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.
* While this may not specifically relate to games, it does speak to Apple’s unrelenting advance into the role of platform manufacturer. The results of CNBC’s All-America Economic survey show that 51 percent of U.S. households contain an Apple product of some kind. That includes Mac computers as well as iOS devices, but it still stands as a powerful example of how fundamentally Apple’s mobile initiatives have impacted the gaming space. [via CNBC]
* The never-ending war of black spy versus white spy will rage on this summer! Mad Magazine’s Spy Vs. Spy is coming back in a big way. There’s a new movie reportedly in the works and, prior to that, an iOS revival of First Star Software’s 1984 set for release this summer. A teaser trailer briefly surfaced online earlier this week, confirming an iPad and iPhone release. [via PocketGamer]
* New information continues to emerge on a weekly basis for Beamdog and Overhaul Games’ forthcoming Enhanced Edition release of Baldur’s Gate, for iPad and PC/Mac platforms. Both from BaldursGate.com and from the Twitter feed of Trent Oster, Beamdog founder and BioWare vet. The latest news reveals that the summer iPad launch will carry a sub-$10 price tag. This will presumably also hold true for the Enhanced Edition release of Baldur’s Gate 2 later this year as well. The mobile version of both releases will sport newly redesigned user interfaces that take advantage of the touch interfafce.
* Rovio’s latest bird-flinging game of destruction and pig-killing, Angry Birds Space, hit the ground running when it launched, an update on the game’s official Twitter feed confirms. In less than three days, the latest Angry Birds outing saw more than 10 million downloads. You definitely ought to grab it if you haven’t yet done so; the iPhone version costs $0.99, the iPad version costs $2.99, and the Android version is 100 percent free.
* Temple Run, the ridiculously popular free-to-download iOS running game from Imangi Studios, is finally up and running on Android devices. The reason it’s here in the headlines section and not in the weekly recommended buys section is simple: it’s broken. Many players are reporting that the game, available through Google Play, are running into compatibility issues and bugs that render it unplayable. To get a sense of things, just check out the Temple Run Facebook page. We’ll be keeping an eye on this story; hopefully Temple Run will claim its rightful place as a recommended (free) buy next week.
* Dark Meadow has gone free-to-play with the release of Dark Meadow: The Pact. Along with the cost-free version comes an update that specs out both The Pact — which is identical to the original game — and its predecessor with iPad 3 Retina Display graphics, new locations, new enemies and bosses, new weapons and amulets, a “Fast Travel” system, a world map, and the added ability to use health packs while in combat. Those who already paid money for the original version also get a “Premium Pack” bonus of in-game items. Dark Meadow continues to be an iOS exclusive, but Android users will be able to get it as well starting sometime in April, complete with Tegra 3 support.
Top buys for the week…
Closure :: PlayStation 3 :: $14.99
Eyebrow Interactive’s visually-appealing puzzle/platformer Closure comes to PSN this week for PlayStation 3 consoles. The puzzle component of the game is built around light, with players using illumination to make platforms both visible and accessible, as what you cannot see in the game doesn’t exist. The game first garnered attention in 2009 when it won the Innovation Award at Indiecade, and then later went on to win similar honors in 2010 and 2012 at the Indiepedent Games Festival and Indie Game Challenge, respectively.
Gears of War 3 Forces of Nature map pack :: Xbox 360 :: 800 MS Points
This week saw the release of the latest content pack for Gears of War 3 from Epic Games. It carries an 800 MS Point cost (roughly $10), but Season Pass owners get to enjoy it as a free download. The main feature of the pack is its five new multiplayer maps, available in the game’s Versus, Horde, and Beast modes. The maps — Aftermath, Artillery, Cove, Jacinto, and Raven Down — all sport a specific weather feature, as the name of the pack suggests. Also included are four character skins and a collection of seven new weapon skins. Coolest of all, Elemental Cleavers appear on all maps in Horde mode as usable easter eggs, and each one is imbued with a different elemental attack.
Fibble :: iOS :: $1.99 (iPhone) / $4.99 (iPad)
Fibble makes an offer that no serious gamer-slash-iOS user can refuse. It’s an adorable physics-based puzzle game from Crytek, the same studio behind Crysis. Over the course of 30 levels, you’ll swipe-flick various aliens around a typical human home, reuniting the crash-landed crew with the help of each extraterrestrial’s unique abilities. Crysis this is not, but it’s a fun game from a talented studio, and it’s a good use of your spare dollars.
Node.Hack :: iOS / Android :: $0.99 (both platforms)
In Node.Hack, 4gency challenges players to hack their way through a series of nodes in randomly generated levels. If you’re familiar with other hacking-style games, the basics should make sense. You’re ostensibly breaking into a group of bank accounts arrayed out in an interconnected grid, while security drones patrol the network. Once you’ve snatched enough loot, an alarm sounds and you’ll need to escape to the exit node. This is a cheap game, and a challenging one that, thanks to its random level generation, manages to maintain a fresh feeling each time you play.