Nearly six years into the life of the App Store and we’re just now getting a realistic, licensed Major League Baseball simulation—but R.B.I. Baseball 14 doesn’t resemble the feature-crammed, richly complex affairs seen on home systems. Instead, it pulls both inspiration and its moniker from a popular ‘80s/‘90s console franchise, and grounds its gameplay in the simplicity of that era while modernizing only the visuals. The result is expectedly very accessible and easy to get into, but also skimps on a lot of things that make baseball video games enjoyable and worth playing more than a couple times.
Getting a major surgical procedure is serious business. Most folks don't want to think about all of the crazy things that can potentially go wrong, but Surgeon Simulator mines this common source of anxiety for comedic gold by cooking up outrageous what-if scenarios that are equal parts horrifying and hilarious. Imagine getting a heart transplant or tooth extraction from someone who has no clue what he or she is doing—that's the order of the day in this malpractice-prone operating room, except you're the one with the scalpel, bone saw, and needles. The promise of catastrophic failure is indeed a huge part of the messy fun.
The nuances of Formula One racing are mostly imperceptible to the layman. It's all angular momentum and downforces; a system of geometry, physics, and engineering in which minute adjustments have outsized effects. As a result, a game like F1 2013—the latest of Codemasters’ annual racing series, brought to Mac by Feral Interactive—tends to require technical precision and strict execution.
Game Dev Story and Dungeon Village developer Kairosoft very nearly returns to form with its shogun-themed strategy and city-management hybrid, Ninja Village — but a promising setup and compelling core mechanic too soon devolve into tedious grinding. Managing a village full of ninjas trained in the art of war, your task is to build up a thriving local economy while battling rival lords, all in an effort to help the shogun reunify Japan.
Atypical Games made a name for itself with Sky Gamblers, a series of combat flight sims with an emphasis on sharp visuals and energetic dogfighting. Its latest outing, Battle Supremacy, trades B-15 bombers for Panzer III tanks — and speed for lumbering, destructive power. Sluggishness makes the campaign seem slow and plodding, but it turns Battle Supremacy's multiplayer skirmishes into tense, purposeful chess matches.
For a lot of craft beer enthusiasts, the dream of homebrewing a few batches in your garage is easily attainable with some basic equipment, a few books, and a lot of patience. But scaling up your operation into a licensed brewery? That's a lot more involved. Thankfully, Fiz: The Brewery Management Game lets you dive into that fascinating world without the huge financial investment. This unique brewery simulator takes the many complexities that come with running a craft brewing operation and boils them down into a fun, accessible concoction that's authentic and absorbing.
Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride creator Halfbrick takes on publishing duties for Band Stars, a charming but shallow game by Six Foot Kid that lets you climb the charts and conquer the music world. It takes after Kairosoft’s (Game Dev Story, Dungeon Village) unique flavor of management simulation, with compulsively simple mechanics that have you calling the shots on combinations of genre, lyrics, and musicians — all in search of a viral hit that will launch your band into ever more illustrious levels of stardom, rising from local to national and ultimately global success.
Gameloft surely hopes that GT Racing 2’s flashy lighting and obsessively modeled licensed cars will make it stand out from — or at least keep pace with — a recent surge of App Store racing sims, notably genre leader Real Racing 3. Lens flares and dust effects are well and good, but GT Racing 2’s visual fidelity threatens to overshadow its real strength: as free-to-play racers go, it’s got great controls. GT Racing 2 doesn’t reinvent the iOS racing control scheme, but it executes it better than most of its competitors.
What's the fastest way to get the space bucks needed to get your giant galactic battlestation fully operational so you can terrorize the galaxy? Opening up a snack shop and peddling womp rat stew, apparently. Tiny Death Star leans heavily on its adorable pixel art presentation and silly personality to suck you in, as the cutesy Star Wars-skinned take on Tiny Tower reimagines the Death Star as a strip mall of sorts. And keeping it running smoothly is fun — assuming you don't expect any action, explosions, or space battles.
Despite securing the official (and lucrative) NASCAR license, Eutechnyx’s most recent offering on the App Store isn’t a racing game, strictly speaking. Instead, NASCAR: Redline is more like a career management sim: as a fresh-faced rookie in the Sprint Cup Series, you must win races to finance new car parts and pit crew training sessions to climb to the top of the standings. Unfortunately, some of the mechanics feel unclear, while in-app purchases for this premium game seem unnecessary and frustrating.