Hot new iOS games for the long weekend

This week has been a busy one for new games hitting the iTunes App Store. If you're looking for a little distraction this weekend, check out our picks.

iPhone (Credit: CNET)

Several great new games were released this week for iOS that are perfect for keeping you busy during downtime over the long Labor Day weekend.

A couple of days ago, I wrote about Spy Mouse, Firemint's latest game that has you play as Agent Squeak, the mouse who stealthily steals cheese across tons of cleverly made levels. I highly recommend that you grab that game in addition to this collection, but I found three more that will satisfy just about every gamer's personal taste.

This week's collection of iOS apps are all hot new games from different genres. The first lets you draw your path around a racetrack; the second lets you use a jetpack to go for distance; and the third is a beautifully made hack-and-slash RPG.

DrawRace2

During the race, you can see the faint line you drew as your car navigates the track.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

DrawRace2 (99 cents) is the sequel to DrawRace, an unconventional but very fun take on racing games for the iPhone. In DrawRace games, you don't actually drive a car around a track in real time. Instead, you draw the path you will take around the track before the race even begins. When you're done drawing, you watch the race to see how you did.

While it sounds easy, you have to be very precise in the way you draw your line. As you come to sharp turns, for example, you'll need to draw more slowly, then speed up again as you hit straights. When the actual race begins, you only have one control: a turbo button you can use sparingly for a temporary boost out of turns. But often it will be the line you drew that determines whether you win the race.

What's particularly neat about this game is the number of tracks, cars, and racing styles you can play. Winning races gets you new cars and unlocks tracks. As you progress, you'll need to draw racing lines around street ovals, curvy dirt tracks, and even Nascar and Formula speedways. Each type of track, car, and surface must be accounted for as you draw your lines and racing game fans will appreciate designing the perfect line to navigate the track at hand.

Along with the unique style of play, DrawRace2 has excellent graphics with realistic physics, and several environments that are all a joy to play through. Once you think you've mastered the game, you can play online against others, play a head-to-head game on one device (with each player drawing a racing line before the race), or challenge a friend over Bluetooth.

Overall, we were surprised by how much fun it was to plan a race before it happens, and by the attention to detail in this well-made, graphically beautiful racing game. If you like racing games and want to try something different, DrawRace2 is an excellent option.

Jetpack Joyride

Use your machine-gun jetpack to maneuver past obstacles while you rain bullets down below.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Jetpack Joyride (99 cents) is a new distance game from the makers of Monster Dash and Fruit Ninja, but in this game you use a machine-gun jetpack to maneuver past obstacles and use discovered vehicles to try to survive as long as possible. The control system is incredibly simple: touch the screen to propel your jetpack.

As in Monster Dash, you play hero Barry Steakfries, but in this game you'll break into a secret laboratory to steal and use experimental jetpacks. As you propel yourself through this side-scroller, you'll need to gather coins you can use between runs to buy new jetpacks, different outfits, upgrades for vehicles, and extra utilities that help you last longer. Some of the upgrades can be fairly expensive, but you can take your chances with a slot machine at the end of a game (if you gather Spin tokens floating through the level) that will add to your cash or give you bonuses usually found in the store.

Part of what makes Jetpack Joyride fun are the strange vehicles you'll discover and use along the way. Along with the already interesting machine-gun jetpack that fires downward, you'll also find a Profit Bird that eats coins and requires that you flap its wings; ride a motorcycle that speeds along the ground but can jump up to grab bonuses; or use a strange machine that lets you teleport out of the way of obstacles. There are several vehicles to discover and each adds to your frantic run as you try to survive as long as possible.

To keep the game interesting, you also can gain achievements by doing various things in the game. Once you earn enough, you'll level up, which gives you even more coins to use towards new jetpacks and items.

Overall, Jetpack Joyride is a fun and addictive distance/running game that offers plenty of replay value with the countless upgrades and strange vehicles you find in each game. If you like distance games, this is a must-have for only a buck.

Pocket RPG

The Blade Master wields dual swords and is the most effective for up-close combat.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Pocket RPG (99 cents) was already available for iPad, but now brings the fun and mindless dual-stick hack-and-slash adventure to the smaller Retina Display on the iPhone.

You start by choosing from three character classes: Dark Ranger, Blade Master, and Battle Mage, each with a different fighting style and special moves. When you're done choosing according to your playing style, you'll be dropped into the first dungeon and will need to talk to the NPCs scattered about to learn the basics. From there, Pocket RPG is all about mindless hack-and-slash goodness, battling against swarms of enemies, and finding chests full of treasure, weapons, and items. As in many casual RPG games, at the end of each level you'll battle a boss and test all the skills you've learned up to that point.

Along with the fantastic hack-and-slash gameplay in beautiful randomly generated dungeons, what makes Pocket RPG great is the simple way it handles found items and weapons. There is no potion button to hit while battling--you simply drink healing and mana potions as you find them. You also don't need to struggle with your loadout very much--simply drag and drop weapons in, and you only need to worry about one ring and one necklace for extra skills and attribute boosts. Selling items only requires that you drag a weapon from your inventory to a sell-item button--no need to find a town or store in order to free up space. All of these game design elements make it easy to focus on what's important: hacking and slashing through hordes of bad guys.

Overall, Pocket RPG is an extremely fun and addictive game featuring great-looking graphics, tons of weapons to experiment with, and special moves gained simply by fighting. Whether you are new to RPGs or an old hand at the genre, you will appreciate the way Pocket RPG makes hack-and-slash both easy and fun.

Got a great game you'd like to add to our list? Let us know about it in the comments!

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