It’s that time of year where we reflect on all the games released in 2014 and pick out our personal favorites of the bunch. To be honest, I hate doing this. Every year there are so many great games released on iOS that’s it’s nearly impossible to whittle it down to just ten. Heck, it would be hard to whittle it down to fifty. At the same time, it’s nice to have to really hunker down and put some serious thought into what were the real standouts this year. So hunker and whittle I did, and when all was said and done I ended up with eleven picks. It’s supposed to be ten, but I’m going all punk rock this year and picking eleven, rules be damned! Also know that to avoid redundancy, I omitted a few picks from this list since they already appear on our Best Games of 2014 list or our Game of the Year post. There are so many other games I wished I could have included, and just because a certain game might not be on this list it doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the heck out of it. Without further ado, here’s my list of the best ten eleven games of 2014.
Bloo Kid 2, Free – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – Platformers are perhaps my favorite genre, and there are tons of great ones on iOS in all shapes and sizes. But if you’re crazing that traditional, Mario-style platforming experience, Bloo Kid 2 does it just about better than anyone else. The running, the jumping, the bopping enemies on their heads. Everything just feels right. It’s got a ton of challenging levels, each with multiple goals making Bloo Kid 2 a game that’s fun to play, replay and perfect.
Daddy Long Legs, Free – [Release Post] – [Forum Thread] – I’ve often thought that as humans the ability to walk upright is nothing short of a miracle that we take for granted every day. It’s a delicate combination of balance, shifting weight and multiple moving parts that we learn from a very young age to do without even thinking about it. Daddy Long Legs is simply a game about walking, and it puts how difficult a task it truly is into context. Especially since you’re a furry cube thing with beanstalks for legs. But once you start to understand the movement and mechanics, it’s an absolute thrill doing something as mundane as walking 50 meters.
Doug dug., $1.99 – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – There are tons of crafting-style games where digging down into the earth and exploring is a major part of the experience. Doug Dug isn’t a crafting game but it does feature digging (duh), and as you dig and explore you’re under constant threat of the world above collapsing on you at any moment. Not to mention creepy crawlies, dynamite, and any number of other hazards that can end you in the blink of an eye. But there’s also treasures buried everywhere, and the heart of Doug Dug is all about tempting death by going for that shiny payoff. Death usually wins, but every journey underground is filled with tension and excitement, which is why I’m always coming back for more.
Dudeski, $1.99 – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – I loved playing that old SkiFree game on PC back in the day, and Dudeski is a killer homage to it. The slaloming is fast and the controls respond perfectly making it feel awesome to dodge, weave and jump over the many hazards of the slopes. I also love the progression system, which gives you the ability to replay the different sections of the mountain at any time after you’ve unlocked them by reaching them once, but if you want to compete for a high score you need to beat them all in one go, making it from the very top of the mountain down to the bottom in one epic run.
Glorkian Warrior: Trials Of Glork, $2.99 – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – One of my all-time favorite games is Galaga, and Trials of Glork pays respect to that classic without just being some boring rehash. The way enemies swoop in in waves, and how you as the Glorkian Warrior shoot up at them from the ground is super Galaga-y, but you also have the ability to to run and jump, and the addition of ground enemies throws a wrinkle in the formula. Combined with the amazing art and humor of James Kochalka, Trials of Glork is a game that puts a smile on my face every damn time and it’s something that I’ll never get tired of playing.
Hail to the King: Deathbat, $4.99 – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – This was definitely one of the most divisive releases of the year. You either loved it or you hated it, with very little middle ground. Obviously I loved it, and it’s hard to express exactly why. The awesome art style, the kick-ass soundtrack, the gameplay… everything about this game just pushes all the right buttons for me. You can tell it’s a game made by gamers, and it’s a throwback to an era when games weren’t all about flash and features and were just fun for the sake of being fun.
KeroBlaster, $4.99 – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – Making a regular platformer that uses virtual buttons can be challenging enough, but make it an action platformer with multi-directional shooting and you’re just asking for trouble. KeroBlaster manages to pull it off brilliantly with a really ingenious control system. That’s not all though, as the level designs, characters and story are also top-notch, making this one of the most fun and charming action platformers around.
Only One, Free – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – Only One is a wave-based arena brawler, and on the surface it looks pretty simplistic. But much like Wayward Souls, the combat is much deeper than it appears and is highly skill-based. It takes a lot of practice to learn all the different enemy types and what your hero is capable of doing, but as you practice and get better it’s really an incredibly satisfying experience. The enemies in particular are varied and interesting, and combined with a character progression system and tons of cool abilities Only One is a game that’s always fun to play whether it’s for five minutes or five hours.
Pumped BMX 2, $2.99 – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – Side-scrolling bike tricking games are a dime a dozen on the App Store, but Pumped BMX 2 is not your standard fare. A really unique control system allows for a wide variety of tricks, giving the game and almost Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater feel as you pull off complex combinations. It takes a bit of practice to get everything dialed, but once you do every level feels like a playground where you are constantly trying to throw down the biggest and craziest line of tricks that come to your mind.
Sunburn!, $2.99 – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – Sunburn! is a game that’s straight up macabre. The entire premise is that you’re stranded in space and the only option other than a horrifying death by suffocation is to fling yourself into the sun just to get that whole dying thing over quickly. You made a pact with your crew that no one dies alone, so you’ll need to gather up your buddies before committing group suicide together. How lovely. The funny thing is everyone is surprisingly upbeat despite the circumstances, cracking funny little quips just as they’re about to incinerate into nothing. This dark endeavor is accomplished by way of increasingly challenging and clever gravity-based puzzling, which makes playing a hand in the death of all these poor astronauts a highly satisfying experience. Come back Porkbun!
Sky Force 2014, Free – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – I was a huge fan of the original Sky Force which graced mobile devices more than ten years ago, before the iPhone was even on the scene. It’s always scary when something you love gets a modern remake, but in the case of Sky Force 2014 it came out better than I could have dreamed. The game has been given a stunning makeover in the graphics department, and with an extensive upgrade system and multiple goals and difficulties for each of its stages, this is a game that’s had me hooked since the moment it released.