Emberwind HD leads iPad Games of the Week

Grendale has a gremlin problem. Take on the role of Kindle Elderwood and ride your ancient snow owl to victory over the evil hordes in this adventure platformer. Can you snag all the bonuses? Add in a completely revised tower defense game with a “commander” unit that gives this app its special sauce, an on-the-go card game gone digital that offers furious family fun anywhere, anytime, and an ironic, silly cure for smoking in the form of an Arkanoid clone, and you’ve got yourself our iPad Games of the Week.

Emberwind HD ($1.99)

Platformers are a dime a dozen in the App Store. However, what sets Emberwind HD apart is its setting, colorful cast of characters, and over the top goblin smashing mayhem. You take on the role of Kindle Elderwood, riding atop his ancient snow owl to triumph over the evil gremlin and goblin hordes who are attacking your beloved Grendale. Your secret weapon? A cane of justice of course. Smash your way across a massive campaign, grab every bonus you can find along the way, and master a litany of special attacks to win the day. The best part? Boss battles aplenty. You’ll roam from high in the sky to on-foot across snowy tundra and deep, dark forests in your quest for victory. Don’t let the app’s controls get in the way of a good time. With a little patience you’ll be in full control.

Sentinel 3: Homeworld ($2.99)

Like platformers, turret defense games are well represented in the gaming world. Once you get past turret types, game field designs, and the usual cheesey sound effects and so-so graphics, there’s not much that sets them apart from one another. Enter Sentinel 3 Homeworld. In this week’s massive update, the game jumps to the top of the tower defense list, and it’s easy to see why: It’s added a stunning 20 levels of play and flavors of turrets, orbital ship weapons, auto-drones, and special abilities. The best addition? An all-new “commander unit” that can level-up and gain new abilities as you play. When you place your commander near a wide area of in-lace turrets, this unit will upgrade their morale and damage output. Now that’s what I call a welcome addition! My favorite: dropping the hammer on the enemy from orbit, Command and Conquer-style death from above. With full leaderboard support via GameCenter and OpenFeint, high-resolution graphics, an endless mode and more, this refreshed stunner is a must-have for all serious iPad gamers.

Aces Speed HD ($0.99)

When my family gets together, there’s no doubt that a deck or two of cards will come out at some point. Spite and malice? Kings in the corner? Or better yet, spit? If you and yours love a fast-paced, multiplayer card game experience, then Aces Speed HD is for you. It brings spit from the real world into the virtual world, offering head-to-head gameplay on a single iPad. The goal? Be the first to get rid of all of your cards. Simple enough, until you get into the nuances of the game. Sporting easy-to-understand tutorials, a full five difficulty levels, plus Game Center achievements and leaderboards, and there’s only upside for this instant classic. You can even play all by your lonesome between family trips.

Ciganoid ($0.99)

My father was both a smoker and a dedicated Breakout player during the age of Atari. In his lifelong quest to kick his smoking habit, he may have had better luck had he had a copy of Ciganoid. This ironic Arkanoid clone (the eventual replacement for Breakout), challenges all comers to bounce the usual ball into small bricks, this time in the shape of your lungs. Be sure to drop by the Cigarette Super Store from time to time to buy upgrades (speed boosts, shields, etc.) to keep the action going. Every time you break a brick, you’re losing some lung capacity. Match this with any smoking program out there today, and it’s an in-your-face reminder that every time you take a puff and pollute your lungs and everyone else’s air who’s standing nearby or driving behind you on the road, you’re literally sucking your life away. Good luck, smokers!

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