cube-escape-birthday_1080643308_ipad_01.jpgIt’s another fun and varied week of new releases on the App Store.

While there were unfortunately no notable digital board game ports there were a couple of original games which use CCG elements as well as a pair of great adventure games (my second favorite category on the App Store) as well as an interesting puzzle game, an impressive sports title, several games which make nice use of the touch screen and more surprises.

We’ll kick things off this week with Cube Escape: Birthday, the seventh episode of the ‘Cube Escape’ Rusty Lake mystery series. Featuring excellent animated graphics, interesting puzzles and a twisted sensibility, I am absolutely loving this series of games. You do not necessarily need to have played the previous titles in the series, but they helps to understand the overarching Rusty Lake story. Find items, use these items and solve puzzles to progress the story to its dramatic and quirky conclusion. A must-have title, for sure!

imageNext up are a couple of very similar titles, iSlash Heroes and Floating Islands Crasher. The former is the sequel to Duello’s 2011 hit, iSlash, where players use their finger like a sword, swiping to hack sections off of the wooden structure, while avoiding the haphazardly moving ninja stars, until they reach the specified percentage. This sequel features two modes and 200 levels , and introduces “deadly evil bosses” who you must fight and defeat. Floating Islands Crasher uses a very similar mechanic as iSlash, except instead of ninja stars and wooden platforms, you are swiping of chunks of islands while avoiding making contact with the islands’ cute animal inhabitants. Both are free, so download them both, or choose whichever theme interests you most.

war-is-peace-card-defense_978702847_ipad_02.jpgHeroCraft launched a new sci-fi strategy game this week called War is Peace: Card Defense. It employs interesting mash-up of elements including a collectible card game, tower defense and real-time strategy. Players are trying to “conquer the post-nuclear war world where NATO, the USA and Ukraine are no more and new all-powerful global alliances have emerged, engulfing every other state”. You play cards with special abilities to perform attacks and deploy your armies of drone tanks and more. I haven’t had a chance to check this one out yet, as the cards were pretty difficult to read (even) on my iPhone (6 Plus), but it looks interesting and definitely want to spend some time with it on my iPad.

tennis-champs-returns_1062318595_ipad_01.jpgWhile I can’t say that I’m familiar with its Amiga predecessor from 20 years ago, Tennis Champs Returns is an excellent arcade-style tennis game remade for iOS by the original Amiga version’s programmer. Utilizing the original characters, he retouched the animations and added all new physics, AI, new intuitive touch-based controls and more. There is a substantial new Career mode which pits players against a roster of 200 Tennis Pros and there are daily challenges to keep you returning to the court day after day. An excellent surprise this week, Tennis Champs Returns serves up an ace of a tennis game and worthy of a look.

the-swords_924826403_ipad_02.jpgThe Swords is a gesture-based, story-driven game which tells the history of an ancient sword master’s life and his many different swords. The game is beautifully illustrated with an ink and watercolor aesthetic. With each new sword, the master recounts in his tale, there is an interesting new corresponding gameplay mechanic. You start by trying to quickly swipe in the proper directions to form the correct Chinese characters and then you must employ a mix of swipes, carefully timed taps and releases and more to fight off an array of enemy sword attacks. It’s a unique experience with an engaging narrative and a nice variety in gameplay due to the way it continuously shakes things up. Plus there are multiple levels of difficulty, so even once you think you’ve mastered the game, your reflexes can still be put to the test again.

lost-portal-ccg_924691770_04Next up is a rather interesting looking single-player (only), dungeon crawling CCG for the iPhone, called Lost Portal CCG. Explore up to 15 dungeons, collect treasure and level up your character(s) to unlock new abilities (Health, Agility, Wisdom and Intellect) as you train and/or fight your way through randomly generated enemies. There are 175 cards in the game, with new cards unlocked via the in-game card shop and players have the option of using the ‘Forge’ which allows them to create new cards by sacrificing other cards from their library. Each forge the player encounters has a random selection of rare cards that can be forged. With the randomness of the setup and “over 80 enemies and bosses to challenge across 5 towns and 15 dungeons”, Lost Portal CCG sounds like it’ll probably have some nice replayability. At only $3 and no IAPs that I can see, I’ll very likely be picking this one up soon.

ryb._1052611304_ipad_01.jpgA challenging new logic puzzle game, RYB. drops players right into the thick of things. In each level you are presented with a series of minimalistic shapes, made up of various segments, dots etc. You are given two or three colors (red, yellow and blue) and you must figure out how to properly logically fill in each segment of the shape with their appropriate colors. While at first brute force and trial and error will work, you can only make a limited number of mistakes before the puzzle resets and you have to start over. Eventually you will start to notice the patterns and unwritten rules which define exactly how each puzzle needs to be colored in. At times this one can be a real head scratcher, but those little aha moments when your brain starts putting things together can be both rewarding and satisfying. If you want something to challenge your mind this week, RYB. could be a good choice.

blackwell-5-epiphany_1072408580_ipad_01.jpgWadjet Eye Games has finally released the iOS version of Blackwell 5: Epiphany. This is the much-anticipated fifth and final episode in the supernatural Blackwell adventure game series which follows a spirit medium named Rosa Blackwell and her 1930s-era wise cracking, spectral sidekick Joey Mallone. This unlikely duo (forced together by a family curse) must find a way to work together to help confused spirits make peace with their situation so they can pass on to the afterlife. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series, which has a classic feel of those PC and Sierra Online point and click adventure games which occupied much of my early gaming experiences. I haven’t quite finished this one yet, but if you are a fan of point and click adventure games, this is an entertaining series that you should definitely check out.

And finally a few higher priced offerings…

rayman-classic_1019616705_ipad_02.jpgSpeaking of gaming classics…Ubisoft launched Rayman Classic. An interesting experiment to celebrate Rayman’s 20th anniversary, this is an untouched up iOS port of the 1995 side-scrolling Playstation platformer which launched the Rayman franchise. While recent games in the franchise like Rayman Adventures and Rayman Fiesta Run feature stunning new crisp graphics, Rayman Classic sports the game’s original jaggy 8-bit graphics for that nostalgic feel as you control this iconic, limbless video game hero as he runs, jumps, dodges and punches his way through level after level, freeing the Electoons and eventually defeating the evil Mr Dark, recovering the Great Protoon and restoring the world’s harmony. Unforgiving, and rather challenging at anything about the easiest difficulty, this one is likely to be a bit polarizing. Depending on how strong your nostalgia is, Rayman Classic can be picked up for $5.

epic-of-kings_1076185750_ipad_03Finally that brings us to the last featured new release of the week, Epic of Kings. Due to an Apple approval snafu, this one was nearly delayed until next week, but just made it out in time. Dead Mage who developed last week’s Shadow Blade: Reload return to the App Store with this self-published fantasy action adventure game. You are a mercenary warlord on a mission, wandering through the war-torn lands of Khunirath, battle waves of enemies. Engage in combat against enemies and bosses using easy to learn touch controls and you may your way through the story. If you think you are ready for battle, then grab a copy of Epic of Kings for $5.

That’ll do it for this week, hope you’ve been enjoying some of these new games as well this weekend.

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