2011 was a banner year for iOS games. The App Store finally hit 500,000 apps, most of which are games, and at Slide To Play we sorted through the new releases every day to find the best mobile games for your money or time. This article is the first of a five-part series, with one installment every day this week, counting down to our editors’ pick for the 2011 iOS Game of the Year.
#50: Temple Run
In 2011, independent developers Imangi Studios had their biggest hit yet: The endless running game Temple Run. A cross between Canabalt and Raiders of the Lost Ark, in Temple Run you have to make split-second decisions and quick button presses to try to survive. The combinations of simple swipes and tilt controls, plus Temple Run’s freemium pricing and stylish 3D graphics, made it one of the year’s best high-score survival games.
Our Bottom Line: Now is your chance to be Indiana Jones.
#49: Tapper World Tour
After nearly 30 years, the Tapper license awoke from a drunken stupor to revel in the App Store. Tapper World Tour is a remake of the 1983 arcade original, where you slide drinks across a bar to slate patrons’ thirst. The new version adds incredible character designs and environments, plus extra minigames and gameplay twists, like specialty cocktails, as a chaser.
Our Bottom Line: With a fresh coat of paint and new touch controls, Tapper is ready for another round in World Tour.
#48: Crimson: Steam Pirates
Playing Crimson: Steam Pirates is like cracking open a classic adventure novel and getting lost in a tale of swashbuckling on the high seas. While the story is pure pulp, the gameplay is more like chess. You plan out how your fleet of ships is going to get to your objective, and watch as it plays out. Lots of love was put into this game, which should come as no surprise, because it’s made by Bungie, the company responsible for Halo.
Our Bottom Line: Crimson: Steam Pirates is like a good book and a game of chess rolled into one Must Have download.
#47: The Adventures of Tintin
Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg’s animated tribute to the journalist/detective Tintin is still in theaters, but Gameloft’s movie version offers hours of entertainment, too. Like they did with Avatar a few years ago, Gameloft’s companion game for Tintin extends the movie’s story, with tons of interactive elements like rapidly changing minigames and hunts for hidden puzzle pieces and coins. If you loved the movie, buy this game.
Our Bottom Line: Tintin provides a mesmerizing journey spanning many environments, with enough variety and humor to keep you engaged for hours.
#46: Edge Extended
As the title suggests, Edge Extended is a game full of corners. You control a cube through a series of boxy mazes suspended over a black void. Your goal is to get to the end as quickly as possible without falling into oblivion, while picking up the scattered prisms for extra points. The game is surprisingly stylish, with flashes of color and thumping techno music creating an appealing backdrop. Even if you played the original game, you don’t want to miss this Extended edition.
Our Bottom Line: The most fun you’ll have with a square.
#45: iStunt 2
In iStunt 2, you control a suicidal snowboarder dead-set on tackling the most insane obstacle courses imaginable. Each level sends you through huge loops and over wild jumps, and all it asks of you is to make sure your extreme sportsman lands board-side down. As you progress, this becomes more and more of a challenge, because soon the game starts flipping gravity on you, boosting your speed, and tossing giant saw blades in your way. It’s a wild ride that’s well worth taking.
Our Bottom Line: iStunt 2 feels less like a snowboarding game and more like a face-melting interactive roller coaster. That’s not a bad thing.
#44: Coin Drop!
Years ago, Popcap’s Peggle blew the lid off of physics-based action-puzzle games, and Coin Drop! is its spiritual successor. Instead of shooting balls into a grid, you have to drop them, but you can also shake the device to tilt the playing field in your favor. The 1-3 star scoring system, vibrant graphics, and bonus objectives like rescuing girl coins and destroying blocks mean that Coin Drop offers a whole lot of challenging fun for a low price.
Our Bottom Line: Coin Drop is a gorgeous game that’s a perfect fit on the iPhone.
#43: League of Evil
If you grew up playing old-school titles like Mega Man and Bionic Commando, the retro-style League of Evil is right up your alley. In it, you control an 8-bit cyborg who must navigate treacherous levels full of spikes, swinging hammers, lasers, and enemies, in a quest to kill the evil scientist waiting at the end. And if you want to try it before you buy it, check out the flash version online.
Our Bottom Line: League of Evil proves that challenging bite-sized levels are where platforming is at its best.
#42: Poker Pals
Last year we included Sword and Poker 2 on our Top 50, and this year another mind-bending poker puzzle game made the list. Chillingo’s Poker Pals is a combination of Scrabble and poker, as you lay down hands of five cards that you share on the board with your opponent. That ace of spades you just played might give your opponent a royal flush, making every round unpredictable. The best part? You can play against your pals online.
Our Bottom Line: Poker Pals is the next great multiplayer game for iPhone.
#41: Hot Spring Story
Kairosoft, the developer of Game Dev Story, has already secured its place as one of the top makers of strategy/sim games on iOS. Hot Springs Story showcases some of their best work yet, by handing you the reins of a day spa and asking you to make a financial killing. From the lovingly detailed pixel art to the surprisingly deep strategy mechanics, Hot Springs Story is a wonderful addition to Kairosoft’s library.
Our Bottom Line: Hot Springs Story is the follow-up to Game Dev Story that fans have been clamoring for.