There are two major sale seasons for iOS games. The first is right around the holidays, when buyers unwrap their new iPhones or iPads and look for content to install. Apple sells titles at discounts, trying to lure the newbies.
The second big season is the summer, when travelers are looking for things to keep them busy on vacation. What new titles will keep players entertained on those long road trips or waits at the airport this year?
I took a look at two: "Monster Hunter Freedom Unite" and "Civilization Revolution 2." Both have their roots in the traditional gaming realm. "Monster Hunter," for example, began on the PlayStation 2, but found explosive popularity on the PlayStation Portable. Since then, the series has become a mainstay on hand-held systems.
Capcom is hoping for the same type of success as the "Monster" franchise shifts to iOS devices. "Freedom Unite" is a close port to the PSP original, with slightly improved visuals. But the big improvements come in the control scheme and online support. But keep in mind that though this title supports touch-screen controls, it's not advisable. This is a game that demands a third-party iOS controller such as a Moga Ace Power bearing a contemporary layout with two analog sticks and two sets of shoulder buttons.
Like other titles in the series, "Freedom Unite" is difficult and has a huge learning curve, but once players adjust, it becomes deeply rewarding. Players will immerse themselves in a world where they hunt monsters for Pokke Village and use creatures' remains to craft more powerful weapons and armor. That gameplay is what makes the series good, but the online component, which lets players hunt with others over Wi-Fi, is the magic that makes the title great and keeps fans coming back for more.
"Civilization Revolution 2," meanwhile, is a sequel to an unusual iteration of the legendary "Civilization" turn-based strategy series. Whereas the flagship entries are notoriously complicated, the "Revolution" spin-off simplifies the concepts. With this sequel, 2K Games goes even further streamlining the gameplay.
For those who were intimidated by the series, this is the most accessible version available. Players choose from one of 16 world leaders (two are unlockable), who must then develop technology, build soldiers, invest in an economy and foster diplomatic relationships. This time around, players don't have to worry so much about micromanaging workers. Roads are automatically built with enough gold, and players can pick a focus for each city.
With the changes, the early part of the game becomes more important, and clearing a continent of barbarian hordes gives a civilization a leg up. But the game stumbles a bit as players move into the modern era. Diplomacy isn't as complex as in other versions, limiting what players can do in the later stages. Hard-core fans will prefer the previous ones, but for newbies, this is a perfect fit.
WATCH AND LEARN: If you're sick of loud summer blockbusters, check out something different with "Video Games: The Movie." The Jeremy Snead documentary tracks the rise of the games from childhood pastime to a multibillion-dollar industry. The 105-minute film also offers insights into game development from famous folks who helped build the industry, such as Cliff Bleszinski and Hideo Kojima. Look for the film at your local theater and on iTunes.