dwarven-den-mining-puzzle_699789499_ipad_01.jpgIt appears that May 1st seems to be THE day to release your new app, because there are an insane number of apps launching tonight.

I’ve narrowed my coverage down to 20 titles, but I could have easily come up with a list of five to ten more.

This is going to be a long post, so let’s just dive right in with the freebies, starting with Backflip Studios’ latest, Dwarven Den™. It is an entertaining 3D mining puzzle game where you play as a dwarf, trying to find gold and your trapped friends as you explore a series of underground mines. Every block you dig uses up some of your limited supply of energy, so you have to plan your routes carefully and unearth additional energy along the way. As you progress through the game you unlock various tools, backpacks and headgear which can be crafted together to form even better equipment. I’ve played quite a bit of this already and still haven’t hit a pay wall, I definitely recommend checking this one out.

Next from those crafty puzzlers, the Grabarchuk family, comes Puzzlium, the “first puzzle social network where users can solve puzzles, create and instantly publish new puzzles, and compete with other solvers”. With over 10,000 human-crafted challenges just to get you started there is loads of content to keep those synapses firing. Whether you are dividing a shape into congruent parts or trying to assemble a particular shape from a set of pieces, there is something challenging in Puzzlium for everyone, regardless of individual skill level.

Speaking of a challenging…who says that prepping for the ACT and SAT has to be boring and stressful? The new app, play2prep, tries to make a game out of prepping, with daily 5 question SAT and ACT challenges and an interactive social aspect where students can challenge each other. Even if your standardized testing days are (thankfully) behind you, this app will help you brush up on all that stuff you may have forgotten…it’s free so there’s no excuse not to give it a try….never stop learning, especially when it’s fun!

Based on David Weber’s series of bestselling Honorverse military science fiction novels, in Evergreen Studios’ new resource management and space combat strategy game Tales of Honor: The Secret Fleet you’ll find yourself taking down enemy ships, looting to repair your ship, upgrading systems and leveling up your crew.

star-wars-pinball-3_594811233_ipad_02.jpgWhile we are still space-bound, this would be a good opportunity to mention that FOUR new Star Wars-themed pinball tables are available for purchase within the Star Wars™ Pinball and Zen Pinball apps for $1.99 each. As part of their May the Fourth celebration, ZEN Studios has also reduced the price of the existing Star Wars-themed tables to 99¢ each and made the Star Wars™ Pinball app FREE (reg $1.99) for a limited time with the “Star Wars™: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back” table included for FREE! The four amazing new tables include Han Solo, Star Wars™: Episode IV — A New Hope, Star Wars Pinball: Masters of the Force and Star Wars® Pinball – Droids. With all the great characters and sound effects you’ve come to expect, the Force is strong with these new offerings and I’m especially enjoying the Han Solo and Droid tables myself.

Crescent Moon Games and Gear Jack return to the App Store this week with Gear Jack Black Hole. It is an all-new endless running adventure featuring the same stylized graphical style as the original. Jack’s back and trapped inside a Black Hole, now he must run, jump, duck and dodge his way through 4 unique worlds, unlocking cool costumes and power-ups as you fight for the top of the Game Center leaderboards.

Chaneques looks like it could be a fun Lemmings-style puzzle game for kids where they must combine the unique skills of the Mexican pixies to solve puzzles. Another title which may appeal to kids (of all ages) is The Great Tales (Snake Game). Free to play giant, Mobage attempts to reinvent the classic game of snake taking players on a treasure hunting adventure around the world. swipe to avoid hazards like hidden spikes and poisonous spiders, while collecting coins and gems.

And one final one for the kids…not a freebie, but a nice bargain none the less, is Oceanhouse Media’s new Smithsonian Prehistoric Pals Collection, which collects 10 dino-tastic books into one app. “Smithsonian Prehistoric Pals Collection takes kids back in time to the prehistoric world to learn all about dinosaurs including the Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus, and more, plus the Saber-Tooth Tiger and Woolly Mammoth”. Individually each book in this collection sells for $2.99 each, but this set is available at an introductory price of $14.99, so a big cost savings. The studio will also be putting Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! on sale for 99¢ (reg $4.99) for one week. Just because school’s almost out, it doesn’t mean they should stop reading.

plax_803605385_ipad_02.jpgThose of you looking for some fast-paced finger workouts may want to consider the next couple of arcadey titles…

Plax puts your reflexes to the test as you move your left and right fingers to control separate orbs positioned just outside a central circle. Rotate the orbs around the circle to collecting flying bits called plaxie while avoiding the onslaught of deadly obstacles being tossed every which way by the center blob. This game gets tough pretty quickly and you will want to play over and over and over again to try to best yourself and your friends on the leaderboards.

Bezircle is a frantic game for one or more players (up to 4 locally on the same iPad) where challengers try to win levels by capturing the most orbs (done by rotating your piece around the orbs). There all sorts of power-ups to give you advantages over your competitors and in the local multiplayer mode this looks like a massive amount of chaotic fun. Check out the trailer on the third page of this post for a good glimpse of what the game plays like.

agent-rx_815591919_ipad_01.jpgI’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of stealth games, so Agent RX caught my eye this week. It is single player top down stealth game, set in the world of espionage where you must solve puzzles to get around enemies to complete missions.

Bulkypix returns to the fray this week with an old-school side scrolling platformer called Lethal Lance, and
PathPix creator, Kris Pixton is back with a rather unique looking take on the word game genre called SpellPix. Among a grid of letters, you must find words of 3 or more letters that start and end on circled letters and the starting and ending letter circles must be the same color. You can connect letters horizontally and vertically, but not diagonally. Correct words are painted over and frozen in place and once you’ve used up all the letters in the grid, these painted ‘word paths’ will form a picture. This looks really neat.

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned a bridge construction game, so if you are looking for a new one, then perhaps Bridge Constructor Medieval will scratch that itch. The sequel to Headup Games’ popular, Bridge Constructor game, this one is set (as you may have guessed from the title) in medieval times and you are trying to construct sturdy bridges so that the carts and horses can get across safely with much needed supplies. There are different goals to meet on each level in order to earn all three stars and unlock additional levels. The game is on sale for $1.99 at launch but will be going up to $2.99 in a few days.

Hot off last week’s announcement that they will be bringing Italic Pig’s upcoming Schrödinger’s Cat to Steam later this year, Team17 Software is back on mobile this week with a port (of sorts) in the opposite direction. Superfrog HD is an updated version of their classic 1993 PC side-scrolling, 2D platformer Superfrog.

Episodic adventure game Republique has just launched episode 2, which can be purchased within the app for $4.99, or downloaded for no additional charge if you already purchased the season pass.

jungle-rumble-freedom-happiness_816012589_ipad_02.jpgAfter two appearances at PAX East, Disco Pixel’s unique rhythm puzzle game, Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness and Bananas is finally ready for prime time. I spent a good deal of time with this game at PAX East this year (this time wearing proper headphones). Using specific sequences of rhythmic taps you move monkeys around the screen, avoiding evil monkeys, picking up and throwing coconuts and more. The game also has an interesting overarching narrative as well. While there is certainly a little bit of a learning curve, Jungle Rumble is pretty charming and I suspect this will be a pretty popular title this week.

Amanita Design, creators of Machinarium are back with an IOS port of another of their gorgeous-looking adventure games, Botanicula. Winner of a number of awards, Botanicula tells the story of five little tree creature friends, who set out on a journey to save the last seed from their home tree which has become infested by evil parasites. The game features over 150 beautifully illustrated locations to explore and all sorts of hidden bonus content. I found Machinarium to be quite engaging, so I have high hopes for Botanicula as well

talisman_681942253_ipad_01.jpgIt’s been just over a year since Talisman Prologue launched on iOS, and now tonight we finally get the full-fledged digital version of Games Workshop’s classic fantasy adventure board game Talisman courtesy of Nomad Games. This is one of those table top games that I keep hearing mentioned over the years and can’t wait to finally try it out now that it is on iPad and I don’t need to find other players, I can play online in real-time or against AI players.

“In Talisman, you embark on a perilous quest for the ultimate treasure, the Crown of Command. Choose from 14 characters such as the Warrior, Assassin, Thief or Wizard and race your opponents through a perilous realm. Each character is unique in their strengths, weaknesses and special powers. To win the game, you must journey to the heart of the land to find the Crown of Command, and then use its ancient magic to cast a mighty spell to subdue all your rivals.”

And that will do it for this jam-packed night!
I know I left titles off the list and I’m sure there will be some unsuspected surprises tomorrow, so let me know in the comments if there are any must-have titles that I neglected to mention.

Go to the second and third pages of this post to watch the trailers for these games.