You’d need a team of superhuman tech reviewers to keep up with the incredible number of new iOS games launching every week in the App Store. We try our best in Under The Radar, where we pick our favorite new indie games. You can also check out our Year of Indies lists (part 1 and part 2) to see which Under The Radar games received a full review this year.
Mighty Wardens is a traditional side-scrolling beat ’em up where you can pick from one of four wardens– an assassin, knight, druid, or battle mage– to lay the smack down on piles of enemies. The cartoony graphics are quite outstanding, and the button-mashing combat is a throwback to arcade classics like Golden Axe. You can also earn coins, pick up new weapons, and level up your character as you tromp through the countryside. There’s even online co-op through Game Center, so you don’t have to play through the campaign alone.
Letz is an iPad game that combines two fun genres: Match-3 games like Bejeweled, and word games. From the start, you can tell you’re in for a fun adventure, as the very serious narrator delivers a goofy introduction to the story of Zed. As you make matches on the board, some letters will help you finish the level, while others are deposited to the side, where they earn you bonus points. It’s cute and kid-friendly, with a lot of interesting bonus features that unfold as you play through the story mode.
There are dozens (if not hundreds) of Breakout-style games on the App Store, but Magic Orbz is actually quite beautiful to look at. In these themed levels, you have to break up complex 3D items like a pirate ship or sea monster while keeping your ball in play. Your paddle is curved, which adds a bit of additional challenge, and you can pick up a variety of power-ups like lasers to make short work of your targets. For the great graphics alone, Magic Orbz is worth a try if you like this type of gameplay.
When a rock guitarist finds Santa’s sleigh has crashed on the side of the road, he absorbs Santa’s magical powers and becomes Santa Rockstar. You can then tour the world shredding on your axe for all the good little boys and girls. Santa Rockstar contains public-domain Christmas carols instead of licensed rock tunes like in Rock Band or Guitar Hero, but the metal renditions actually have a bit of a kick to them. With cool artwork and tried-and-true rhythm game mechanics, Santa Rockstar is actually a pretty decent accompaniment to the holidays.
The bunnies in Bunny Cannon want to know: Where do bunnies come from? The answer is that they’re shot out of a cannon at bunnies of the opposite sex until they explode with baby bunnies. Bunny Cannon is a bit like Peggle with a sex-ed twist: Boy bunnies will bounce off of other boy bunnies, but when they hit girl bunnies, they’ll produce offspring. Collect enough bunnies in the basket at the bottom, and you’ll earn a high score. Bunny Cannon has a simple concept, but it’s done very well.
With all the PC and console ports to hit iOS, we’re still waiting to see Where In The World is Carmen Sandiego. For now, Travel Detective might be the next best thing. You’ve got a grumpy chief who sends you to find goofy criminals, and a series of globe-trotting trivia questions that will test your knowledge of far-flung locations. With its breakneck series of questions, Travel Detective can start to feel a bit repetitive, but it has enough personality (and learning opportunities) to make it worth a visit.