Top iPad Games of 2012
Hello, all! Here are my top iPad Games of 2012 (in alphabetical order):
1. Frisbee Forever 2
Sport of slackers for generations, playing Frisbee is about as summer casual as it gets. The same is also true of Frisbee Forever 2, sequel to last summer’s hit game. But that’s where the comparison ends. This game has Frisbees doing tricks the folks at Wham-o never dared dream. Players guide their flying discs with near-perfect controls through beautifully rendered obstacle courses, collecting stars and having entirely too much free fun.
For those familiar with the original title, not much has changed beyond new tracks and shiny new graphics. Players flick a Frisbee with an ease seldom achieved by neophytes with the real thing, and then guide it along a track of tunnels and rings using ideal-for-iPhone tilt controls or extremely responsive touch controls that work best on iPad.
There are six worlds to explore with 10 levels each. Getting every star – a serious challenge – earns a gold medal, getting most a silver and capturing none but completing the course yields bronze. The worlds are increasingly difficult, but never overly so. It takes a few crashes to get familiar with controlling the Frisbee at high speeds and around tight corners, but once in a groove making progress isn’t too hard.
Stars, coins, the in-app currency, and XP are earned on every successful toss. As a result, there's a lot of replay value in this free game. There are missions to complete and bonus levels to discover. The game can definitely serve as a minute-killer, but once I got into it, I found it easy to lose an hour without noticing.
The soundtrack is guitar-mellow and beachy and the graphics are detailed, evoke a sense of speed, and are family friendly. There’s no reason not to grab Frisbee Forever 2 right now – it’s a perfect distraction for days when playing the real game outdoors isn’t an option.
2. Heroes Call
Heroes Call looks to capture some of the magic with an iOS dungeon crawler. From a glance, Heroes Call plays very much like a standard hack n’ slash action RPG. Players move through the game via levels with simple objectives such as a standard collection quest or by simply getting from one point of the map to the other. Along the way, enemies drop gold and a large variety of weapons and armor. After finishing a mission, characters earn experience, and a simple trait system lets you choose new abilities after each level up. Everything is rather typical and it wouldn’t be a stretch to simply classify Heroes Call as a simplistic Diablo clone.
Speaking of Diablo, one area that Heroes Call seems to mimic well is its loot system. Loot is randomly generated and running through a mission usually ends with a decent haul of a variety of items, magical or otherwise. I also appreciated the fact that equipment plays an important role and you’ll find yourself constantly needing to upgrade to handle the increase in enemy difficulty. It all leads to a complete, if standard, experience.
3. On The Wind
On The Wind will have you guiding plant-based material (you'll be herding leaves as opposed to flower petals here) through a scenic landscape.
Because you are defined by the leaves you collect as you progress through the seasons, you must always ensure that there's a steady supply within the immediate vicinity of your fingertip. Should you find yourself bereft of them, the game ends and you'll be forced to restart.
The catch here is that leaves have a certain 'lifespan'. After a certain amount of time, they will drift away from your reach, thereafter reducing your supply. As such, you'll be constantly called upon to collect more leaves, something that can be accomplished by dragging your finger over a bountiful plant.
Sounds easy? Well, it is. Sort of. The controls aren't exactly rocket science. To navigate through the artsy-looking terrain, you simply have to move your finger across the screen. If you lift your finger, the game will automatically pause.
On The Wind is a pleasant way to wile away your time. Each time you flit through the trees, they respond with a smattering of musical notes. The music is largely tranquil and will provide a pleasant backdrop to your activities in the game. I like the soft colors and the silhouette-style terrain.
On The Wind is solid enough, and for those sick of the guns, girls and gore, it will also be a nice change of pace.
4. Orc: Vengeance
It seems like people are always clamoring for the iOS platform's Diablo equivalent. I can't quite say that Orc is it, but it's one of the best isometric dungeon crawlers available on the platform. Gorgeous visual, tons of loot, and missions that are appropriately bite-sized for gaming while on the go. A huge update hit recently adding even more content to this already fantastic game, making it the one to beat for all future dungeon crawlers.
If you're a fan of dungeon crawlers like Diablo, chances are you'll enjoy Orc: Vengeance. You play as an orc who has to gather his kin together to go up against the Dark One and his vile army. Par for the course with dungeon crawlers, the game is full of loot, like weapons and armor to equip, potions to guzzle, and gold to spend. As you slay enemies, you level up and distribute points to specialize your skills. It's a great big game with great big ambitions that it realizes fantastically.
Orc: Vengeance is a game that every action-RPG/dungeon-crawler fan should own. You’ll easily get lost in Rok’s epic quest to avenge his people, and you might even get a little sad when you eventually reach your goal.
The re-imagining of Pitfall is more than an everyday behind-the-back endless runner. It does some really cool stuff with perspective switches, pulling you out of the typical action in favor of more traditional third-person platforming. Pitfall also has a great visual style, as well as sharp instance design. One second you'll be jumping over pits and avoiding snakes, the next you'll be riding in a minecart.
6. Star Sky
Star Sky is not a game for everyone. It is a slow-paced game of exploring different choices. There are secrets to unlock, and for those who make it to the end, there is a lot of interesting things to reflect about. It is also a peaceful experience and a game about enjoying the ambience the world around you can provide. Make the choices, watch what happens, unlock the secret.
Star Sky is not a game you play for hours on end. You play it, see what there is to discover and then play it as many times as you feel like. Then hopefully you will return and finish it at some point, in order to unlock the end. The game is meant to be a relaxing and ambient experience focusing on creating a soothing atmosphere rather than intense gameplay. It is similar to an interactive poem. A poem that has several endings and allows you to explore different scenarios. It is important that you take your time and allow yourself to feel the game as you play it.
Like Sword and Sworcery, Star Sky really feels like it has some level of artistic quality to it. It is interesting and original and evokes a bit of emotional reaction that isn't just straight adrenalin.
If you grew up playing Mario and Zelda, then you'll feel right at home with Swordigo. It's a mix between a platformer and an RPG, and it works great on the touchscreen. The goal is to gather pieces of a shattered sword, but to do that you'll need to solve puzzles and navigate all kinds of colorful environments. Throw in experience points, stat boosts, and giant bosses, and you've got a lasting experience.
Swordigo is a love letter to platforming/adventure games, giving iOS gamers another detailed world of fantasy to explore.
Feel free to send me your recommendations for any other games not on this list.