The first title in the roundup this week is one that’s been on everyone’s lips since its release a few days ago: Ridiculous Fishing. Developed by Vlambeer Studios, the game’s key strength is defying expectation at every turn. In the beginning, Ridiculous Fishing seems like a goofy but standard fishing game for iOS, with a simple to understand core mechanic and cool graphics and music. You drop your line and dodge fish on the way down in order to get your lure deeper and deeper, in search of bigger fish that cause your score to rise higher and higher. Then, after touching a fish or running out of line, the lure moves the opposite way, and what was a defensive game (staying away from fish) becomes an offensive game (trying to hit as many as possible). As I said, it all seems normal and safe, until the fish his the surface and rocket up into the air.
At that point, it’s up to you to shoot as many of them as possible.
Indeed, there’s no “catching” of fish in the traditional sense. You get money (points) for shooting fish to tiny little pieces instead of just catching them, and those earned dollars can be used in the store, which is where the true ridiculousness of the situation comes to the forefront.
The powerups are hilarious, from chainsaws and toasters (to saw and shock fish, respectively) to chainguns and bazookas (to better destroy them once they’re in the air). There’s also a “Fishipedia” in the game which packs witty one-liners for every fish you encounter in the game.
Ridiculous Fishing‘s ability to connect with players is almost completely dependent on its sense of humor. For most people, the humor will shine through and it makes Ridiculous Fishing a joy to play.
Alien Hive is another game from developer Appxplore, whose Sporos was discussed in the last iOS roundup. Like Sporos, Alien Hive takes a simple premise (this time, a slide puzzle) and infuses it with enough personality and little twists to make the game really stand on its own. Alien Hive is a sort of hybrid between a match-three puzzler akin to Bejewled and a traditional slide-puzzle type of game. The goal is to arrange the tiles using the slide mechanic in order to match alien beings, evolving them into bigger and better entities. For example, an alien spore, when combined with two others, will turn into a sort of DNA strand. Combining three DNA strands creates an alien Zygote, and combining three of those creates a full-fledged alien being.
The problem is that players have a limited number of moves in each session of the game, and the board (and evolutionary tree) resets for each session. The number of moves available is dictated by an energy meter that is refilled by evolving 3 or more crystals or by evolving certain plants. It becomes paramount then that players find the most efficient way possible to make moves in order to maximize the remaining energy.
Alien Hive continues Appxplore’s recent string of inventive, fun puzzle games, and it comes highly recommended.
Castle Champions is another game that attempts to put a twist on a common mechanic, and it largely succeeds, as well. Building off of the ideas presented in 2011′s Tiny Tower, Castle Champions offers a tower-building sim that is set during the medieval era, replete with ladies and lords, as well as a special hero to add to your army.
That’s the unique hook to this game. Occasionally you will be forced into battle, which puts your developed army to the test in order to defend your tower. It puts some stakes into the performance of your tower beyond just watching it go higher, and the army building is fun to take part in.
It won’t grab everybody, but there is a serious opportunity for Castle Champions to dig its claws into you and hold your attention for quite some time.
The final game in this quartet is Super Stickman Golf 2, the second in the series from developer Noodlecake. It combines golf and an Angry Birds-like sensibility to create something truly magical. It’s great to play alone or with friends, and the deviously-designed courses consistently present new challenges.
The real hook of SSMG2, however, is the multiplayer suite. Each mode is well thought-out and constructed, with the highlight being race mode. It’s a hilarious and often-maddening exercise in nimble golfing that the series is famous for.