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The Best of iOS in 2012

A ‘best of 2012’ bit for the iOS. No reductive ports, disruptive IAPs, or throwaway endless running titles. Only the well-designed games make the list. In no particular order but feel free to read them as ordered if that improves things. Here’s our list of titles that defined Apple’s portable last year.

Super Ox Wars

Super Ox Wars is a psychedelic retro throwback with modern polarity systems and yammering bovine. The concept comes from Amazonian folklore and tribal rituals where people pledge support to their chosen ox. Because that’s a good enough excuse for Jeff Minter to make a shmup about oxen. The systems are basic and enemy patterns favor approachable arcade design over bullet hell, but it’s well-suited to the platform. Super Ox Wars is pure old-school fun.

Total War Battles

It’s a nice surprise that Total War Battles works at all. In the best case scenario, this should’ve been a disappointing offshoot that failed to capture the franchise’s signature knack for grand scale. Instead it’s a crafty portable thing that’s designed for the platform. By assigning combat into lanes and only allowing forward progress, Total War Battles circumvents the platform problem and is surprisingly worthwhile.

Beat Sneak Bandit

Beat Sneak Bandit’s completely original and fresh. It’s a rhythm title that requires actual rhythm over visual cues. It’s one of the year’s most memorable releases and is an inspiring thing for iOS devs. Even in the App Store, it’s possible for a soulful, innovative thing like Beat Sneak Bandit to get noticed in-between the monetization schemes and nonsense.

Plague Inc.

Plague Inc. is one of the year’s finer guilty pleasures. It’s good fun rerouting the virus across continents and adapting to the human struggle while nefariously doubling-down on Dysentery and Insanity Symptoms. It’s an interesting counterpoint to the typical videogame scenario and while not entirely unique, Plague Inc. is amusingly designed and worth giving a few runs through.

Le Havre

Le Havre is the antithesis of the modern videogame. It’s heavy as they come and so ploddingly paced, with a several hour learning curve, and a rough-around-the-edges straight adaptation of the boardgame. It’s also special and the more time invested, the more it rewards with depth. Le Havre also features async. play, making the lengthy as hell matches feasible to complete.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Ghost Trick nails all of the quantifiable parts of a quality adventure game. From the eclectic characters, experimental narrative and mechanics to the unique animations, Ghost Trick is what people mean when they say we want new things and ideas. It’s without question the strongest adventure game designed around a portable and stays good on iOS.

Super Hexagon

Super Hexagon’s the new minimalism. While ordinary on the surface, it simply needs to be played. There is nothing else as intense on iOS. It’s a damn impressive game that does so much with so little.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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