You’ve played a lot of iPhone games this year. We’ve played a lot of iPhone games this year. And looking back, some of those games were nothing short of amazing. Gamezebo’s 10 Best iPhone Games of 2014 look to celebrate those amazing games in the only way we know how: in list form.
If you’re worried that one of your favorite games didn’t make the cut, be sure to check out this article’s companion list The 10 Best iPad Games of 2014. With so many games being universal, there’s a good chance that your pick for Game of the Year got the praise it deserved on that list instead. And if we completely missed it? Be sure to tell us in the comments below!
10. Wayward Souls
The spiritual successor to Rocketcat Games’ earlier action gem Mage Gauntlet, Wayward Souls trades in its predecessor tight narrative and fixed level design for a taste of randomly generated permadeath – and it’s all the better for it.
There’s plenty of variety here thanks to the game’s upgrade system, brilliant enemy design, and selection of playable characters; but the game’s variety is nothing compared to its difficulty. Make no mistake about it, Wayward Souls is hard. If you’re the sort of gamer who loves a challenge above all else, this might just be your game of the year.
9. World of Tanks Blitz
Taking all of the team-based fun of World of Tanks and shrinking it down to the iPhone sounded like an impossible challenge when it was first announced in early 2013. But a year later, Wargaming.net made good on their promise.
World of Tanks now fits in your pocket, and it’s just as much fun as the desktop and Xbox 360 versions. You’ll be able to build up a collection of tanks and square off with other players in real time, and it all just works.
With smaller maps and a 7-vs-7 limit on players, matches are quicker and slicker than their desktop counterpart, making them a perfect fit for mobile players. Taking that into account, it’s not hard to see why World of Tanks Blitz is our favorite multiplayer iPhone game of 2014.
Action platformers have struggled to perform on touch screens, and with good reason. While platforming basics like movement and jumping have finally been mastered, adding in the need to shoot (often in multiple directions) is like asking a cat to bark.
And boy oh boy, can this cat bark.
Developed by Pixel, aka the genius behind Cave Story, KeroBlaster solved the shooting dilemma by creating an auto-shoot function that works by setting a slider in the direction you want to aim. And lucky for us, the game he built around this mechanic is fantastic. If you’re a fan of the run’n’gun NES era, there’s nothing you won’t love about KeroBlaster.
7. Leo’s Fortune
In terms of sheer platforming awesomeness, few games could hold a candle to Leo’s Fortune this year. Beautiful presentation, smooth controls, and great level design make this an absolute delight to play from beginning to end.
BONUS: Leo’s Fortune might be the single best game to showcase the power of MFi controllers like the SteelSeries Stratus XL. While the touch controls are great, playing with a controller feels downright magical.
6. 80 Days
Gamebooks seem to hold a unique appeal around the Gamezebo offices, so when we heard that inkle – the master behind the incredible Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! adaptations – were gearing up to release their own twist on Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, we were pretty excited.
And yet no amount of excitement could have prepared us for what would come.
80 Days is no traditional gamebook. I’m even hesitant to use the word. It’s a narrative adventure, filled with choices that will see intrepid players travelling the globe in whatever way they best see fit. It is (quite literally) a journey that’s well worth repeating.
Never has a title so perfectly described its game before. Rules! is a game that’s all about – you guessed it – rules. And every round adds a new one.
Dealing with the first rule, “Clear the tiles in descending order,” sounds easy, but it gets a little tougher when rule two comes in: “clear the green tiles first.” Not tricky enough? Wait until you’re on rule 10, trying to remember every rule that came before and following them in reverse order. Challenging doesn’t even begin to describe it.
4. Woah Dave!
At its most basic, Woah Dave! is an homage to the original Mario Bros. But instead of dealing with angry turtles coming out of pipes, you’ll need to balance a delicate ecosystem of enemy-hatching eggs and exploding skulls, throwing one at the other ad infinitum.
Woah Dave! gets crazy quickly, and that’s half the reason we love it.
3. Monument Valley
As much an interactive painting as it is a puzzle game, Monument Valley plays with the very nature of perspective. The story of our heroine Ida isn’t very detailed, and the puzzles aren’t terribly challenging, but in the end these concerns don’t really matter. Monument Valley is an experience; the sort of game you’ll want to nibble at for fear of devouring the whole thing in one sitting.
It is, for lack of a better term, art.
Threes! is the sort of game whose name should be spoken in the same breath as these puzzling luminaries.
If you haven’t played Threes! yet, you need to stop reading this article and go download it right now. The simplicity of combining numbers mixed with the complexity of not filling the board makes Threes! the best puzzle game you’ll find on mobile phones today.
1. Traps n’ Gemstones
While we’re probably going to get raked across the coals for not selectingThrees! or Monument Valley as our Game of the Year, it’s hard to look back on 2014 and think of a release that delivered more pure gaming fun than Traps n’ Gemstones.
A backtracking platformer, Traps n’ Gemstones speaks directly to SNES-playing youth that’s trapped inside every 30-something iPhone gamer. There’s plenty of mystery in the game’s level design, leading to exciting moments of “I wonder how/when I’ll unlock that area!” And yet it’s tempered with mobile gaming sensibilities. The rooms you’ll explore aren’t terribly large, so your schedule dictates how long you can play instead of the other way around.
The developers eventually added MFi controller support, but it’s not like you’ll need it. The touchscreen controls are as precise as the level design, and the level design is exemplary. This isn’t just a good example of how to do a platformer on mobile, this is a good example of how to do a platformer period.
Donut Games have made a name for themselves over the years with quick and quirky titles, but with Traps n’ Gemstones they took a gamble on something much bigger, and it worked. Congratulations on winning Gamezebo’s iPhone Game of the Year, Traps n’ Gemstones. And here’s to hoping Donut Games tackles another big project in 2015.