Welcome to the TouchGen Awards, where we honour the best games that the AppStore offered up to us in 2009.
Around this time it’s common for game sites such as ours, to look back through the past year and highlight the best of the best games we’ve played. We have narrowed them down to the following categories and highlighted five of the best in each, and from that picked a winner and runner-up… So without further ado, here are our picks of 2009.
If you wish to checkout the game on iTunes, simply click on it’s icon
Galaxy on fire
Runner-up: Terminator Salvation
A close contest here between the godfathers of first person action ‘id’ with DOOM Resurrection, FISHLABS and their epic space battles of Galaxy on fire, and Gameloft with a tri-offering of sandbox running and gunning with Gangstar, solid Cyborg antics with movie-tie-inTerminator Salvation, and more than a touch of HALO with NOVA.
Even though they were somewhat late to the party with it’s release in December, we have to give the title to NOVA. To us, it’s the first real attempt of bringing a full console experience to the platform. Awesome graphics and sound, some of the best dual-stick style touch controls and more importantly in this category, great run-and-gun battles, action packed set pieces and boss encounters… plus unlimited action through online death-matches. It really is HALO in your pocket.
Space Invaders: Infinity Gene
Pac-Man Championship Edition
Winner: Space Invaders: Infinity Gene
Runner-up: Pac-Man Championship Edition
Another close battle between two gods of the arcades of yesteryear. Pac-Man and Space Invaders. While Namco finally got it right with their re-imagining of a classic, it was Taito that pushed it that little bit more with a unique spin on proceedings. Great retro graphics, great sound and an experience that is different on every play through. Infinity Gene is not just an evolution…. it’s a revolution!
Touch Pets Dogs
Winner: Zen Bound
Runner-up: Touch Pets Dogs
Nothing comes close to Secret Exit’s Zen Bound in the AppStore’s casual space. You can’t get more casual than wrapping rope around wooden objects. Yet it’s sheer simplicity, beautiful visuals and sound make it a fun, surprisingly addictive, and almost, hypnotic, experience.
Let ‘em Ride Pro
MotionX Poker Quest
3 Card Pro
Winner: Motion-X Poker Quest
EA’s Monopoly get’s it spot on in terms of being true to the original board game and adding great multiplayer features… but we had to give it to Poker Quest overall. Motion-X Poker is the most unique and addictive poker game on the app store. With it’s fantastic dice physics, progressive “story” mode, unlockable skins, and extreme pickup-and-playability, it’s an easy choice for casual poker players everywhere.
Call of Duty: World at war – Zombies
Modern Combat: Sandstorm
Runner-Up: DOOM classic
It speaks volumes that the grand daddy of them all, DOOM, can still kick it with the big boys, and for that it gets runner up this year for best FPS. It truly is a classic and brilliantly realized on the iPhone and iPod Touch. But the crown has to go to NOVA. A great single player campaign, coupled with top notch controls, awesome graphics and sound, pushes it ahead of the pack. The multiplayer, while not quite up to the quality of Eliminate, is still fantastic fun and the icing on the cake, and so NOVA is the most fully featured of the nominees.
Guitar Rock Tour 2
Mevo and the Groove-riders
Tap Tap Revenge 2
Winner: Beat It!
Runner-up: Guitar Rock Tour 2
Not to be confused with best Music app (including I am T-Pain, Beaterator etc…), the best music game is all about the fun! Gameloft comes a close second with Guitar Rock Tour 2, and despite Rock Band being available, Gameloft’s clone beat’s it (no pun intended!) with a stronger all-round experience. However, overall we decided to give it to a more unique offering. We are iPhone and iPod Touch gamers, after all, and we don’t have to conform to the current console norm of music games. So, Beat it, wins out for us. It’s the perfect blend of an absolutely zany art-style with clean hip-hop, dance, and rock beats. A real toe-tapper!
Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor
Runner-up: Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor
This was a tricky one with great offerings from all five nominees, but it came down to these two. While Spider oozes with great charm and an original premise, Soosiz despite it’s terrible name, pips it at the post with raw platforming goodness. Soosiz is to the iPhone what Super Mario Bros is for the NES, a must have. You get hours of quality ‘old-school’ style platforming with great production and personality… pair this with controls that your granny can understand and Soosiz comes out as king of 2009.
Need For Speed Shift
Jet Car Stunts
Winner: Real Racing
Runner-up: Need for speed: Shift
With their tilt and touch controls, the iPhone and iPod Touch are great for racing games. For most of the year Real Racing was the only real contender for the title of best racer. With a near fully featured Forza/Gran Turismo like experience, it bettered the likes of Asphalt and ATV Off-road nipping at it’s heals. Just as the year was closing up shop however, EA’s Need For Speed Shift emerged, offering a very close experience to it’s console bigger brothers. Both are worthy of a place on your home-screens. But for us Real Racing, as it’s name suggests, gives you a more realistic experience both in terms of atmosphere and car handling, not to mention a far superior multiplayer experience.
Winner: iBlast Moki
A near perfect rendition of Peggle from Popcap can’t come close to the sheer awesomeness of iBlast Moki. It’s great physics and intuitive controls that utilize the iPhone and iPod touch-screens to perfection, all combine to create a puzzle experience that is currently un-matched on the AppStore. It’s…. ahem… a BLAST!
Madden NFL 10
Baseball Superstars 2010
X2 Football/Soccer 2009
Winner: Tiger Woods
Runner-up: Madden NFL 10
Ok, now this really comes down to what sports you prefer, so obviously if you are a football fan, get Madden! If you are a soccer fan, get X2… and so on. But we have to choose a winner, and for us that title goes to Tiger Wood’s… yes he may be having a bad year personally, but his gaming franchises go from strength to strength. EA are the kings of sports games, and with their fantastic version of Tiger Wood’s on Wii, it came as no surprise that the iPhone and iPod Touch versions would follow suit. The controls are spot on and, unlike the other nominees hybrid touch and virtual analogue solutions, are a perfect fit for the touch screen.
Geo Defense Swarm
Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Robocalypse: Mobile Mayhem
Winner: Defender Chronicles
Runner-up: Geo Defense Swarm
If there’s one thing the AppStore isn’t short of, it’s Tower Defense games. On the whole we grew tired of the genre, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some absolute gems amongst all the rough. And even with great RTS offerings from EA with C&C: Red Alert, and Vogster’s solid conversion of Robocalypse on the DS, we have decided to award first and second places to the Tower Defense genre. Close second is Geo Defense Swarm, offering manic TD action with a retro style reminiscent of Geometry Wars. But first place goes to Defender Chronicles… keeping it in the fantasy realm of orcs and elves, it turns the game on it’s side with great 2D pixel work, quests and RPG-esque elements to boot.
Hybrid: Eternal Whisper
Sword of Fargoal
Runner-up: Inotia 2
The AppStore plays host to a solid selection of RPG’s now, particularly these five nominees. We’ve been scratching our heads for which of these should be crowned king, all have 4.5 star ratings in our reviews. Ravensword is a great stab at the full 3D action RPG, but compared to the other 2D games it’s short on content. Zenonia oozed Zelda like style with great weapons and gear, but overall it gets repetitive. Then you have Sword of Fargoal, a classic rogue-like for those retro RPG lovers out there. So, really we felt it boiled down to both Hybrid and Inotia 2. In the end we have given the crown to Hybrid. It’s less traditional in style, and that uniqueness shone through with great graphics and an awesome battle system for a polished, fun and exciting experience. Runner-up then goes to Inotia 2, it’s huge with lots of options and great gear, not to mention the party members who fight along side you.
Need For Speed Shift
Modern Combat: Sand Storm
Runner-up: Zen Bound
It’s not all about polygons in this category. Yes, both Real Racing and NFSS offer realistic racing environments, but for more engrossing visuals we have chosen NOVA as our winner. Great texture work, lighting effects, and large open environments such as lush jungles and snowy wastelands that pull you in – not to mention short loading times and smooth frame-rates – really push the iPhone and iPod Touch to their limits. Great stuff! Runner-up goes to Zen Bound for it’s simple, yet beautiful, 3D representations of woodblock objects. The lighting, modeling and textures ensure that they almost pop out of the screen. All nominees are a testament to the power of Apple’s devices, and we look forward to what developers can squeeze out of them in 2010.
Home Run Battle 3D (Baseball Sluggers)
Call of Duty: World at war – Zombies
Modern Combat: Sand Storm
Runner-up: COD: World at war – zombies
We think that 2010 will bring some truly great multiplayer, as well as in updates to the above nominees… but until then, these five games offer what we feel is the best of the best, yes all but one of these are FPS games…. while other genres offer great online components, the most fun we’ve had so far is through the FPS genre. Hat’s off to Com2Us and Home Run Battle 3D (previously called Baseball Sluggers) for a great jump-in online system. Kudos too for Activision’s surprising Call of Duty: World at war – Zombies, giving you the chance to buddy up with three friends locally and online in a left for dead style zombie fest. A true team based game where survival is paramount. But the winner here has to go to ngmoco’s Eliminate. Offering what we feel is the best lobby system for inviting friends or joining strangers in heated FPS battles. Connections are great, often flawless over wifi…. even over a 3G network the connections are good.
Some of you may balk at our decision to crown Gameloft the king of 2009. Sure they hardly ooze originality, but just look at the amount of high quality ‘console-like’ experiences they have given us over the past year. For racing fans there’s the Asphalt series, for sports fans there’s NFL 2010 and the Real Soccer series, offering sometimes better features than that of EA’s games. Pretty much every genre is covered: For action fans they have three of the best; Modern Combat Sandstorm, Terminator Salvation and the icing of the 2009 cake… NOVA! Platformer lovers have Earthworm Jim and Castle of Magic, muso’s have Guitar Rock Tour and DJ Mix tour; want sandbox gaming, how about Driver, Gangstar and H.A.W.X? the list goes on.
Closely nipping at it’s heels was Chillingo, yes they can be hit and miss… but they have given us some real gems with the likes of MiniGore, Zen Bound, iDracula, Circuit Strike and Ravensword to name but a few. Typically shorter experiences compared to Gameloft’s more console-a-like style.
Crescent Moon Games
This is almost like the best Director category at the oscars. And we have chosen Firemint as our winner. Unlike many developers shoveling their wares on the AppStore this year, this Australian team has only released two games, but what beauties they are. Not only did they release one for the most anticipated games of the year with Real Racing, in what looks to have been a real labour of love. But they also released the addictive Flight Control. Though a much simpler game, it has become an icon of the AppStore with not only critical acclaim, but coverage from news outlets outside the gaming community. Since it’s release it has created it’s very own genre having been cloned over and over with eager developers yearning for similar success.
Runner-up goes to Godzilab for creating one of the best Game of the year with iBlast Moki (see below to see if it is the best!). A true gem and one of the games that defines what an iPhone/iPod Touch game should be.
Special mention to young games creator Josh Rosen, for his great work on Above and Beyond: Air Combat, proving that dedication and hard work pay off.
Jet Car Stunts
Winner: Jet Car Stunts
Runner-up: Doodle Jump
Jet Car Stunts came out of nowhere. Based on the title alone you would be forgiven for missing it. but boot it up and you’ll find one of the best experiences on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Part racer, part platformer it’s fantastic controls and car handling combined with great graphics and sound grab you from the get go…. and it doesn’t let go… a real ‘just one more go’ feel ensured that players will have played this until the early hours just to complete a certain crafty level.
Runner-up goes to Doodle Jump. One of the most simple games on the AppStore, that keeps re-inventing itself through, no-doubt, the most feature updates of any other game to date.
Jet Car Stunts
Space Invaders Infinity Gene
Winner: iBlast Moki
Runner-up: Real Racing
Well here we are, the first full year in the world of iPhone and iPod Touch gaming. There are thousands upon thousands of games on the AppStore, some are forgettable, but what surprises us are the sheer amount of quality titles, and all for the fraction of the price of the bigger consoles out there.
So, what we have hear is the top five games we have played and reviewed on this site. And the winner is iBlast Moki. Out of all of our five star games, it’s pretty much the only one that the team here at TouchGen can all agree on that fully deserves the five stars. Not only that, but out of the nominees it’s the one game that truly feels unique to the platform. The other games on the list are great examples of their genre, but they could perhaps all be done better on other platforms.
So, that’s it from TouchGen for 2009…. roll on 2010!
Don’t agree with us? Well don’t jump up and down in frustration pulling your hair out, why don’t you rant in the comments section below instead!