2011 marked a trailblazing new year for iPad/iPhone game development. Production teams were really starting to get a hang of the technology, even with the introduction of the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4S. They adapted quickly and created some real stellar stuff, including a near-perfect recreation of Grand Theft Auto III, as well as ridiculously fun puzzle games like Where’s the Water? and Bumpy Road.
But we really had to edit this list down drastically for our top ten, so we made some hard choices. No matter what you may think, though, each of these games is ideal for playing on the go, and there’s something here for everyone. So, without further ado, here are our top ten favorite iPad/iPhone games.
10. Gesundheit! (Konami)
We’ll be honest, this is a weird game in concept. You’ve got little piggy creatures and big monsters that somehow developed a taste for boogers. But the story isn’t the only thing worth buying here. Konami has done a wondrous job balancing the gameplay between strategy and action, and you’ll need to work your way through each level to discover all the secrets. Plus, that cute presentation never gets old…even with the snot bubbles.
9. Tiny Wings (Andreas Illiger)
One person created Tiny Wings from scratch, and it’s amazing how such a small concept became a massive hit for the App Store. In the game, you direct a flightless bird along hills, collecting tokens and keeping your travels going before the sun goes down. The simple one-touch gameplay is magnificent, and the presentation has its fair share of charm, especially when you make your way to the next level and your heroic bird screams, “Yeeeeehooooooo!” Check it out if you haven’t yet; it’s a high flier.
8. Mega Mall Story (Kairosoft Co.)
You may have seen simulation games before, but have you ever seen one that’s taken place in a mall? Welcome to Mega Mall Story, Kairosoft’s awesome sim that has you building level upon level of a mega shopping establishment. It’s not nearly as easy as it looks, but it’s quite entertaining, especially when you branch out your location into a super establishment. And you get to name it whatever you want. Hey, come to Sloppy Mall and get some clothes!
7. Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP (Capybara Games)
Want something a little off the rails when it comes to game design? Stick with the Superbrothers in this fun musical adventure, where you use a sword to fight enemies, and sworcery (yes, misspelled on purpose) to solve musical puzzles. The game’s innovative visual style will grab you, and you’ll be hooked as you play on your own and with friends via Twitter, in a rather neat fashion. Be sure to invite these Superbrothers into your immediate family.
6. Sonic CD (Sega)
Welcome back, Sonic CD. This long-lost Sega CD classic has been reborn, thanks to Sega and savvy developer Christian Whitehead. Every aspect of the game remains intact, including both its US and Japanese soundtracks, its cool time travel gimmick, the crazy 3D stages and the just-right difficulty setting. You get all this for a measly three bucks – a small asking price compared to its original $50 selling point. This is the way Sonic should be done for mobile play.
5. Another World (BulkyPix)
Remember the amazing Out of This World back in “the day” of gaming? Well, so do Eric Chahi and his friends at DotEmu. They have recreated that Interplay classic as an iPad/iPhone digital release, and though it’s under a different name, the glory of this old-school adventure remains perfectly intact. Solve puzzles, take on aliens, and check out classic cinematic style, all for the price of a few bucks out of your iTunes account. Well worth it. Now, um, can we have Flashback?
4. Dead Space HD (Electronic Arts)
And you thought that Dead Space would be nothing more than a condensed port of the previous console games. Silly fool. EA and its programming team have done wonders with this new adventure, featuring a completely original story, an ideal control scheme (even with a touch screen) and, in pure Dead Space fashion, plenty of scares. Aside from Infinity Blade, this is easily one of the best looking iPad games out there. Snag it and go xenomorph hunting for yourself.
3. Jetpack Joyride (Halfbrick)
Can Halfbrick ever do wrong with a video game? Even the sub-licensed Fruit Ninja: Puss In Boots was terrific. But our pick from the team this year bas to be Jetpack Joyride, featuring a hero who shoots bullets while flying in mid-air, collecting coins and dodging obstacles like lasers and incoming missiles. It’s crazy, endless fun with a plethora of collectibles and an affordable price. We expect this game to take further flight in 2012, as it should.
2. Groove Coaster (Taito)
A music/rhythm game featuring the likes of Space Invaders and other classic Taito touches? This could’ve been easily asking for trouble, but surprisingly, the team pulled off Groove Coaster remarkably. Featuring a simple (yet truly awesome) one-touch system and some amazingly good songs (blare “Play Merrily” and you’ll see what we mean), it’s easily one of the best games in the genre to date. And with new tracks available for a very cheap add-on price, the party never ends.
1. Infinity Blade II (Chair Entertainment)
Sure, it doesn’t run extremely well on first generation hardware, and the concept remains roughly the same as the original Infinity Blade. But there’s no question how incredibly polished the sequel is, with bigger enemies to battle, the best visuals we’ve seen on Apple’s platforms to date, unlockable extras, and fun dodge-and-hack gameplay. And just when you think you’ve reached the conclusion, even more battles await. Kudos to Chair Entertainment for keeping this Blade nice and sharp. Best of the year!