We played a lot of fantastic games in 2011. In fact, there were so many that a Top 10 or Top 20 just wouldn’t cut it. Here’s the next-to-last installment of our Top 50 countdown to 2011’s Game of the Year. Watch for fighters, wizards, and aliens ahead!
#20: King of Fighters -i
Fighting games have fallen in popularity over the past decade, but when a game as good as King of Fighters-i comes out, it proves that they’re not dead yet. Previously, Street Fighter IV and Volt were the premier fighting games on iOS, but King of Fighters-i equals them on just about every level. The controls are terrific, the level of polish is amazing, and you can just about feel the bone-cracking attacks. This is a title that should be on every fighting fan’s device.
Our Bottom Line: The King of Fighters-i is a top-notch fighter that’s sure to please any fighting game fan.
#19: Starfront: Collision
StarFront: Collision is Gameloft’s not-so-subtle take on the real-time strategy juggernaut StarCraft, and like lots of their games, it paid off handsomely. Make no mistake, this is a fully-featured real-time strategy game, with a long single-player campaign and a deep multiplayer mode. One of the most impressive accomplishments here is that they managed to squeeze all of the controls necessary to create, maintain, and direct an entire army onto the iPhone’s screen, and make it accessible to RTS addicts and newcomers alike. Strategy fans, rejoice.
Our Bottom Line: Starfront: Collision is deep enough to appeal to hardcore RTS fans, but also approachable to newcomers.
#18: Mos Speedrun
Some games have a retro aesthetic, but Mos Speedrun has a retro soul. This 2D platformer looks like it was ripped straight out of the early ’90s, which turns out to be a very good thing. It also has some very tricky level designs, but it delivers the pitch-perfect controls necessary to master them. Each level has several goals, but as at the title implies, speedrunning is the most important. To get the speed achievements, every nanosecond counts, and level memorization is a must. Luckily, the game is fun and addictive enough to make re-playing the levels a pleasure rather than a pain.
Our Bottom Line: Mos Speedrun is a well-made platformer that encourages you to play the game in a way you probably wouldn’t otherwise.
#17: Kami Retro
Kami Retro is a candy-coated masterpiece from Gamevil that combines two great genres: action-based platformers, and thoughtful physics puzzlers. First, you have to place platforms, fans, and other objects in the environment. Then, you tap to make your little guys carefully jump and cross to the exit. With four characters onscreen at once, and a visual style that’s like a digital sugar rush, Kami Retro is one of the most intense and satisfying platformers on the App Store.
Our Bottom Line: This masterful, retro-themed gem belongs in every iOS gamer’s collection.
#16: Another World – 20th Anniversary
Even if you never played this cinematic game on old-school consoles and computers, now you can buy the ultimate edition on the App Store. Another World – 20th Anniversary offers cleaned-up graphics, but retains the original game’s groundbreaking animation and storytelling. Throughout this adventure, you’ll cause a flood, pilot a battle tank, and disintegrate more than a few hostile life forms. Another World is a memorable sci-fi game that’s still a classic.
Our Bottom Line: After 20 years, Another World still shines as a singular and creative action-adventure game.
#15: NBA Jam by EA Sports
EA Sports was on fire when they released a new iOS version of NBA Jam this year. The iPhone version is fast and fun to play, with accessible arcade controls and goofy, big-headed NBA players. We had a blast running up the scoreboard with outrageous dunks and knocking down opponents who got in our face. If we had to pick our iOS sports game of the year, this would be it.
Our Bottom Line: NBA Jam is an arcade classic that’s fully updated for the iPhone– except for the lack of multiplayer.
#14: Order and Chaos Online
Not many developers are capable of creating an MMO of the magnitude of Order & Chaos Online. Gameloft is the only one to have actually done it, and it turned out even better than we’d hoped. A World of Warcraft clone through and through, Order & Chaos Online is a huge game, with a wide range of environments, quests, and abilities. Considering its scope and execution, it’s also an incredible achievement– one that any MMO fan ought to try.
Our Bottom Line: Order & Chaos Online sets a new bar for Gameloft. It is hands down the best MMO on the platform and will be hard to top, short of Blizzard entering the fray.
#13: Hanging With Friends
Asynchronous play is something we’re watching in 2012. Even if your friends aren’t online this very second, you should still be able to play a game with them back and forth. Hanging with Friends is one of the year’s most successful asynchronous multiplayer games, letting you send Hangman-style puzzles to your friends and watching them fall into a volcano if they miss too many letters. It’s charming, easy to understand, and very difficult to stop playing.
Our Bottom Line: If you like hangman and Scrabble, you’ll be down with Hanging With Friends.
#12: Sonic CD
Thanks to Sonic CD being released originally for the Sega CD, not many people played the game when it first came out. That’s a shame, because it’s one of the best Sonic titles ever made. Thankfully, this new version is everything we could ask for in an iOS port. The graphics are bright and gorgeous, the game runs with a silky smooth frame rate, and the controls are flawlessly executed. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Sonic game on any platform, Sonic CD is a Must Have.
Our Bottom Line: Sonic CD is a terrific port of a great, under-appreciated Sonic game.
#11: Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation
To date, Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation is our pick for best online first-person shooter on iOS. A shameless rip of the Call of Duty Modern Warfare series, Modern Combat 3 contains a lengthy single-player campaign, along with the most robust multiplayer we’ve seen yet. Each kill nets you points that let you level up and unlock new weapons and abilities. With a variety of maps that allow 12-person battles, the fighting is tough and rewarding in equal measure. Pick this one up to get your frag on wherever you go.
Our Bottom Line: Buy Modern Combat 3 for the multiplayer mode, not the by-the-numbers campaign.
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.