songpop-2_975364678_ipad_01.jpgAnd the hits keep on coming…

It’s been another nice week of new iOS releases and we start things off with SongPop 2. Earlier this year, FreshPlanet released Rock On, the single player adventure version of their 2013 hit, Name That Tune-style, head-to-head music trivia game, SongPop. Now it’s time for a multiplayer sequel. For those unfamiliar with they game, the goal is to correctly identify the artist or song title of 5 song clips in as quickly of a time as possible, hopefully beating your opponent in asynchronous play. With SongPop2, FreshPlanet returns to the game that really put their studio on the map, with a brand-new multiplayer sequel that features a fantastic new interface and a varied library of over 100,000 songs spread across 1000+ themed playlists to unlock. Right now, during launch, every single playlist can be tried for free (399 coins each to unlock permanently). I was completely addicted to the original SongPop when it was released and I loved Rock On, so I’m excited to see the original multiplayer series return for a whole new audience of iOS gamers. There is also a new game mode called Party Mode in which players can try to correctly identify a series of ten songs, with correct answers contributing to the players score on a limited-time global leaderboard, with the top scorers earning in-game currency, XP, power-ups and badges. So get ready to put your musical knowledge to the test and grab this fun social game.

forest-home_959810908_ipad_01.jpgForest Home is a new free-to-play logic puzzle game in which you are helping to guide a variety of animals back to their homes by drawing paths on a gridded board between them and their homes. The catch is that no animals paths can cross and you must cover every available space on the play area with your paths. As you progress through the levels, new elements are introduced like multiple animals of the same type, bridges, tunnels and other obstacles to challenge and test your spacial reasoning and planning abilities. One neat aspect of the game is the way that if you restart a level for any reason, it rotates things around to keep things interesting. There have been numerous iOS games which employ this same fill the box with colored paths game mechanic, but developer The Binary Mill offers it up in a polished package with a cute theme.

Mountain Goat Mountain appears to be Zynga’s (remember them) answer to the Crossy Road phenomenon. In this quick action/dexterity game, players tap and swipe the screen to guide a mountain goat up an isometric, cubed Q*bert style pyramid, avoiding accidentally jumping off clips, onto waterfalls, getting struck by various falling objects, or running out of food. You are trying to climb as high as possible to take charge of the leaderboards, but along the way you’ll earn and pick up money which can be used to unlock crates with new goats who completely change up the look and feel of the game. For instance you might get the Miner Goat, who ends up shrouding the mountain in darkness with just the light from a headlamp to see, or the Blizzard Goat who tries to ascend a snow-covered mountain where visibility is rough due to a raging snow storm. It’s a fun little freebie, even if it is perhaps a bit derivative.

card-king-dragon-wars_919375665_ipad_01Card King: Dragon Wars is a new card battling game from publisher CROOZ and Kung Fu Factory, the developers of the digital release of Card Wars. “Heroes from the world over have descended on the town of Dragardia to determine the true king of cards in a showdown of strength, spells and strategy.” The goal is to use your creatures to beat your opponents’ creatures. You do so by playing creature cards to the board and they using action cards (specific to each creature/type) to either do damage to your opponent or heal yourself. The action cards allow your creatures to reach their full potential whether it be a red fighter, blue mystic or green guard, yellow recovery or purple utility creature. The way you “pay” for actions is via energy, which acts much like mana in Hearthstone, and comes in a pool which increases incrementally each turn (until it reaches a max value), allowing for increasingly better or more numerous attacks on subsequent turns. Card King: Dragon Wars shares some other card ability traits with Hearthstone and Magic (albeit with their own naming conventions), yet it still feels different enough to make it its own game. Quick playing and offering just enough strategy that I have found myself regularly coming back to it, making it one of those entertaining little surprises of the week. The game features a single player campaign as well as an online mode where you can battle other players. If you like quick playing digital card battling games, this is one you’ll certainly want to check out.

Next up are quite a few licensed properties from television and film.

dexter-hidden-darkness_945225151_ipad_01Help solve (and commit) murders as you become Miami Dade Police Department’s leading blood splatter expert’s Dark Passenger in the new hidden object game, Dexter: Hidden Darkness. Investigate crime scenes, find the listed objects as well as clues to help you solve the crime, and uncover the identity of your next victim the killer. Authentic feeling narrative portions featuring nicely illustrated comic-book style versions of Dexter, Deborah, Batista, Masuka and Harry help to recreate the feeling of this great award-winning Showtime drama series. The game employs the usual free-to-play energy mechanisms used in many mobile hidden object games. As a fan of Dexter (finale excluded) and hidden object games I’ve been finding BlooBuzz Studios’ trip back to the Dexter universe pretty enjoyable.

Do you have what it takes to survive the deadly Alaskan crabbing season on the Bering Sea? Based on the Discovery Channel’s Emmy Award-winning series, Deadliest Catch: Seas of Fury, is a free-to-play game that casts you as a deckhand on one of six of the ships from the series and you must first hook a buoy and then tap furiously to protect your line and keep the sea life from eating your haul as you try to get your rare Alaskan crab to the surface. I’m not sure how much appeal the game will have for people who aren’t fans of the series, but it’s got a nice pixel art style.

mission-impossible-rogue-nation_974110790_ipad_01Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is a new free-to-play cover-based shooter from Glu Games, based on the upcoming film. It sounds like it might even have a sort of Clash of Clans raiding mechanic as players can “build their IMF headquarters defenses to protect their resources, assault and steal other players’ headquarters”. While I am not personally a fan of the way Glu goes about implementing IAP, I thought this one might be of interest to some of our readers so I’m including it here.

Not your standard offering from Halfbrick Studios, Hollywood Game Night is a new party game app featuring a number of the hilarity-inducing games from Universal Television’s and NBC’s primetime celebrity game show hosted by Jane Lynch. The app is designed for two or more players or teams, and if you don’t care about scoring, there is a quickplay option, otherwise you can select Team Game for a competition between 4 to 8 players. The base app includes I Love A Charade – one player silently acts out the word or title on the card, How Do You Doo? – one player sings the song on the card using only the word “doo”, In Other Words – try to get other players to guess the quote on the card by replacing red text with similar words, Take The Hint 1-3 players team up to give one-word clues (three clues total per card) about an item , Smash The Buzzer – a list of items is read and players try to be the first to yell SMASH when one that fits the category is read, Link In The Chain – one player is given clues to an item and guesser must repeat all the previous correct answers before listing the new one and Clue-Boom! – like hot potato players are trying to guess the item correctly while they have the device and pass to other team before it randomly booms. For even more content, additional categories for these game types can be purchased as IAP. If you are looking to liven up your next party, or rainy day with the family, Hollywood Game Night is bound to bring out the smiles.

zen-pinball_465694275_ipad_02.jpgAnd the last of our licensed games comes in the form of a new $1.99 Ant Man themed table available for download in both the Zen Pinball and Marvel Pinball apps from ZEN Studios. These guys always knock these out of the park, so I suspect this will be another entertaining new table based on this week’s latest feature film in the Marvel universe.

For the kids this week, we have a brand new version of Oceanhouse Media’s already brilliant Cat in the Hat interactive book app. Featuring all new animations, hidden surprises and even more interactivity thanks to 30+ learning activities, The Cat in the Hat – Read & Learn, sets a new gold standard for Oceanhouse’s interactive book apps going forward. The visuals on the iPhone now fill the screen and there are loads of fun interactive learning activities which involve tapping, tilting and swiping throughout the app. These activities have been carefully designed to help your child practice things like speech, spelling and even reading comprehension. If you have kids and don’t already own this app, you really should…it is a bedtime classic! It is worth noting that this is not an app update, but an entirely new app which replaces the original 2010 release on the App Store, though you can still access your original purchase via the “purchased” tab on the App Store. However, this does mean that if you own the original version and want to upgrade to this beautiful new version, you will need to buy the new release.

Rodeo Games has just released Warhammer 40,000: Deathwatch – Tyranid Invasion, their latest and much-anticipated turn-based tactical strategy game set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. From “war ravaged cities, to the insides of Tyranid bio-ships”, you must command a team of Deathwatch Space Marines against the invading Tyranids. The game features online multiplayer battles, plus many options for customizing your Space Marines squad with “collectible Wargear items and hundreds of skills and abilities”. I haven’t had a chance to play this one, but if you check out the trailer on page 2 of this post, you’ll see it looks pretty darn gorgeous thanks to the Unreal Engine 4.

this-war-of-mine_982175678_ipad_01.jpgFinally that brings us to arguably the biggest new release of the week, This War of Mine. I had the opportunity to experience 11 bit studios’ thought-provoking game on the PC back at PAX East in 2014 and it was just that…AN EXPERIENCE. Inspired by actual events, This War of Mine is a dramatic game of survival set against the backdrop of war. Players take control of a group of broken, cold, sick, tired and hungry civilians, struggling just to survive in a dilapidated apartment building in a war-torn city. You’ll have to scavenge and trade for food at night, while the snipers are asleep and hide out during the day, hoping not to be be discovered by thieves or soldiers. You’ll have to craft items and weapons to aid in your protection and survival. The game features a gritty art style and an engaging narrative. I’d group this one in the same category of “games” as Don’t Starve and Papers, Please. This War of Mine is one of those emotional experiences worthy of a premium price and which stays with you for quite a while. The app is currently on sale for $9.99 for launch (33% off).

And I think that will do it for this week…enjoy.

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