated and pretty challenging — you get a lot of play here and it’s easy to pick up and put down. Plus, the story is engaging enough to keep you coming back, even if you find the puzzles aren’t.

Grimm ($0.99)

Art style and narrative creativity are what set apart Grimm, a platformer that plays a lot like Yoshi’s Island back on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Yoshi was a Super Mario franchise game, and it played like one — except you were controlling a dinosaur who had to take care of Baby Mario, and could do things like throw eggs in addition to the normal platformer formula of jumping on enemies’ heads. Grimm has a lot of those same features, but uses a mostly black and white Victorian setting and rhyming narrative scheme, and puts you in control of a benevolent baby carriage rather than a dinosaur. You’ve still got to rescue a baby and solve puzzles, however, and to do so you’ll race through side-scrolling levels by titling your device, jumping your carriage onto the heads of drunks and other enemies, and even launch the baby so it can flip switches and clear the path forward. Grimm is imaginative and beautiful, and that carries it a long way, especially for just a dollar.

MaXplosion ($0.99)

Capcom is catching some flak after the release of its platformer MaXplosion, because the game is very, very similar to another side-scrolling puzzler on Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade called ‘Splosion Man. And yes, MaXplosion, features a test subject with the ability to cause explosions around his body, escaping from the lab that created him. But MaXplosion does a pretty good job of taking the concept to the mobile platform, complete with lots of expansive puzzle platformer levels that get more involved as time goes on. Linking explosions together to throw yourself through the air and defeat enemies is both simple to understand, but complex to get just right, making the game an easy one to get into but with a decent challenge still offered. It might not be the most original game out there, but MaXplosion still provides a pretty fair degree of fun.

Alice’s Fabulous Fall into Wonderland ($0.99)

Using the Alice in Wonderland story but focusing just on the initial tumble down the rabbit hole, Alice’s Fabulous Fall finds some good fodder for an action-puzzle game. You control Alice’s descent as she drops down the hole by tilting your device, helping her dodge the walls of the shaft and debris that’s falling with you. Your goal is to protect Alice’s head on the way down, but also to collect stars on each level in order to gain the highest score possible and unlock additional characters. As you go, you’ll encounter some Alice-specific power-ups — like the shrinking potion and giant-making cookies — as well as gravity that shifts on the fly. When that happens, you have to physically turn your iPhone to keep up with the shaft and find the right orientation to continue to help Alice along. Each level requires multiple runs to get the highest available score, which will challenge you to find different paths and hone your tilting skills.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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