Posts Tagged ‘GOTY’


Best iOS games 2014

December 29, 2014

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

battleheart legacy pic 1224

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

goblin sword pic 1614

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

toxic frog 2 pic 1834

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

traps n gemstones pic 1394
space expedition pic_1659

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

monument valley pic 2493

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

AS SOS title

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

doug dug pic_3468

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

r-type-ii pic 0860

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:

inferno 2 pic 3404

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:

Leo’s Fortune
Skyforce 2014
Candy Crush Soda Saga
Valiant Hearts

That’s it from Arcadelife for 2014 – See you next year if I’m not too busy writing novels.


Arcadelife iOS Game of the Year 2012

December 31, 2012

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

toxic frog - icon

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

skylanders - title

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

ibomber defense - title

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

Winner: Gridrunner

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

Winner: Swordigo

swordigo - title

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

eufloria - title

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

random heroes - title

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

lom title

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

nosferatu - title

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

Winner: Swordigo

swordigo - young one

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. 


Arcadelife Game of the Year 2011

January 1, 2012

Here’s my list. I’ve restricted myself to games that were reviewed or written about by Arcadelife in 2011, so there may be some rather obvious omissions.
Links to related websites or iTunes are included where applicable.

Game of the Year:
Skyrim (PC)

Reason – I’ve played it more than any other game this year and I’m still having a lot of fun with it after 100+ hours.

Order & Chaos Online (iOS / Universal)
Where’s My Water? (iOS / Universal)
Air Supply – 1bit Run (iPod/iPhone)
1-bit Ninja (iPod/iPhone)
Emberwind HD (iPad)

iPad Game of the Year:
Order & Chaos Online (iOS/Universal)

Reason – Despite the flaws, annoyances and the fact that I (and many others) eventually just gave up due to boredom at the level cap, while it lasted this was a load of fun and a significant example of what could be achieved with a massively multiplayer game on a mobile device. I’ve put it in as my iPad game of the year because I hardly played it on my iPod, apart from checking the auction house while in the gym cafe.

Army of Darkness Defense HD (iPad)
Anomaly Warzone Earth HD (iOS / Universal)
Emberwind HD (iPad)
Jetpack Joyride (iOS/Universal)

iPod/iPhone Game of the Year:
1-bit Ninja (iPod/iPhone)

Reason – It elicited a range of emotional responses! It’s a fantastic platform game; very hard, very unforgiving. Levels need to be replayed over and over in order to successfully complete them. The controls are very good. The Gameboy style graphics (with the surprising use of 3D) are simple and perfect for this type of game. I have memories of specific jumps on particular levels that will haunt me for a long time.

Where’s My Water? (iOS / Universal)
Air Supply – 1bit Run (iPod/iPhone)
Goat Up (iOS / Universal)
Tiny Wings (iPod/iPhone)

iOS “Endless Runner” style Game of the Year:
Jetpack Joyride (iOS/Universal)

Air Supply – 1bit Run (iPod/iPhone)
Lame Castle HD (iOS/Universal)
Spooky Hoofs (iPod/iPhone)

iOS Retro/Shooter Game of the Year:
Minotron 2112 (iOS/Universal)

Forget-Me-Not (iOS/Universal)
Coverfire HD (iPad)
Retro Dust HD (iPad)
Space Junk (iOS/Universal)

iOS Puzzle Game of the Year:
Where’s My Water? (iOS / Universal)

Games that should have won something but didn’t:

Tiny Wings (iPod/iPhone)
Battleheart (iOS/Universal)
Mage Gauntlet (iOS/Universal)
Bike Baron (iOS/Universal)

Special mention for one of the best movie tie-in games ever:
Army of Darkness Defense HD (iPad) 

See you soon for a whole new year of reviews. Look out for Arcadelife’s first anniversary on 31st January 2012!