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Digital Blend: Rebuild the town of Springfield with a free Simpsons iOS game

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Welcome back to Digital Blend, our weekly look at the world of downloadable video gaming that exists at the fringes of the mainstream. That means we look at the hottest new mobile game releases, downloadable content drops on consoles and PCs, indie darlings that deserve your love and attention, and the best gaming values under $20.

Keep your comments and feedback coming. We want to hear from you! Did you try something you read about here and enjoy it? Is there a particular game you think we’ve overlooked or news you want to share? Any questions you are dying to ask? Let us know! Your thoughts, feedback, suggestions and (constructive!) criticism are welcome, either in the comments section below or directed at yours truly on Twitter, @geminibros.

Making headlines…

* An updated product listing appeared on Xbox.com earlier this week for Trials Evolution, the RedLynx-developed sequel to the 2009 XBLA hit, Trials HD. The listing revealed an April 18, 2012 release date for the sequel, though that was later changed to a much more unrealistic date of 12/31/2799. [via Eurogamer]

* You might remember reading in last week’s Digital Blend that EA Mobile pulled the multiplayer shooter Battlefield 3: Aftershock from the iOS App Store following the negative consumer feedback that the free-to-download game received. Well the publisher has now confirmed in a statement to Vox Games that Aftershock won’t be coming back. “In the interest of bringing consumers only the highest level of quality mobile entertainment, EA Mobile has decided to suspend development and support of Battlefield 3: Aftershock and refocus its resources on other titles,” the statement reads. “The Aftershock servers will be live through March 31st, 2012, and customers who have already downloaded the game can continue to play until then.”

* NetherRealm Studios, the developer behind the recently rebooted Mortal Kombat as well as the Dark Knight-infused Infinity Blade knockoff, Batman: Arkham City Lockdown, is looking to expand its development efforts in the world of mobile gaming. A new senior designer job posting on the developer’s website suggests that “multiple Unreal-based iOS projects” are in the works. With the iPad 3 arriving any day now and presumably bringing some quad-core power with it, the prospect of more mobile Unreal-based games sounds awfully enticing.

* Edmund McMillen’s popular indie PC roguelike The Binding of Isaac has been shot down for a Nintendo 3DS release, with the publisher/console maker citing its “questionable religious content.” The news was confirmed by the game’s creator on Twitter earlier this week. McMillen is now reportedly turning to Sony for a possible Isaac release on PS3 or Vita.

* Activision confirmed in a press release this week that the first official Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 DLC content pack — featuring the positively uninspired name “DLC Content Collection #1″ — will be available to buy on Xbox Live starting March 20. In addition to the three previously released CoD Elite premium maps, the pack will also contain another multiplayer map, “Black Box,” plus two new Spec Ops missions, “Black Ice” and “Negotiator.” That new content will be available for free to Elite premium subscribers on Xbox Live on March 13. As with all Duty DLC, release dates for other platforms will be announced at a later date.

* At this week’s Mobile World Congress, NVIDIA revealed release plans for five Android games that have been optimized for the company’s 12-core GeForce mobile GPU, the Tegra 3. Those games are: Hamilton’s Great Adventure THD, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II, Golden Arrow THD, Dark Kingdom THD and Eden To GREEEEN THD. [via PocketGamer]

* Digital Trends’ own Ryan Fleming had the chance to sit down with the upcoming PlayStation Network downloadable game Journey, and he has declared it one of the best digital downloads ever made. Check out his review right here.

Top buys for the week…

Vessel :: Steam / PC :: $14.99
Strange Loop Games has finally unleashed Vessel, the indie PC title that earned the studio an IGF award nomination for Technical Excellence in 2010. It’s an inventive puzzle/platformer that uses the physical properties of liquid as a key gameplay hook. The game is available through both Steam and the developer’s website at 10-percent off for a limited time.

Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!!! :: PS Vita / PSN-only :: $7.99
As I mentioned in my review earlier this week, Mutant Blobs Attack is the best reason to own a PlayStation Vita right now. The launch library is not without it’s strong games, but this charmingly evil puzzle/platformer from DrinkBox Studios gets the highest marks for its masterful design and nailing a perfect balance between introducing new concepts and hanging on to previously established ones. It’s a steal at $7.99.

Waking Mars :: iOS App Store :: $4.99
Spider dev Tiger Style returns this week with Waking Mars, an iOS action-adventure game with easy-to-grasp touch controls and some lovely visuals. You play as spacesuit-wearing researcher Liang as he explores the caves beneath Mars, seeding the underground with plant life as he proceeds. That gardening is actually the main focus of the game, as the more you plant, the more you’re able to explore. If that’s not enough to sell you, then know this: Liang’s primary form of locomotion is a jetpack.

Ziggurat :: iOS App Store :: $0.99
Action Button Entertainment’s new iOS game Ziggurat is a strange beast, a 16-bit “shoot everything until you die” survival game in which your blonde-haired, laser shutgun-toting space heroine stands at the top of a mountain, blasting away at the alien robots approaching from either side. The object is simple: shoot everything. Until you die. The retro stylings extend to the insane chiptune soundtrack. You simply tap the screen where you want your shot to go, holding your finger down to charge up for a bigger shot. Hit an alien square in the eye to blow it up, which trigger a chain reaction explosion in all surrounding aliens. It’s awesome.

The Simpsons: Tapped Out :: iOS App Store :: Free
I’m going to make this very, very simple for all of you. The Simpsons: Tapped Out is essentially “FarmVille comes to Springfield.” Homer blows up the town in the opening cutscene and it’s up to you to rebuild your own version of Springfield however you like. The mechanics are very similar to FarmVille‘s (and its various imitators) and the game features writing and art from the actual show. Also, it’s free.

I’ll be back next week with a special edition of Digital Blend, from the ground in San Francisco at the annual Game Developer’s Conference! Who knows what surprises you’ll find? I certainly don’t! But I will soon enough!