Friday Slide: Is That The Best You Can Do?

This week, as we played and reviewed EA’s excellent survival horror shooter Dead Space, the question came up among our staff: Is this EA’s best game yet? In the spirit of recognizing greatness, here are what I consider to be the crowning achievements of the world’s biggest iPhone game developers.

EA’s Best Yet: Dead Space

Electronic Arts has the resources to make any project of theirs extraordinary, but they rarely push it. That’s why we were so thrilled to see that Dead Space is a fully-functional slice of the console version, with all the horror atmosphere and gameplay innovations, like minimal heads-up display.

Other notable efforts: The Simpsons Arcade, Need for Speed Shift, Mirror’s Edge

Gameloft’s Best Yet: N.O.V.A. 2

Another consistently great developer is Gameloft, who have thankfully abandoned any pretense that they aren’t just cloning the most popular PC and console games. We can’t wait for their Zelda and Starcraft knockoffs, but so far the best game they’ve released is their take on Halo 2: N.O.V.A. 2.

Other notable efforts: Dungeon Hunter 2, Modern Combat 2, Hero of Sparta 2

Glu’s Best Yet: Gun Bros

Since they made the leap to a freemium business model, Glu’s had some mixed success. For every hit like Deer Hunter Challenge and Gun Bros, there have been some less successful games like Hero Project. Gun Bros is the most exciting freemium game we’ve played since Eliminate Pro, and its addictive gameplay and social aspects make it worth replaying on a regular basis. Their other best games, Glyder 1 and 2 and Beat It!, have sadly been pulled from the App Store.

Other notable efforts: World Series of Poker: Hold ’em Legend, Transformers G1: Awakening, Super KO Boxing 2

Capcom’s Best Yet: Capcom Arcade

Another freemium success story, Capcom Arcade makes arcade classics available on your iPhone for free. Like a stern parent, this app only gives you enough tokens for a few playthroughs. After that, you need to either buy the cabinet, or more tokens. It’s a stellar business model that will entertain you just enough to get through each day.

Other notable efforts: Lil’ Pirates, Street Fighter IV, Resident Evil 4

Namco’s Best Yet: Puzzle Quest 2

This Match-3 game has just about everything you could want: variety, depth, and challenge. I’ve played through Puzzle Quest 2 twice, with different results depending on which character I chose. My barbarian was great for bashing heads, while my assassin uses slow-acting poison and stealth.

Other notable efforts: Pac-Man Championship Edition, Time Crisis 2nd Strike, Isaac Newton’s Gravity

Gamevil’s Best Yet: Zenonia 2

This South Korean company knows how to make an amazing RPG. Between the cute, cuddly enemies and mountains of loot to customize your character, we can’t get enough of Zenonia 2‘s swordplay and spell-casting. When you eventually finish it, there are plenty of other RPGs for you to try from this great developer.

Other notable efforts: Illusia, Hybrid 2, Baseball Superstars 2011

Sega’s Best Yet: ChuChu Rocket!

This Dreamcast port still holds up beautifully 12 years after its original release, and Binary Hammer did an excellent job porting it to iOS touchscreens. While we still have trouble getting an online game going, ChuChu Rocket!‘s puzzle modes are hours of challenging fun.

Other notable efforts: Kingdom Conquest, Super Monkey Ball 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Square Enix’s Best Yet: Chaos Rings

Square Enix finally got their groove back in 2010, with epic releases like Chaos Rings, Final Fantasy 1 and 2, and Secret of Mana. Our favorite is still Chaos Rings, and we can’t wait to see what happens in the sequel, but we know a lot of readers are hoping that the iOS ports of Final Fantasy Tactics and Chrono Trigger will be Square Enix’s best work yet.

Other notable efforts: Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy 1, Final Fantasy 2

What other games represent the very best a company can create? If you want to share even more iPhone game developers and their best efforts, let us know in the comments.

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