soulspark-battle-cards-rpg_883981792_ipad_02.jpgWHOA…May is coming on strong, with a huge batch of new releases including a few unexpected surprises. Quick, repetitive gameplay appears to be a common theme this week, with many games seemingly trying to fill those short bursts of idle time you may have while waiting in line, on the bus or on hold with the cable company (okay that one is not very short).

Kicking things off with the freebies we have the free-to-play card combat game, SoulSpark – Battle Cards (RPG). Tactically equip and upgrade your party of heroes with new spells and melee and ranged weapons to successfully face down waves of enemies in this quick little card game combat. Perfect for on the go entertainment, this quick real-time game of warfare is a free, fun little distraction anytime you have a few minutes to spare.

into-the-circle_983625080_ipad_01.jpgInto The Circle is the latest publishing effort from
Gameblyr and developed by ZipZap games. It is a minimalist physics ‘last longer’ style game where you keep firing a disc from ring to ring (of varying size and distance), controlling both the direction and power of the toss. It is sort of reminiscent of curling in that you are hoping that the disc stops somewhere on or within the rings border (ideally dead center) to earn points. You keep going until you miss a target ring, trying to better your score in subsequent attempts. It’s a nicely put together game that should definitely appeal to fans of these recently trendy high score-driven, games which encourage repetitive play.

Also falling into this same category of game is the latest offering from Ketchapp called, Catch The Rabbit. Players try to time their animal’s jumps from platform to platform as they chase a thieving rabbit and collect fruit which can be used to unlock additional playable animals.

Hero Hustle is a faced-paced game mixing numbers and match-3, where you try to remove connected numbered tiles by matching x blocks with same number on them (ie. 3-3-3) or alternatively you can remove a string of sequential numbers like 1-2-3-4. You can also use wildcards, or slide rows of tiles to lineup moves. However, whatever you are going to do, you’ll need to do its quickly as new numbered blocks keep falling at a steady clip and you need to try to clear them all out. Fear not, you can always summon a hero to help you get out of a tricky spot if the screen is filling up too fast.

Anodia 2 is a free-to-play sequel to 2012’s popular brick breaker, Anodia. A neat take on an arcade classic, this sequel looks even better than its predecessor and features a great physics engine to boot. Well worth a look.

cooped-up_984037545_ipad_01.jpgThis week, Nitrome brings us and aviary climb higher style game called Cooped Up, where players are flinging their bird from platform to platform (slingshot style) trying to avoid the bigger, hungrier birds along the way. Not really diving into any new territory here, but the game has a certain charm about it.

Buoy Boy kind of falls into this same category as well. It is categorized as an endless floater, and that’s because you play as a boy who has been turned into a buoy, floating a danger-filled body of water. It follows the familiar gameplay style where the player tilts the screen back and forth to move and collect coins while avoiding obstacles. The player does have the added task of tapping on the screen to move buoy boy upwards in short bursts, at his or her own pace, taking care not to let buoy boy fall off the screen and perish. The game has some nice visuals and Caribbean soundtrack.

DigRun puts a slight spin on traditional match-3 gameplay by ditching the tired tile-swapping mechanic and instead having players “toss” in a block wherever they’d like in the grid, which causes shifting and chain reactions. The game features an amusing little backstory in which the blocks have been awoken from their sleep and fed up with being abused by gamers, they are trying to seek their revenge. So it is a race against the clock to make as many matches as you can before the blocks catch up to you.

kindo_963680485_ipad_01A surprise new release, Kindo is self-described as “a fresh new medieval board game from the 21st century”, newcomers Space Bears’ iOS debut is a minimalistic, two-player tile placement game in which opponents attempt capture each other’s king by taking turns placing tiles on the board or using one or more of their actions to strengthen one side of a previously placed tile, against attack. Kindo can be played either single-player against several different levels of AI opponents or multiplayer via pass-and-play on a single device or remotely via Game Center.

The phrases “use your words” and “words can kill” have never been truer than they are in the recently released game Moldicide. Players take on the role of Chao the janitor, who with the help of a cappuccino machine named Mr. Ernesto, are humanity’s last hope for survival against the zombie-like Moldies. Quickly form words from a sequence of scrambled letters to mount attacks on the approaching hoard of zombies and if all else fails ask Mr. Ernesto for help. Can you think quickly on your feet? If not, the world may be in trouble.

blendimals_738561911_ipad_01.jpgBlendimals is a curious and somewhat sadistic looking new release, in which you use your “trusty blender to try to combine the correct animals to survive” the level.

Next from, 11 bit studios comes Spacecom, a strategic starfleet command game, where players will need to use both cunning and tactics to outmaneuver their opponents.

We’ve already seen a lot of cute critters this week, but there is plenty of room for more.

The best-selling mobile puzzler Armadillo Gold Rush makes its iOS debut this week with “75+ levels of obstacles, enemies, and traps standing between your armadillo and precious gold”. Calculate and then execute the optimal path through each crazy maze-like level to avoid killin’ yer lil armadillo. Don’t be fooled by that cute critter, this one will get you using your brain.

Let’s look at a few titles for the kiddos.

Calimero’s Village introduces kids to Calimero, a baby bird who has just moved into the city of Hatchington. He invites his friends (Priscillia, Pierrot, Valeriano, Galletoni and Cesira) to join him and together they can create houses, buildings and roads and grow crops and gardens as well. I haven’t tried this one out, but it looks like younger children will surely like to build and play with this adorable cast of characters.

transformers-rescue-bots-dino_961648591_ipad_01.jpgGet ready for some dino-mite Transformers fun with PlayDate Digital’s latest interactive storybook app, Transformers Rescue Bots: Dino Island. “Optimus Prime personally recruits the reader as Griffin Rock’s newest Rescue Team cadet. To complete this rescue mission, the Rescue Bots will need to change into their ‘Dino Bot’ forms, but that may not be enough!”. A fun story for both newcomers and little fans of the series, this is another great production from the team at PlayDate Digital. My daughter has never even seen the Transformers Rescue Bots before, but by the end of the first page, you was mesmerized by the nice artwork and professional narration. Your child even gets to take their picture with the Transformers Rescue Bots when he or she completes the mission.

Speaking of missions…how about hopping aboard a Cold War-era sub in Dive for Honour: Cold War. In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m done with the kid-friendly apps section…for now. Featuring, both a single-player campaign mode as well as 4 v. 4 team deathmatch multiplayer, you’ll get to take control over a variety of different subs as you submerge, hut and fire torpedoes.

Coffee Stain Studios follows up last year’s iOS release of their absurd Goat Simulator with an equally absurd looking new sequel called, Goat Simulator GoatZ. Featuring a mandatory crafting system for creating one of your six different weapons, loads of zombies, a survival mode which requires you to eat every five minutes and a casual mode for those who don’t like to eat every five minutes and lots of insane sounding goat powers including “the ability to shrink people’s heads, hang glide, wreak havoc, spit and be a goat”. If the first release appealed to you, then odds are you’ll have no problems dropping another $5 on this one as well.

fruit-ninja-academy-math-master_914394279_ipad_04Halfbrick Studios is trying something a little different this week, releasing their unexpected first ever educational app, Fruit Ninja Academy: Math Master. Aimed at children aged 5 to 7 years old and set in the rich and colorful Fruit Ninja universe, Math Master uses fun games to help reinforce Grade 1 math skills. Whether it’s slicing down bananas to solve addition problems or rolling watermelons to classify numbers, this looks like an engaging and fun-tastic learning tool for kids. The app covers addition, subtraction, skip counting (multiplication), numbers, sequences and shapes. I’m looking forward to loading this up on the family iPad and giving it a go with my daughters, I really think they are gonna love this one. Kudos to Halfbrick for using their sweet ninja skills for good.

grim-fandango-remastered_978524071_ipad_04Finally that brings us to possibly the biggest of the week, Double Fine Productions’ iOS port of the remastered release of LucasArts’ point-and click adventure classic, Grim Fandango. Set in the land of the dead, the game follows the adventures of Manny Calavera, travel agent to the dead. The game features a unique aesthetic which blends film noir and Mexican folklore and looks excellent in this newly repainted, remastered release which also includes new dynamic lighting as well as a re-recorded score and over 2 hours of exclusive developer commentary. I cannot wait to dive into this one this weekend.

That’s all I’ve got for you this week, but there is plenty more on the way in the coming weeks.

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