Man, what a big day it was on Monday for Apple, what with the 2019 Apple Design Awards being handed out and all. Okay, so there was actually some other news to start off WWDC, including PS4 and Xbox One controller support for iOS games and a look at Minecraft Earth that seemed to dominate headlines and social media. That’s somewhat understandable in retrospect.
However, the 2019 Apple Design Awards were indeed given out, honoring a total of nine iOS apps and games that stood out for bringing enough innovation to stand out in an almost literal sea of new apps released over the past year. In addition to a trophy, one can only hope that each winner receives their own custom hype video with voice over by Jony Ive, because that would be the real prize.
In any case, since Touch Arcade is about the games, let’s give some props to the five recognized among this year’s winners.
A very cool one-finger flinger where you play as “a new life form taking its first leaps into a strange and hazardous world," Ordia ($3.99) only released in May but has already garnered praise with a perfect 100 score on Metacritic. Granted, that’s on the basis of just one review as I type this, but it really does have that combination of simple mechanics and unique vibe that is so rewarding when it comes along.
The Gardens Between
Messing with time as the core of a game can sometimes yield some very nice results, which is the case for The Gardens Between ($4.99). Our own Lindsay Mayhew was taken by its story of two childhood friends, intuitive controls and suitability for playing in bite-sized chunks if desired. It also was released fairly close to the awards, so maybe that was an aid in winning? I kid, I kid.
Asphalt 9: Legends
Look, Gameloft could really just rest on its laurels with this series by now, but Asphalt 9: Legends (Free) mashes the gas instead and serves up ridiculously gorgeous graphics and honest to goodness multiplayer racing. It’s also more accessible for beginners than ever before, which is no easy feat.
It can’t be easy to come up with new wrinkles to throw at people in puzzle games at this point, but ELOH ($2.99) does it by using sound to guide you. It’s challenging but not frenzied, to the point where it’s actually relaxing to play, according to our 5-star review.
Thumper: Pocket Edition
On the other hand, if you’d rather get your pulse racing instead of chill out, Thumper: Pocket Edition ($4.99) isn’t a bad way to do it. With an art style that can politely be described as one of the ’70s rock posters your uncle has on the wall of his garage come to life, this game definitely has its own thing going on, plus it coined the genre “rhythm violence" and probably deserves a trophy just for that.