cartoon-network-superstar_1068512694_ipad_02.jpgWith a fairly mediocre offering of free-to-play titles, the real standout new releases this week all just happened to be paid games.

Kicking things off this week we have Cartoon Network Superstar Soccer: Goal!!!. This all-new game seems to have replaced Cartoon Network’s previous mobile soccer game. Offering fun and frenetic five-on-five matchups, with teams captained by one of 16 stars of your favorite Cartoon Network shows including Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Regular Show, The Amazing World of Gumball and more. Players start by selecting their captain and then building their team from three different classes of fielders. Each of the captains has a themed special move which gets charged over time and can be triggered with a tap of a button once fully charged. Unlike some mobile soccer games, matches are a quick 3 minutes and the controls are fairly simple making it accessible to players of all ages. Directional movement is controlled via a virtual d-pad on the left side of the screen, with shooting passing and other actions controlled via a cluster of buttons on the right. Pressing and holding certain buttons allow you to charge to ball to pull of more powerful shots, unblockable passes and more. If you prefer, you can use an MFi controller instead and there are a boatload of configuration options for this as well. If you are short on time you can just do a quick match against a random team, or select a specific team and arena, test your skills in the Super Star Cup bracket or go multiplayer in either an online or local wi-fi matchups. Cartoon Network Superstar Soccer: Goal!!! is a fun, quick-playing soccer game that will certainly appeal to Cartoon Network fans who will especially love the themed arenas and the humorous optional color commentary.

riptide-gp-renegade_1090577736_ipad_01.jpgRiptide GP: Renegade is Vector Unit’s third title in their ever-popular Riptide GP, and the series has been getting progressively better and better since it first debuted on mobile devices back in 2011. This is easily the biggest and best Riptide GP experience yet, with so much content and so many ways to play. First and foremost is the game’s engaging single-player campaign which has you flying over waterfalls, winding through public waterways and participating in underground races trying to build your crew. The game also offers 8-player online matches, ghost race challenges, local multiplayer via split screen, and Apple TV support as well. With it’s beautifully rendered water effects and graphics, responsive tilt controls and fun to pull off swipe-based special moves which help to refill your boost meter, Riptide GP: Renegade continues to deliver a top-notch mobile racing experience at a bargain launch price of just $2.99!

gemini-a-journey-of-two-stars_1133737578_ipad_04Gemini – A Journey of Two Stars is an award-winning, ethereal “interactive poem and video game about two stars flying into the heavens together”. You control the larger of two stars, tapping the left and right side of the screen to guide the star in that direction as it surfs through the air. Whenever the two stars are near one another they will soar upwards. This being your only means of vertical movement, you must work rhythmically together with the other star to move and explore. Using this basic set of controls, it is a zen-like, constantly fluid journey of discovery through a mysterious world as you must piece together where you need to go, what you should avoid and what you need to do next to drive the wordless narrative forward. Beautiful visuals and a captivating soundtrack, Gemini is best experienced with a good set of headphones. Once you complete the single-player game, a two-player mode is unlocked where (I assume) you each control one of the stars, completing the game cooperatively. It is a rather unique experience as you are just dropped into the game without any instructions and must figure it out as you go. The app is currently available at a special launch price of $2.99 (25% off).

nightgate_1116808304_ipad_02.jpgSpeaking of zen-like experiences, next up is Nightgate, which comes from Last Voyage developer, Semidome. It is the year 2398, after a great war, a network of intelligent computers known as Nightgate, is the last remaining life form on Earth. You’ve received a message that there might still be a chance to save humanity. Players explore dark digital geometric worlds using a single finger to guide a dot to collide with certain round buttons (trigger points) while avoiding lines and other rotating and expanding objects to unlock each subsequent level. Much less puzzly than their previous title Last Voyage, this one is a bit more of an arcade style game as you have to time your movement to dodge obstacles. Once you hit all of the trigger points, another dot appears which guides your to the exit point and the next level. I love how the levels just seamlessly flow from one to another and the game’s beautiful, deep synth soundtrack is entrancing. This is another title that encourages headphone usage for the best possible experience. Nightgate is currently available for $2.99 (which includes a 25% discount for launch).

solitairica_970202342_ipad_02.jpgOne of my favorite new releases of the week, Righteous Hammer Games has put their own RPG/Roguelike spin on classic golf solitaire with the brilliantly thematic Solitairica. Players choose a deck, each of which is a champion based on an RPG archetype Warrior, Wizard, Rogue, Monk and Bard. Each of these are tailored toward two of the game’s four different energy types: Agility, Willpower, Attack and Defense. You are trying to battle your way through 18 different competitors, each of which has unique attacks and style of play. The game is played just like golf solitaire in that you have a deck of cards and you can remove cards from the play area that are either one higher or one lower than the current card on the top of your deck. If you can remove all of the cards, you win the battle. The neat twist is that Solitairica is also a turn-based strategy game and you have an opponent who is trying to take you out by attacking your health. You take turns flipping cards and each time you flip or remove a card, you gain 1 energy of that type. At the start of the game you are given a basic set of spells (based on your deck) which can be triggered using earned energy. These special spells can help your remove cards, stun your opponent and much more. There are also ‘items’ which are triggered at the start of a battle and give you certain amounts of energy, increase your total health, etc.. Unlike most solitaire games, even when luck isn’t on your side, in Solitairica you are always earning energy or a special ability even when a flipped card doesn’t help you clear out any other cards, so there is never a “wasted” turn. Between battles you can use coins to purchase new spells and items. There is so much replayability due to the randomness of how the spells show up and you can purchase permanent upgrades which increase your item count, or change your deck to give the Ace, King and/or Queen cards special buffs and abilities to help you make it further in your next go around. A super-fun take on solitaire, I highly recommend checking this one out.

space-marshals-2_1072737282_ipad_01.jpgPixelbite is back on the App Store this week with Space Marshals 2, a sequel to last year’s hit Sci-fi Wild West adventure game. Players step into the (space) cowboy boots of specialist Burton as he tries to bring criminals swiftly justice…by filling them with lead. Well-implemented dual-stick controls allow for both smooth stealth takedowns as well as fierce shootouts and tactical combat. And there are a wealth of gun, grenade and armor upgrades to unlock to improve your load-out and hopefully complete missions without dying. Already a real standout on the App Store, this sequel does a great job of taking a winning game format and offering players more of that gameplay they crave, but with some slight tweaks to improve the player experience. If you enjoy stealth action games you are absolutely going to want to pick up Space Marshals 2.

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.