peggle-blast_853834250_ipad_01.jpgLast week I was on vacation, and despite the Thanksgiving Holiday there were still a boatload of new releases launched. So this week I’ll be covering a mixture of new releases from both this week and last.

Electronic Arts has finally launched their new free-to-play version of Peggle called Peggle Blast. When it was first announced that Peggle would be going free-to-play, all of the negative connotations of the term had many people concerned that the game would be an IAP mess and would take away from the enjoyment of game. It appears that all that worrying was for not and at least so far, I am quite pleased with the way the game has turned out. At its core, Peggle Blast is same classic game of Peggle that we all know and love with the most notable changes being the Candy-Crush-style progression map, IAPs for extra balls and powerups and a portrait-only gameplay orientation. Fans of the series won’t be disappointed and if you’ve never played Peggle before, there’s never been a better (or cheaper) time to check it out…though once you pick it up, it WILL be hard to stop playing.

Gameloft has released their own Candy Crush clone, a pastry-themed match 3 game called Pastry Paradise. While the gameplay is very similar to other titles that we’ve seen before, the game has a humorous storyline. It includes some levels with the traditional ‘get the designated pieces to the bottom’ goal, but also adds some cool new level designs like ones where you are building a recipe and must remove X number of certain ingredients in a particular order within the specified number of moves. There are even strategic tug-o-war style boss battles where you need to capture a specified number of squares before your opponent in turn-based play. If you aren’t tired of this style of game, then Pastry Paradisenarborion-saga_923374207_ipad_02.jpgIndie developer Liber Primus Games has just launched its fantasy Choose Your Own Adventure-style gamebook adventure app, Narborion Saga. Written by award-winning novelist Francis Hora and Dr Tom Pollak, Narborion Saga puts readers in the role of a young squire, embarking on his first quest to assist the Lady Carluna, Princess of the Kingdom in her attempt to restore a Goddess to full power. By making dynamic choices, collecting items and utilizing the app’s dice-based skill checks and combat system you’ll make your way across treacherous lands and battle monsters and demons.

Roller Polar is another of these simple yet really challenging timing and dexterity games with retro style graphics. You are a little polar bear perched atop an ever-rolling snow ball. As the ball rolls, it picks up rocks, trees and other animals and you have to time jumps and double-jumps to avoid these objects hitting you when they get swept up by the snow ball. It looks like good leaderboard fodder among your Game Center friends.

In the first of a number of PC/Console to iOS conversions I’ll be mentioning this week, SQUARE ENIX INC brings the 1997 classic, Tomb Raider II to iOS. Journey from Tibet to Venice and join Lara Croft in her quest for the Dagger of Xian in this adventure which takes you “to the bottom of the sea and back again in a deadly race against warrior monks and crazed cult members”. It’s been years since I’ve played this game, but it sure is tempting to take a trip down memory lane…I’m just not so sure about all of those virtual buttons.

Decked out in a Minecraftian blocky art style, Dustoff Vietnam has players flying rescue helicopters through war-torn areas to transport cargo, save hostages and stop enemy convoys. To me, it looks a bit like Cobra Command for the NES (which is not a bad thing). The game features up to 16 unique missions, three unique rescue helicopters, three different weapons and various daytime and weather conditions. Looks like fun!

bean-dreams_921852522_ipad_02.jpgFrom, Kumobius, creators of the hit 2D platformer, Bean’s Quest comes an all-new bean platforming adventure, Bean Dreams. Keeping the original’s same left and right-tapping control scheme, you must once again help navigate your ever-jumping bean through obstacle-filled levels across “8 unique dreamy worlds”. Be quick and try to meet certain total per-stage jump goals to earn bronze, silver and gold medals. There are even hidden areas to find in each of the 40 levels. I really enjoyed the original, so I’m excited to see more of this adorable jumping bean platformer.

Christmas Crew is a fairly unique concept from Kinship Games, LLC. It is a parent/child cooperative game played on a single iPad. On one half of the iPad screen, the parent plays a strategy game in which they are directing the elves in Santa’s Workshop to wrap presents. The wrapped presents make their way to the other side of the screen where the child must help guide Santa’s sleigh around obstacles to deliver the presents. So parent and child must work together in order to deliver all of Santa’s presents on time. This is a fun idea, perfectly timed for the Holiday season.

Tortuga Team brings us another Braveland adventure with a second title in their turn-based strategy game series. Braveland Wizard follows the journey a freshly graduated wizard as she and her team of allies puts their fresh skills to the test against the likes of orcs, ghosts and ‘three cunning bosses’.

game-thrones-telltale-games_906862658_ipad_01After launching on other platforms earlier in the week, Telltale has now launched part one (of six) of its much-anticipated Game of Thrones episodic adventure game. This 2 and a half hour journey is a new story set in the world of HBO’s TV series. It features the likenesses and voices of many of the characters from the HBO series. It tells of House Forrester, a noble family from the north of Westeros, loyal to the Starks of Winterfell. Players “take on the role of different members of the Forrester household, and determine their fate through the choices they make; their actions and decisions will change the story around them.” I have no idea what sorts of spoilers there might be in store for those who are not caught up with the HBO series, but I have no doubt that this is going to be a top-notch production that fans of the series will certainly enjoy. I want to catch up on the series first, otherwise this would be an instant-buy for me.

Another trend we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks are digital adaptations of board games, wargames and RPGs. I’ll be highlighting a number of these is this post as well.

This first one, The Witcher Adventure Game, is actually a digital adaptation of a boardgame that was inspired by a PC game series. Phew. Set in a dark fantasy world, players journey across the world to complete a variety of quests: “hunt for deadly beasts, solve ancient mysteries, and take part in complex political intrigues”. You can play as monster slayer Geralt of Rivia, sorceress Triss Merigold, dwarven warrior Yarpen Zigrin, or rougish bard Dandelion. The game supports Player vs. AI and Human vs. Human (online multiplayer and hot seat). It looks like a beautifully made game and if you want a sneak peek of it in action I recommend checking out tonight’s BoardGameGeek’s livestream where they will be playing both The Witcher AG and BattleLore: Command (which I’ll be discussing in a little bit).

oddworld-strangers-wrath_923555295_ipad_01First released in 2005 for the Xbox, Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath has been remastered for mobile gameplay with new UI and controls. This 20+ hour mix of third and first-person action adventure game transports players to the “dusty, undeveloped wastelands of Western Mudos where cantankerous townsfolk find their settlements besieged by belligerent outlaws. Along comes Stranger, a drifter turned bounty hunter, with a unique double-barreled critter-firing crossbow”. You must track down outlaws and bring them in (dead or alive) for the bounties.

Originally released as a major expansion for Harebrained Schemes’ first Shadowrun game to make it to the iPad, Shadowrun Returns, the newly released standalone game Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director’s Cut is a Story-Driven RPG set in the same futuristic cyberpunk universe and offers up a 20+ hour campaign. Those wanting to take another adventure through the Shadowrun universe will certainly want to pick this one up.

Another popular PC adventure game gets a mobile port with 2000’s The Longest Journey Remastered hitting the App Store last week. The game follows the adventures of April Ryan, a young art student whose msyterious journey begins when she discovers that she has the power to pass between worlds. I can’t say that I’m familiar with the original, but in trying to find out more info about it, I see that it is fairly well-regarded. The screenshots look quite nice and this looks like it could be a great new addition to iPhone and iPad owner’s point and click adventure library.

wars-battles-turn-based-strategy_926280609_ipad_02.jpgNot just a new game, but a gorgeous looking new digital wargaming platform, Wars and Battles – Turn-based Strategy Wargames allows amateur and experienced strategists to simulate historical battles and campaigns over several centuries and continents, starting with Normandy 1944 and the Allied invasion of France. It is your standard dudes on a hex-based map layout and the basics are easy to grasp, with more detailed strategy developing as you get more and more familiar with the game and the difficultly of the scenarios increases. Wars and Battles is aesthetically, a very beautifully designed game, the amount of polish on this thing would make Pledge® proud. It is easy to see that a lot of work and thought went into it. I believe you get about 10 scenarios right out of the box, each of which can be played as either the Axis or Allied forces. The studio plans to launch a number of additional battles across a several locations and time periods in the coming months/ year and by purchasing the app now you will be able to play the campaign in each of the 7 battles as they release in 2014 and 2015. If you are a fan of wargaming you owe it to yourself to check this one out.

Finally that brings us to our final app of the week…another digital board game port, BattleLore: Command. This is the digital version of Fantasy Flight’s popular two-player fantasy, squad-based wargame BattleLore (Second Edition). Each player leads either the “noble Daqan army as they fearlessly defend their homeland from the invading hordes of the Uthuk Y’llan– demon-blooded barbarians spreading chaos and destruction wherever they go. Or, lead the Uthuk Y’llan and channel their fury into military supremacy.”. The digital release offers a special 360º view with zooming capabilities to see the battlefield from any vantage point, a multi-mission single-player campaign, and a choice of five different skirmish scenarios for battle against a (LAN) multiplayer or AI opponent. I have never played Battlelore, before, but this looks like a great way to learn the game and practice strategy for tabletop play. Once again, BoardGameGeek will be livestreaming some of this game tonight.

And that’s all I have for you this week. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to the App Store shutdown in a few weeks, so I can catch up on all these games!

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