The App Store's new "Best Games" category features a selection hand-picked by Apple curators. In honor of this change, I decided to highlight a few new iOS games that were not selected to be featured on Apple's front page — along with one notable exception I can't stop playing.
1. Cartoon Survivor
The premise of Cartoon Survivor makes very little sense: A dodo must race through a series of papercraft obstacle courses populated by dinosaurs and other baddies, because... he's on a reality TV show featuring cartoons, or something? Skip the cut-scene; go for the courses.
At its best, Cartoon Survivor captures the smooth high of the Rayman Run iOS games. In addition to these mechanics, however, the game also requires some tricky phone-tilting action to help your dodo clear curves. I didn't mind the tilting, but it does provide an added layer of dizzying difficulty.
Tip: Save your coins
Don't waste your earnings on cheap stuff like the "Fart Helmet," which does nothing other than make fart noises. Save up for something useful to your gameplay, like the Magnet Helmet.
- Free - Download now
2. Bounce Baby
Bounce Baby doesn't stand out from the crowd. It has no reviews as of this writing, simple animations, and a title that bears striking similarity to the classic 1984 PC game. However, Bounce Baby manages to nail the balance between teaching simple mechanics and asking the player to employ them in difficult scenarios. Better graphics and music might have helped, but Bounce Baby managed to rope me in without any luster beyond bouncing and swiping.
- Free - Download now
3. Portal Pinball
I was surprised a game made with the power of the Portal franchise didn't make it to the front page of the App Store this week, but that might be because Portal Pinball doesn't make much use of the portal gun. You'll recognize Wheatley in the role of the pinball, and GLaDOS returns to mock you in voiceover form, but even though Chell has her gun in hand, she seems more focused on moving the pinball paddles. I love pinball in any form, though, and as far as digital pinball skins go, Portal Pinball's is a gorgeous one. I also like hearing GLaDOS telling me to stop playing and go away. You're only encouraging me, sweetheart.
- $1.99 - Order now
4. Queen: Play the Game
I'm not exactly a Queen super-fan. Okay, maybe I am — I've got all the albums, and I've even seen We Will Rock You in London — but this extensive trivia game proved that I know almost nothing about the arena rock foursome's history. Surprisingly, this game didn't feel like a cheap cash-in, but rather like a respectful tour through the group's better days, expressed through reams of hard-hitting questions about who wrote what, when. If you're a rock n' roll history buff with an ear for clever sound design, give this a shot.
- $2.99 - Order now
5. Geometry Wars 3
Okay: Geometry Wars is not an indie darling, nor is it an under-the-radar release that you may have missed. It's on the front page of the App Store, and you've probably already downloaded it. But to omit it from this list would have been misleading, because I. Cannot. Stop. Playing. It. The lights! The colors! The music! If you've never played a Geometry Wars game before, here's your chance to hop on board... and never get off, because Geometry Wars doesn't let you go.
- $4.99 - Order now
Which games have you been playing this week? Feel free to suggest your favorites, especially if they didn't make it onto either my list or the App Store's new featured categories.
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