A Year of Indies: The Very Best of Under The Radar, Part 2

Back in April, we took you through a year’s worth of indie iOS games, and there have been many more since then. Every game on this list has been considered for our weekly Under The Radar column, then reviewed in full to give you a complete critique. Here are our picks for the best undiscovered indie iOS games from the latter half of 2012.

30. The Bluecoats – North vs South

“In this strategy game, you play as either the Confederate or Union armies as they march across the United States. Connecting forts by rail will generate money, which you can use to recruit more troops.” – May 17, 2012

Our score: 2 out of 4

Our bottom line: The Bluecoats isn’t a bad game, but once you win, there really isn’t much more to it.

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29. Dwarf Quest

“Every year, five dwarves compete to see who can be the first to escape an underground dungeon called The Foundry. You play as the last of these dwarves, Morrin Firebeard, but you’ll soon discover that the other contestants are turning up dead.” – September 7, 2012

Our score: 2 out of 4

Our bottom line: Dwarf Quest has its technical issues, but if you can get past those, it offers tactical dungeon crawling that’s surprisingly easy to jump right in to.

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28. Folded Flyer

“Folded Flyer is a flight sim, but instead of a biplane or fighter jet, you have to guide a paper airplane… It’s simple fun, even though you can recreate the same effect with a piece of paper.” – August 9, 2012

Our score: 2 out of 4

Our bottom line: Folded Flyer is like an actual paper airplane. It’s a cheap toy that’s fun for a moment.

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27. Nun Attack

“What’s black, white, and red all over? How about a nun in a gunfight? Nun Attack is a battle between good vs evil, with four nuns who have to fight against the undead forces summoned by a rogue nun.” – October 26, 2012

Our score: 2 out of 4

Our bottom line: Nun Attack won’t lead you to throw your hands in the air and scream ‘Hallelujah,’ but it should keep you occupied for a few hours at least.

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26. JAM: Jets Aliens Missiles

“JAM is the first game from Crescent Moon’s new Forest Moon label, a way for them to publish more bite-sized indie games. In other words, this is no Aralon or Ravensword 2.” – September 21, 2012

Our score: 3 out of 4

Our bottom line: JAM makes great use of the new iPhone’s longer screen, but it doesn’t offer much else that we haven’t seen before.

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25. Plight of the Zombie

“There are some downsides to being undead, like constant hunger and a tendency to get shot by human survivors. Plight of the Zombie addresses these by letting you take control of a pack of ghouls. By tracing a path to your goal, you can turn survivors, and then swarm the humans while collecting brains.” – August 23, 2012

Our score: 3 out of 4

Our bottom line: Despite zombies becoming an increasingly overused trope, Plight of the Zombie manages to shine through with its simple, pleasant charms.

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24. Space Holiday

“Space Holiday is a clever little brain-teaser that feels like connect the dots with a twist. You have to draw lines between stars so that you can open a rift in space and travel through it.” – September 14, 2012

Our score: 3 out of 4

Our bottom line: A fun puzzler that stays interesting the whole way through.

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23. Hanger

“We love games where you can swing wildly from side to side, but Hanger, surprisingly, swings hard to the violent side. As you grapple across chasms, you have to watch out for sharp edges that will tear your ragdoll to pieces.” – July 12, 2012

Our score: 3 out of 4

Our bottom line: Hanger might be a little too simple, but swinging through the caverns is fun.

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22. OrigamiGore

“OrigamiGore is what you get when you cross Smash TV with a Japanese game show. To prevent enemies from tearing down your defenses, you have to launch projectiles, like squids, at hordes of invading sumo wrestlers and walking sushi.” – August 16, 2012

Our score: 3 out of 4

Our bottom line: OrigamiGore’s distasteful violence and mocking attitude towards Japanese culture limit its otherwise solid appeal as a defense game.

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21. Campaign The Game

“Somewhere between Game Dev Story and Mad Men is Campaign The Game, a simulation where you can run your own ad agency from the 1980s onward. You’ll have to come up with clever campaigns for just about anything, combining different styles and media markets to connect with a large audience.” – August 9, 2012

Our score: 3 out of 4

Our bottom line: Campaign: The Game, thankfully, isn’t a presidential simulator, but it’s definitely ‘capitol’ fun. Eh, that was terrible.

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20. Animal Legends

“Since it’s a freemium game, your energy and resources are very limited, forcing you to collect coins from your village or pay extra to advance quickly. ” – November 15, 2012

Our score: 3 out of 4

Our bottom line: Animal Legends is a lot of fun to play, but only for a few minutes at a time over the course of weeks.

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19. King Oddball Ends The World

“King Oddball is a giant boulder from outer space with a prehensile tongue that can pick up and fling rocks. To conquer Earth, you just need to tap at the right moment to release a rock and send it flying at tanks and helicopters. ” – October 5, 2012

Our score: 3 out of 4

Our bottom line: The gameplay may be familiar, but King Oddball’s main character makes the experience a lot of fun

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18. Wacoon Jump (formerly Wawa Land)

“Super Mario World won’t ever appear on an iOS device (unless you jailbreak it and install an emulator), so we’ll just have to make do with lookalikes like Wawa Land.” – May 10, 2012

Our score: 3 out of 4

Our bottom line: A clever platformer with obvious inspiration, solid foundations, responsive updates, and still some unmet potential.

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17. Cuboid

“Cuboid was originally a Playstation Network game, but it looks right at home on your iPhone or iPad. You have to push a block that is twice as tall as it is wide, and move it to a place on the board where it can fall straight down.” – May 24, 2012

Our score: 3 out of 4

Our bottom line: If you’re up for a challenging puzzle game, look no further. Just know that it will show you no mercy.

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16. McPixel

“In the same way MacGruber is SNL’s spoof of the quick-thinking, bomb-defusing MacGyver, McPixel is the pixelated Warioware version.” – August 30, 2012

Our score: 3 out of 4

Our bottom line: Heed the game’s warning and play McPixel in short doses– but do play it.

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15. Bee Leader

“In this game, you play as a bee guiding his swarm to nectar and honey. Using tilt or touch controls, you have to hover near flowers while avoiding larger animals and inclement weather.” – May 24, 2012

Our score: 3 out of 4

Our bottom line: A well rounded and polished game with sensitive controls and surprisingly dangerous landscapes.

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14. Super Mushrooms

“Bacteria will fall from the top of the screen towards your house, which you have to defend by planting mushrooms. But in a clever twist, the mushrooms act like pinball bumpers, and you have to operate a pair of flippers at the bottom to bat the bacteria towards your defenses.” – May 24, 2012

Our score: 3 out of 4

Our bottom line: Super Mushrooms is a new species of pinball game we didn’t see coming.

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13. Airport Scanner

“Nowadays, going through an airport security checkpoint can be both intimidating and invasive. In this game, you get to be the one responsible for keeping the line moving while sorting out potential terrorists.” – May 3, 2012

Our score: 3 out of 4

Our bottom line: Who knew airport security could be this much fun? Airport Scanner sure makes us think it is!

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12. Webbies

“In Nano Titans’ last game, Foodies, you had to create a platform so that you could bounce a goo-ball to collect bits of food. This spiritual successor has you collecting food, and then slinging it over to your hungry critters using a spiderweb mechanic.” – May 24, 2012

Our score: 3 out of 4

Our bottom line: If the fun puzzle gameplay doesn’t grab you, the animals’ puppy-dog eyes might guilt you into playing anyway.

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11. Edna & Harvey: The Breakout

“You play as Edna, a mental patient who finds herself in a rubber room with no memory of how she got there. With the help of your stuffed animal Harvey, you have to solve tricky environmental puzzles to escape.” – August 23, 2012

Our score: 4 out of 4

Our bottom line: Edna & Harvey: The Breakout will suck you in to a world of mystery and talking rabbits.

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10. Splice: Tree of Life

“Games like Osmos and Spore took us to the cellular level with microscopic puzzles and platforming. In Splice for iPad, you have to make a series of surgical cuts to move cells around so that they match a particular outline.” – August 30, 2012

Our score: 4 out of 4

Our bottom line: The Tree of Life grows on you with each mutation, and Splice is certainly a breath of fresh air.

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9. Spectromancer HD

“There are many beautifully detailed cards with fascinating effects, and a full story mode that lets you cross the land, battling fellow summoners. Warning: this game gets addictive, fast.” – September 7, 2012

Our score: 4 out of 4

Our bottom line: Spectromancer effortlessly teaches you how to become a master of all forms of magical combat.

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8. Royal Revolt!

“Royal Revolt tells the story of a young prince who returns from battlemage school to find that his aunts and uncles have taken over his father’s kingdom. As the rightful heir, you gather an army and set out to reconquer the land.” – October 5, 2012

Our score: 4 out of 4

Our bottom line: Royal Revolt is a prince among reverse tower defense games.

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7. Word Wonders: Tower of Babel

“If you combined two Must Have puzzle games, Scrabble and Puzzle Quest 2, you’d have something like Word Wonders. In this game, you have to climb the Tower of Babel by battling creatures and bandits with letter tiles.” – November 8, 2012

Our score: 4 out of 4

Our bottom line: Word Wonders is an impressive, well put-together mixture of RPG mechanics and word puzzles that should resonate well with audiences looking for a new casual adventure.

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6. Dream of Pixels

“As clouds roll by, you have to cut out tetrominos to clear lines and earn points. The use of negative space might be confusing at first, but soon you’ll get caught up in the peaceful atmosphere.” – November 15, 2012

Our score: 4 out of 4

Our bottom line: Dream of Pixels is a clever reverse of a classic game.

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5. Bank Rush

“Bank Rush is yet another flying game where you launch your character and then bounce and soar your way to freedom. What sets this game apart is its amusing art style and backstory: You play as a bank robber who is trying to bust out of jail.” – September 28, 2012

Our score: 4 out of 4

Our bottom line: Bank Rush is an incredible value– hours of delightful entertainment and flying-game fun, all for free.

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4. Organ Trail: Director’s Cut

“In this dark and hilarious spoof of The Oregon Trail, you have to lead a band of end-of-the-world survivors westward while avoiding herds of zombies.” – August 16, 2012

Our score: 4 out of 4

Our bottom line: The Organ Trail is an education in survival that will take more than just a quick trigger finger.

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3. Blast-A-Way

“Blast-A-Way is the latest game from Labyrinth 2 and Touchgrind BMX developers Illusion Labs.. The graphics are simple, but sharp, and the potential for complex puzzles grows as you make your way through the game.” – August 30, 2012

Our score: 4 out of 4

Our bottom line: If you’ve been looking for a game that will impress your friends, look no further. Blast-A-Way is a fun, casual game that looks fantastic.

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2. ARC Squadron

“There are plenty of space shooters on the App Store, but few of them look quite as pretty as ARC Squadron. In this Star Fox-style game, you pilot a one-man fighter craft in the middle of a galactic war.” – November 2, 2012

Our score: 4 out of 4

Our bottom line: There are no two ways about this. Everyone needs to play Arc Squadron, and they need to play it now.

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1. Devil’s Attorney

“Unlike Phoenix Wright, attorney Max McMann doesn’t care about whether his client is really innocent or guilty. His huge ego means he has to win every case using the dirtiest means necessary, like intimidating witnesses or tampering with evidence.” – October 11, 2012

Our score: 4 out of 4

Our bottom line: Devil’s Attorney is a hilarious spoof of courtroom dramas, with a roguish hero who wins every case by being unscrupulous.

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