angry-birds-under-pigstruction_880047117_ipad_02.jpgA new Angry Birds sequel tops this week’s batch of notable new releases.

Five plus years and twelve or so sequels/spin-offs later, Rovio has just released a new free-to-play sequel to their bird-flinging mega-hit oddly titled Angry Birds 2. Poorly hidden as “Angry Birds Under Pigstruction” (a much better name) during its brief soft launch period, the latest sequel retains the same core gameplay, but ups the ante with some gorgeous new visuals and 3D effects where defeated pigs and debris seemingly fly off the screen toward the gamer (I can’t help but wonder if this same effect will be used in a 3D release of the upcoming animated film). Everything about this new release feels grander, more polished and almost cinematic. The game still suffers from some of its inherent unpredictable and seemingly random scoring, but retries of failed levels is improved by new multi-screen levels, boss battles and the all-important ability to select exactly which of your supplied birds you want to fire in any order. There is enough changes and eye candy here to lure back even those who may have long ago abandoned the series.

shibuya-grandmaster_913735515_ipad_02.jpgShibuya Grandmaster is quick playing new puzzle game that requires a little planning and luck. Empty bars fall from the top of the screen and the player has a list of upcoming colors. By tapping on an empty bar, it assigns the next color in the queue to that bar. The falling bars start stacking up at the bottom of the screen and if they reach the top it’s game over. If an empty bar reaches the bottom (or top-most bar in the stack) then it is automatically assigned the net color. You can removed bard by tapping on any stacks of two or more touching, similarly colored bars. So there is a bit of strategy when assigning colors so that you can make sure you have like-colored bars near one other so they can be removed. It’s a nice take on that Tetris style pressure-filled puzzling.

Ludia is back with an all-new free-to-play version of their digital take of the popular Jeff Foxworthy-hosted quiz gameshow, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?. Their first release was very well received with over 15 million downloads on mobile and Facebook combined, so they’ve added some new features for this new version and over 15k new questions to challenge your knowledge of everything from Animal Science to World History. If you are a fan of the game show, now’s your chance to see if you are smarter than a 5th grader.

thomas-friends-talk-to-you_1002232132_ipad_01Speaking of kids…for those who haven’t quite reached 5th grade yet (ages 3 – 6), there is a new Thomas the Tank Engine edutainment system called Thomas & Friends Talk to You. Mattel and ToyTalk have created a new series of 8 interactive adventures that take your child on a journey with Thomas and his friends on the Island of Sodor. There are activities which help teach shapes, memory games, speaking and listening drills, singing, storytelling, solving a mystery, transmitting information, making silly noises, practicing with parts of speech, sharing and taking turns and more. The app employs a special speech recognition technology, allowing players to have two-way conversations with Thomas and his friends. The app is free for the first story. For a limited time special launch promotion, additional stories are just 99¢ each (reg $1.99) with a $3.99 (reg $6.99) bundle available, containing five stories. Two free bonus mini-adventures are also available to unlock.

You Against Me is a minimalist 2-player card/tile game where players are competing for control of the board, trying to “lock as many squares as they can by claiming and stealing numbers on the game board”. The game board consists of a 5×5 grid of squares with the numbers 1 to 25. Each player is dealt 5 cards and they take turns playing these numbered two-sided cards onto eligible squares, drawing a replacement card after playing. Playres can lock squares from their opponent by captured the two squares either above and below or to the left and right of the square they intend to lock. Once all card have been played, scores are totaled, with covered squares worth 1 point, locked squares worth 2. You have your choice of local pass and play, online via Game Center or against an AI player of two different difficulties. This one definitely looks right up my alley, so I will probably be picking it up.

domino-drop_955290679_ipad_01.jpgDomino Drop is another sort of Tetris-inspired puzzle game from Vitalii Zlotskii, creator of the creating take on solitaire…Pair Solitaire. Dual or single-colored dominoes drop from the top of the screen into a play area that is only two dominoes wide. You are trying to match the numbers/colors of the dominoes in adjacent groupings of two or more to clear them out and make room for additional dominoes. This can get tricky because you do not have the ability to rotate the dominoes, meaning you have to try to play ahead and hopefully avoid blocking something that you’ll need later. The game features multiple game modes which add some additional strategy, like white sides of dominoes that can only be cleared when 4 or more of the touch one another, or special numerical sides which only clear when x of them touch, equal to the number on that side, which then increments after clearing. It’s a fun little mashup of dominoes meets that Tetris style.

Next up is Fire: Ungh’s Quest, the iOS release of a creative and award-winning, language independent adventure game. You play as Ungh, a somewhat bumbling Neaderthal who accidentally fell asleep and allowed his village’s precious fire to burn out. Evicted by the village elders, Ungh is on a quest to find fire and be welcomed back into his village. Though it wont be easy and along the way he’ll face off against dinosaurs, yetis and more and tax your somewhat limited wits with riddles and puzzles.

race-the-sun_700227648_ipad_01From Flippfly we get the long-awaited iOS release of their well-received endless solar-powered craft racer, Race The Sun. Constantly moving forward, you must guide your speeding craft through unexpected obstacles, trying not to crash and staying in the sunlight to keep moving. The game features classic vector-style graphics and a course that changes daily. You can level up your ship by completing objectives and customize it’s abilities and style. If you are a fan of endless runner style games, this one may be for you.

To SHUMP or not to SHUMP…that is the question. Crescent Moon Games attempts to recreate the classic arcade tough-as-nails shoot-em-up experience with its latest offering, OPERATION DRACULA. A frenetic fury of projectiles fills the screen in this over the top bullet hell shooter that will have your fingers fumbling about the screen. Featuring 3 playable characters, 5 big bosses and 4 mini bosses, MFi controller support, 16 bit pixel art and a Japanese style soundtrack, OPERATION DRACULA is sure to interest classic shooter fans.

cosmonautica_1011112720_ipad_01Cosmonautica is a quirky and humorous space sim from Chasing Carrots which just simultaneously launched on Steam and mobile platforms. It’s a bit of an open-world FTL with elements of the Sims. Players take on the role of a captain of a rusty old space cruiser trying to take care of their hired crew of up to eight people, monitoring their heath and morale. Your quest is to become the best “space trader, bounty hunter, pirate or explorer in the galaxy”. Time is constantly passing, and time is money. As you explore the galaxy, you must upgrade your ship and equip it with a variety of rooms to keep the crew happy. Depending on the crew you’ve hired and the rooms you’ve selected, you’ll get to decide how you want to play, whether that be pirating and pillaging, trading both legal and illegal goods, research new planets or more. This is a looks like its got a lot going on with plenty of gameplay and replayability. Note that this does feature some adult themes.

warhammer-arcane-magic_923284769_ipad_01.jpgFinally that brings us to Turbo Tape Games’ iOS port of Warhammer: Arcane Magic, the tactical, turn-based board game set in the Warhammer Fantasy Battles universe. Players lead their companies of wizards on an adventure in the Warhammer universe, traveling on the dangerous paths between Arcane Fulcrums, and harnessing their power. Aquire and use spell and hex cards to fight off monsters like Harpies, Stone Trolls and more. Use your action points wisely and get out of the way of dangerous attacks, while landing your own spells with a lucky die role. Hopefully the winds of magic will be blowing in your favor and increase the strength of your spell. Offering hours of gameplay, the game features two campaigns “across 16 lands through the Old World and Chaos Wastelands”. The developer promises that more monsters, wizards, spell cards and single-player campaigns will be released regularly post launch, but there is no word if these will be free or paid updates. I suspect it is the latter.

And that will do it for this week…enjoy.

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