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.
* There is no bigger tech news this week than Apple’s launch of the new iPad. Today, March 16, 2012, is the official release date. Those who pre-ordered it should now be receiving their new toys (most of them, anyway). Quite a few games have already been updated to take advantage of the new tablet’s enhanced display features; Vox Games has a running list that you should definitely take a look at.
* Mass Effect 3 fans who are also iOS users got a free bonus this week in the form of the Mass Effect 3 Datapad app. The universal app includes a built-in Codex, just like the one from the game, that offers information about various pieces of the ME universe. Those who link the app with their EA Origin accounts also receive “e-mail” from in-game characters based on their progress through the just released game. There’s also a Galaxy at War minigame that offers fans the opportunity to improve their in-game Galactic Readiness rating.
* Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II is coming soon to Xbox Live Arcade and Windows Phone 7 devices. This is not news. There’s a neat twist with this release, however, and that part IS news. Essentially, the upcoming Sonic 4 episode will feature cross-platform cloud saves. A rep from Sega’s Sonic Team confirmed the detail in an interview with OXM. You’ll be able to play the game on one device, save your progress, and then pick up the saved game on your other device, provided of course that both are web-connected.
* Telltale Games CEO Dan Connors revealed to Digital Trends in an exclusive GDC interview last week that the upcoming The Walking Dead game will be coming our way in April or May. Connors also confirmed that the company’s Fables game adaptation is on track for release this year, probably in Q3.
* This week brings the final Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 content drop to fill out the year’s first official DLC pack, which non-Call of Duty Elite subscribers will be able to purchase starting next week. The new content, free for subscribers, includes the multiplayer/Spec Ops Survival map Black Box and two new Spec Ops missions, Black Ice and Negotiator. Check out Ryan’s rundown of what’s there in his GDC preview from earlier this week.
* Baldur’s Gate is coming back. Details are scant at this point, but former BioWare guy Trent Oster and his company Beamdog revealed plans this week to release “Enhanced Edition” versions of the classic D&D PC RPGs for unspecified platforms. There will be two separate releases, for Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II, and both will include their respective originally released expansion packs. Look for more info next week, but for now you can check out what’s revealed at BaldursGate.com.
Top buys for the week…
Chaos Rings II :: iOS :: $17.99
It’s sort of sad and probably a little confusing for some of you to see that the highest priced pick for this week is an iOS game. Square Enix is notorious for charging significantly more for its iOS games than most other publishers. There’s no denying that both the quality and content are there in Chaos Rings II, however. It’s predecessor was great; fans of Square Enix’s style of JRPG should definitely check this one out.
Journey :: PS3 :: $14.99
By all accounts, Journey is a near-perfect game and easily one of the best available for PlayStation 3 via PSN. For those familiar with the work of Flower developer Jenova Chen and Thatgamecompany, you’ll understand that a description doesn’t do this one justice. Journey involves solving a series of puzzles to cross a desert and reach a mountain. That’s only half the story though. Read Ryan’s review to get a better sense of things. Or just go and play it. You won’t regret it.
Shoot Many Robots :: Xbox 360 / PS3 :: 800 MS Points / $9.99
Shoot Many Robots has an awesome title, and the gameplay certainly delivers on the promise it makes. You do indeed get to “shoot many robots” as you run through the game’s collection of levels. You’ll also be able to buy and upgrade weapons and armor, all to make yourself more effective and up to the task of shooting many robots. Demiurge Studios really nailed this one. The art style is beautiful, the action is crazy and over-the-top, and you have the option of bringing a friend along in co-op. There is literally nothing about this game that sucks. Plus… don’t you want to own a game called Shoot Many Robots?
Mass Effect: Infiltrator :: iOS :: $7.99
Iron Monkey Studios, the same developer that brought a console-style Dead Space game to mobile platforms, applied its talents to the Mass Effect universe for last week’s release, Mass Effect: Infiltrator. A relatively simple third-person shooter, Infiltrator is a combat-oriented action game telling a story that stands apart from the one presented in Mass Effect 3. As an added bonus for ME3 players, playing Infiltrator can also be used to boost your overall level of preparedness in the console/PC for the endgame showdown, much like the ME3 Datapad app’s Galaxy at War mode.
Flight Control Rocket :: iOS :: $0.99
Firemint has a fresh take on its mobile hit Flight Control for iOS users. The wildly popular original game involved tracing flight paths with your finger to land planes and helicopters of various sizes on color-coded landing strips. Rocket embraces that basic idea, while also moving the action into outer space and adding an array of features geared toward fostering long-term play. Read all about it in my GDC preview from last week.