5 Under $5 iPad Games, March 29-30

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Beth Game of Thrones

Hey everybody! Beth Elderkin with iPad Insight here. Check out what I’m reviewing this week!

Cue music: Dun dunn, da da da dunn, da da dunn…….

But seriously, three movie/TV tie-in games came out last week. All of them feature in-app purchases, or “freemium” options. So, I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at one of them, one that’s tied to a series I dearly love, and see just how much a value they are to their franchises. That’s why ‘Game of Thrones: Ascent,’ ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ and ‘Star Wars: Assault Team’ are not on my “5 Under $5″ list this week. I’m taking a more in-depth look at them. Stay tuned for that review later on this week.

But now, onto this week’s “5 Under $5,” where I look at five games that came out this week … all less than $5.

Disclosure: These games were independently observed or purchased by the post’s author. For more information on our site’s review policies, visit the About page.

0-Snake [EXTREME]

1. 0-Snake [EXTREME] - $0.99

How come the simplest games are often the most fun? Seriously, Bubble Shooter is still one of the most often-played games on my iPhone, and I had that on my old Sony Ericsson Walkman phone! Snake is one of the first mobile phone games, and it still holds up. Your mission is simple: Don’t let the snake touch itself. I’m sure all you young whipper-snappers are thinking, “Oh, that’s super easy.” Be prepared to be wrong! It can get tough.

There are so many Snake games out there – and I’m not going to pretend that this game brings anything revolutionary to the table, because it doesn’t. But for the price, it’s a good addition and a good find. The colors are nice and the design is engaging. I’ve heard some concerns about the controls, but they’re easy to work out if you play enough times.

It’s another addictive version of an already addictive game. Plus, it’s [EXTREME]!

Shattered Planet

2. Shattered Planet (RPG) – Free

Is this Bastion in space? Well, yes and no. The design is remarkably similar to Bastion, the subject of one of my first video reviews for this site, but that’s where the similarities mostly end. You’re a Galactic Union worker assigned to research alien wildlife, but a dark mysterious entity threatens you and everything you love.

The game is pretty hardcore – its levels randomize, creating new challenges for the player every time. Also, you lose your items if you die – yikes. There are a lot of nods to popular sci-fi franchises of the past and present, like Battlestar Galactica and Robocop. Plus, players are saying it’s a free game that, for the most part, stays free.

Unless you’re a hardcore Bastion fan who might be insulted at the design’s apparent theft (which I wouldn’t totally blame you for, it is pretty obvious), I say give this one a try. But be prepared to lose. Hard.

Firework Apprentice

3. Firework Apprentice – On sale for $2.99

Kids might see this game and think it’s like Kung Fu Panda … but it’s not. It’s small, clunky and – cough – a little bit racist.

You’re a kid who’s trying to collect fireworks and moon powder to enter the Emporer’s fireworks competition. You do this by walking around a skyloft world that’s pretty hard to maneuver around. The 3-D world is unimpressive, the controls are awkward, the action is underwhelming and the music is repetitive. Plus, did I mention it’s a bit racist? Because it is.

I say give this one a pass, especially for the price.

Sometimes You Die

4. Sometimes You Die - $1.99

I really like this game. A lot.

It’s more of a commentary on gaming than an actual game itself. It takes the idea of eternal lives and turns it on its head – in order to live, you have to die. Every time you die, your pawn turns into a lifeless block/body you can use in the game… so you get one step closer to making it to the next level. That’s so clever. Dark, but clever.

When I reviewed ‘Tengami,’ I talked about it being just as much an art piece as it is a game. ‘Sometimes You Die’ definitely falls into that category. It will make you loathe, it will make you doubt … but, above all, it will make you think.

The only concern I have is that the music can be repetitive. It’s a grizzly synth piece. Works for the game, but can get a little grating on the ears.

This is a great choice for older teens and adults, but kids should not play it. I highly recommend checking this out.

boom beach

5. Boom Beach – Free

Man, did I get a lot of flack for my review of Clash of Clans. I myself was not the biggest fan, but apparently I’m a woman on an island – the game has staying power. It’s the highest grossing iPad game out there right now. That’s amazing, especially since the game is free to play, with optional in-purchase apps.

Boom Beach looks to repeat Clash of Clans’ success – this time, moving to a tropical archipelago where you battle island bases controlled by Blackguard. The gameplay looks similar, only with more guns and bombs.

If you’re a fan of Clash of Clans, this looks like a top-notch successor. It may not be as successful as Clash of Clans, but it could become a key part of the freemium game environment.

Speaking of freemium … tune in later this week for my look at the free-to-play releases of this week, and what they mean for the future of iPad games with movie or TV tie-ins.

Beth Elderkin

Beth Elderkin is an award-winning multimedia journalist currently working as a news producer in Austin, Texas. She's been a game reviewer for iPad Insight since 2011, and also runs a gaming blog at easymodego.tumblr.com.

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