And here’s where it all comes together, folks. Everyone who watches the Oscars expects a Best Picture at the end, so we’d better follow suit and celebrate 2011 with a bang!
When literally thousands of developers flock to a platform as open as iOS, it’s only a matter of time before every genre and sub-genre become so fully populated that it’s nigh impossible to offer a fresh experience. There are two ways of standing out to general audiences in such an industry: either do something completely unheard of, or offer the best darn example of the genre that players on the target platform have ever seen. Bane Games took the latter route with Battle Group. Sean knew they had accomplished something really special when their rail shooter got him – a self-described RPG fanatic – irrecoverably hooked! Battle Group’s appeal rests in how all the game’s elements come together: the battles are wonderfully frenetic; the interface is perfectly accessible to a wide range of gamers; the ancillary story and achievements system frame its missions perfectly. It’s easy to imagine someone from just about any gaming background slipping right into Battle Group if they give it a try, and that, to us, is the defining mark of a five-star title.
You’d think shooters of any variety might have worn out their welcome on multiple systems including iOS by now, but not so according to iFanzine editor Ruan Shiels: he found Shadowgun’s cover-seeking enemies and huge boss battles decisively fresh in a genre dominated by brain-dead undead. Breaking up the intense shootouts with the occasional minigame doesn’t hurt either — it’s a design technique that worked just as well for Madfinger in 2010’s Samurai II: Vengeance.
“The best action puzzler since the dawn of time” is how Sean described this August surprise. We’ve seen many physics/action/puzzle/platformers in our day, but Contre Jour reigns supreme as the deepest, smoothest, and whatever other superlative you could think of to describe it. Even if you swear you’d never go near a game that’s vaguely “casual,” you owe it to your brain and your inner art appreciator to check this one out.
Is it a JRPG? A Turn-Based Strategy game? A flick physics puzzler? Describing The Game Bakers’ sterling debut as any one of those fails to capture just how unique and varied the player’s experience is in this one. By grabbing elements from multiple genres and wrapping them all in a wonderfully organic interface, Squids avoids the pitfalls commonly associated with any of the above and floats to the top of this year’s pack of great genre mashups.
How many times has the average iOS gamer set up towers along a winding path in hopes of making mincemeat out of anything unwitting enough to waltz through? Probably too many to count. The developers of Anomaly: Warzone Earth literally turned the tables on Tower Defense fans this year, making them thread their way through the very deathtraps they’ve been setting up all this time. Its success will no doubt spark a craze of Reverse Tower Defense games, but Anomaly pulled it off so well that anyone who follows suit will have a very tough time measuring up.
No sooner did 2011 begin than we were blown away by a gun-toting ant and his creepy crawly friends in this slick Castle Defense/Action RPG hybrid. Managing a fortress-like food stash in addition to the heroes’ stats only doubled the fun for depth-seeking action fans, and established Foursaken Media as a force to be reckoned with on the App Store.