With one Thursday to go before the iTunes Connect holiday lock out, tonight we're going to see the first of the avalanche of pre-Christmas releases. This Wednesday works the same as every other Wednesday on the App Store, but if you're not familiar, here's the gist- Entirely too many developers have banded together in some kind of secret Dr. Strangelove war room and have determined that releasing games on a Thursday is the best time to do it. When you set the release date in iTunes Connect to Thursday, games launch in international markets as the Earth spins and it slowly becomes Thursday in those areas. New Zealand is first, and us lucky Americans are last. All of these games will be available at 11:00 PM EST tonight, or earlier if you're in a region east of us.

Infinity Blade (Universal), $5.99 - [Forum Thread] - This game hardly needs an introduction anymore. Chair's epic sword fighter is on the verge of finding its way into the grubby hands of iDevice owners. We've been playing the preview version, and it's fantastic. Some will likely be disappointed by what Infinity Blade isn't, as it isn't an open-world game, you can't control your movement, and even calling it any kind RPG is a bit of a stretch. What it is is a really great gesture-controlled sword fighter based on the Unreal Engine that everyone with a recent device really needs to download.

Puzzle Quest 2 (Universal), $9.99 - [Forum Thread] - The original Puzzle Quest [$4.99] was a ton of fun, and Puzzle Quest 2 expands upon the same awesome matching formula with RPG elements layered on top. Try Puzzle Quest Free [Free] first if you'd like, but this game is a safe purchase for any fan of puzzle games with depth.

Illusia, $4.99 - [Forum Thread] - Gamevil is calling Illusia a "casual platform game", which looks an awful lot like Maple Story to us. There are multiple classes, tons of gear to collect, and a bunch of character customization to delve into.

Dead Rising Mobile, $4.99 - [Forum Thread] - We got really in depth with our preview of the game, and despite its flaws, I couldn't help but enjoy it. Dead Rising is one of my favorite zombie slaughtering series, and I'm surprised by how well Capcom managed to translate the game to the iPhone.

TXT Fighter, 99¢ - [Forum Thread] - Similar to Texting of the Bread [$1.99], TXT Fighter puts your typing skills to the test, to, well, fight. We thought the game was cool in our preview, which is filled with more information about the title.

Pogo Games, Free - [Forum Thread] - EA is bringing over some favorite free games from their online Flash game portal Pogo.com. This is totally free, but without a membership to the Pogo service you'll be viewing some ads.

A Moon for the Sky, 99¢ - [Forum Thread] - This looks to be a cool little jumping game with a control mechanic that involves drawing platforms for the little moon to bounce up. 18 levels are included, as well as an endless mode.

Hero Project, Free - [Forum Thread] - A freemium game that revolves around building up a super hero and fighting bad guys. It sounds like an interesting premise, but like all of these free to play games, it really comes down to the balance between playing and paying. I'm just glad developers are breaking away from incredibly tired building and farming game types.

Jenga, $2.99 - [Forum Thread] - A curious title to see on the App Store, considering how much of actually playing Jenga involves such precise finger work. Regardless, the developers build this with the help of Leslie Scott, the inventor of Jenga, so it should be interesting to see how it all works. Jenga comes with multiple game modes as well as pass and play multiplayer.

Pirates vs. Ninjas vs. Zombies vs. Pandas, 99¢ - [Forum Thread] - Another take on the Angry Birds formula, this time with the injection of every cliche imaginable aside from farts. There are 4 campaigns across 45 levels, along with 8 different dudes to fling at the pirates, ninjas, zombies, and pandas.

Monopoly for iPad, $9.99 - [Forum Thread] - Finally, Monopoly for the iPad. I've had a ton of fun playing various board games and other local multiplayer games on my iPad, and I expect Monopoly to be just as good.

Eternal Legacy, $6.99 - [Forum Thread] - Gameloft's take on Final Fantasy XIII, featuring a curiously similar spiky haired protagonist and turn-based battle system. I'm anxious to see how much the story grabs me with this game, as while Gameloft games historically have been technically impressive, the plot and voice work (two things that are fairly important in a Final Fantasy-esque RPG) have left much to be desired.

Update: Oddly enough, Gameloft seems to have released this game early. Eternal Legacy seem to be available everywhere.

Dungeon Hunter 2, $6.99 - [Forum Thread] - We liked the first Dungeon Hunter [$4.99] quite a bit, as it had everything a good dungeon crawler needs: Tons of enemies, loot everywhere, and multiple classes to spice things up. The sequel is said to have all that, in addition to online coop multiplayer. I can't wait to try this out.

In addition to all the above games, the following HD iPad versions are also being released tonight:

Holy cow, now that is a lot of games. Also, EA handles their releases in two different versions, an "international" version and a "US" version. The above links for EA titles are all the international versions, which we'll update with the US links as soon as they are available at 11:00 PM EST tonight.

  • http://twitter.com/StPats40 Kevin Agot

    I'm gonna be broke tonight. I'll have fun doing it, but broke nonetheless.

  • P45K4L

    Oh my oh my so many games so little time =]

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=774507787 Zach Williams

    Good gosh. Why does this have to happen during finals week?

  • Clyndon

    Well, good news everyone! Not to mention that this is only the start.... Bring 'em on!

  • Peos

    Does that mean if we're waiting on games like, Secret of Mana or FFT, that if it's not out next Thursday, it probably won't be out this year?

  • Pascal

    This is the Games DAY!!!!

  • MicroByte

    What a release day! Had to pick up another iTunes card, but need to spread these out and enjoy them fully one by one...

    That said, Infiinty Blade and Jenga (and maybe Dead Rising) are mine tonight! :)

  • Chris

    holy cow -- get the fingers ready!

  • Mzeb75

    Wow! I'll be getting a couple of these titles tonight. Merry X Mas to us!!!

  • Lafrance Patrick

    - Dungeon Hunter 2 may be pulled from the App Store because the NZ version has a
    major bug - No sound effects at all. I'll buy at 100% when it's ready.

    - Infinity Blade looks really great (medieval Punch-Out with amazing graphics). I'll Buy.

    - Pirates vs. Ninjas vs. Zombies vs. Pandas looks great but I'm so busy with AB:
    Seasons for now.

    - Eternal Legacy looks great but I'll wait (only 4GB left on my iPhone 4)

    - Others are not for me

    • http://twitter.com/ScottColbert Scott Colbert

      Well if DH2 is pulled that would be in keeping with the first one which also had a major gameplay bug. Definitely going to wait on this one then.

    • Philosonic

      Eternal Legacy is a wreck of a clone. I don't have anything against clones, actually I fell in love with Rolando and Rolando 2, but this is just ridiculous. The commands are more then decent, the graphics are quite good, but some area of the gameplay and the story in particular are SEVERALLY LACKING. I do believe they have something going on here but only if they intend on being more serious about the plot and voice over. For this kind of game, I don't think they should be afraid of 1 GB or even, dare I say it 2 GB app.

  • http://neuroshimahex.pl Ender

    I think I'm gonna buy myself some presents for the Christmas...

  • err404

    Both of the ones I want are Universal! I don't mind paying more if it works on all of devices. Now they just need to sync save states.

    • Guest

      I agree with you 100%.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Showers/100000900130483 Andrew Showers

    I'm gonna keep playing games even if my thumbs are numb, I also have a blog on gaming come check it out on http://www.myvgratings.com/blog :-)

  • John Madden

    It feels like my iPod got heavier.

    And my wallet lighter.

    Weird.

  • Anonymous

    I don't need a second cup of coffee now! Sickest.lineup.yet!!

  • Guest

    Nice Dr. Strangelove reference, Eli.

    "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room."

  • Guest

    Nice Dr. Strangelove reference, Eli.

    "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room."

  • tsharpfilm

    Getting Infinity Blade tonight, Aralon next week, and that's probably it until The Shadow Sun comes out. Woot.

  • Mark Green

    Pirates vs. Ninjas vs. Zombies vs. Pandas - the most EPIC name ever!!!

  • 3faced

    wow. just... wow... IB, PQ2, DH2, TXT Figher, and Hero Project are all on my list... this is sparta.

    note to devs: please space out your releases even in this rush holiday buying season.
    note to iphone: damn you for being 16gb
    note to wallet: my condolences

  • andrzej raczynski

    nice, but at those prices, most will just sit on my wait list for half a year.

  • Alexandercubert

    AH HELLS TO THE YES111111

  • simulated

    No HD/universal version of DH2? I'm voting with my dollar --> PQ2 it is, then.

  • Kidsstuffx3

    Wait so what time will infinity blade come in the pacific coast time?

  • Anonymous

    About Pirates vs Ninjas vs Zombies vs Pandas "every cliche imaginable aside from farts."

    Actually we do have farts in the game, how else would the pandas move aroun in-flight? :D