trivia-crack-kingdoms_1002597082_ipad_01.jpgIt has been another really strong and varied week of new iOS releases ranging from popular IPs, to sequels, to interesting newcomers. There is plenty of new iOS gaming offerings to get excited about.

Etermax returns to the App Store this week with Trivia Crack Kingdoms, the big new sequel to one of iOS’s most popular and successful trivia games. This time around, instead of relying on the luck of the pinwheel, players get a lot more choice over what categories of questions they’d like to answer from, with the option to choose subject-specific trivia channels. They also select from a board of 9 different hidden turn options, which (when revealed) could range from just an ordinary question which let you continue picking if answered correctly, to a vampire which lets them steal an opponent’s crown with 3 correct answers, to a character who will reveal which two possible places the king is hiding if a specified number of correct answers are given in a row, to the king himself who awards you one crown (of the five you need to win) with a correct answer. It is free-to-play so there are the usual life timers which can limit your number of simultaneous open games and various IAPs all the way up to an absurdly expensive $30 one to remove this life restriction permanently. IAPs aside, if you enjoyed the original Trivia Crack, odds are you’ll probably like this one even more since you can pick and choose your categories.

minions-paradise_922318156_ipad_01.jpgWhile not really my usual type of game, if you enjoy those mission-based/waiting around simulation games like Simpsons: Tapped Out and Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff, Electronic Arts, has just launched a new one staring those lovable Minions called Minions Paradise™. The premise is that Phil has caused his Minion friends to crash their boat off the coast of a deserted island. Now he must build up an island paradise, adding fun recreational activities and harvesting resources to craft items, and fill welcome baskets to get more Minions to come over from the shipwreck to the island. Phil builds morale by throwing parties and expanding the island. After 30+ minutes just seemingly disappeared while playing this game earlier today, I can definitely see why they are so popular.

subterfuge_702951905_ipad_01Published by Snappy Touch, and created by indie gaming and iOS pioneers, Noel Llopis and Ron Carmel, Subterfuge is a really different and interesting looking sort of social strategy game which plays out in real-time over the course of a week or so. I haven’t had an opportunity to check this one out just yet, but it does look like there is a bit of a learning curve. As far as I understand it, “players check in a few times each day to assess their situation, issue or modify orders, and engage their fellow players in diplomacy and subterfuge.” If this sounds interesting to you, it is free-to-lay with a one-time $9.99 IAP to unlock some additional features.

An evolution of the real estate trading board game Monopoly, Game of Dice offers up a few new tweaks t the gameplay which attempt to add a bit more strategy to this (often loathed) classic. Played out on a slightly differently shaped board made of what almost look like Mahjong tiles, the game follows many of the standard Monopoly rules of rolling, moving and obtaining properties, except players have access to additional ‘skill’ cards and ‘takeover’ cards which allow for some additional strategy to change up play.

alchemix_953750827_ipad_01.jpgTilt-based games were super-popular when the iPhone and iPod touch first released, but seem to have become less prevalent over the years. I’m not sure i this is partially because, many people find them socially awkward to play in public or what. Tilt to Live aside, I’ve generally found the best implementation of tilt mechanics in mobile games to be for labyrinth style games. Alchemix is a fun, puzzly take on that genre where players are trying to guide fluids around maze-like levels to trigger switches and slide walls to safely get as much of the liquid to the exit point as possible. One of this week’s nice little surprises, Alchemix will put both your dexterity and logical reasoning skills to the test.

polyblast_1018213398_ipad_01.jpgSteady aim, proper timing and careful conservation of ammunition are the keys to success in Game Cook’s latest arcade puzzle game, PolyBlast. You have three guns/cannons positioned on the bottom left, center and right of the screen, each with their own unique, limited supply of ammunition. You must fire each gun at just the right time to connect with the various moving targets that are also slowly progressing downward toward your guns. Some targets are capable of being hit by one or more of your guns, so you must decide which one you’ll use to take it out. Fire one of your weapons too many times and you run the risk of not having any ammo for a later target that can only be taken out by that gun. To keep things interesting, if you connect enough shots in a row, then you trigger frenzy mode which allows you to fire as many shots as you’d like from your guns (regardless of current ammo count) for a short period of time. The app is nicely chunked into levels and you’ll often find yourself coming back to PolyBlast to knock out “just one more” whenever you have a little time to kill.

Onto the paid apps…

downwell_1032708262_ipad_04I first got a sneak peek at Downwell at PAX East earlier this year and it usually had a crowd hovering around it. Don your gunboots and enter the stark 8-bit, cavernous well. Drop yourself into this punishing, endless faller with roguelike aspects and a real arcade feel. Requiring a mix of luck, finesse and patience, you must blast your way ever downward (using those deadly boots), avoiding (or shooting) a plethora of enemies and trying to find brief relief (and maybe a little treasure or health, or weapons upgrade) among the sparsely located caves and outcroppings along the way. The thing that makes the game so tricky is that your weapon only fires from underneath you, meaning you always hve to be mindful of approaching enemies and position yourself appropriately to avoid jumping into them headfirst. Make it to the end of section and you’ll get your choice of another helpful upgrade. Challenging and fun, the graphical style may not appeal to everyone, but give this one a try and I think you’ll quickly agree that it’s definitely a keeper.

cloud-chasers-journey-hope_1020583460_ipad_03Cloud Chasers – A Journey of Hope is a new survival / resource discovery and management game from Blindflug Studios. Set in a steam punk version of the near future when the world has been devastated by irreparable drought, the game tells the story of a small family trekking across an unforgiving and desolate desert planet trying to immigrate their family to some place where they can have a better life. They must find food and supplies, trade goods and pilot a small glider aircraft to extract precious water from the clouds high above. If you can make good decisions and keep from perishing as your journey takes you through five deadly deserts, you’ll reach the gateway to the world above the clouds. What is unique about the game is that there are multiple narrative paths allowing for repeated plays which unveil more of the story behind the “last inhabitants of the desert, the fabled cities in the sky and what drives the family to reach it”.

goosebumps-night-of-scares_1034091427_ipad_01Goosebumps Night of Scares has hit the app store and with it comes a family-friendly take on the hide-and-seek mechanics of popular games like Alien: Isolation and jumpscares seemingly inspired by the Five Nights At Freddy’s series. Based on the just-released movie, which itself is based on the immensely popular 1990’s era young adult books, Goosebumps is a first-person perspective horror game where you are tasked with finding pages of R.L Stine’s (voiced by Jack Black) Goosebumps manuscripts. Of course they are scattered around his house which is infested with many of the creepy denizens from his book series that have come to life and want to get you. Movement and interacting with the game world is simply done by tapping on icons on the screen, and you can hide with the hide button, but if the ghoul girl or living dummy see you and are too close, player beware – you are in for a scare…

Goosebumps is clearly intended for an audience that isn’t ready for the mature themes or tension that Five Nights At Freddy’s brings, so this is a great alternative for families looking for something spooky they can enjoy together. (thanks to JP and his son Zeb for this part of the roundup)

minecraft-story-mode_1001286466_ipad_01.jpgTelltale absolutely knocks it out of the park with its latest interactive, episodic adventure game Minecraft: Story Mode. Whether you are familiar with Minecraft or not, this humorous and family friendly tale will suck you in an entertain you. As an adult fanatic of Telltale’s games I was super excited to see this one coming as it meant I could finally play one of these delightful games with my daughters. My 8.5 year old loves Minecraft and we’ve played a few times together so I was already somewhat knowledgable about the various creatures and things in the universe. We sat down to play the game with my 6 year-old as well (who is not very versed in Minecraft). With the elder one at the helm, we were all completely captivated during our initial 90 minute play with the game and could absolutely not wait to play more. In fact the girls finished episode one in one more hour or so sitting the next day and are already eagerly awaiting episode two. Through my older one plans to play through the entire episode again, making different choices. One thing worth mentioning is that I did notice that the cloud save seemed a big buggy and unresponsive at times so I’d recommend the local save option Another thing is that despite my daughter being a voracious reader, she had some difficulty reading all of the decision choices before time ran out. Those minor issues aside, like just about everything else Telltale seems to touch these days, this game is stellar and deserves your attention.

legacy-dorn-herald-oblivion_1010999531_ipad_02.jpgWhoohoo, Tin Man Games returns this week with Legacy of Dorn: Herald of Oblivion, their very first Gamebook set in the Warhammer 40k universe. As those of you familiar with the 40k universe might expect, players take on the role of a veteran Space Marine of the Imperial Fists Chapter. You’ve been equipped with Terminator armor and a variety of weapons. Trapped aboard the space hulk Herald of Oblivion you are the only surviving member of your squad, and now you must “fight your way through the aliens and heretics that infest the star vessel and find a way to escape the horror and return to your Chapter”. Without fail, Tin Man Games always does a great job with these gamebooks, so if you are a fan of the Warhammer 40k universe, you really can’t go wrong by adding Legacy of Dorn: Herald of Oblivion to your short list.

nba-2k16_984732818_ipad_01.jpgFinally we round out the week with some court time. 2K have just launched NBA 2K16, their latest offering for some mobile NBA action. This year’s release not only offers the obligatory improved graphics, new, more realistic animations and upgrades in game performance, but also full MyCAREER, Blacktop, and the entire 82 game Season modes. The controls have been updated with the addition of a dribble stick allowing for “smoother mobile gameplay”.

That’ll about do it for new releases this week.

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