You’ve heard the classic story of the teenaged Japanese president, right? The girl who put on a mechanized battle suit and liberated Japan from robotic invaders? If not, Level-5’s new Liberation Maiden ($5) will let you experience her exciting adventure first hand. Mixing After Burner-style lock-on weapons with the 3-D urban mecha flavor of Konami’s Zone of Enders, Liberation Maiden isn’t going to win any raves for the depth or variety of its gameplay; you just fly from map point to map point with a virtual joystick, using taps and swipes to destroy towers called “spikes” and various war machines. But the brief and decidedly Japanese-feeling title comes to iOS via Nintendo’s 3DS, and has received resolution and texture upgrades that look respectable on Retina displays. If you’re hungering for a little robotic shooting action, this is a decent title.
SNK Playmore’s Metal Slug X ($4) is an updated remake of Metal Slug 2, with new elements, and bosses and other enemies placed at different points within the game. New weapons, such as remote-controlled missiles, bouncing land mines, and homing missiles are also included. Multiplayer gameplay is also possible through Bluetooth, as a friend can fight beside you. Packed with cool 2-D animations and art, Metal Slug X is funnier and more diverse than the original Metal Slug, including not only the outdoor Middle Eastern scenes you’d expect—now complete with camel rides—but also mummy attacks inside pyramids, turning you into an undead soldier if you’re touched by a mummy or poisoned animal. It’s a great side-scrolling shooter, and certainly worth the low asking price.
The single biggest risk Sega faces with the impressive, just-released endless runner Sonic Dash ($2) is awakening Sonic the Hedgehog fans to the reality that his most basic 3-D outings are now effectively worthy of budget pricing. Featuring a completely smooth third-person perspective akin to the Wii title Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic Dash lets you swipe to move the title character left, center, or right down randomly-generated paths populated by rings, obstacles, and robotic animals; as always, you gather rings, dodge obstacles, and either dodge or spin-destroy the robots. Beyond moving left or right, you can jump, spin-slide under objects, and occasionally do mid-air tricks to earn extra coins. While all of this will sound like old hat to both Sonic and endless runner fans, the combination of great polygonal character models and backgrounds with smart Sonic-themed twists is much better than might be expected; this really feels like a legitimate, if basic 3-D Sonic action game, complete with unlockable characters and the runner genre’s now-obligatory earn-or-in-app purchase power-up system. Rather than devaluing the franchise, Sonic Dash’s strong 3-D engine demonstrates that all Sega needs now is Sonic Adventure-caliber gameplay and music to restore its mascot to full glory, at least in the App Store.
Fresh off the heels of Temple Run 2’s release in late January, Imangi Studios teamed up with Disney to release Temple Run: Oz ($1), another endless runner inspired by both Temple Run 2 and the upcoming movie Oz the Great and Powerful, which really feels like it’s missing a colon in the title. Oz is a bit cooler than Temple Run 2, which it’s based on, thanks to a more edgy and steampunk-influenced art style. It also lets players occasionally fly around in a hot air balloon, and includes an objective system that offers different milestones to achieve. But there’s an upfront cost that the free Temple Run 2 does not have. If you’re a big fan of Oz or the Temple Run series, and you’re looking for twists on Temple Run’s theme and gameplay, Oz is probably worth the dollar.