Asphalt Xtreme (free) — Gameloft’s Asphalt 8: Airborne remains one of our favorite iOS racing games to this day, so needless to say my interest was piqued by the company’s latest entry in the franchise, Asphalt Xtreme — a version that maintains the core aspects that Asphalt fans have come to know and love while taking the game into an entirely new environment: Off-road racing. Instead of sleek Ferraris and Lambourghinis, Asphalt Xtreme puts you behind the wheel of monster trucks, buggies, pickup trucks, and other similar vehicle types, and has you racing through canyons, sand dunes, mud fields, jungles, and more. As with prior Asphalt games, all of the vehicles represent licensed brands from companies like Jeep, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz, adding a nice dimension of realism to the experience. Unlike Asphalt 8: Airborne, you won’t find yourself doing a lot of stunts here; instead you’re forced to deal with terrain types and obstacles that will be handled differently by each vehicle type, and oil, a new element that needs to be replenished after several races to keep your vehicles in top-performing condition. The seven different classes of vehicles also provide for a wider variety of racing styles — for example big monster trucks can smash through walls to take shortcuts that lighter vehicles won’t have access to. If you’re a fan of any of the Asphalt games or off-road racing games in general, this one is definitely worth a look. My only real disappointment is that Gameloft hasn’t (yet) released an Apple TV version, which has become my preferred platform for these types of games.
Battlestar Galactica: Squadrons (free) — Montreal-based developer Ludia is known for a varied and impressive lineup of games ranging from gameshow-themed titles such as Family Feud and Press Your Luck to the blockbuster movie-themed Jurassic World: The Game. The company continues in that vein with its newest licensed title, Battlestar Galactica: Squadrons, based on the well-known TV series. Jumping right into the action, you take on the role as the Commander of Galactica and must lead your fleet through space, sending our fighters to defend it from Cylon attacks. The game play is turn-based space combat with RPG elements — you’ll gain supplies after each battle which you’ll need to supply your fleet, upgrade your fighters, and build new combat ships. All of the main characters from the Battlestar Galactica series make appearances throughout the game, both providing mission briefings and advancing the plot with often witty repartee. While BSG fans will definitely enjoy revisiting the storyline elements of the TV series, I particularly liked the fact that Battlestar Galactica: Squadrons isn’t designed to be merely a piece of fan fiction — it’s a good game in its own right with solid gameplay that any fan of turn-based space RPG games should enjoy.
Super Stickman Golf 3 (free) — Although it took a while to land — over a year after its 2015 GDC debut — Noodlecake’s third instalment in its Super Stickman Golf series finally appeared a few months ago, and it’s definitely been worth the wait. True to the style of its predecessors, SSG 3 remains a side-scrolling mini-golf physics puzzler, but has pumped up the graphics and added a new “spin” mechanic for controlling the ball in flight — which adds a whole new dimension to the gameplay. For example, you can now use backspin and forespin to advance a shot closer to the hole, or simply to adjust trajectories slightly when bouncing the ball off of walls, ceilings, or other objects on the course. There are twenty new courses to play, each with unique challenges, and a whole swath of power-ups, achievements, characters, and even “hats” that change your gameplay that can be unlocked as you progress through the game. As with most games these days, SSG 3 uses a “freemium” model, but it’s less annoying than most — a single $3 in-app purchase unlocks the “full” game, after which you can unlock everything else simply by progressing through the game (although of course you can still choose to spend money to advance faster if you’re so inclined).