What does it take to knock Angry Birds off the App Store number one spot? The million dollar question has a million of answers and conspiracy theories - who is still buying the game? The Rovio title has dominated the charts for months but there's still hope for change. Using the same weapons and a bit of luck, any quick casual game could eventually make it. These are the three that have demonstrated it in the last weeks.
Where's My Water? [iTunes Link] is the latest release from Disney Mobile, demonstrating that they can also do highly addictive casual games without using their film IPs. After the good debut of Puffle Launch two weeks ago, Swampy the crocodile is giving a second warning to the usual suspects of the Top 10 charts. Cute, unsurprisingly childish and very easy to pick up, Where's my water? is a physics puzzle game mixing line-drawing mechanics. The goal is to conduct water to the bathroom of the protagonist, who patiently waits to have a bubble bath. The premise is similar to Chillingo's Feed Me Oil, but it's executed in a completely different way.
Here you use you use your finger to dig tunnels route to conduct water to its destination, avoiding a number of obstacles and keeping gravitational forces in mind. Packed with 80 short levels, it follows the typical three star score system based on time and collecting special items. The first levels might not be very challenging for the average gamer and the graphics aren't that great, but it has the potential to be a hit with younger players.
Zombie Gunship [iTunes Link] by Limbic Software, the people behind TowerMadness, unexpectedly reached the top spots around the world without warning. Taking the "a game with zombies is a better game" approach to it's limit has proven to be successful… and profitable. Who could have guessed that such a simple game concept, perhaps borrowed from console modern warfare games, could stand as an iOS title on its own?
We all know that in a zombie apocalypse scenario we need to improvise a little: Get a support aircraft, mount serious weapons and equip night vision. Add to the mix unlimited ammo and unlimited zombies and civilians rushing to get in the bunker. This is all it takes to keep you hooked and retrying one more time. The level is always the same, the voiceover is repetitive and the graphics are low resolution in black and white. Nobody seems to care. Thanks to a smart upgrade system and the odd penalties for killing civilians, Zombie Gunship will keep you busy for hours.
Jetpack Joyride [iTunes Link] is the highly anticipated endless runner by Halfbrick Studios, showing once again they can take an old gameplay concept and elevate it to the equivalent of gaming orgasm. Barry Steakfries, the same guy on Monster Dash and Age of Zombies, is now a depressed salesman who sees a brighter future in company of a machine gun jetpack being developed at a secret laboratory. The rest of the story is a increasingly faster endless escape with your bounty, avoiding obstacles, missiles and laser beams while the scientists inevitably panic and die.
Jetpack Joyride embodies all the good things about mobile gaming: simple one-tap control, fast retries, randomly generated levels and loads of challenges to keep you hooked. The game comes with some in-app-purchases mainly to customize your character, which I'm fine with, and awesome special vehicles - please see the reference to Tiny Wings and Angry Birds in the Money Bird.