My ability to write an amusing introduction for this week's bucket full of Wednesday night game releases has been obliterated due to my mind being blown that the powers that be are still making James Pond games. Maybe it's just me, but my perception of James Pond as a video game mascot was about in line with Bubsy. In the 90's it seems like everyone and their brother in law was trying to come up with the next Mario or Sonic, and I'm really not sure any succeeded. I suppose persistence isn't a bad thing though, and you can't fault 'em for trying. I'll still play a James Pond game 21 years later!
Anyway, here's how this works-- Developers are able to set specific release dates for their iOS games. Since App Store features are updated on Thursdays, it seems that's most beneficial day to release a game if you're shooting for featuring. Of course the whole featuring process is a closely guarded secret surrounded by black majicks, so who knows if releasing on a Thursday even helps. Regardless, with a specific release date set, games become available in the regions of the App Store as it becomes that date. Thanks to New Zealand's proximity to the International Date Line, they get a first crack at everything. All of these games will be available at 11:00 PM Eastern, or earlier if you're east of North America:
Ballistik Wars, Free - Forum Thread - I'm not entirely sure yet what the catch is with this game being free, but I've loved everything Ponos has released so I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Ballistik Wars will also be great. I could be wrong, but seriously, Ponos has a great game catalog.
Cargo Runners, $7.99 - Forum Thread - This is the second entirely iOS board game by Trouble Brothers. Cargo Runners is a 2-4 player game where you race around the world collecting cargo. I've had a great time with board games on the iPad, and it's great seeing brand new ones being developed for the platform.
Color Bandits, 99¢ / HD - Forum Thread - I'm digging this game's gimmick. Apparently aliens have stolen color from the world and you're fighting to get it back. The whole black and white slowly transitioning to color thing seems really cool. And, hey, boss fights.
James Pond in the Deathly Shallows, 99¢ - Forum Thread - Agent Pond RETURNS!!! Oddly enough, James Pond games (at least the ones I played) always had lots of platforming elements, this one seems to be more of an underwater-themed horizontal shooter. Regardless, it's universal, a buck, and based on some great (although likely unknown to most) IP.
MapleStory Cygnus Knights Edition, $4.99 - Forum Thread - This is the second single player MapleStory game to be released on the App Store, the first of which being MapleStory Thief Edition [$4.99]. It's a bit of a mystery to me why they don't just bring a full MapleStory client over to iOS, as surely recent devices have to be powerful enough to run it... But, I guess they wouldn't be releasing Cygnus Knights if Thief didn't do well.
Mooniacs, $1.99 / Lite - Forum Thread - Namco is taking a crack at the "casual physics based puzzle game where you do things to earn stars" genre. (That is a genre now, right?) I tried this game at E3, and it's actually pretty cool. You fling your little dude up to catch flying things called "JujuBees." Namco has an interesting plan for releasing new updates, and additional content will apparently be unlocked as people globally reach some collected JujuBees threshold.
Postal Panic, Free - Forum Thread - This is a sorting game, but instead of needing to sort colors or shapes like so many sorting games out there you're sorting packages to a specific zip code as they come across a postal scanner. It seems like a clever real-world spin to the typical sorting game type.
Puzzle Agent 2, $4.99 / HD - Forum Thread - The original Puzzle Agent [$4.99] won a ridiculous amount of rewards last year, and I'm expecting the sequel to be just as awesome. Like the first one, Puzzle Agent 2 has Professor Layton-like puzzle-centric gameplay with a heavy coating of that signature Telltale Games charm.
Street Fighter IV Volt, 99¢ - Forum Thread - This is basically Street Fighter IV [99¢] but with online multiplayer. Oh, and it's got Balrog, Vega, and Cody which aren't available in the non-Volt version. Also, Capcom is planning on doing some kind of wacky incremental price raising where they're hiking the price by a buck each day it's out until it caps out at $6.99. Street Fighter IV was excellent, and the addition of online multiplayer in Volt should make this an easy day one purchase.