While not exactly restricting myself to games that I’ve reviewed in 2014, these are all iOS games that I have played and, most importantly, enjoyed in 2014. Categories have been assigned where they serve a purpose, otherwise you can assume that these games are great just because I say they are.
To put the list into some kind of perspective, I really like RPGs and platform games. Just in case you were wondering.
Hands-down, no argument, my absolute iOS Game of the Year 2014: Battleheart Legacy
Why? Because it’s insanely addictive, massively replayable and a huge amount of fun. It’s arguably unfinished, with a virtually non-existent story, and gameplay that devolves into a grind-fest almost immediately, but the core RPG mechanics, constant action, diverse playable characters, and hugely entertaining arena mode make it easily my favourite and most-played iOS game of the year.
UK App Store verdict: 4.5 stars from 147 ratings.
Closest second place ever and one of the best iOS platform games of all time: Goblin Sword
Why? I’ll refer you to this quote from the Arcadelife review: “Much like dating a really cute lingerie model and finding out that you not only like the same movies but that she also has a twin sister who is “up for it”, Goblin Sword is so much fun that you’re going to have to keep checking that you’re not dreaming while you play it.” It is classic platforming and an absolutely essential game for anyone with even the remotest interest in the genre. The attention to detail alone is worthy of an award. And, yes, I know that the review for this game says it’s the best iOS game I played this year, and it was, but Battleheart Legacy got the award. Sometimes life just isn’t fair.
US App Store verdict: 4.5 stars from 714 ratings.
The best game you never played. Naturally, I’m the best player in the world on it: Revenge of Toxic Frog
Why? The developer thinks I’m mad because of what I do with his games, specifically how I apply high scoring strategies that he had never imagined, to the extent that he included an achievement in this game for scoring 500,000 points – called The Arcadelife Cup. Not that anyone will ever know, because nobody else plays the game. Ok, a few people do, but that’s really not enough.
App store verdict: Not enough ratings to have one.
Best Metroidvania games of the year: Traps n’ Gemstones and Space Expedition: Classic Adventure
Why? Because they are two different examples of just how great this kind of game can be, not just on a touch screen device but on any platform. Admittedly, Space Expedition is short, but so is Monument Valley, and…
Most gorgeous and jaw-dropping puzzle game of 2014: Monument Valley
Why? Imagine if Rubik’s cube was actually fun, and had atmosphere, character, and the aesthetics of an Escher style modern art masterpiece. And more than one level. There you go. Pretty good game too, although kind of easy.
Best retro homage in a sub-retro style: Air Supply – SOS
Why? Jetpac + sheep = awesome. And you just need to play it. Seriously. Although it isn’t serious, just very good.
Best “Endless” game: Doug Dug
Why? If you’re after a game with depth… ok, yes, I know, I have been waiting weeks to write that. This game is pure gold because it does something that iOS games have been avoiding for way too long: it gives you a genuinely retro game experience where the only way you can beat your previous score is to get better at playing the game. No unlockable hats, boots, pets or coin doublers. No pay-to-win IAPs, or any ****ing kind of IAP. Just the game and your skill, or lack thereof. If you’re a high-scoring strategist, this game is for you. It also has one of the most inspired implementations of a relative touch control method I’ve ever had the good fortune to experience. I play this game a lot.
Best port of a retro shooter: R-TYPE II
Why? Ha ha ha, do you really need me to answer this? Of course, that update where they made the player ship invincible… bit of a colossal screw-up, but what can you do? Still a fantastic game and a truly wonderful iOS version.
Trippiest dual-stick shooter of the year: Inferno 2
Why? Despite having the least inspiring app store icon ever (see above), Inferno 2 manages to outdo not only its predecessor in the trippy neon graphics stakes but also delivers the kind of insane bullet-hell action that keeps you playing long after all sense of feeling has left your thumbs. Look, this is what I’m talking about:
Second opinion – I asked a friend for his list of the best games from 2014 (where they were different from mine) and this is what he came up with:
Candy Crush Soda Saga
That’s it from Arcadelife for 2014 – See you next year if I’m not too busy writing novels.