Well, you’re here reading this, so that means you didn’t die on December 21st like the rest of the world. Congratulations! So how else would we celebrate your being alive? By an iOSA3 2012 wrap-up, of course! Here we will count down my top 8 favorites for this past year in iOS gaming. Stay tuned to see who made the cut and why!
What a terrific year we’ve seen! Whether your cherished gems of 2012 were powered by some of the AppStore’s heavy-hitting developers or the unsuspecting underdog, there’s little denying that a vast array of beautiful, intuitive, and blatantly enjoyable applications have graced our iOS devices over the last 12 months. Such an accomplishment deserves a celebration! While we know each and every application cannot be acknowledged (there’s simply not enough time to mention them all), there were several that managed to stand out above the rest. The following were chosen because their developers strived to deliver a product that reached beyond a simple handheld game. These titles deliver a unique and intoxicating experience that have been matched by no others in this past year. Without further delay, 8DAG proudly presents (in descending order), our Top 8 iOS App-Aholics Anonymous picks of the year.
Honorable Mention: Order and Chaos by Gameloft wasn’t new to the AppStore this year, but their updates for 2012 are worth some credit. Aside from new PVP arenas, Order and Chaos has FINALLY converted to the free-to-play realm, making the game more accessible for all walks of life who own an iPhone. Since Gameloft frequently updates the MMO world with new content and missions, the free membership is more than worth the $6.99 price tag (or $0.99, if you catch it on sale).
The AppStore is riddled with endless runners. I’m sure there are even several that some would propose should make our Top 8 over Polara, but only a slim selection of games can keep me enthused until the end, especially when it’s kicking my arse-end and there’s more than enough alternatives in the AppStore to move on. Any endless runner that can achieve the above for me is worth some recognition. Polara is beautiful, operates smoothly, and honestly, after the first ten levels or so, it becomes more of a brain-buster as you attempt to keep your color-coordination straight with the obstacles.
The AppStore contains many copy-cat titles that are created solely to emulate more expensive console games at a mobile price. Anytime a developer can bring their own unique flare to iOS is a welcomes sight. Horn makes good use of the touchscreen by eliminating virtual joysticks and buttons in place of a smooth tap and swipe-to-steer method. This, coupled with an ambiguous, yet enticing storyline keeps you wanting to uncover the secrets at the end. I also have to give Zynga credit for stepping beyond the likes of games With Friends to deliver one of the most intuitive RPGs of 2012.
Chillingo had an exciting year on the AppStore, no doubt! One of the most incredible experiences they provided, however, was Air Mail. Why? Air Mail resides within one of the most beautiful, expansive free-roam worlds I believe Chillingo has ever built. Not only that, but the game progresses with purpose, having the main character achieve tasks and even defeat enemies without ever firing a single shot. In a market so full of intense (and necessary) upheaval, I admire Air Mail for keeping the excitement kicked up while keeping the gameplay friendly for all ages to enjoy.
Typically, iOSA3 tends to focus on the gaming realm of the AppStore, but that doesn’t mean we’re opposed to reviewing functional applications, if they serve a significant purpose in our daily lives. The official Google Maps by Google is such an app. It is the only logical alternative to Apple’s mess of a mapping application. To put it simple, Google Maps is fast, functional, intuitive, and easy to navigate (yeah, pun intended). You won’t get lost with the king of information powering this beast of an app, and it’s also integrated with other Google services, such as Google Local and Earth. Need any other motivators? Google Maps is a must-have for 2012, and it’s free!
Crescent Moon is a fun developer; so is Wraithborne. Running a beautiful graphics engine and composed of all the features that make an RPG great (virtual stick, numerous level-ups, and various spells), Wraithborne is too fun to pass up. My only complaint is that the game is incredibly too short, so much that Wraithborne feels like the start of a broader adventure, not a standalone adventure. I can only hope there’s a sequel in the works for ’13 or ’14.
App-Aholics Rating: 5/5
Wow, a debut game from an unknown developer running their own graphics engine, and the result was spectacular! Crow, in short, is encompassed by an entire ambience: the artistry is beautiful, the original soundtrack is chilling, and the monologues are poetic. These three magnificent qualities surround a time-old struggle between good, evil, and the pawn that can raise them to victory. I can only recommend you download this game now or you’ll never know the experience you’re missing.
Speaking of little-known iOS developers, none has caught my attention more than Touch Foo. Enter the best side-scrolling platformer to hit the AppStore since nothing. This is the 2D Zelda-clone RPG we’ve been waiting for and never received. The gameplay is wickedly smooth, the boss battles are epic, and the driving plot line coupled with numerous weapon and magic upgrades keep the story progressing at an exhilarating rate. I enjoyed Swordigo so much, I had no other choice but to play it all the way through two consecutive times. In fact, I firmly believed Swordigo would be the 8DAG #1 pick of the year, until the next RPG was released…
“Proper story’s supposed to start at the beginning. Ain’t so simple with this one. Now here’s a kid whose whole world got all twisted, leaving him stranded on a rock in the sky.”-Rucks-
One of the few games that have been awarded 8DAG’s elusive 5+ rating, Bastion isn’t new to the gaming arena, but its tremendous translation to the mobile world is more than worth recognition; it takes the cake!
Not many games are able to capitalize on the art of storytelling like Bastion has. Hell, not many stories know how to tell stories, yet Bastion is scripted so well that the gamer is immediately immersed before he/she even recognizes the game’s begun. Part of this can be accredited to the mesmerizing performance of voice actor, Logan Cunningham, who narrates as Rucks. The other half of this captivating experience resides in Bastion’s brisk and intoxicating pace. Much like Horn, Bastion gives you only pieces of the story as you progress, reserving enough that you will want to play more to see how the Calamity struck. The flashbacks, which revolve around a series of nearly-endless barrages of enemies, also doubles as an outlet for Rucks to divulge more of you and your friends’ pasts. The original soundtrack is memorable, especially Zia’s song (which has been stuck in my head for the last two days) and “Setting Sail, Coming Home.” There’s also more than enough weapons, upgrades, and even an alternative decision-based ending that will have you playing through the whole game at least one more time, if not more. The bottom line is that Bastion is a beautiful, whimsical, flawless piece of art that cannot benefit from any alterations. Together, Super Giant Games and Warner Bros. deliver the absolute most magnificent game on our iOS devices for 2012.
So there you have it, 8DAG’s top 8 must-haves of iOS gaming and such. Don’t like my lineup? Is there something missing that should definitely be here? Let me know! Take your cranial debris, throw it down in the box below, and we’ll see you next year! Happy downloading!