We enter the middle portion of our rundown of 2012's best games, covering numbers 20-11 of our favorite games. Have an opinion of your own? Let us know in the comments!
20. Girls Like Robots: Based on quality, Adult Swim Games probably had the best 2012 of any mobile publisher, with a succession of high-quality games with absurd premises. The silliness made it a great fit on a surface level for the publisher. The high quality of the game, which transcends its silly people-organization concept by just continuously iterating and evolving on it throughout the game, made it something special.
19. Polara: This endless runner mixes in the color-switching of classic shmup Ikaruga with endless runner gameplay. But it shines because it is never content to keep throwing the same tricks at players, as Eli Cymet explains: "Polara boasts tight and varied gameplay, and consummately constructed stages. Rather than rest on the laurels of novelty and squander the core mechanic, developer Hope This Works Games offers a new way to think about color matching in almost every level."
18. Polymer: Play the "One Polymer" mode in this unique sliding puzzle game from indie-musician-turned-developer Whitaker Trebella to see its genius: it encourages long-term strategizing and planning to make a high-scoring match, not just quick reactions like in other puzzle games. Sure, there's modes that require quick thinking as well that are plenty of fun, but the premise of One Polymer is what kept me coming back.
17. Pocket Planes: Nimblebit hates our free time. Last year's Tiny Tower was addictive. So was Pocket Planes, thanks in no small part to the fact that there was more surface strategy to employ, and the ability for players to have a say in their fate as they expand their airline's reach into a globe-traversing empire. Plus, what other game has people in frog suits flying planes? It's the only game on this list, for sure...
16. Need For Speed Most Wanted: If one game was to define how far iOS gaming came this year, EA and Criterion's racer, adapted to iOS by Firemonkeys, might be it. From being packed full of features, and looking absolutely amazing to boot, it's showing that the difference between consoles and mobile, at least on a technical level, is a rapidly-shrinking gulf. Yet despite the good looks, it is definitely a keeper for its gameplay according to Blake Grundman: "Even with the most critical of eyes, Need for Speed: Most Wanted is still easily one of the best racers on the platform to date. You would have to be crazy not to take this hot rod out for a nice long joy ride."
15. Organ Trail: Director's Cut: Often times, pixel art is used just as an art style, and not to convey an actual retro feel. Not so here. By combining the look and feel of an 80's PC Oregon Trail game, and combining its mechanics with a modern-day zombie apocalypse, the elements brilliantly wind up informing each other and forming a sublime take on a classic. Rob Rich feels the same way: "Virtually every aspect of Organ Trail: Director’s Cut oozes style and cleverness. Also pus. It’s a game that’s likely to please zombie fans as well as anyone who remembers the one without the green-skinned shamblers fondly. And it’s with no hesitation or trepidation that I suggest that everyone reading this should buy it. If they haven’t already, of course."
14. Ski Safari: There are endless runners, and then there's Ski Safari. I'll let Rob Rich explain why it made our list: "Penguins, snowmobiles, eagles, and yeti can all be used to put some real distance between the accident prone man and the avalanche. Not only are they useful, they’re also pretty funny. Watching the yeti run wildly or slide along on its stomach never gets old. The same can be said for seeing a penguin ride along on the fuzzy mythological beast." If a man and a penguin riding a yeti while outrunning an avalanche ever gets old, I will weep bitterly. An easy choice for this list.
13. Super Crate Box: It would be easy to forget that this was actually a 2012 title, since it came out in the first week of January. I don't forget sitting for hours on end, either on touchscreen or at my iCade, trying to last just a little bit longer, cursing out that disc gun, the giant walking green skulls, or the stupid fire pit at the bottom. Yet, after those countless hours, no game revealed itself to give the players the control over their fate, to be about pure skill far more than randomness, quite like this one did.
12. Fieldrunners 2: Remember 2008? That's when the first Fieldrunners came out. 2012 is like an eternity since then, but Fieldrunners is still a ton of fun. As Rob LeFebvre writes: "Fieldrunners 2 HD is a brilliant combination of action and strategy with a depth of gameplay that’s hard to ignore. I find myself thinking of solutions to particularly difficult maps while I’m driving, or showering, or making dinner for the kids." Just don't burn the food while protecting your base.
11. Mikey Shorts: The laser precision of the controls is a significant part of what made this so good: trying to shave fractions of seconds off one's time in order to beat a friend on the leaderboards could be nigh-impossible with virtual controls, nay it should be. But instead, it's about as perfect as it could be. Not bad for a first-time effort, and challenging friends to try and one up their times added a ton of value to this one. Plus, there's silly hats.