Great sling shot games that aren't named Angry Birds

Angry Birds Space is the big mobile game release this week, but there are plenty of slingshot games worthy of your iOS device.

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With the incredible success of the original Angry Birds, few iOS gamers were probably surprised that Angry Birds Space would rocket to the top of the iTunes Store's list of paid apps. I've been playing the game quite a lot over the past 24 hours, and though I've noticed some bugs (kill all pigs with one bird to get one star, anyone?), the new gravity fields, interesting levels, and new bird types definitely add something new to the game.

Angry birds isn't the only game in this genre, however. When Angry Birds took off at the iTunes App Store, several developers came out with their own version of the sling-shot game mechanic and many brought new elements to add to the fun.

This week's collection of iOS apps are all Angry Birds-like destruction games, but each have an interesting twist on the original game mechanic. The first offers a heavy metal theme as you smash monster trucks into structures. The second lets you blast ragdolls through intricate levels towards a target. The third mixes game genres to add liquid physics into the equation making for unique challenges.

Trucks and Skulls
You get to fire some fierce-looking trucks into structures, each with their own abilities. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Trucks and Skulls Nitro (free) is a heavy metal-inspired sling-shooter in which you'll need to launch trucks into structures in order to destroy each level's allotment of scary skulls. The somewhat cheesy distortion guitar audio provides the perfect backdrop for the action. Big explosions add to the excitement as you try to efficiently destroy everything on screen using the least amount of trucks possible.

The control system is only slightly different than Angry Birds in Trucks and Skulls Nitro. The truck sits on the launcher, and you touch and drag a button backward to launch the truck through the air. Different trucks have different attributes, and as you go through the challenges you'll need to choose your shots wisely to get the most destruction possible out of the available trucks.

The real charm behind Trucks and Skulls Nitro are the big explosions that occur, well, pretty much all the time. Hitting one of the required skulls gives you a huge mushroom cloud, and hitting barrels of TNT only adds to the onscreen mayhem as you chain together more explosions. It's as though director Michael Bay got ahold of Angry Birds and decided to add his own infamous spin to the game.

Trucks and Skulls Nitro comes with several aptly named worlds like Hell's Highway, The Haunted Wastelands, Industrial Armageddon, and Demon Town, for a total of more than 200 levels of action.

If you're a fan of the Angry Birds games and want a little more electric guitar and fire in your gameplay, Trucks and Skulls Nitro will keep you busy for a long time.

Ragdoll Blasters 3
This level requires a precise shot to get to all the coins and hit target. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Ragdoll Blasters 3 (99 cents) is the third installment in the popular physics puzzle series, and this sequel is a solid offering with plenty for puzzle gaming fans. Like the first two Ragdoll Blasters, the game concept is simple: on each level, aim your cannon and fire the rag doll to hit the target. Of course it's never quite that easy; you'll also want to grab buttons for extra points, and maps provide plenty of obstacles to make it hard to get a perfect three-star score.

As the third game in a popular series, you would expect the game to have some polish, and Ragdoll Blasters 3 does not disappoint with sharp graphics, precise controls, and well-thought-out level maps. Along with trying to arc your shots to get as many buttons as possible, you'll need to use machines like pulleys and levers in certain levels to open up access to other parts of the map. Several levels have you tipping boulders off of platforms to activate pulley systems, and other levels require you to find other creative ways to clear your path to the target. The early levels are fairly straightforward, but as you progress you'll need to really look at the level and think to try to get all the buttons and the target in as few shots as possible. You also have the option to watch your replays--extremely handy when you're going for the perfect score and brainstorming new ways to finish a level.

Ragdoll Blasters 3 comes with five unlockable worlds, each with 20 levels, different themes, and unique obstacles. You can use your collected buttons to buy new rag doll types with special abilities like the Ice Ragdoll that glides across icy surfaces, or the Pudge Ragdoll that uses its extra weight (and girth) to knock down obstacles. These different rag doll types are particularly handy as you play through the later levels, with some requiring you use a specific rag doll to pass certain areas.

If you like the popular physics games like Angry Birds or Cut The Rope, Ragdoll Blasters 3 offers similarly simple controls, but a unique gameplay concept and plenty of extras will keep you coming back for more rag doll shooting action.

Coco Loco
In this level called Belly Flop, you want to land in the middle of the chocolate milk to cause the biggest splash. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Coco Loco (99 cents) is another solid title (for both iPhone and iPad) that seems to mix elements from hit iOS games Angry Birds and Where's my Water to make a fun game that's visually stunning while offering unique challenges.

In this game, it's not birds, ragdolls, or monster trucks, but instead you take control of a team of marshmallows (Marshies). The surreal premise in Coco Loco has you freeing marshmallows from the clutches of evil chocolate guardians, often by using hot cocoa to wash captured marshmallows to safety. The liquid physics play a huge role as you'll often knock something loose that sends liquid (cocoa) through the level. There's also gel-like obstacles where you'll need to fire an exploding marshmallow in and then set it off to clear it out in an explosion of bright pink liquid.

That's where Coco Loco really shines is in the visuals. There are four worlds currently, each with its own theme and each with 15 levels to conquer -- all of them extremely colorful with high-res graphics. Like the other games in this genre, being efficient pays off, giving you three stars if you can finish in the least amount of shots.

If you want a really unique take on this slingshot puzzle genre with beautiful visuals and precision liquid physics, I can't recommend this game enough. This well-polished and silly game adds something more to the genre and is a great fit for any Angry Birds fan.

 

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