Welcome to the 2012 awards, in which I look back through all the Arcadelife reviews for 2012 and realise that sometimes, ok quite a lot of the time, the scores I have initially awarded have been a bit wacky. That’s a little bit of a disclaimer, in case anyone can be bothered comparing the games that win awards here with their original review scores. I’ll tell you now, there are some inconsistencies!
I’ll just be doing Winner and one runner up in each group, unless I feel like mentioning more games in any category, but that’s up to me. I’m also not dividing up iPhone and iPad games but I might mention if a game is not universal. If you don’t want to read all the other categories, the GOTY award is the last one.
First up, a category I like to call Best Arcade / High Score Game. Essentially, this does not include pure shooters because they have their own category. The games have to be arcade style with either lives/health or a pure scoring objective and no silly star ratings or infinite lives.
Best Arcade / High Score Game
Winner: Toxic Frog
Arcadelife review quote: “Toxic Frog goes beyond just being a great iOS arcade style high-scoring game by totally recapturing the feel of playing an early 80s arcade game.”
I haven’t checked recently, but I’m probably still #1 on the leaderboard. Not because I’m a brilliant player (although I am, of course) but because hardly anyone else has ever played this great game. Sort it out.
Runner Up: infinite
Next, let’s do Best Casual Game. Your opinion of what constitutes a casual game may be different from mine, but I am fairly sure these two fit into the category.
Best Casual Game
Winner: Skylanders Cloud Patrol
This game was just so much fun and incredibly addictive, even for an old fossil like me with no previous exposure to Skylanders.
Runner Up: SpongeBob’s Super Bouncy Fun Time
I loved this game, as did my son, who was 4 at the time we were playing this. Just a huge shame it has never been on the UK app store.
Here’s another popular genre: Tower Defence. So this award is unsurprisingly…
Best Tower Defence Game
Winner: iBomber Defense Pacific
Although Kingdom Rush (runner up) is a great example of TD, I remember enjoying iBomber Pacific Defense just a tiny bit more because of the WW2 theme, weapons and memorable maps.
Runner Up: Kingdom Rush HD
This next category is packed with great games, but only two get awards I’m afraid… It’s time for Best Shoot-em-up Game. This was such a hard one to call; Jeff Minter could have ended up with both awards but I flipped a coin – ok, I didn’t, but it was that close – and this is what happened:
Best Shoot-em-up Game
More of a remake than a pure iOS original, and showing some remarkable restraint from Jeff Minter (not a lot of mooing animals or Manic Miner graphics), Gridrunner is everything that’s good about playing a hectic shooter on a touch screen.
Runner Up: Dariusburst -sp-
Others that you may want to seriously consider include Blazing Star, Metal Slug 3, Caverns of Minos, Super Ox wars and the really rather excellent Raiden Legacy. As I said, it was a really tough one to call.
Oh, and here’s another category that took me a while to figure out. Yes, it’s Best Platform Game. If anything, this category will be the most controversial one.
Best Platform Game
I’ll talk more about this one later. That’s a clue.
Runner Up: Wimp: Who Stole My Pants?
Extra Special Mention: NinjaBoy
I had to mention NinjaBoy here because I thought it was just such an excellent game. The reason it hasn’t done anywhere near as well as it should have done is the tilt control method which seems to put people off almost the instant they hear about it. There is nothing wrong with the tilt control method in NinjaBoy, although I find the game easier to play for long periods on the iPod/iPhone than on my iPad. That’s just a device size issue.
Next, Best Strategy Game. Once again, loads of contenders but only two awards.
Best Strategy Game
Winner: Eufloria HD
I swear I won’t use the word “polished” in 2013. Honest. Now, what was I going to say about this one?
Runner Up: Hunters 2
This next category is more important than you may realise. This one is called My 5 Year Old Son’s Favourite Game. This one was actually very easy to sort out; I just asked him what his favourite game was. Then he changed his mind so I got both of them.
My 5 Year Old Son’s Favourite Game
Winner: Random Heroes
It doesn’t matter what I think of this game, my son loves it. What this means is that I’ve spent hours killing the second boss over and over again (while my son is asleep) so that we can unlock all the guns and costumes. And they keep updating the game with more guns and costumes… Aargh! Make it stop!
Runner Up: Offroad Legends
Loads of great, mediocre and fairly crappy games have been ported, emulated or otherwise transferred from various platforms to iOS. I like to call this category Best Port / Retro Game. And, because the shoot-em-ups had their own category, they missed out on the awards here. Sorry!
Best Port / Retro Game
Winner: The Lords of Midnight
There are just so many reasons why I think this is the best ported game of 2012. The updated, yet almost perfectly reproduced graphics; the excellent touch controls; the deceptively deep gameplay and the surprising mix of emotions every new dawn when you find out which of your heroes managed to make it through the night.
Runner Up: Carmageddon
Hilarious game. I play it way too much on my iPad and even quite a bit on my 4th gen Touch. It would have won easily if TLoM hadn’t shown up.
Next, and I’ll try to keep this short – Best Auto Runner Game. I was going to call it Best Endless Runner, but some of the ones I like aren’t technically endless.
Best Auto Runner Game
Winner: Nosferatu -Run from the Sun
In the end, it came down to this – which one do I keep going back to? Which one keeps getting updates and seasonal specials? Which one is always fun? And, yeah, it’s this one. For me, anyway.
Runner Up: Punch Quest
I had a few other categories I wanted to include, such as Prettiest Game (nominees including Lili, Ravensword 2, Sky Gamblers Air Supremacy) and Most Bizarre Game, with gems like Box Cat, but I’ve run out of time. Best Puzzle Game is Incoboto, but I didn’t have a runner up for that category.
So, this is it, Arcadelife’s Best iOS Game 2012
In this category, there can be only one. There is no runner up, just a whole bunch of losers. My favourite game from 2012 turned out to be:
Best iOS Game 2012
Swordigo just gets pretty much everything right. It’s a big world of platforms, chasms, puzzles, secrets and some infuriatingly hard boss fights. It’s one of the few iOS games I completed in 2012, keeping me hopelessly hooked all the way through. The controls are splendid. The platforming is old school, very 16 bit console era, with no speedruns or star ratings for beating dozens of tiny sub-15 second levels. It’s a proper game and it is very hard in places. After completing every achievement I went back and started again, just to see if I could do it all more efficiently a second time. Swordigo is full of memorable moments and the admittedly clichéd sword & sorcery plot is instantly both familiar and intriguing. For me, this one is the best of 2012. If they do a sequel next year, I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Thanks to everyone who has submitted games for review in 2012 – I know I haven’t reviewed them all and I apologise for that.
Good luck to all of you next year and a rather huge SPECIAL THANKS to everyone who has visited this site. Keep coming back! You never know, there might be something worth reading here one day.