Racing games are one of the oldest genres to be digitized into video games, and they make a great fit for a mobile or handheld device. That rings especially true with iOS devices which come equipped with gyroscopes that feel incredibly natural as faux steering wheels during an intense race.

This year it went beyond that though, as traditional racing games were rethought from the ground up for an experience that can be picked up at pretty much any time when you have a few minutes to kill. Some games even take the connectivity of our devices in interesting directions by allowing us to race against friends and strangers worldwide to see who is the most proficient racer around.

Looking forward to next year, Real Racing 3 looks to take that even further with something they're calling "time-shifted" multiplayer. It's something that resembles racing a ghost time but if that ghost had an advanced AI that would react to your own decisions in real-time.

It'll be interesting to see how that shakes out, but for now let's look back at the wide variety of different kinds of racing titles that made an impact on iOS in 2012.

Need for Speed™ Most Wanted, $4.99 - [Review] - [Forum Thread] - While definitely a more streamlined, mobile-friendly version of the console game of the same name, Most Wanted brought a high-end feel in a small package. Not just a pretty face though, it also featured solid racing and some of the most exhilarating moments of any game this year.

Reckless Racing 2, $1.99 - [Review] - [Forum Thread] - The original Reckless Racing brought an over-the-top arcade racer to iOS that was tons of fun but felt rough around the edges and like it could have been more. The sequel kept the core of what made the first game great while toning down the over-the-top nature a bit and expanding it with a more fleshed-out racing experience. Reckless Racing 2 feels like a grown-up version of the original, and is one of the best top-down racers around.

Slingshot Racing, $0.99 - [Review] - [Forum Thread] - Somehow Snowbolt Interactive found a way to take all of the things that are great about playing a racing game and make it work with a simple one-touch control scheme. Searching for the best racing line and replaying tracks over and over to shave seconds off your time became an obsession for me, just like a traditional racing game, but doing it by launching a hookshot out to grapple and swing my vehicle around each corner made it one of the more unique racing experiences I've had.

Sky Gnomes, Free - [Review] - [Forum Thread] - While it sure doesn't look like a racing game, Sky Gnomes brought a fresh approach to competitive racing on mobile. A brilliant online leaderboard and tournament system meant that hopping into the game to take on the top times became a daily habit. A wide breadth of characters and specialty items added variety to the experience, and simple one-hand controls made Sky Gnomes a joy to play on a mobile device.

Mad Skills BMX, $0.99 - [Review] - [TA Plays] - [Forum Thread] - Turborilla took everything they learned from 2011's Mad Skills Motocross and applied it to the world of BMX in Mad Skills BMX. The first big improvement is an intuitive touchscreen control system that takes advantage of gestures and swipes rather than virtual buttons. With impeccably designed tracks it was a blast trying to achieve a perfect run and shave fractions of a second off your best score.

  • Der-Kleine

    While not the best thing ever I'd say this list is missing Asphalt 7.

    • objectiveC

      Asphalt 7 added nothing to the series. Most of the tracks were from asphalt 6. IMO a6 was better than a7. The ui in a7 sucked. A6 ftw

      • Der-Kleine

        Need for Speed Most Wanted didn't feel like a great improovement either, it also had worse menus than previous NFS games on iOS, the tracks essentially felt the same as in previous games (still EXTREMELY linear and booooooarrring,), yet it still made the list.

  • shurcooL

    Sorry, but this list is clearly missing Carmageddon. It's one of the most high quality ports to mobile I've ever seen, and it's a game that plays unlike anything else on mobile.

    • Tacocat

      "CLEARLY, you forgot to have an opinion that is the same as my own."

  • Gurney Halleck

    Great list Jared! Though I do agree Carmaggeddon was an excellent title deserving of a place on this list IMHO! I somehow missed the original, but love the iOS version.

    Afterthought... Though maybe it would be more appropriate in the "Ports" list heh

    • objectiveC

      Carmageddon isn't that good

  • awp69

    I'm not a huge Gameloft fanboy by any stretch, but to not include Asphalt 7 in this list is ridiculous. It had a ton of content at a bargain price and IMO is less grindy than NFS which costs $6.00 more. A7 is not only one of the best racers of the year, but one of the best games of the year

    • bjornkeizers

      Asphalt 7 is way better then NFSMW. A7 has a better variety of cars & tracks with waaaaay less grinding. It's actually fun rather then the chore that is NFS.

    • Skullinton

      I had the same reaction, but then I took a step back and realized that even if it has great content and such, the gameplay hasnt really changed since A5, while MW was actually a fresh thing...

      • Skullinton

        ...and also the lack of inovation appart the graphics (which are totally out-matched by MW).

    • Rirath

      I was surprised to see it didn't make the cut as well, but oh well. That's what user comments are for. 🙂

    • Jared Nelson

      But none of us like Asphalt. Why would we include a game we don't like on our favorites list??

    • Sanuku

      You are still free to give Asphalt 7 your Vote for the "TouchArcade Forum's Pick for 2012 Game of the Year!" in the General Game Discussion and Questions Section.

  • bradnicholson

    Here's an example of how to respond like an actual human to the actual humans behind this post re: your love of another game that isn't listed:

    "Cool list, guys. I'd throw [INSERT GAME HERE] because I liked it a lot. It's pretty good."

    • awp69

      Brad, seriously, it's not ok to disagree with someone else's opinion? Be nice to maybe treat readers with a little respect.

      • bradnicholson

        I think you're taking that comment entirely the wrong way. I don't care if people disagree. I'm just tired of people treating other people like trash in the process, full-stop.

      • Skullinton

        That is the main problem now a day, many cannot take constructive critism (sorry if i spelled it wrong) so they start talking trash about the said critic and so on...

      • Eli Hodapp

        The problem is how many people leaving comments don't seem to understand the purpose of these lists. We put them together as a way to close out the year and essentially be like, "Hey dudes, here are some of our favorite games." Sadly, the way people are reading them is more along the lines of "These are the only good games released this year and all other iOS games are trash."

        Anyway, this comes down to the classic problem with Internet comments: Differing opinions are fine, but just because you disagree with us doesn't give you license to be a total dick about it.

        (When I say "you" I mean the royal you not you specifically.)

        Some of the comments, particularly the ones that have either been filtered or deleted really makes all the effort we put into posting tons of good games during a week where there's nothing happening in the iOS world feel like a total waste of time, as we all basically worked double time last week to make this all happen.

      • Skullinton

        And we must thank you guys for the efforts. 🙂 There are many games I realized i hadn't tried and forgot about them, but with your lists (and the angry commentators comments) I get to either remember said games or find new ones, each that are probably worth the buy.

      • awp69

        Sorry if any of my comments sounded derogatory. Certainly never meant any of them that way. I know how hard you guys work. Guess I can get somewhat opinionated and just expressed my opinon on he racing category. Anyway, as you say, everyone will have their own opinion.

      • justin

        Well title the lists "some of our fave games of 012" and not"the best games of 012" , That would of been a simple solution.

      • Eli Hodapp

        Err... We call these lists best of lists for the same reason we call reviews "reviews" and not "here's what we think about a game this is just our opinion"-s. This is an opinion driven site and for anyone with a brain it should be remarkably apparent that no one on TouchArcade staff thinks our opinions are fact, are absolute, or any of the other million dumb things people completely missing the point of these articles seem to believe.

    • John Newton

      Dont let it get you down Brad.

      For every "where is XXXX" post?" , there are thousands of sane logical people who looked at the lists, thought they where cool, possibly pondered the lack of one of their personal faves of the year, but then realised, hey we are all entitled to our own opinion and therefore didnt post a derogatory comment.

    • Davide Pasca

      Cool list, guys. I'd throw FINAL FREEWAY 2R because I made it. It's pretty awesome 😉

  • rodgerodger

    Nice to see Slingshot racing. Great game that often doesn't get the recognition it deserves.

  • Michael Dunn

    Great list. Amazed and so gladdened to see slingshot racing on here. Such an original concept and well executed. I know this may not technically count as a 'racer' but 'Bike Baron' is also absolutely fantastic (if you can complete it, I tip my bonnet to you. I certainly haven't yet!). Thanks again, guys.