seabeard_913754563_ipad_01.jpgOnly a few weeks left until the end of the year, and developers are racing to get their big new titles out before Apple’s end of the year lock down.

We start this week with the much-anticipated, Seabeard, the cute, Animal Crossing-style, game of exploration from Hand Circus, creators of one of the earliest iOS mega-hits…Rolando. Published by Backflip Studios, depending on the aggressiveness of the game’s free-to-play mechanics, I have little doubt that this will be a big hit for both studios.

Taking inspiration from classic interactive party games like Simon and Bop It, SongPop creator FreshPlanet, utilizes the accelerometer, gyroscope and touchscreen of your iOS device to create a frenetic new party game called ShakePop. Holding their iPhone in one hand, players must quickly perform the appropriate actions which include, shaking, pinching, swiping, flipping, dancing and spinning, before time runs out or they make a mistake. If you’re looking for an entertaining activity to break the ice or loosen people up at your next get together, then ShakePop may be a good one to consider.

highrise-heroes-towering-word_940234666_ipad_02.jpgNoodlecake Studios and Fallen Tree Games really surprised me with this next title as it unlike anything we’ve seen out of Noodlecake thus far. Highrise Heroes is a fresh adventure word game which follows a group of survivors trying to escape a crumbling skyscraper after a sudden earthquake. Starting at the 90th (top) floor, each of the game’s levels represents a floor of the dilapidated building and you must find words un the grid of lettered tiles to destroy tiles and drop the survivors down to the next floor. Each survivor has unique powers which can be invoked at the cost of some of your limited number of moves and there is an entertaining narrative that unfolds as you play. Whether or not you typically like word games, this word/puzzle game hybrid is one of the may favorite surprise releases of the week and I highly recommend grabbing a copy.

Welcome to the ‘officially licensed’ portion of the post…

In what appears to be Marvel’s (sort-of) answer to Injustice: Gods Among Us, the newly released Marvel Contest of Champions is a free-to-play fighting game starring all of your favorite heroes (and villains) from the Marvel Universe. Assemble, level up and manage your teams of heroes and villains as you go on quests to defeat Kang. “Face the challenge of a mysterious new super powerful cosmic competitor, and ultimately battle to prevent the total destruction of The Marvel Universe”.

hobbit-battle-five-armies_945080263_ipad_01.jpgTimed for the release of the third and final feature film in the Hobbit film series, Warner Bros’ The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies – Fight for Middle-earth is a free 3D game action / fighting game where players choose to battle as Humans, Dwarves, Elves or Orcs and traverse Middle Earth fighting enemies and contributing to a global, communal leaderboard.

Epic Fall is a challenging new endless platformer in which left and right movement is controlled via a neat Recoil mechanic. You are an Indian Jones-ish adventurer falling down an endless chasm. You have a limited ammo and must fire at oncoming objects to destroy them or at the walls to use your weapon’s recoil to push you in the opposite direction to avoid obstacles. It is a tough little game in which you are trying to fall as far as possible without hitting anything. You quickly learn that ammo conservation is key and you can pickup coins along the way to buy various upgrades. If you like quick, tough, “one more try”, leaderboard-centric games, then this one is worth a go. Plus it comes from some of the guys behind the excellent (and unfairly removed) marble popper StoneLoops! of Jurassica.

dr.-seuss-treasury_909110675_ipad_01.jpgOceanhouse Media is offering a new subscription service called Dr. Seuss Treasury which gives you access to all 55 of their interactive Dr. Seuss book apps, all from within a single app, complete with sorting and searching capabilities. You can try out the service free for 7 days, just by downloading the app (no account creation required). If you decide to subscribe, there are multiple plans to choose from: 3 months for $14.99, 12 months for $49.99 or unlock everything permanently for $99.99. I’ve purchased a number of Oceanhouse’s individual apps over the years and they are really well made and my daughters still enjoy them. If you have kids this is a no-brainer to at least try the service for the 7 days. Heck, for the $100 one-time payment it’ll only cost you $1.82 per book, and these are the full versions of the books, with interactive elements, not the expensive hardcovers or chopped down board book versions that cost you $5 or so in the store.

Launched in separate iPhone and iPad releases, Volt is a physics-based puzzle platformer where you try to help a little battery avoid recycling, using its limited number of electric beams to navigate walls and interact with objects and switches.

sneaky-sneaky_942003779_ipad_02.jpgSneaky Sneaky is a cute new stealth puzzle game from Naiad Entertainment. You plays as a thief named Sneaky who was captured after pulling of a big job, but escapes and now must try to reclaim all of his lost loot. Move carefully and avoid detection by the guards while grabbing all of the gold, gems and loot that you can find. If detected, you must then move tactically in a special turn-based mode in order to get back into cover and avoid being killed by the guard(s). It is a charming and fun little puzzle game with some light RPG elements which allow you to upgrade various stats.

Touch Press is back this week with a rather unique looking edutainment app called Think Like Churchill. Crafted in a Tin-Tin-esque graphic novel style, players try to fill the important shoes of Winston Churchill “as he faces some of the most difficult and challenging dilemmas in history”. Players are presented with a number of scenarios that represent important decisions Churchill made within his lifetime and utilizing “Churchill’s own thoughts and writings, the advice of friends and colleagues, as well as rare archive material, including intelligence reports, private letters, telegraphs and briefing documents” you must decide what to do and then get to see how closely it matches Churchill’s actual decisions. It looks like an entertaining way to present historical, educational material.

We have a several adventure games set in a variety of times and locales…

After releasing on PC and Consoles a few weeks back, Telltale brings Tales from the Borderlands to iOS this week. This five-part episodic adventure game series is set in the world of Pandora after the events which took place in the Borderlands 2 video game. This all-new story follows the adventures of “Rhys, a Hyperion ‘suit’ with dreams of being the next Handsome Jack, and Fiona, a Pandoran con artist looking to score her biggest ever swindle.” Telltale promises that the game will feature the same wit and trademark humor that fans have come to expect from Gearbox Software’s series. With Telltale really being on the top of their game since the first Walking Dead, this should be another crowd-pleaser.

bertram-fiddle-episode-1-dreadly_930404329_ipad_01.jpgThere has been a murder in Victorian London and you, Leading Victorian Explorator Bertram Fiddle, must “journey into the befuddling underbelly of Victorian London to uncover the identity of an elusive serial killer known only as Geoff the Murderer” and help solve the mystery. Bertram Fiddle: Episode 1: A Dreadly Business is a brilliantly dark and humorous looking episodic point and click adventure game which takes its inspiration from “classic point and click games, 70′s Hammer Horror films and late Victorian Novels” and is the debut gaming effort from the Award-winning Rumpus Animation studio.

Bulkypix brings us a new point-and-click adventure game based on Corto Maltese, the Italian comic book series created by Hugo Pratt, whose title character is a sailor-adventurer. Corto Maltese Secrets of Venice is an original story featuring many new and popular characters from the series as Corto Maltese searches for a lost emerald. It looks pretty polished and offers two different difficulty levels.

papers-please-2Finally, tomorrow, Lucas Pope (creator of Helsings Fire) will be releasing an iPad port of his emotional, controversial and critically acclaimed time management game Papers, Please. Players take on the role of a newly appointed border guard at the Grestin checkpoint in the war-torn communist state of Arstotzka. they must control the flow of people entering the Arstotzkan side of Grestin from neighboring Kolechia. Inspect, search and fingerprint entering immigrants to determine who is seeking work and who are spies, smugglers and terrorists. Do your job quickly and diligently in order to support your family or pay the consequences. I have heard a lot of praise for this game, so I am excited to see it make its way to iOS where I can finally check it out. It is worth noting that the full-body nudity which appeared on the scanner during weapons scans in the original PC version of the game had to be censored in order to pass Apple’s app approval process, otherwise the rest of the game’s content has remained in tact. The game will cost $5.99 during launch weekend, then will increase to its regular price of $7.99.

It’s a jam-packed slate of new apps this week, but lots of goodies to choose from!

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