midnight-star_694850851_ipad_01I’ve certainly got a lot of new titles to cover this week, so let’s dive right in with Midnight Star, Industrial Toys’ ambitious sci-fi shooter design especially for mobile touch-based devices. “As 2nd Lt. Charles Campbell of the MSRV-17 Joplin, players will encounter deep space, a strange alien landscape and a war that has long since been lost. Using the clues left to him, the crew that supports him, and a TON of awesome guns, Charlie must develop from modest exocommunications specialist to the one human being left with the means to take down the bad guys.”

A FREE companion interactive graphic novel app, Midnight Rises is also available which was written by John Scalzi and illustrated by Marvel/DC artist Mike Choi. It allows readers to experience the alien signal which kicked off the Morning Star Protocol. Players can “discover the conspiracy against the GMSC and make choices that directly impact Midnight Star, the sci-fi action game”.

Next up is a freebie from Disney, a space-themed speed runner game for kids called Miles From Tomorrowland: Missions. It features the title character from the Disney Junior series of the same name. Your child gets to join Miles on “missions to the frozen exoplanet, Thurio, to unfreeze a frozen rover with your powerful heat ray as you dodge asteroids, collect rare space rocks”. The game features original voice from the series, so if your little one is a fan, this will be an easy pickup (however, be warned, there is IAP).

transformers-battle-tactics_945233401_ipad_03Keeping with licensed properties theme, Hasbro and DeNA have just released their third Transformers mobile title, TRANSFORMERS: Battle Tactics. Battle Tactics is a turn-based tactical mobile game inspired by the all new Combiner Wars comic storyline in which some of the characters are able to form combiner robots. Players collect and assemble armies of TRANSFORMERS from over 75 unlockable characters, then bring their teams of AUTOBOTS and/or DECEPTICONS “who will fight side by side” in either a campaign mode or player vs player (PvP) mode. The game is free-to-play, but if you’ll be giving this to kids, once again, make sure that IAP is locked down.

One Player Pong, puts a new spin on a classic by eliminating the need for another player (AI or human), instead you are playing against the ball itself. This solo version of Pong is played in-the-round, with the player simply flicking a wheel left or right to rotate his or her semi-curved paddle clockwise or counter-clockwise around a circular play area. Instead of trying to score on a goal, you are trying to keep the ball within the circle. It’s a fun take on this simple classic game, with and easy to use interface, cool retro graphics and global leaderboards.

951_951364656_ipad_02.jpgAs its name suggests, Nobody Said It Was Easy, is a deceptively challenging, quick little puzzle platformer with an Atari 2600 aesthetic. You have just two buttons one that moves you forward in the current direction, one that makes you jump. If you hit a wall, you start moving in the opposite direction. The goal of each level is to collect all three stars and reach the exit. It is the direction flipping aspect that is the real key to the fun and challenge of this game and like a puzzle or a game of chess you’ll have to carefully plan out your moves if you want to successfully navigate each level to get all of the stars, but to be honest, sometimes you’ll just be lucky enough to successfully navigate to the exit period.

In Hyper Maze Arcade players use a top-down view and flicking motions to try to guide a cube inside of a maze. Collecting green objects will earn you energy (which can be used to activate special powers, like displaying the correct path or turning on autopilot) and accidentally hitting a red object will cause you to lose energy. The maze scrolls quickly off the screen, so you can’t spend too much time thinking about which path to take next, or go down too many wrong directions, otherwise you won’t be able to course correct and die.

951_951177560_ipad_02.jpgOur first paid game of the week is Dark Echo is another maze game, except this one is audio based (so put on those headphones). You must use sound to help you find the exit and escape 80 different levels. Like a bat using sonar, on the screen you’ll see line patterns representing the sound as it travels and ricochets off the walls and unseen passages in the pitch black room, revealing invisible pathways. Pressing and holding your finger anywhere on the screen, moves you in that direction and you’ll hear your footsteps as you walk. Tapping the center of the screen will make a noise which helps to reveal the world around you. Holding longer makes a louder noise, which temporarily reveals even more of your surroundings. Areas in red must be avoided as they mean a certain and gruesome sounding death. Dark Echo features some excellent sound design and if you’re looking for something different out of the ordinary, this is a great game to check out.

Odd Bot Out is a charming looking physics-based puzzle platformer where you must build contraptions using various blocks, wheels, circuits and more within each level to help Odd the robot escape the robot factory. The game features 100 levels, and with no IAP and an appealing minimalistic style this one looks like it should be approachable by a fairly broad audience.

919_919691033_ipad_01.jpgIf you read this site regularly or listen to the podcast, then you know that I love episodic adventure games. This week there is a new contender in this genre called Rival Games. They’ve just released the first episode of the iOS version of their crime noir adventure, The Detail. The rather awesome graphic-novel style they’ve chosen for the app quickly draws you into this gritty crime drama. Without giving anything away, players take on the role of “a bitter veteran detective investigating a brutal gangland murder and a reformed criminal trying to protect his family”. There are branching narrative paths which force to the player to make various moral decisions along the way. Aside from the awesome UI, one other neat aspect is that as you interact with new characters, their bios and pertinent info is added to your in-game bulletin board for later review. I’ve just started digging into this one, but thus far it has been a pretty engaging story and it is easy to see that a lot of work and polish has gone into making The Detail. The app includes episode one (“Where the Dead Lie”) of the series and additional episodes will be purchasable in the future via IAP.

Speaking of episodic adventure games. Masters of this genre, Telltale, have just launched episode two of their Game of Thrones game series. Based on the HBO series adaptation of the George R. R. Martin novels and situated during the time-frame of the third season of the HBO series and the events of The War of the Five Kings, Telltale’s game tells the story of the House Forrester. The second episode, titled “The Lost Lords,” is available now within the app for a one-time $4.99 IAP, or a discounted season pass is available for $19.99, which unlocks episodes 2 through 6 as they are released. Now that I’ve binge watched all four seasons of the HBO series over the past two weeks or so, I cannot wait to dive into this and get my Game of Thrones fix, while I impatiently wait for the HBO series to return in April.

946_946477821_ipad_01.jpgIt’s been over 4 years since the first Dragon’s Lair was ported to the iPad and it has been nearly a year since its sequel, Dragon’s Lair 2: Time Warp got an iPhone port. Finally this week, Digital Leisure launched Dragon’s Lair 2: Time Warp HD, its iPad-only port of this classic (once laserdisc-driven) Don Bluth animated memory/dexterity arcade game sequel. Do you have what it takes to help Dirk the Daring rescue Princess Daphne from the clutches of the Evil Wizard Mordroc? This latest port features all new HD videos as well as achievements and Leaderboards through Game Center. Plus players can choose to go through either the original arcade version of the story or the new Director’s Cut, which features an alternate ending.

Finally that brings us to Chaim Gingold’s fantastic interactive science book app, Earth Primer. This educational iPad app teaches users about our planet in an easy to follow and engaging way. “Make volcanoes, shape sand dunes, form glaciers, sculpt mountains, push around tectonic plates, paint with wind, heat up magma—and more!” Journey through the interior of the Earth and its various layers, learning about its core, mantle and more through animations, simulations and interactive elements, which build upon one another to help you grasp the concepts more easily. Then move onto other areas like the Earth’s surface, water, biomes and finally end with a Sandbox where you can play with everything you’ve seen and learned. The years of work which the developer put into making this app are immediately apparent and appreciated. I think this will be an excellent app for me to use with my daughters to teach them a little about our planet.

And that’ll do it for this week…

Go to the second page of this post to watch the trailers for these games.