Starting off this week we have the highly anticipated Blackrock Mountain expansion for Blizzard Entertainment’s stellar card battling game, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. The expansion, which “thrusts Hearthstone players into the middle of a war between powerful forces battling for control of the mountain” will unlock weekly content over the entire month of April. It introduces 31 new cards, all of which can obtained by winning “epic battles against some of the mountain’s most iconic villains”. There is also an all-new game board, new music, and “a host of legendary encounters” Plus each of Hearthstone’s nine classes will have the opportunity to add two brand-new class cards to their collection”. Like last year’s Curse of Naxxramas expansion, Blackrock Mountain will be accessible for either 700 in-game gold (or if you don’t have the gold, $6.99) per wing or the entire Adventure purchasable for $24.99. I got a sneak peek at this content during PAX East and I think fans of the game are going to be very, very happy!
Speaking of digital board games, after a few delays, the successfully Kickstarted iOS release of Boss Monster is finally available for download. Set in an NES era aesthetic, this dungeon-building game casts players as evil video game bosses who (via cards) build out rooms in their dungeons to attract loot-seeking heroes, only to (hopefully) have these do-gooders perish while trying to make their way through the various traps and rooms. It is a fun, easy to learn strategy game with a slight luck component. The free download includes unlimited single-player gameplay, and a $6.99 IAP adds both local pass and play and online multiplayer gameplay. This payment model seems very generous as there is a lot of gameplay to be had just in the single-player mode. I have really been enjoying this one and highly recommend checking it out.
Disney has three new licensed products out, the first two of which are free-to-download and feature their MARVEL and Star Wars properties.
Marvel Mighty Heroes is a light, real-time 4-player co-op brawler in which each player creates a tag-team of three Marvel superheroes and tap to set their Captain America, The Hulk and more on wave after wave of super villains and their evil minions. As you play, you’ll acquire new suits with unique abilities to upgrade your heroes.
Star Wars Rebels: Recon Missions actually came out last week, but somehow I missed featuring it. Based on Disney’s popular Star Wars Rebels™ animated series, it features some gorgeous looking visuals. This action platformer has players battling against the empire and rescuing citizens as young Lothal rebel, Ezra Bridger. The game has a bit of a classic Prince of Persia vibe to it and you can play the first 4 levels for free, with purchasable content packs which unlock up to 31 levels and new playable characters and content. If you have a Star Wars fan in your house, this one is certainly worth a look, even if you aren’t familiar with this animated series.
FreshPlanet returns this week with a new entry in their SongPop franchise. A nicely presented name tune style trivia / adventure, Rock On – A SongPop Adventure challenges players’ musical memory with over 80 genre-themed levels and multiple game modes which get unlocked as you go. Think you know your Classic Rock, Punk Rock or 80s and 90s Rock? Then step up, put on your headphones and see if you can master each level in speed and percent-correct challenges and become a Rock Legend!
Happymagenta latest free to play game, Cube Koala is a challenging little puzzle platformer that will test your reflexes as you rotate the playing field (sometimes quickly) to guide a cube-shaped koala through increasingly more difficult trap-laden levels.
Speaking of reflexes, Polyeon is a frantic time-based tapping, swiping and press/hold game, where you must dispense of never-ending waves of shapes on the screen using each shape’s designated gesture. Use all of your digits to clear groups of objects as quickly as possible to maintain your bank of time and try to earn the highest score as possible before the clock inevitably runs down.
If Civ games are your thing, DomiNations is a new free-to-play base-building strategy game from independent game studio, Big Huge Games, headed by Civilization II Lead Designer Brian Reynolds. Players select nation and then construct and upgrade structures to “expand a civilization and defend against invading armies”. They are responsible for managing all aspects of the new civilization including “food and economy while training troops and hiring mercenaries to colonize neighboring civilizations in real-time combat to expand their influence and earn valuable loot”.
Last Voyage is an interesting and different looking sort of minimalistic sci-fi / space adventure game which takes players through “psychedelic portals” to solve puzzles. I honestly have no idea what this one is about and that intrigues me a bit. The app description describes the game as: “A game where you don’t master a single task but rather explore a range of concepts. As a result, the levels are sometimes mysterious, and other times very direct.” Last Voyage is on sale for 99¢ (50% off) at launch.
How about something that’s a bit less of an enigma…
Styled like a classic, monochromatic Game Boy title, and based on a browser game, Tiny Dangerous Dungeons is a light weight, retro metroidvania adventure which sees treasure hunter Timmy exploring a dungeon, collecting hidden power-ups and gaining new skills. Fans of the early Game Boy and/or those looking for a bit of retro-style fun may want to consider checking this one out.
With the fifth season of My Little Pony – Friendship Is Magic starting up in just a couple of days, your kids are probably as excited (and still) as Pinkie Pie. Fortunately PlayDate Digital has just released another of their My Little Pony Storybook apps to keep the little ones entertained until then. Based on one of the best (and my daughters’ favorite) episodes from the fourth season of the TV series, My Little Pony: Pinkie Pie’s Sister introduces the character of Maud Pie, the energetic Pinkie’s polar opposite (and much less enthusiastic) sister. Fun and hilarity ensue in this nice tale of friendship, and being different.
Also based on characters from a TV series, Attack the Light – Steven Universe Light RPG is an easy to pick up and play, turn-based RPG game set in Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe universe. This all-new storyline from series creator, Rebecca Sugar, sees Garnet, Pearl, Amethyst, and Steven attempting to stop a powerful Gem weapon. Swipe to navigate and explore caves and tap to assign action points to fight bad guys in turn-based combat. Level up your characters to unlock new abilities and collect cool treasure. I am not familiar with the series, but still found the dialog humorous and artwork looks great. This is super-approachable by players new to RPGs, but also allows for some strategy in selection of the RPG elements of your characters. You can also tests your reflexes to get bonus hits in the attack phase. It is a cute, entry-level RPG.
Gunpowder is a charming debut iPad puzzle game from Rogue Rocket Games, a new studio led by Nick Bruty and Richard Sun, who previously worked on some of my childhood faves including Earthworm Jim and Escape From Monkey Island. Set in the Wild West, you are Incendio, a Robin Hood-style hero, who uses his cunning and a keg of gunpowder “to liberate the town’s gold from the evil Boss Grimshaw”. Draw out paths of your (limited supply of) gunpowder, then light it up to trigger explosive chain reactions to finally blow open the safe and collect the money. Beautifully illustrated, Gunpowder includes a great physics engine, offering iPad owners a nice little challenge. I expect that we’ll be seeing a lot more cool stuff in the future from Rogue Rocket Games.
Utilizing a unique tile-swapping movement mechanism, A Day In The Woods is a puzzle game which re-imagines the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood. In each level you must move Red’s winged sprite friend from to tile to tile, eventually swapping places with Little Red Riding Hood herself to get her to move where she needs to go to safely reach Granny’s house and possibly complete other tasks like collecting flowers and berries along the way. Each level has a specified par number of moves and your goal is to try to figure out the most economical path of travel. The movement in this game does take a bit of getting used to, but it is also what makes it a bit different from similar puzzle games. There is unlockable cosmetic content which allows players to customize certain aspects of the game to their personal style/preferences.
Kalypso Media Group takes their first dip into mobile gaming this week with a new version of their popular PC turn-based strategy game / RPG, Crowntakers. Specifically tailored for mobile devices, this game is immediately eye-catching thanks to its unique procedurally crafted environment, which seems to build up out of nowhere as you explore. You’ve been tasked by your father, the king to journey to the evil duke’s stronghold to free in the king, but can you reach him in time? Go on missions, gather resources, hire mercenaries, level-up companions and buy more powerful equipment and gear to aid you in your quest and/or battles in the special hex/turn-based arena. The actions you choose use up valuable time, but is there enough of it, or will you perish at the hands (or fierce claws) of some other foe before you make it to the King?
Finally, that brings us to the big surprise release of the week, Disney’s iOS release of DuckTales: Remastered. I had no idea this remake of the popular 1989 NES platformer was coming today, but as a kid who raced home every day from school to watch the Disney Afternoon, needless to say, I was super excited. I don’t recall playing the original version on NES, but oh boy is the polish on this newly remastered release amazing! Scrooge, Huey, Dewey and Louie and all of my favorite DuckTales characters look so crisp and the graphics just pop. Plus the entire game is voice-acted making it feel like you are controlling the characters in an episode of the animated series. The on-screen virtual controls work quite well and the classic platformer gameplay is just plain fun. Who doesn’t enjoy making Scrooge McDuck pogo jump on one of the Beagle Boy’s head. Priced at $9.99 it is a priceier game (by iOS standards), but man am I enjoying this nostalgic trip. For virtual d-pad naysayers, there is support for BT controllers. So what are you waiting for…take a swim into your vault and pick this one up.
That’s all I have for you this week. Enjoy.