bejeweled-stars_974135847_ipad_01.jpgWhile there seemed to be fewer notable releases this week, there was a core group of really strong new releases.

Popcap and Electronic Arts are back with a fresh installment of the grandaddy of the match-3 genre…Bejeweled Stars. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Bejeweled title and in the years since, Candy Crush Saga has become the new king of this genre (no pun intended). Can Popcap shine once again in a genre that’s become so over-saturated? YES, yes they can. Sure the formula is familiar, but Popcap comes out swinging and really shows their comfort and experience in this genre. Despite the time off, they don’t miss a beat and offer up fun match-3 gameplay with their usual dose of charm. After an initial grace period, Bejeweled Stars really ratchets up the difficult, forcing players to consider moves and take advantage of the game’s special gem crafting system (a hilight of the game and something that sets it apart form others) to get themselves out of sticky situations. It is great to see Popcap back in their element and hopefully we’ll see Bejeweled Stars make a steady climb up the charts.

bushido-bear_1071426243_ipad_01.jpgNext, from Spry Fox makers of hit games like Triple Town and Alphabear comes Bushido Bear, an endless path-drawing action game. I’d put it kind of in a similar vein as Axe in Face 2 or even to some degree, Jack Lumber. Players take on the role of a dual-sword wielding bear. In each randomly generated level, you must move to avoid various enemies, while drawing paths to guide your bear around the battlefield to attack. You can level up your bear, improving his skills. One of the most fun aspects of the game is unlocking a number of other bears, each with their own unique attack style and stats. Plus as an added bonus, these bears can come to your aid in one final act of revenge, should your main bear meet an untimely death. Some of the usual free to play mechanics are at play, but so far I have not found them to be too obtrusive, This one is definitely worth checking out.

leap-day_1083451870_ipad_01.jpgWhile at first glance, it may appear that Nitrome’s latest effort, Leap Day shares many similarities with an endless jumper, it is actually something much more interesting, a vertical platformer with brand new content, each and every day. Players try to complete fresh daily levels by jumping to ascend through 15 trap and enemy-laden rooms, while collecting fruit. Everyone plays the same daily level, but each day there will be different locations, different traps and different monsters. If you complete the day’s level you get a gold trophy stamp in your calendar; so there is always a reason to come back and play, each and every day. This setup is somewhat similar to how Red Lynx ran their game 1000 Heroz way back in the early days of the App Store (2011). To assist you on your daily quest, much like Nitrome’s previous title, Silly Sausage in Meat Land, Leap Day features an optional checkpoint system, where you can either watch an ad, or use of the of the in-game currency (fruit) to unlock the checkpoint. With loads of fresh content and a player-friendly checkpoint system, there is no reason not to make every day a Leap Day (see what I just did there).

who-lurks_1032997514_ipad_01.jpgThis next title is pretty neat. Hybrid Humans has created an original social digital board game app called Who Lurks. Earth has been destroyed and now thee to six players are aboard a space ship on their way to a new planet. Each player has been assigned a certain job from Pilot to Engineer, players perform their tasks by successfully completing one of twelve mini games. However one of the members of the crew is secretly an undercover alien, trying to sabotage the mission. A traitor mechanic…YAY! Who can you trust? Did a player fail their task on purpose? When a player fails a mini game they run the risk of being eliminated by the other players. Be careful not to eliminate a vital crew member by mistake. If players can successfully make it to their new planet, then the alien is caught and the humans win, otherwise the alien(s) win and destroy the ship. To keep you guessing, the alien also has the ability to turn one additional human into an alien as well. It seems like a fun little game that would be perfect for a social get together or family game night. Who Lurks is played on a single device and all IAP is completely optional. There is even a solo mission mode where you can just play the mini games to unlock additional content.

gangfort_1096214566_01GANGFORT actually came out a few weeks ago, but somehow I missed it while busy with vacation and PAX East capturing most of my attention. Fans of Team Fortress 2 will certainly want consider giving it a look. Developer Gintautas Zenevskis has crafted an entertaining 2D team-based shooter which does a nice job of capturing the spirit of TF2, while putting it in a more mobile-friendly package. Players can select from 9 different classic character types. One peek at the character types, will instantly see their TF2 inspiration and each character has their own attack or support style. For instance, there is the Builder who can craft turrets, Camper who can snipe (the game features a neat visual effect for this) or The Spy Agent who can randomly take on the persona of any of the other character types. The game features both Single Player (for offline play against bots) as well as online play with two different team-based objective modes, “Grab The Spot” a king of the hill type mode where you try to maintain control of an area and a “Roll the bomb” mode where you need at least two team members to push a giant bomb across the battlefield to deliver it to the enemies’ base.

caterzillar_1096204046_ipad_01.jpgEvoking fond memories of iOS platformers like Soosiz and the Wii classic, Super Mario Galaxy, is Noodlecake Studios’ latest publishing effort, Caterzillar. Upside-down or right side-up, it doesn’t seem to phase Bob the Caterpillar in this gratifying, gravity-defying platformer. Players guide the ever-growing Bob around floating planets, jumping between them to collect all of food and the stars. Nicely illustrated with a good physics engine (possibly even a little vertigo inducing for some). Caterzillar is an entertaining new entry on the mobile platforming landscape that is welcoming to players of all ages.

desire_994632482_ipad_01.jpgDésiré is a new point and click adventure game, beautifully illustrated in shades of gray. Not your typical protagonist, the game follows the life of a young colorblind boy named Désiré. Honest and unflinching, it bravely embraces topics that you don’t traditionally see in many adventure games from loneliness and depression to sexuality and abuse. However it doesn’t seem to be done for shock value, but rather to tell a very personal and emotional tale. It is interesting to see the world through Désiré’s damaged eyes and damaged psyche, hear his internal pessimism and struggle as he exists in this all too often cruel world around him. While I suspect the game’s mature (and frankly depressing) content will be quite polarizing, I applaud developer Sylvain Seccia for having the courage to craft such an emotionally honest work. As for the game itself, it has an engaging collection of puzzles, characters and dialog. The interface for using and combining items (a backpack) works well and fits with the theme of the game. Though I do wish that Désiré contained a lot more voice work (outside of the initial narration), it is understandable that with this being a multi-year effort by a single developer, that would have added a great deal of expense and time to the project, especially if you wanted to support multiple languages. While Désiré certainly wont be for everyone I think those who can relate to its voice will find beauty and perhaps some comfort in Désiré‘s emotional story.

talisman-horus-heresy_1072364990_ipad_01.jpgFinally that brings us to Nomad Games, creators of the digital release of Talisman. Now they bring us Talisman: Horus Heresy, a new digital board game set in the Warhammer 40k universe during the devastating galaxy-spanning civil war known as the Horus Heresy. It utilizes the same rule system of Talisman, but puts things on a much grander scale. You take control of “one or more of the galaxy’s greatest heroes or most notorious villains”, and choose a side in this epic battle between traitors and loyalists. Go beyond just a single Kingdom and explore an entire galaxy. According to the developer, “this unique adaptation of Talisman that has been tailored specifically for digital platforms” and looks like it should appeal to both fans of the Warhammer 40,000 as well as those who enjoy Talisman. However, don’t spend too much time debating over whether or not to pick this one up, as Talisman: Horus Heresy is currently available for a special launch price of $3.99 (40% off) during Games Workshop’s huge sale which I believe is slated to end on May 19th.

That’s all I have for you this week, enjoy.

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