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TouchGen Editors’ Choice Awards 2011

Wow, where did this year go? It seems only a short time ago that we sat down to nominate and award our iOS games of 2010.

Despite being over too soon, 2011 was a huge year for iOS gaming, firmly stamping its foothold into the gaming mainstream. It saw the release of both the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. While they didn’t quite give us the technological leap that we expect from the forthcoming  iPad 3 and elusive iPhone 5, it didn’t stop developers cranking out titles that pushed these devices to their limits.

Dead Space started the year on a high note, and since then we’ve been spoilt for choice week-by-week, right up until the posting of this list of our picks of the best the AppStore has to offer.

So without further ado, here we go! We have 25 categories, each with five ‘best of’ nominations and an outright winner. (click on a thumbnail to view our reviews for each game)

TouchGen Editors Choice Awards
Best Action

Winner: Infinity Blade 2

There has been no shortage of quality action titles this year. Dead Space started the year with a scream, 9mm hit us mid-year with a bang, and GTA 3 rounded it all off by pulling us from our cars by our hair, kicking and screaming! But it was Infinity Blade 2 that topped our action picks, with its blend of lightning-reflex duals, vast array of weapons, and epic kill shots.

Winner: Dead Space

The lines between console and mobile shooters seemed to blend even more in 2011, particularly in the area of graphics. All our picks look gorgeous and at first glance can give some console games a run for their money. Shadow Gun had the edge on visuals, and Modern Combat 3 has it sewn up with it’s great FPS controls.

But as an overall package we felt Dead Space should emerge victorious. Taking out an advancing Necro Baby is shocking but highly satisfying!

Winner: Jetpack Joyride

This was one of the hardest categories to pick from due to the sheer variety of experiences. Street Fighter IV had it wrapped up last year, and once again Volt impresses, with King of Fighters-i bringing up the rear. Muffin Knight had us in stitches, and War Pinball was the perfect virtual representation of the real thing. But Jetpack Joyride stole our hearts as far back as E3 when it was called Machine Gun Jetpack. By the time of its release and renaming, that love had only grown stronger. The best of its genre, highly addictive, and kept fresh with frequent updates.

Winner: DeathSmiles

It was another impressive year for the classic style shooter genre. So much so, that we felt that this year it deserved its own awards category. CAVE got two nominations, with both Death Smiles and, more recently, Bug Princess offering up slices of bullet hell goodness as only they can.

DeathSmiles takes the crown though, with its action packed levels, Manga-tastic visuals, and techno-rock soundtrack. It’s so easy to get lost in the craziness of it all!

Winner: 1-bit Ninja

While many developers strive for next-gen console visuals, there are also those who yearn for those 8-bit haydays; a time when it was all about the gameplay. This year we were really spoiled for choice, particularly with some truelly excellent platformers. For real retro appeal, Monkey Labour was a near perfect love letter.

But it has to be 1-bit-Ninja that walks away with the award, bringing us jaw-achingly challenging retro platforming with a modern-day 3D twist.

Winner: The Adventures of Tintin

Another close match with the nominations in this class.

This year we saw classic re-releases li Monkey island go head-to-head with highly original offerings from the likes of Sword & Sworcery EP. But, even Hector’s like-able dislike-ability couldn’t sway us from giving Gameloft’s The Adventures of Tintin the award. It mixed drama, humour, action, and stealth with movie-like production values to produce a touch-screen adventure that couldn’t be beaten.

Winner: FIFA 12

It was a great year for sports. Speedball 2 offered up some classic sporting violence; NBA Jam was great fun and one of the best versions of the series; and Fight Night Champion surprised us with touch controls that actually worked well. FIFA 12 stole the show for us and is easily the best Soccer title yet for iOS. Improved in every way, from its graphics to its on-the-ball controls, only the lack of online multiplayer stopped it from getting full marks. The icing on the cake was the new iPhone-to-iPad connection mode, allowing two people to go head-to-head with two iPhones and an iPad.

Winner: Mission Europa

2011 saw a variety of RPGs, large and small, and even a remake of an old favourite. But even the might of Square-Enix with its classic Final Fantasy III and pseudo-sequel Chaos Rings Omega couldn’t sway us from awarding the RPG crown to Mission Europa, a game that blew us away with its great depth and customization.

Winner: Anomaly: Warzone Earth

This is possibly the most crowded of genres on the AppStore, thanks in part to the success of the Tower Defense style. We even saw Com2Us secure the rights to using the words ‘Tower Defense’ in a games title; a shrewd business move indeed. However, it wasn’t enough to beat a new kind of TD game, and one that turned the genre on its head in something we call ‘reverse tower defense’. That’s right, we’re talking about Anomaly: Warzone Earth from Chillingo. A strategy game so awesome that it made uttering the words ‘Tower Defense’ cool again.

Winner: iBlast Moki 2

At a time when all you hear about is Angry Birds and Cut the Rope, it was nice to see that creativity on the AppStore for puzzle games hadn’t diminished.

Contre Jour wowed us with its art style and physics, while Gesundheit! won us over with its cute but devilish mechanics. But, it was left to the sequel to our 2009 game of the year ‘iBlast Moki’ to once again deliver the goods, with its ingenious puzzles, physics and the best level editor around.

Winner: Tiny Wings

In a market full of time management and Farmville rip-offs. It fell to the excellent Tiny Wings to take them all to school and show what casual is all about. One of the simplest games to pick up and play is also one of the most addictive of the year. A mini masterpiece that no doubt had other developers wondering how they hadn’t come up with the idea before. Plus it had a bird in it… a guaranteed money spinner!

Winner: LostWinds

The retro platforming delights of 1-bit Ninja, Mos Speedrun and League of evil seemed to have this all tied up if it wasn’t for Jet Pack Joyride swooping in like a testosterone fuelled Tiny Wings. But all of these were pipped to the post by a last minute newcomer to the AppStore. A port of the successful Wii release, LostWinds is a mix of engaging platforming and physics puzzles. But it’s the gesture controls and beautiful presentation that steels the show. It might be late to the party, but it leaves with all the chicks!

Winner: DrawRace 2

There was no Real Racing release to steal the show this year, though updates came thick and fast with iPhone 4S graphical tweaks and Airplay-enabled 4 player split-screen. Apart from SEGA’s charming kart racer, it looks like it’s the year of the micro machine.

Death Rally and Mini Motor Racing were the closest yet to the Super Sprint style racer. We had to give the gong to Chillingo’s DrawRace 2 for it’s originality and possibly the most intuitive touchscreen controls thus far.

Winner: Modern Combat 3

All five of these nominations offer up fantastic multiplayer experiences, be it online, offline, head-to-head or party modes. But Modern Combat 3 showed us that – when they want to – Gameloft can seriously turn up the heat and come out, quite literally, all guns blazing. The sheer amount of customization and 12-player online sessions echoed an FPS experience usually savored only on the big boy consoles.

Winner: Infinity Blade 2

The power available in our hands keeps on increasing at an incredible rate. All five of these titles are optimized to make the most of the lastest hardware, but even on older devices these games shine.

It’s no surprise that Infinitiy balde2 takes the prize. Beautifully crafted, with great character designs, detailed texture work and cinematic staging; the lighting and shadow effects left your jaw hanging by your feet.

Winner: Super Brothers: Sword and Sworcery EP

While Infinity Blade 2 pushed our iOS devices to their limits, it fell to the unique and quirky adventure game Super Brothers: Sword and Sworcery EP to take the art award home.

More art than game, the pixelated graphics and subdued colour palettes created a truly unique looking world which surprised and delighted with every scroll of the screen.

Winner: Groove Coaster

Dead Space shook us to our cores with edge-of-your-seat frights. The sound was almost scarier than the gory visuals. The dark Meadow and Infinity Blade 2 showed that you can have good voice acting on a budget, and GTA 3′s radio stations are as much a joy to behold now as they were 10 years ago. But TAITO’s Goove Coaster steals the show here. Not only are all the techno tracks lovingly mastered, but the way they integrate with the game’s Space Invader-themed graphics and gameplay is an audio, visual and, tactile experience not to be missed.

Winner: Contre Jour

The mind-bending creativity on show in these five nominations alone is enough to tax any brain to the point of self-implosion. But this year we fell in love with Contre Jour’s mix of rag-doll and soft-body collision detection, creating challenging level design within a pleasingly tactile environment. Like a love child from a threesome between Angry Birds, Cut the Rope and LocoRoco, and with beautiful results.

Winner: DrawRace 2

These five nominations provide experiences that would be difficult to replicate on consoles. In 2012, iOS gaming really came into its own, be it the great use of Airplay technology in Real Racing 2, or the gesture based action of Infinity Blade 2. It was DrawRace 2 that impressed us the most. An unlikely pairing of slot racing and finger painting that brings an intuitive, tactile and, satisfying experience like no other.

Winner: B&W C5 in-ear headphones

Whether you like your iDevice eau natural or covered with bling, there is no denying that pimping your pad is big business. 2012 saw some great gaming gear in the form of the fling controller add-on and iCade. But we can’t ignore the king of gear: the humble headphone. The B&W C5 produces a mix of sound that music was made for. If you can afford the high price, you may never take them out of your ears… ever!

Winner: Halfbrick

All five of these developers are worthy winners, bringing us fantastic titles throughout the year. CAVE’s excellent shooters; Firemint’s Real Racing updates and Spy Mouse; Godzillabs’ return to form with iBlast Moki 2; and ChAIR delivering once again with Infinity Blade 2. We award the prize to Halfbrick, the creators of Fruit Ninja and, more importantly, our Arcade Game of the year JetPack Joyride. They have delivered a slew of excellent updates to their games, keeping an already excellent selection of games fresh and as enjoyable as ever.

Winner: Chillingo

Another stellar year for Chillingo, where they once again prove that they can get under the skin of iOS gamers and deliver a range of must-have quality titles week-on-week.

Highlights from Chillingo this year include: DrawRace 2, Contre Jour, Infinity Field, Swords and Soldiers, Extraction: Project Outbreak, and Anomaly: Warzone Earth to name but a few. They really “get” iOS games, and it shows.

Winner: Dead Space

As always, this category is a tough choice due to the extreme amount of great content out there for iPhones and iPod Touches.

But, after playing these games to death, it’s Dead Space that sticks in our minds as the iPhone game of choice. Managing the small screen real estate of the iPhone for a shooter is no easy task, and Dead Space nails it. It was a real game-changer for mobile gaming at the beginning of the year, from which every other action game on the AppStore subsequently aspired to be.

Winner: Infinity Blade 2

Some games simply play better on some devices than others, which is why we have three titles in our top picks for iPad that aren’t featured on the Best iPhone game list. While we feel Dead Space is the best mini experience of the year, it’s Infinity Blade 2 that takes the iPad crown.

Infinity Blade 2 is better on iPad than on the iPhone, period. The larger screen allows for a heightened feeling of control over attacks and defense. Not to mention the beautiful ‘award-winning’ graphics look more… well… Epic!

Winner: Infinity Blade 2

For the second time running, ChAIR has won our coveted Game Of The Year award. One thing is clear: this was the tightest race yet, with some truly great titles.

In the end, Infinity Blade 2 out-classed the competition with its engaging story, eye-popping graphics, intense gesture-based combat, varied attack types, and deep character leveling. An exclusive to the platform, it has once again put iOS gaming on the map, and for that we salute it!

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  • Mark

    Personal opinion: Why do people find Infinity Blade 2 so great? I mean, it is a good game, but it just feels more like an Infinity Blade 1.25 than IB2. They are reusing so much stuff from the first game that it feels boaring. (Player hits enemy with the shield, enemy falls off the screen. *AWE… NO WAIT, I’ve seen that a 100 times before*)

  • Daven Gomes

    ^Yep, I agree…. Infinity Blade 2 is way over-hyped. I think Modern Combat 3 is much better, if you really think about it – better multiplayer and gameplay.

    Infinity Blade 2 is just the same thing with a few little extras which ChAIR have made seem like new features.

    But this is obiviously opinion-based.

  • Nigel Wood, UK

    Every one is entitled to their opinion, and as I said in the description it was a close year. All the editors at TouchGen towers had their own game of the year, but IB2 pipped them to the post with the most nominations. And in the end we all agreed that overall it offered the best and most original iOS experience.

    Here’s our individual game’s of the year

    Kevin: FIFA 12
    Matt: Dead Space
    Nacho: Infinity Blade 2
    Nigel: Infinity Blade 2
    Torbjorn: Draw Race 2
    Carl: Batman Arkham City Lockdown (he’s a Batman fan boy)

  • JackJ

    Nice article. My GOTY goes to Dead Space, although it was a very close call with so many great games to choose from.

  • Daven Gomes

    @Nigel

    Yep, I guessed that the overall vote would go to Infinity Blade. From Kevin’s posts, I could tell he would’ve picked FIFA 12.

    That would be my second choice. ;)

  • Julian

    I’m so glad Mission Europa won, that’s one of my favorite games ever on iOS.

  • Tim

    I think this is a pretty good list and while I disagree with some of the choices-hey! where is fill in the blank. Having said that I would have liked to have seen some love for Wind-Up Knight. I just picked it up a couple of days ago and feel like I did the first time I played super mario brothers when I was a kid. You all should really check it out.

  • http://www.pyrosmile.org Matt Dunn, USA

    If it were completely up to me, Dead Space would have won every category. ;)

  • AnotherTim

    Nice picks here. Especially love the attention given to Mission Europa and Deathsmiles.

  • THE RPG NOOB

    I can not belive that thunder games was not nominated for best developer!!!!! But mission Eroupa deserved RPG of the year.:) Overall, great list.

  • Sako Hamilton

    I’m Sad my muffin knight didn’t win anything :(
    Atleast Deadspace won iPhone game of the year !!

  • Nigel Wood, UK

    Muffin Knight was nominated Sako :) Better than nothing.

  • Simon Potticary

    Great nominations, and some great catagory winners! My GotY top three would have been:

    1. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
    2. Machinarium
    3. Infinity Blade II

    Here’s to a fantastic 2012..!!

  • anon_shadow

    the ‘game-changer for mobile gaming’ wasnt dead space but gta3 IMO…..it marriages console titles and mobile phones and we now can expect more original full-blown console(psp/ps2) titles to come to ios rather than their watered-down versions….
    loved these awards btw!!!

  • Jeffyg3

    My GOTY definitley goes to Dead Space. I think if Dead Space came out near the end of the year it would have won more GOTY awards. It’s easily the best iPad & iPhone game overall imo.

  • THE RPG NOOB

    Now that GTA 3 is out all I want on IOS is *gets shot* snake come in, SNAKe!!!!!!!!!!

  • Maurice

    I can believe that you forgot all about Disney’s Where’s My Water

  • 12yam

    Love the list, I’m just curious as to how S&S wasn’t even nominated for best sound design.

    Also, The Bard’s Tale or Mage Gauntlet should’ve won best RPG. Just sayin..

  • Kirbychewy

    You guys are great, giving CAVE and Godzilab so much well-deserved attention :)

  • Sako Hamilton

    Dead space 2 anyone ;)

  • hudtom

    Where have you found multiplayer in FIFA12 so it had nomination for best multiplayer? There is no multiplayer in FIFA12.

  • http://Touchgen.com Nigel Wood

    @hudtom The is excellent multiplayer… it’s just not online!

  • http://RyanMitchellGames.wordpress.com Souldragoonx

    Thank you so much touchgen for mission Europa’s award. It means so much for me and those late nights for over a year to get a dream to take flight. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • THE RPG NOOB

    @souldragoonx mission Europa was awsome! Do you know if you can do a sequel of some kind? Or did the game not sell well?

  • http://RyanMitchellGames.WordPress.com souldragoonX

    Thank you so much! Compliments really help fuel those late nights.
    Mission Europa’s sales were decent, but not what I had hoped for with so much time invested (I am still super happy I created it and for this award WOW). I am currently working on Cursed Realms you can follow along on my blog at RyanMitchellGames.WordPress.Com Cursed Realms is a Dungeon Keeper type game set in a “Rifts” type universe. I may do a sequel to Mission Europa Someday depending on how things go. I really want to move forward after Cursed Realms into a persistant world. ;)

  • MrSpud

    For those not familliar with Mission Europa, the game was developed part time by one busy family man, that’s all. Hard to believe one person can take on big guys like Squarenix, but he did it! Way to go Ryan!

  • http://arcadelife.co.uk Arcadelife

    No mention of Order & Chaos, even in the multiplayer category? Strange. I know awards like this are pure opinion, but, despite its flaws, that’s a proper fantasy MMO running on mobile devices… a real “multiplayer” game, not a single player game with a multiplayer option.

  • uninformed

    Just wait next year Fancy Pants Adventures
    will be up there and it is a boss game if i do say so myself.

  • qmish

    Mission Europa is strange hmm. it’s surreal and both beautiful and ugly (sorry, author!). But it’s definetely a good sigh. Good luck with future projects!

    though all people should love bard’s tale :D

  • http://twitter.com/BansheeSoft Ryan Mitchell

    Mission Europa Now has a patch into apple for review that clears up the crash issues the sound engine was causing. Sorry for the trouble in for review 1/25/12.

  • rafark

    Awsome job guys! Looking forward to this year´s Awards!

  • ccmi

    What do you call the game where you manage ssmall human like on how they live their life,.it is payed horzontally,. Within small cubicles or rooms representing differents functions in a house..creating or managing a small community,.
    ?pls help

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