Here it is: Our Top 10 games of 2011. It’s been an amazing year for mobile games and technology, and these 10 games represent what we think are the most fun you can have on an iPhone or iPad in 2011. Tell us your year-end favorites in the comments section, and get ready for a spectacular 2012!
#10: Mage Gauntlet
Mage Gauntlet is Rocketcat Games’ most ambitious title yet, and all that effort paid off magnificently. Infused with the developer’s delightful humor and pixel-perfect 16-bit art, Mage Gauntlet gives you a satisfying array of attacks and puts you up against hordes of enemies. Before long you’ll be performing a dance of death, slaughtering baddies with every step as you make your way through the levels. The game has tons of content and lots of replay value, making it one of the year’s best for anyone with an iOS device.
Our Bottom Line: If you fondly remember the days of 16-bit action RPGs, then it doesn’t get much better than Mage Gauntlet. In fact, gaming doesn’t get much better.
#9: Spy Mouse
Firemint’s cartoonish sneaking game Spy Mouse is so full of content that it could easily be released for another system for $40 and no one would complain. You play as a hungry mouse who wants nothing more than to grab a cheese dinner without being caught by patrolling cats. The controls are intuitive, the levels are varied, and the boss battles are epic. Best of all, the game appeals to players of all ages, so everyone in your family can enjoy it.
Our Bottom Line: Spy Mouse offers just about everything we look for in an iOS game.
#8: Tiny Tower
In a year full of freemium iOS games, only a handful broke new ground. Tiny Tower, a sim game from Pocket Frogs developer NimbleBit, was easily the best. One look at this tiny, pixel-art world of coffee shops, restaurants, and Mapple Stores, and we were hooked. Tiny Tower has added even more gameplay features since it launched, making it the most addictive social sandbox since FarmVille.
Our Bottom Line: Tiny Tower represents the next great chapter in freemium games. Call it Farmville 2.0.
#7: Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP
A perfect storm of indie art cred led three Toronto-based artists (game developers Capy Games, musician Jim Guthrie, and digital artist Superbrothers) to create this iOS masterpiece. Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP is the haunting adventure of a warrior known as the Scythian, who uncovers an ancient book called the Megatome. Even though it’s a short game, Sworcery is memorable for its fantastic art style and minimalist presentation. We’re hoping this is more than just a one-off project, because we can’t wait to revisit the world of Sworcery.
Our Bottom Line: Sword and Sworcery has some of the most amazing visuals and music of any iPad game, but the gameplay leaves something to be desired.
#6: Tiny Wings
One of the year’s most successful new games was bird-based, but it wasn’t Angry Birds or one of its many spin-offs. Tiny Wings, a timing-based flying game, inspired scores of imitators due to its simple (but instantly understandable) controls. By pressing on the screen, you could send your bird diving into wave-like hills, soaring through the levels if you got into the right groove. But Tiny Wings’ real lasting legacy might be the achievements that unlock score multiplies– a feature we’ve seen in dozens of games since.
Our Bottom Line: Tiny Wings is brilliant in its simplicity, originality, and ability to keep you coming back again and again.
We’re big fans of cover-based shooters, but until Epoch hit the App Store, no truly great ones had come out on iOS. Epoch takes the idea of the cover-based shooter and re-engineers it to work on a touchscreen. The result is an intense, acrobatic, reflex-testing game that’s almost as fun to watch as it is to play. But what gives the game legs is the deep leveling and inventory system you can play with between levels. It doesn’t hurt that the game is eye-poppingly gorgeous, either.
Our Bottom Line: A terrific and amazing-looking action game with perfect slide-based controls and exceptional action.
#4: Where’s My Water?
Last year, our favorite physics puzzler was Cut The Rope, but Where’s My Water? is just as fun. In this game, you have to connect the alligator Swampy with a supply of clean water so he can take a bath. By dragging your finger on the screen, you can dig trenches for the water to flow through. Start adding explosive and corrosive chemicals, switches, platforms, and steam, and you’ve got an endless amount of potential puzzles. We can’t wait to see what Swampy’s planning for next year.
Our Bottom Line: Where’s My Water? is a highly polished and appealing physics puzzler that nearly everyone can enjoy.
#3: Dead Space
We didn’t know what to expect when EA announced they were bringing the popular horror franchise Dead Space to iOS. What they delivered was a dark, beautiful, and truly scary shooter that lived up to the game’s console counterparts. Dead Space has everything we look for in a serious shooter, with an incredible atmosphere of darkness and psychological terror layered on top of it. You can’t go wrong with Dead Space. Just be sure to play it in the dark.
Our Bottom Line: Dead Space for iOS is just about everything we’d hoped it would be: action-packed, scary, challenging, and a total blast.
#2: Grand Theft Auto 3
Rockstar’s iOS port of the 2001 open-world crime game Grand Theft Auto 3 is so good, we considered giving them Game of the Year honors once again (last year, they won it for GTA: Chinatown Wars). It’s hard to match carjacking and rampaging in Liberty City, and all of a sudden, Gameloft’s Gangstar series won’t cut it. While GTA 3 is still a blast, and it looks great on the latest iOS hardware, we’ve played it all before, which is why it took the runner-up spot this year.
Our Bottom Line: Grand Theft Auto III on iPhone is an incredible achievement; it’s a game every serious gamer should play.
#1: Infinity Blade 2
Like other iOS gamers, we were expecting big things from Chair with Infinity Blade II. Not only did they meet our expectations, but they exceeded them in almost every way by releasing one of the biggest, best-looking, deepest gaming experiences we’ve seen on iOS yet. The environments are more expansive, the fighting has been refined to near perfection, and the graphics look better than anything else on the platform. If you only buy one iOS game this year, make it Infinity Blade II.
Our Bottom Line: Infinity Blade II takes everything that was great about the first game and turns it up a notch.
You can read the first part of our 50 Best iOS Games of 2011 series here.
Read the second part of our series here.
Read the third part of our series here.
Read the fourth part of our series here.