Since the insane Wednesday before the pre-Christmas iTunes Connect freeze, the formerly exciting onslaught of New Zealand releases each week was little more than a fond memory throughout the entire month of January. Thankfully, developers are getting back in to the swing of things and releasing oodles of games. Although, this begs the question- With so few games released in January, did anyone really come out ahead by rushing their games out for Christmas? It's a long way away, but I'll be curious what happens this holiday season. Hopefully it leads to more January releases.

Anyway, on with the show. We're going to be spending the day playing most of these games, and providing a closer look at as many of these as possible. Here's an alphabetical list of the games currently available right now in New Zealand. If you've played along with the Wednesday waiting game before, you'll know how this works. If not, here's the gist- Games appear for download in New Zealand first, then slowly show up on international App Stores around the world before finally appearing on the US App Store at 11:00 PM EST.

Bop It!, $2.99 - [Forum Thread] - The original Bop It! was one of those electronic toy/game abominations that always seems to be out of batteries whenever you wanted to play it and likely has been responsible for millions of annoyed parents stuck in cars with their kids playing a Bop It! for hours. (A Simpsons episode actually makes a joke about this.) You do what the Bop It! tells you do to, whether that's spinning it, bopping it, or many other actions. From the looks of it, the iOS version is very similar. One thing the iOS version is lacking is the sheer durability of Hasbro's child-proof plastics.

Cardboard Castle, 99¢ - [Forum Thread] - A clever looking puzzle game with a slick art style based on cardboard cut outs. You assist a knight in his adventures, and come up with clever solutions for dealing with obstacles in your path by interacting with the various cardboard set pieces of the level. It definitely seems like a unique premise for a game.

Devil May Cry 4 Refrain, $1.99 - [Forum Thread] - An ambitious title by Capcom that we spent some time with earlier this month. A simplified control system goes a long way in bringing this console series over to iOS devices. I'm curious what people are going to think once they get this game in their hands, as the Devil May Cry series is one that's not only been difficult, but also has always been played with a physical controller.

Etolis: Arena, $1.99 - [Forum Thread] - An interesting looking Sci-Fi based dual stick shooter from Chillingo that also happens to be universal. I'm excited to bust out my Fling joysticks and give this game a try as I much prefer blasting aliens to shooting zombies.

Kick Buttowski: Loco Launcho, Free - [Forum Thread] - I have absolutely no idea who Kick Buttowski is, but I seem to get sucked in to these kind of launching games in the worst way-- Especially if they've got all kinds of upgrades, which Loco Launcho seems to have. Oh, it's universal too.

League of Evil, 99¢ - [Forum Thread] - This pixel art-packed platformer involves jumping through 50 levels saving scientists. I like pixel art, chiptune music, and saving scientists, so I'm really excited for this game. Also, Jared has been spending some time with a pre-release version of the game and won't stop talking about it, which is always a good thing.

Monty Python's Cow Tossing, 99¢ - [Forum Thread] - A Monty Python parody of Angry Birds. I'm thinking this game will either come packed with enough Monty Python humor to be funny enough to be good, or be just as mediocre as many other Angry Birds-like games. I'm not sure there's much middle ground, and I'm excited to find out where this game lands.

Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Ayden, Free + $6.99 IAP - [Forum Thread] - Gameloft's spin on Zelda is packed with a curious approach we've yet to see the mobile gaming giant take in regards to selling their games. Sacred Odyssey is free to download, which allows you to play about ten minutes worth of gameplay. After that, you've got to unlock the rest of the game via an in-app purchase of $6.99. So basically, you're paying the same price as a typical Gameloft game, but this time the lite and the full versions are merged in to a single version. It will be interesting to see how this tactic plays out.

Zombie Isle, Free - [Forum Thread] Glu has been surprisingly successful since switching gears to freemium, and Zombie Isle is their latest free to play title. It seems to combine the two massive cliches of both pirates and zombies in to one unholy cliche abomination... But there seem to be an awful lot of people out there who love both zombies and pirates, so maybe they're on the right track!

  • Noah

    The Gameloft approach this time is genius. It completely bypasses the Jailbreak communities attempt at cracking the game to play for free! By requiring an in-game purchase, it forces even pirates to pay for the game.

    Love it!

    • LBG

      Yeah, not only does it mean that pirates will have to pay for it, but it also makes things easier because now you don't need to download two different apps.

      • SiDCrAzY

        Why do so many people think IAP is "unpirateable", it will be pirated just the same. Pirates won't have to pay for anything.

        Kinda annoying, but I try not to think about it.

    • andrzej raczynski

      too bad some of those that pay for games, like me, don't do IAP.

      • Anonymous

        I'm confused... why not do IAP if you want the game? Surely you're essentially doing the same thing, ie. paying for the full game, just in a different order?

      • Guest

        As far I know in app purchases can only be made in the app... which sucks for people who have limmited WiFi access, or people like me who's iPod's WifI decided to stop working DAYS after the warranty ran out.

      • Anonymous

        Well "can't" and "don't" mean different things. Just go to a Starbucks or Panera, or in your case tough luck!

      • Noah

        If you don't pay for games, then you never would have been able to play this game if they charge $6.99 up front. So yeah... what TangoBunny said below!

      • Anonymous

        You don't do IAP? Is this some personal vendetta or something?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QCP4WHWLUQHFIOP66SLEA7E5CA Hampus

      Ehm, that is the pirate community not the jailbreak community... they're not one and the same! But yea, smart move, stops pirating, or well, the in app purchases of songs for rock band and the like were bypassed so they might get around this too :/

    • SiDCrAzY

      Except IAP doesn't stop piracy and pirates will still pirate it, unfortunately..

  • Gwet17

    Will there be a way to save the full version of the Gameloft game if I am going to, say, get a next gen device and want to transfer this over?

    • GunBlade1190

      If you create a backup of your ipod touch/iphone when you sync your device, then restore your new device using the previous backup, then the game will be the full version already.

      Otherwise, as long as you use the same account, just rebuy the main game and you won't have to pay the $6.99 again.

      • Gwet17

        Thanks, I'll probably be picking this one up (If it gets good reviews).

      • http://twitter.com/NoSuperMan ImNoSuperMan

        Its free to try. No need to wait/depend on reviews if the gameplay looks interesting to you ;)

  • andrzej raczynski

    Kick and Etolis look fun to me. So does the zelda clone, but I won't waste a buck on IAP.

    Monty looks fun, but not sure why the animals are bouncing off of invisible walls...

    • EastsideStompers

      Probably because the physics are meant to be 'off the wall'. It's Monty Python after all; )

  • JR

    I'm really stoked about League of Evil. Just today I was thinking that I need a decent iOS platformer. Looks like it will definitely fit the bill.

    • Gwet17

      COUGH COUGH *perfect cell* COUGH COUGH

      • Jezz Torrent

        I've been enjoying Perfect Cell recently, but I'm not sure if I would call it a "platformer". Just because it's sidescrolling?

  • Anonymous

    League of Evil's gameplay looks a ton like Super Meat Boy... I can't wait, although the controls will have to be solid.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QCP4WHWLUQHFIOP66SLEA7E5CA Hampus

    Meh, why isnt Zombie Isle available in the swedish store? Wtf...

  • muthaFUKyousonamabitch

    Why is Devil May Cry so cheap?

    • GunBlade1190

      Intro sale.

  • Coops58

    I think Gameloft is making a bad decision. Yes this will handicap the pirate community and make it so you don't have to restart from the beginning after finishing the lite version. However putting it in the free app category will get the app a lot more negative reviews than it would receive from people who actually pay for it. Hopefully the pirates wont decide to adapt either, if a big game like this prompts them to find a way to preload IAP's then nowhere on the app store would be safe.

  • Daruul

    Haven't tried it by myself, but i thought (and the iTunes FAQ-page bout IAP also says) that you can't gift IAPs to others.
    That way i won't be able to gift the game to my girlfriend (she's using only prepaid vouchers as payment) and she would have walk to the next store to get a prepaid voucher.

  • Curious Carl

    Seems like Free + IAP = sites like AppShopper being unable to notify us of sales. How will I know when Gameloft cuts the price on its IAP?

  • Magicaleb

    Just finished playing sacred oddesy demo, and it's quite the game! I might buy it after I see an extensive review here.

  • E_Domina

    I like the idea of "free then iap" so the lite and full is combined