Tiki Towers 2 tops iPhone Games of the Week

Jan 20, 2011

I don’t know if the iPhone will ever get its own copy of World of Goo (it’s iPad-only for now), but we do have Tiki Towers 2, the game that leads the list of this week’s best. You’ll be building monkey-friendly structures in no time in the game, but if casual physics puzzles aren’t for you, […]

I don’t know if the iPhone will ever get its own copy of World of Goo (it’s iPad-only for now), but we do have Tiki Towers 2, the game that leads the list of this week’s best. You’ll be building monkey-friendly structures in no time in the game, but if casual physics puzzles aren’t for you, you’re in luck — this week’s games represent a wide swathe of what’s available in the App Store. From an old-school shooter to a new-school way to play chess, you’re going to want to read on and find something that suits your taste, be they leaning toward the more casual or hardcore.

Tiki Towers 2 ($2.99)

Building structures, managing resources, saving monkeys — those things are what Tiki Towers 2 is about, and it excels as a puzzler that gets you thinking vertically and horizontally in terms of bamboo. In order to help a group of stranded monkeys reach a goal in each level, you have to use your limited amount of bamboo and tools like magnets to build structures to help them get there. The less bamboo you use, the better your score — but the weaker your structure and more susceptible to plummeting to a watery grave your monkey friends become. Tiki Towers 2 packs 30 levels, support from Game Center, and a great cartoony art style and sense of humor: your ultimate goal is to liberate items confiscated by the dictator of Monkey Republic. It’ll also help iPhone owners get over the fact that the iPad gets World of Goo and we don’t.

Minotaur Rescue ($0.99)

The days of the Atari 2600 live again in Minotaur Rescue, a very graphically simplistic, humorous and self-aware arcade shooter. With only a few pixels at its disposal, the game manages to display asteroids, a zippy player-controlled spaceship, a deadly singularity with its own gravity and enemy ships bent on your destruction. Oh, and minotaurs, which need rescuing. Though not the deepest game in the App Store, Minotaur Rescue scores points for its very retro look and feel and its straight intensity — it’s simple touch controls will have you flying all over the single-screen environment, where your goal is to just keep hammering away at asteroids to reveal floating minotaurs, which you need to intercept. All those things gain you points, which get displayed on a Game Center leaderboard for all to see. Oh, and Minotaur Rescue has a two-player mode on the iPhone; four players can join in together on the iPad.

Empire Online (Free)

If Minotaur Rescue is highly simplified, Empire Online is much more deeply complex. This new massively multiplayer online role-playing game (if that’s Greek to you, think World of Warcraft) features a throw-back 16-bit top-down art style that immediately dredges-up the nostalgia attached to some of console gaming’s greatest RPGs. Empire Online has a lot going on, but it’s blessedly simple to control and navigate — open various menus from icons on the screen with a tap, or direct your character to a location with another tap, or attack an enemy with another tap. But for how easy the game actually is to play and work through, there seems to be a massive amount of content at players’ disposal. The online community supposedly already boasts 5 million players, and there were certainly many hanging about and talking (a lot) while I played it. There are also, supposedly, 1,000 quests to work through and 300 map areas to explore. Better watch your back, Pocket Legends.

DeathFall ($0.99)

As casual falling games go, you could certainly do worse than DeathFall, a game that pushes the envelope a tad both with its morbid art style and theme, and its mixing of actual thinking and skill into the equation. You use tilt controls on your iPhone to steer the descent of a skull down the screen, with the goal of guiding it into a long line of objects that can be collected for points. Along the way are obstacles like spikes that will damage you — three hits and it’s game over. Outside of spikes, though, are larger collectible objects for bigger point gains and platforms composed of a variety of materials, including wood, metal and dirt. The skull reacts differently to each platform, requiring you to adjust your gameplay in order to accommodate a short stint on a platform, where you can gather up more objects before moving on. Tight controls help to make DeathFall a casual game that you’ll want to keep around.

Esfera ($2.99)

Chess, played on a spherical game board. If it sounds really challenging, that’s because it is — Esfera quickly becomes a game that defies players’ preconceived notions about board games and competition in general. With a sphere-shaped game board composed of hexagonal tiles, anything can happen: the enemy can launch an attack on your flank that you weren’t expecting or prepared to deal with, for example. There’s a lot of board to keep track of, adding a thick layer of challenge to a classic game that’s been around centuries. Esfera packs an AI opponent, as well as the ability to play against a human combatant. You’ll need to navigate the game board, which can be accomplished by swiping on the touch screen or attempting to look through the translucent ball. Take chess up to a new level with Esfera, but don’t be surprised if you get beat handily your first few times taking in this challenging variation of the classic game of strategy.

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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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