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Week in Mobile: Dragons of Atlantis, Freak Tower, and Safari Rescue

Every Saturday here on GameZone, we assess a handful of new titles released for iOS and Android and update you on the biggest news we covered during the week.

What mobile games are you playing? Share in the comments or tweet your experiences to @wita and @GameZoneOnline.

Dragons of Atlantis: Heirs of the Dragon

Dragons of Atlantis: Heirs of the DragonKabam has launched a mobile game that rides the success of its popular web title Dragons of Atlantis.

Dragons of Atlantis: Heirs of the Dragon (free for iOS) is equal parts city-building, farming, and conquering. Players develop a whole civilization around a dragon egg that hatches in the first few minutes, becoming the focal point of your society. Its people look to you for shelter, food, and the materials necessary to make their city flourish, but the experience isn’t limited to one little section of the world. Many more lands out there are waiting to be fought for and claimed by your army and mighty dragon.

Heirs of the Dragon is one of those games where only so many actions can be undertaken at one time. Activities are split between marching, researching, training, and building. It’s a little silly, though, that nurturing your dragon counts for the latter and upgrading a facility is worth the same as actual construction.

You can pay to speed up these processes, but the game doesn’t pressure you too much even though microtransactions are always a presence onscreen. Meters are easily viewable for each task. Rather than overwhelm with tacky offers and ads, Heirs of the Dragons fills the space with a beautiful interface and three views of the world: city-level, resource-level, and the campaign map. Each time you complete a quest (a whole list with recommendations is available to choose from), the game offers rewards and a slice of text related to the lore or gameplay, so every decision feels consequential and meaningful. This extra touch wards off mindless repetition and creates a game where even simplicity can be deeply enjoyable.

But this is a robust experience, no doubt. Players can trigger buffs to boost productivity, compete in a leaderboard for prizes based on progress each week, join alliances (think of them as miniguilds), send and receive mail, and engage in real-time chat. It’s an easy game to jump into — everything you need to know is at your fingertips. The game continuously delivers information about the world and how it works without overloading the player.

The alliance I joined immediately sent me valuable tips on where and how to devote my efforts for the best results. These groups can lend troops and resources in times of need, but they expect you to return the favor. This adds up to a great social experience even as you play alone.

recommend yesAnd it’s addictive. I found myself wanting to check in on my city as often as possible, always searching for new ways I could maximize performance and get out on to the battlefield. I want my dragon to be the strongest around. The result is a great mix of fantasy and military — of socializing and conquest. And it’s free.

Impulse Buys

This is the part where we put games to a quick test. Are they fun?

Freak Tower

Freak TowerThe next game from GungHo Online Entertainment, the creator of the hit title Puzzles & Dragons, is a building-management game with a Tokyo monsters twist.

Freak Tower (free on iOS and Android) asks players to construct and maintain the tallest and most popular apartment complex for “freaks” — Halloween-inspired, curiously dressed weirdos with crazy hair and makeshift weapons like ghosts and pizza slices. Players can customize their appearances and use social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to invite friends’ freaks to the building or let the game randomly choose their next residents. My favorite part is how they flail their arms about as they move. But as players stack apartment spaces upon commercial floors like restaurants and services, monsters attack and try to climb to the stash of food on the roof.

The moment-to-moment bustle is a bit dull: Spin the slot machine to send visitors up the elevator, watch the elevator come back down, and repeat. Sometimes the roulette pays out, and a VIP comes running to award bonuses if conditions are right. Supplying tenants with their favorite jobs and then restocking stores generates the money needed to expand, but monster-hunting provides the real source of excitement. Here, the jazzy music switches to a much catchier tune, like something out of a Japanese game show. These quests challenge residents to take up arms and defeat giant, mutant invaders, who are weaker on certain floors. Players can activate different power-ups to help drain the health of colossal lobsters or octopuses and send them crashing to the ground. These creatures grow stronger each time you repeat the fight, but victories yield rewards like “freaky goods,” which please workers and level up floors.

recommend yesFreak Tower is very much about its economy, and the constant conquest for coins and jewels can sometimes feel like you have to pay to progress — especially when you goof and blow all your jewels on continuing monster battles like I did. But the more players naturally build up their tower and trick out the elevator and best line of defense, the tower roof’s mechanical arm, the more rewarding the game and its pace become.

Safari Rescue

Safari Rescue

Saving animals is hard. Every time you think you’ve nabbed one safely in a giant net, a lion jumps out and eats the helicopter.

That’s the goofy but lovable premise of Safari Rescue (free for iOS) from Rad Dragon studio. The latest update to the game reads simply, “I made the elephants bigger” —an understatement that hints at the kind of easygoing fun time you’re going to have airlifting sedentary animals across the safari for points.

Trying to scoop them up in a net is difficult since the critters are prone to falling or twitching out of it. The kangaroo kicks and winds up stuck in a tree. Lions bounce around and claim prey — sometimes you. Bees shoot through the air like bullets. One sting, and it’s time to go home.

The goal is to rescue animals for a set number of points (the heavier ones are worth more) before the timer runs out or you lose, but it’s tricky. Rad Dragon has incorporated touch, tilt, and swipe options so players can better grapple with the forces of nature, not the controls.

recommend yesIt is a bit annoying when the net pushes animals off the screen instead of catching them, but at least when players run out of lives, they can restart at any unlocked level. Safari Rescue is just nice that way. The animals are happy, it tells you. You did a good job.

These games were reviewed on an iPad Mini.

News Highlights

Uematsu book

Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu has released a picture e-book on iOS about an emotional robot.

Check out our interview with the developer of A Ride into the Mountains, from the previous Week in Mobile.

An Olympic gold medalist is now a playable character in Temple Run 2.

Project Snowstorm is a console-quality mobile MMO.

Joe Danger Touch’s daily challenges have hit 1 milllion plays in three weeks.

The Terraria: Collector’s Edition is coming to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Kingdom Rush Frontiers’ latest update is the nautical-themed Rising Tides.

Learn what a MOSS is and how to maximize your characters in Champs: Battlegrounds.

GungHo’s sales are way up for the first half of the year.

Tags: Dragons of Atlantis: Heirs of the Dragon, Freak Tower, Safari Rescue

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