For whatever reason, the last few years have had WWDC and E3 taking place on the same week, and we'd opted to attend E3 over WWDC as it's a overall safer bet that there will be more relevant things for us at a gaming event. With WWDC tickets shifting to being luck of the draw, it's entirely possible that there just won't be that many iOS game developers for us to talk to. Either way, better late than never, read on for the big things that happened this week in the world of iOS gaming.
Our 2012 game of the year, Waking Mars, finally got updated to 64-bit. If you've never played it before, now is a great time to check out the game as it just became way more future proof. Waking Mars is a very unique game that's hard to pigeon hole into any one specific genre. I suppose calling it a "puzzle platformer" would make the most sense, as you're exploring the caves of Mars, but instead of having an array of weapons, all of the tasks in the game are accomplished by planting things. It's a great premium experience, and one I wish we saw more of these days. For more on Waking Mars, check out our review.
Magic Quest: TCG was released this week, and while the title of the game could not possibly be more generic (and the gameplay is about what you'd expect of a fantasy collectable card game), it does have one really awesome feature we wish were in more games like this. In Blizzard's Hearthstone for instance, like most other free to play collectable card games, your collection of cards is locked to your account. Sure, there are clever ways each of the games in this genre allow you to craft cards with your duplicates, but that's about it. Magic Quest: TCG, on the other hand, has a full-featured player-driven auction house where players can sell their cards to other players. It's a cool feature we'd love to see in more games.
Knights of Pen & Paper 2 has re-launched as a free to play game. It's never a great sign when a developer needs to retune a game's monetization (as it typically means the game failed in its original state), but Knights of Pen & Paper 2 works pretty well as a free to play game. We dinged the game when it was first released in our review, but that isn't true anymore as the game has seen significant updates since its release. In the game, you play a light-hearted spin on the RPG formula told through an interesting blend between tabletop RPG mechanics and what you'd expect of an actual RPG video game. It's definitely worth checking out if you like non-traditional RPGs (particularly when they're free).
Vainglory is the king of mobile MOBA's, but it hasn't really felt like it has caught on in any meaningful way outside of its hardcore playerbase. Session times of the original game mode ran upwards of 20 minutes, which is a lot to ask when most mobile gamers are used to playing a few minutes at a time. They've since introduced other game modes which significantly shorten the session length, and in this most recent update those two modes, Blitz and Battle Royale, both got a lot of attention. They just added a new talent system which spices up these modes even further. If you're looking for something like DOTA 2 or League of Legends for your iOS device, Vainglory is as close as you're going to get.
Minecraft Pocket Edition is undoubtedly the most accessible version of Minecraft out there, but it has always lagged behind both PC and console iterations of the game when it came to its feature set. With each update, that becomes less and less true, particularly with this week's addition of the Minecraft Marketplace. Fourteen pieces of new content are now available in the in-game store, ranging from new worlds and new survival spawns to texture packs and skin packs. If you have kids who play Minecraft on their iPad, they've probably already asked you to buy some of this stuff. If not, get ready, because that's coming.
If there's going to be any game that's going to steal Hearthstone's thunder, it's Elder Scrolls: Legends, a similar collectable card game set in the Elder Scrolls universe. (The same as Skyrim, Morrowind, and others.) The game is far more complicated than Hearthstone, and plays a lot closer to Magic the Gathering, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on what you like or don't like about Hearthstone. Anyway, while the game has been available on the PC and iPad for a while now, it's slowly making its way to mobile. It was just released on Android with it coming to "other" mobile phones early this summer.
Reigns is an incredible game, and if you haven't played it yet, you need to stop what you're doing and go grab it from the App Store. The game is controlled entirely through Tinder-like swipes, and you play the game by making binary decisions by either swiping left or right. What's fascinating about playing Reigns is that from a gameplay perspective, it could not be more simple, but they're able to do incredibly complicated things just by swiping right or left. The developers gave a talk at GDC where they discussed the design of the game (seen in the above video). It's a fascinating presentation that dives deep into the nitty gritty of the thought process behind building Reigns.
As far as other new games to check out this week are concerned, Yankai's Peak is a fantastic puzzle game where you're rotating pyramids around a puzzle board. The concept is incredibly simple, but like many great puzzle games, gets amazingly difficult to the point that we got stumped for the first time barely ten levels in. If you're looking for something that uses a little less brain power, Noodlecake's Bouncy Hoops somehow manages to combine the Flappy Bird "flap" controls and basketball. It's stupid how well it works and how impossible it is to put down.
Last, but not least, is Sega's Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire, which is a clicker idle game that is so weird that you have to try it. Crazy Taxi is/was a frantic driving game, so to remove all of the actual driving while still feeling distinctly Crazy Taxi is ... very odd, in a good way.
Anyway, that's about it for this week's big iOS gaming news and game releases. For all this and more, be sure to visit TouchArcade where we post this sort of stuff around the clock!