The thing that sucks about putting together a top 100 best games list is that even though it seems like a ton of games, all sorts of awesome stuff inevitably gets left out. Mobile is a totally unique platform where 100 games can be released in a single week, so doing this end of year coverage often feels like trying to fill a shot glass with a fire hose. This year I’m dedicating my list to great games that I feel like should be somewhere in our “best of" year-end coverage.
AMAZING KATAMARI DAMACY, Free - Forum Thread – This game had a truly bizarre launch, as it seemed like Bandai Namco would soft launch it somewhere, pull it, then randomly soft launch it again. This went on for months, and when you play the “final" game that was released, it makes sense why- The monetization in Amazing Katamari Damacy is super wacky, like they kept trying to tweak or add new things it and eventually were like “Screw it, release it anyway." If you disregard the abomination of freemium shenanigans (which you totally can), Amazing Katamari Damacy is a really cool game. It’s basically a behind the back runner with Katamari gameplay. Instead of rolling things up in an open world, you’re on a track of sorts, and it all works really well for one-handed play. Like every Katamari game, the feeling of progression is fantastic as you’re eventually rolling up obstacles that would’ve stopped you right in your path. I’ve grown pretty tired of the behind the back formula, but, there’s just something about building a massive katamari that successfully sucked me back in to a ridiculous extent.
Charming Runes, Free – Forum Thread – Ketchapp’s Ballz (Free) was a massive hit this year, spending loads of time glued to the top free download charts. However, as usual with the App Store, the most popular iteration of a particular game genre is typically not the best. Charming Keep did the same basic thing as Ballz, with loads more attention to detail both in regards to the presentation of the game itself to a few fun twists. If you’ve never played one of these games before (and there’s a bunch of them, particularly after Ballz hit), the basic idea is you’re throwing things at blocks with numbers on them. That’s how many time that block needs to get hit to be cleared, and doing well involves aiming your shots perfectly to bounce off as many blocks as possible. It’s a ton of fun.
Crazy Taxi Tycoon, Free - Forum Thread – I think Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire is a game that was disregarded by far too many people this year because they wanted another “real" Crazy Taxi game (like Crazy Taxi Classic (Free)) and when they heard Gazillionaire was a clicker-style idle game, they didn’t even bother with it- Or, at least, that’s the vibe I was seeing. If you did that, you missed out on a really cool clicker that actually uses the Crazy Taxi IP incredibly well. Instead of driving a single taxi, you manage a fleet of taxi drivers. Like most clickers, numbers begin to scale quickly and it doesn’t take long until you’re making billions of dollars per hour- a level of absurdity that somehow perfectly fits in to the Crazy Taxi universe. While I totally understand folks might be tired of clickers, this one was right up there with Trailer Park Boys: Greasy Money (Free) for me.
Heart of the House, $5.99 - Review – Forum Thread – It seems like with game books, all too often there’s way too much emphasis put on the “game" part, leaving the actual “book" feeling a little dull compared to non-game book novels you might read. What I loved about Heart of the House is that (again, unlike a lot of these) it had a super tight-knit cast of characters which instead allowed the author to fully flesh out those characters and the mysterious Victorian-era universe built inside of the story. Cooler yet, this particular game book was written by Nissa Campbell, who used to write for us quite a few years ago. It’s not only the best game book I read this year, but it’s also super cool to see TouchArcade alumni continue doing such great things.
Lode Runner 1, Free - Forum Thread – Some of my earliest memories of gaming involve playing Lode Runner, which was originally released on the same year I was born. Gameplay is super simple and involves collecting all the gold on a level while avoiding enemies and trapping them using a weird digging mechanic. I was skeptical of Lode Runner 1, as Lode Runner seems like a really weird game to remake with modern graphics, but it’s actually super well done. Cooler yet, is once you play through the first 30 or so levels, you unlock classic Lode Runner levels which was a totally unexpected surprise. I still don’t understand why this game is completely free, but I also don’t understand why they only uploaded a Korean trailer to YouTube. Lode Runner 1 is mysterious like that. Don’t miss it.
Miss Fisher and the Deathly Maze, Free - Review – Forum Thread – We originally latched on to this game because it’s a super well done game that straddles the line between an interactive RPG-ish novel and a super lightweight roleplaying game, which seemed really unique. Somewhere in the process we discovered that it’s based on the Australian television series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries which apparently is among the biggest things ever down under. It was really cool seeing how many people (myself included) discovered the show through the game, resulting in not only a great TV show to binge on Netflix but also another fantastic game to play through from the guys at Tin Man Games. I’m not sure if it’s better to play the game first or watch the show first, but you’ll be happy with your decision whatever order you decide to do it in.
Ninja Spinki Challenges!!, Free – Forum Thread – It has been fascinating watching the evolution of .GEARS games, as while Flappy Bird took the world by storm, it felt like with each subsequent release people were less and less interested in .GEARS titles. It’s super unfortunate, because the games themselves have only gotten better with each iteration, with Ninja Spinki Challenges being the best. Like Flappy Bird, it’s a brutally difficult reaction game, but this time around there’s loads of different challenges through a number of different mini games. I almost wonder if the reason Spinki didn’t see the level of popularity we expected was because of the variety and complication in the game? Flappy Bird was a masterpiece of simplicity, comparatively. Regardless, I still play this game all the time, and it’s super easy to people to recommend as everyone knows Flappy Bird, but not everyone knows their other games.
Suck It Up, Free - Forum Thread – I’d love to see a parallel universe where this game was released with a different art style. Suck It Up (Free) is a game that plays a lot like Prettygreat’s Landsliders (Free), except I like the premise more- You’re flying around in a UFO sucking up almost everything except fire and some other things that hurt you. It’s like Landsliders meets Katamari Damacy and it’s a ton of fun. I think a lot of people might have skipped it because it looks too much like Landsliders, and if that describes you I’d definitely reconsider and give this one a go.
Super Nano Jumpers, $1.99 - Game of the Week – Forum Thread – Even though we’re almost a decade into iOS games being released, I still don’t think anyone has come up with the “best" controls for a fast-paced platformer. Super Nano Jumpers approaches the platformer genre with a set of controls that work surprisingly well. Your character automatically runs, and you jump by tapping the right side of the screen and stop moving by tapping the right. It feels weird, particularly as your character can stop while in air, but once you get over the hump of understanding how all the mechanics work everything starts to flow together really well- Allowing you to do some weirdly precise platforming with minimal input.
Tape it Up!, Free - Forum Thread – This game is unbelievably stupid, and for whatever reason, it’s probably my most-played game of 2017. You play as a roll of tape, and endlessly tape up boxes. It’s like they purposefully tried to find the most ridiculous concept for a game, then just executed on it flawlessly. Loads of other rolls of tape are included for you to unlock, including, among other things, meat tape. Gameplay is further mixed up with a fever mode that spews points and coins at you and a super difficult hell mode that you access by jumping through a portal in a box. You know, like you do. Oh, and different rolls of tape often totally re-theme the game with new music and loads of other surprises. I’ve spent entire long-haul flights playing this dumb game. I don’t know why it flew so low under the radar, but for real, download Tape It Up.
What hidden gems made your list? Let us know in the comments!