Our weekly Under The Radar column is our chance to pull together the best new iOS games that might otherwise escape your attention. We try to keep the focus on indie games that don’t benefit from a big brand name or overwhelming sales. When we went looking for quality, here’s what we found.
In the same way MacGruber is SNL’s spoof of the quick-thinking, bomb-defusing MacGyver, McPixel is the pixelated Warioware version. McPixel has to make quick decisions to defuse bombs, like putting mustard on a stick of dynamite and serving it to a hungry alien. Each mission is a series of quick scenarios where you have to use absurd adventure-game logic to avoid an explosion. McPixel was previously available on the PC, but it’s much cheaper to buy the iOS version.
Games like Osmos and Spore took us to the cellular level with microscopic puzzles and platforming. In Splice for iPad, you have to make a series of surgical cuts to move cells around so that they match a particular outline. The background music is a pleasing piano sonata, and you can rewind time if you make a mistake. Plus, we really liked the way the menus and previous levels disappear into the background, so it looks like one endless petri dish.
Blast-A-Way is the latest game from Labyrinth 2 and Touchgrind BMX developers Illusion Labs. In it, you play as tiny block-headed toys who have to recover three “blockies” on each level. You can drag your finger to walk over to them, but sometimes you’ll have to toss a bomb to blow up colored blocks that are in your way. The graphics are simple, but sharp, and the potential for complex puzzles grows as you make your way through the game.
When a defective robot head escapes from the factory, it’s your job to see it safely on its way. When you press on the screen, you’ll activate magnetic fields that will propel your bot in a particular direction. Using careful timing, you’ll have to avoid saws and flamethrowers while collecting bolts. RBots also features a challenging energy mode, where your number of boosts is limited.
In this gorgeous and relaxing game, you have to set off a series of light explosions to capture fluttering fireflies. Catching a firefly will set off a chain reaction that will capture any nearby fireflies, and specially-colored fireflies will set off larger bursts, longer bursts, or multiple bursts at once. Sometimes reaching a high score is mostly about luck, but the soothing music and simple gameplay make this a stress-free game that’s perfect for kids or families.