These are it. The cream of the crop of 2012. The best games that ought to be played. We're sure you have opinions on this – tell us in the comments below!
10. The World Ends With You: Solo Remix
: This DS role-playing game was brought to the next big touchscreen gaming system. Spoiler alert: its unique art style, soundtrack, and gameplay, re-fitted for one screen, fit well enough to let the experience still shine. It is expensive but worth it, writes Jennifer Allen
: "I’ve played many JRPGs in the past and there’s nothing quite like it. The iOS conversion is pretty good, even despite the screen restrictions, and it’s all forgiven when you’re wrapped up in the storyline so much. It’s an expensive purchase but one that will offer you dozens of hours of memorable gameplay. When you think of it like that, it really doesn’t sound so bad."
: One Man Left's long-awaited turn-based strategy game proved to well worth the long-awaiting. Move units in such a way to avoid detection or be out of the range of the enemy. Imagine their horror as they realize that their opponent has set themselves up to win no matter what they do, and hitting submit is their doom. Such is the joy of Outwitters
. Just hope that opponents don't consider the phrase "The only winning move is not to play" a valid strategy.
8. Super Hexagon
: Where Terry Cavanagh's frantic survival game is in its relentless simplicity. It's all just spinning left and right no matter what, but then it becomes about learning the patterns of the different difficulty levels, and figuring out the approach. But yet, the hardest part is the execution, and not messing up. Spinning left and right has never been so difficult, and yet so ultimately rewarding.
: Who saw Loren Brichter, most known for legendary Twitter app Tweetie
, reinventing the multiplayer word game? This stylish asynchronous multiplayer affair was compelling because the goal was so different: each player was on relatively equal footing with the same 5x5 grid, but new strategies, and competing for territory formed from words played out. Just don't cheat
6. Rayman Jungle Run
: Why was this Rayman auto-runner so good? Perhaps it was the absolutely stunning 2D animation. Perhaps it was the charming music that set the mood of the game perfectly. Perhaps it was the ingenious level design. Perhaps it was the perfectly-honed progression curve, introducing new abilities steadily throughout the game. But maybe it's the fact that all of it came together so well in one game. Oh, and the game has used few in-app purchases, a shocking development considering they were all over the place in 2012.
: There's no reason why, just looking at this game on the surface, why is should be on a top games list. It's got a pixel art style, but it's hardly polished or detailed. It has the ugliest icon on the App Store. That anyone noticed it at all is really a miracle. But those who did notice it also noticed that they had no free time left. The way that different matches can affect the board means that each move has an impact, and often an unintended one. It's just way too easy to keep coming back and giving this one another shot to try and get to the eponymous ten million points total.
4. Angry Birds Star Wars
: The franchise got a major boost in 2012. While there's only so many ways to tackle launching birds at pigs, the fact that Angry Birds Space
mixed in so many new ways to tackle this eternal conflict was refreshing. But even better was that Rovio took an opportunity with what could have easily been a licensed cash-in and made it something that not only was nostalgic and just reverent enough to the source material along with its inherent irreverent characters and theme, but made it truly a Star Wars-inspired Angry Birds game. It sounded ridiculous, and at some level, still is
ridiculous, but it rises above that.
3. Hero Academy
: While exchanging words has been a staple of turn-based multiplayer games on iOS, Hero Academy
was probably the first game that really mastered a combat-based gameplay on iOS. There was plenty of raw strategization, but there's also the poker aspect of not knowing what units your opponent has up their sleeve, exactly. Watching your team dance around after winning is extremely satisfying, after that other team's archer had taken so many with them. Dance little soldiers, dance indeed.
2. Punch Quest
: Rocketcat Games and Madgarden made a game that clearly was meant to take refuge in its audacity: the idea of an endless puncher where skeletons, bats and orcs get punched in between rounds of riding laser-firing dinosaurs and gnome transformations could easily just be ludicrous. Making it fun and addictive is another challenge: the fact that the game is so perfectly controlled with just two fingers helps. That it contains a deep customization and skill-based system helps propel return sessions, along with the ability to see friends' customizations on the leaderboard. But the fact that the game just remains so simple and fun to play at its very core makes it one of the best games of the year.
1. Walking Dead: The Game
: When compiling this list, there were many titles named as some of the best of the year by our staffers. Yet, one game kept popping up, and it was Telltale's take on the popular zombie franchise. It's easy to see why: the game presents players with ways to interact with their world, and define their character and fate in ways that other games do not. It's powerful and memorable, as Jennifer Allen explains: "I love games that offer an emotional experience which is exactly what The Walking Dead
has offered. The fact that every decision has a repercussion, whether big or small, makes it all the more fascinating. It might not be a game designed for replaying, but that sole experience from start to finish is quite gripping if upsetting at times."