The Pokémon series includes some of the most popular releases for portable gaming systems of all time, but despite Nintendo's continued reluctance to dabble in the smartphone market, we've yet to see a suitable clone come to iOS. With Monster Legacy, developer Outplay hopes to change all that. Its scrappy pet-battling game is so reminiscent of Nintendo's original, in fact, that the main differences center around execution and setting than with gameplay.
It's been an awfully long time since there was a new entry in the Ultima series, and even longer since the venerable RPG franchise was on an Apple platform. Its reappearance on iOS – as a free-to-play game, no less – might seem like a low-key comeback for a property that once helped pioneer computer role-playing games, but underneath its casual-looking exterior lurks a fun (if simple) dungeon-crawling MMO.
PopCap's original Plants vs. Zombies – a streamlined twist on tower defense that put the fate of a suburban home in the hands of undead-fighting foliage – debuted before the freemium craze, and it was a huge hit on numerous platforms, even becoming one of the best-selling iOS apps of all time. As a free-to-play affair, Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time expectedly strikes a different tone than its premium predecessor – and it's not the time-travel theme that most strongly defines the direction of this initially iOS-exclusive sequel.
We're past the halfway point for the year, and 2013 has already proven to be an incredible time for new iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch games. Whether you tend towards quick-hit affairs or engrossing, strategic time sinks (or a little of both), there's been an absolute wealth of great options to choose from in a huge array of genres. Why wait until January rolls around to look back on such greatness? We've compiled our picks for the 25 best iOS games of the year to date, all of which are surefire options for on-the-go entertainment.
Strategy games that combine city-building elements with player-vs-player combat are incredibly common on the App Store these days, and War of Nations doesn't shy from using the familiar free-to-play formula seen in everything from Clash of Clans to developer GREE's own Modern War. Fortunately, a handful of elements elevate it above the mass of clones, but progression glitches and a pricey cash shop make it a tough game to get deeply invested in.
PopCap's Bookworm Heroes launched on the App Store last week, and following the game's success on Facebook and the previous entries' widespread popularity, fans of word games were particularly excited to pop in and start flinging word attacks on iOS devices. However, as we discovered in our review — which posted yesterday – the game's free-to-play model proved a bit severe, and made it difficult to simply play the game without feeling obligated to spend money. Acknowledging the feedback and criticisms, along with the first week's worth of player data, PopCap reached out to let us know that going forward, players will no longer need to spend in-game currency to "rent" a hero character. One will be available free each week in a rotating fashion, with Lex currently useable without charge.
NimbleBit made its name on slower-paced simulations like Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes, which charmed with their retro-leaning pixel aesthetics and impressed with surprisingly friendly free-to-play models. Nimble Quest, the studio's perfectly-titled latest release, maintains those latter qualities but embodies a different and very active kind of spirit. The result is a mash-up of Snake and retro role-playing games that's uniquely enjoyable and ideal for one-handed amusement.
Developed by Angry Birds creator Rovio, The Croods is a village-building game inspired by DreamWorks’ latest CG animated film. With these two studios behind it, you might expect the game to be a sure thing, both as a promotional tool and as a fun iOS game for all ages. Instead, this freemium title isn’t the least bit charming, and all it seems to want is your money. Your objective is to create resources for the prehistoric Croods family by trapping, taming, and caring for wild animals, but the game downplays its characters in favor of a hollow gameplay approach.
It's surely difficult to craft the follow-up to the most spectacular iOS racing game ever produced, and doubly so when ditching a price point for a divisive free-to-play model. Electronic Arts attempts both with the anticipated Real Racing 3, and largely succeeds on both fronts, delivering a hugely impressive free racer. You've never played a free mobile racer that's half as robust or refined as Real Racing 3. Building upon the fantastic previous iteration, the game pumps even more gloss and detail into its simulation, providing a great sensation of speed and realism as you blast through real-world tracks in licensed super cars.
J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit is a fount of inspiration, and beyond upcoming Hollywood blockbusters, there's sure to be no shortage of tie-in video games. But considering the amazing reference material – a tale of adventure with dwarves and goblins – it's a shame The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth is so unabashedly boring. It's a typical, free-to-play conquest sim with a veneer of Tolkien influence.