'Angry Birds' returns; plus, 4 more free mobile games to help you beat the February blahs – USA TODAY

February may have a couple of good things going for it: Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine’s (or Galentine’s) Day and honoring and celebrating Black History – but for many, the shortest month of the year is a dismal one.
Between cold, dreary weather for many, little cash to go around (after paying off credit card bills from holiday shopping) and already failing at your New Year’s resolutions, you might need a little pick-me-up throughout the day.
Thankfully, there are thousands of fun and free games to swipe and tap on your mobile device, to give you some moments of joy, whenever and wherever you have the time.
After all, Wordle is only once a day, so you need more than that to get your fix, no?
And so, here’s a glimpse at what’s new and newsworthy, whether you’re into fresh takes on solitaire, twitchy action games or epic adventures as a virtual getaway.
Note: Unless otherwise specified, the following games are available for both iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android and are free to play but offer optional in-app purchases for additional content.
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The slingshot is back.
To destroy the pigs’ fortresses and free the cute hatchlings inside, your goal is to launch your beloved birds towards the structures – but by considering the force required, desired angle (taking physics into account), the material you’re up against (wood, ice, stone, etc.) and utilizing the birds’ unique abilities.
Yes, Rovio’s Angry Birds Journey is a similar premise to the original games, but with new content, updated graphics and plenty of unlockable goodies I won’t spoil here.
You can build up your Angry meter to inflict even more damage, unite fireflies with their soulmates and unravel more of the story surrounding the mysterious Egg Wonders.
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Are you a fan of “tower defense” strategy games, which challenge you to tactically stave off an invasion?
If so, Ninja Kiwi’s Bloons TD Battles 2 pits you against other players online, as you fight your way through five colorful and unique arenas, to ultimately face off in the coveted Hall of Masters and rise up the ranks of the leaderboard.
Your primary goal is to prevent enemy balloons (the titular “Bloons”) from making their way to your base along their path and so you must purchase and strategically place weapons to pop the incoming floaties. This sequel borrows elements from Bloons TD 6, including unique Heroes and powerful Monkey Towers (each with special upgrades).
The more you win, the more you can customize your loadout from hundreds of cosmetic items, along with unlockable animations, emotes and bloon skins.
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Take one of the most beloved solitaire card games of all time and toss in stories, countless deck styles, daily contests and global leaderboards – and this is what to expect in the new Solitaire Stories by Red Games.
Available exclusively as part of the Apple Arcade service ($4.99/month) – for iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV – this collection of Klondike experiences starts with a story narrated by Emmy Award-winning “Glee” star Jane Lynch. As you progress through the solitaire games, you’ll initiate the next story chapter. The more games you complete, the more stories you’ll find.
But fret not, purists, as you don’t have to sit through story sequences if this isn’t your thing.
Along with the customizable games (one or three-card draws, right/left hand mode, varying difficulty levels and so on), daily challenges have you earn gold, which can be redeemed for new stories and card decks. The game boasts hundreds of deck styles and animations.
Like all other Apple Arcade games, there are no advertisements or in-app purchase options.
Don’t be put off by the strange mix of fantasy role-playing game  mechanics with mini-putt golf, as this new hybrid from Funny Tasting Colors is a fresh and fun digital diversion.
The game has you first customize your player and enlist the help of a caddy in the clubhouse to get you through courses. Once you hit the ball, you’ll initiate an enemy encounter. Like many retro role-playing games, your party of characters (you and your caddies) will take turns exchanging attacks with enemies, in the hopes you’ll reign victorious. There are potions, loot and ways to level up your character.
Mini Golf RPG includes ball abilities, which are special actions to improve your golf and fighting abilities. For example, Smash Putt makes your stroke twice as powerful. You can only use one ball ability per hole.
Along with new courses to unlock, the game features hundreds of items to collect, upgrade and equip; kitschy 8-bit pixelated graphics (during combat), with old-school MIDI music; and free daily rewards for logging into the game.
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While it technically debuted in 2021, InnoGames’ historical simulation was recently updated to push it back up the charts.
As you may surmise by its name, Rise of Cultures has you build up cities throughout various periods in time, learning about cultural traditions and practices and figuring out which strategy works best to aid in the civilization’s growth and prosperity.
Build new structures, research new technologies and create all kinds of fighters to battle alongside some of history’s greatest warriors. Or, perhaps while traversing the map, you’ll instead focus on trade and diplomacy instead of war and tyranny. It’s entirely up to you.
No two games play out the same way in this enjoyable single-player sim.

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