What an amazing year 2013 has been for iOS, with the introduction of 4 new devices, a redesigned operating system, the App Store celebrated its 5th Anniversary and crossed some huge milestones, like a catalog of over ONE MILLION APPS. A major overhaul to the OS allowed developers to dramatically improve and change their apps as well, making even old apps new again and breathed new life and new functionality into some old friends.
However, even with so many apps to choose from, developer creativity is still very high and lots of unique titles and sequels to some of our favorites captured our attentions over the year and made everything from doctors’ waiting rooms to every day life more enjoyable and efficient. While some of our favorite developers flourished and continued to delight us with multiple stellar releases in the same year, others faltered and seem to have lost their mojo.
As you will see, our personal selections varied quite a bit, though there was some overlap.
Without further ado… here are the AppAddict.net Staff picks for their favorite Apps of 2013.
|Selecting my top 3 apps of the year was (as usual) quite a difficult undertaking. The year kicked off with some brilliant early offerings like Joe Danger, Year Walk, Super Stickman Golf 2 and Ridiculous Fishing. Spring saw the release of BADLAND, Gemini Rue, Sorcery!, Star Command and the first of two new Cut the Rope experiences. The App Store didn’t take a Summer vacation with even more unique and entertaining apps like rymdkapsel, Forever Lost Episode 2, Agricola, Kingdom Rush Frontiers and Tiny Thief filling up our devices (and our free time).
By the time Fall rolled around we were being captivated by Pivvot, Mikey Hooks, Plants vs Zombies 2, Dead Man’s Draw, Device 6 and Asphalt 8. And finally we closed out the year just as strongly as we started with a number of huge new releases including Drive on Moscow, Lords Of Waterdeep, Oceanhorn, The Room Two, Cut the Rope 2, Republique, The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead Season 2.
Narrowing down even just the sampling of great titles above to my top three is a hearty task, but here we go…
|Hands down, DEVICE 6 this was the most memorable and engaging experience I had with my iOS device this year. It may not have been the longest, nor does it have much replay value after your first play through, but the amount of polish and design that obviously went into crafting this one of a kind experience is evident from the moment you are pulled into the game’s creepy and mysterious narrative. A feast for the senses, Simogo have managed to top their other 2013 release of Year Walk earlier in the year (which was nearly one of my other picks), and created an absolutely brilliant puzzle game that is an absolute must for every iOS device owner.|
|With Super Stickman Golf 2, the guys at Noodlecake did everything you are supposed to do when it comes to a sequel., keep the best bits of the first one and add lots of great new stuff. With an all-new turn-based multiplayer mode, new course, new ball types, new hat ‘perk’ system, Super Stickman Golf 2 really delivered and rekindled my love of this incredibly fun, unique and addictive take on golf. Plus developer support for the title is STILL on going with a Super Meat Boy-inspired update arriving on January 9th!|
|Another sequel that absolutely blew me away this year was Ironhide Game Studio’s Kingdom Rush Frontiers. As far as I’m concerned it set the new gold standard for tower defense games on the platform and (like SSG2) did just about everything right when it comes to creating a sequel, with perhaps its lack of universal app support and a slightly aggressive set of IAPs being its only falter.
Anyone looking for a tower defense game only need look here first, in fact the studio has even made a free version available to anyone with a web browser that supports Flash.
|My picks, in no particular order…|
|This has become my most-used app on my phone by far. The ability to chat with a group of friends regardless of device is simply fantastic. When compared to other popular free group chat apps, like KakaoTalk and Line, it blows the competition away with no ads, free group voice/video chat, and ease of use. I can take my conversations with me and pick them up on the computer. Other apps can do similar things but often run into hurdles that are annoying to have to deal with. Being able to use your google account is an added bonus, as most people have at least one gmail address they can use. It is a win all around for google!|
|Puzzle Quest was one of my favorite PSP games way back when, and even then it took a bit for the Marvel version to really grip me in its clutches due to my constant whining that it “wasn’t puzzle quest”. Once I got over that and found a few friends that played, it became a joy. The constant events and bonuses from friends take the game from an occasional diversion to a daily addiction. Marvel Puzzle Quest also does the “Freemium” situation right by encouraging purchases but not being overly pushy or forcing you to spend obscene amounts to have fun. I have spent a bit more than I want to admit, but don’t regret it at all, since it has only enhanced my enjoyment rather than feeling it was forced upon me.|
|I was torn for my third pick between Agricola, Lords Of Waterdeep and Colossatron: Massive World Threat, but due to Colossatron being so new, I truly don’t know how long I will be in love with the game, so my final pick of 2013 is:|
|Obviously I love digital board games, and Agricola was a truly amazing adaptation, but Lords Of Waterdeep’s mechanics are more suitable for the pick up and play format I enjoy currently. I gave the game a glowing review, which you can read here, and I stand by my words. I keep finding myself playing “just one more game” or a few more turns more frequently than I thought, even though I have moved on to the Scoundrels of Skullport expansion in the physical world, and wouldn’t dream of playing the game without the additional rules.|
|2013 was a FANTASTIC year to be an iOS user. The biggest release we saw was simply iOS7. A visual overhaul, tons of new features and multiple new ways we interact with our iOS devices. As usual, I did my normal upgrades getting an iPad Air and a iPhone 5S. Loving the touch sensor on my 5S, as it’s a very seamless security features that’s now part of my routine. My Air is an even more drastic change simply due to the weight and thickness of the device. It feels like a totally new iPad due to those differences. We had quite a few large releases this year…from EPIC indie games like Oceanhorn, Device 6 and Tilt to Live 2 and games from larger companies like the GTA ports, Knights of the Old Republic and many more. What were my Top 3 games/apps?|
|Simply for the insane amount of hours I’ve poured into this game playing online multiplayer with friends and family. This game never gets old and them know exactly when to pump out a new update adding in a new power our levels. It’s polished, easy to pick up and play and offers some serious multiplayer options for competitive gamers.|
|This a fully featured and grand scale Zelda inspired RPG/Adventure game…is there much else to say? The crazy level of polish, the story, the music, the gameplay…its all there and its amazing. I’m still plugging away in this adventure, but I’m loving every second of it. I truly admire a game developer who dedicates this amount of time and effort into something.|
|I’m picking iOS7 as my 3rd entry. Why? It was a bold ambitious move. You either love it or hate it..and most I’ve talked to who originally hated it, now love it. It’s not perfect, but for a complete overhaul I applaud Apple for doing what they did with this update. It’s still iOS, but its a more refined iOS. I use control center daily. I depend on the integration that Apple has continued to improve upon with my vast ecosystem. Bugs? Unlike another ecosystem, only Apple has the capabilities to smash bugs as quickly as they do (With an over 76% adoption rate!)…being as were now on 7.04 with 7.1 already in the testing pipeline. I see iOS 8 probably being a huge performance and tweaking update, nothing crazy like iOS7, but simply taking it once again to the next level, but more so under the hood. I greatly look forward to our iOS future.|
|Due to failing health, I haven’t had much time to really sit down and get into a game in the past year. That said, I not only played Year Walk to completion in one sitting, I did it twice in a single sitting. The game is eerie and mysterious and it’s so fun to put together the story piece by piece as you wander in the woods. What’s even better is that you won’t fully understand it until you’ve played it twice due to another story being just under the surface of the first. This game is gorgeous and does everything it needs to do to be considered a perfect title.|
|My wife and I have put so many hours into this silly game, and we still are. It’s hard not to get sucked in when you mix a match-3 puzzler with RPG elements and leveling and then add a health dose of superhero butt-kicking. My only complaint is that you have to wait for your characters to heal after battle unless you’re willing to pony up some real world cash. That said, I still get a couple of hours of play out of this through the course of the day and haven’t spent a dime. The game is heavily supported with new event levels and online tournaments that rotate almost daily. This is exactly what I want from a portable game.|
|It finally happened! My favorite LEGO title has come to iOS (the only game that would make me more excited is Riviera: The Promised Land from ATLUS- hint hint ATLUS). The controls translate well and the depth of exploration is all there. This game can easily be played for ten minutes at a time, or hours and hours, and with the depth you’ll get over a hundred hours of play out of this if you want to find everything.|
|One 2013 release which I play every week is Angry Birds Friends. While the Angry Birds craze may be dying out for a lot of people, I never really played the original game all that much. What I like about this new version is that it gives you a new set of 6 levels each week and it compares your total score to that of your friends. The competition starts over each Monday, so there’s no long-term commitment–it gives me just enough of an Angry Birds fix each week.|
|Another favorite game released this past year is Where’s My Water? 2 I thoroughly enjoy the new styles of gameplay added to the original, as well as the ability to collect different ducks and change your appearance by completing special Mystery Duck levels. They also just removed the energy meter, so now you can play as much as you want! My only disappointment is the extremely long gaps of time between releases of additional levels.|
|While the TiVo’s companion iOS app jumped to version 3, which was like a whole new app because it added the ability to stream and download TV shows and movies from your TiVo device while away from home. This new Slingbox-like ability was invaluable while traveling, and I found myself using the app a lot more frequently this year.|
|So another year is drawing to a close, and with the upcoming flurry of gift-wrapping, shoving shoppers out of the way for that last action figure, and spiking eggnog, I’d like to take the time and step away from the madness to reflect on some of my personal favorite apps of 2013. And who knows, maybe you can find some time to curl up next to a fire and use test these out for yourself. Not so close to the fire!! FLYING EMBERS!! AHHHH!!!!!|
|Some of my favorite apps are those with the simplest concepts behind their gameplay. Four Thrones definitely is one of those games. Taking the age-old solitaire card game and giving it a few tweaks, along with an excellent presentation and mobile-friendly setup, makes this a superb casual game. Perfect for a round or two on the commuter bus; but not while driving.|
|Having just recently latched on to the incredibly deep TCG Magic: The Gathering, I wanted an app that could quickly look up card text so that I could be immediately informed about certain cards. (“Vile Rebirth? From the Magic 2013 set? One Black mana? Dude, of course I know that card! [hides iPod]) uMagic not only offers a comprehensive database of Magic cards, it also allows you to digitally build decks and play test them in a solitaire-style setting, see card prices, and find the cards with the right colored mana for your deck.
For a Magic newbie like me, this app is a must-have, but I don’t doubt expert players can get a lot from this app as well. All in all, some excellent features and a sleek aesthetic nicely round off this app. (Excellent MtG skills not included. Product may cause compulsive card collecting, and excessive calls for rematches after repeated losses.)
|I hate fighting games because of the complicated controls. I really like Combo Crew because of its controls. Taking the best of hectic brawlers (the hectic brawls themselves), and scrapping traditional controls for an elegant swipe-based combat system, Combo Crew brings all the fun of arcade fighters without the control-scheme frustration. The combat is fast, frantic, and fun. Even skeptics may be surprised at how well this mobile brawler grabs your attention and keeps it in a headlock. Just watch out when swiping in a mad attempt for a KO that your finger doesn’t burst into flames. Not saying this happened to me, but I had to type this whole article with my thumbs.|
Emily & Claire’s Picks
|Emily and Claire both delighted at not only driving their cars around the pre-canned track but creating their own cardboard world to race around (and destroy). As usual, Toca Boca once again found the perfect way to not only capture, but foster their imaginations.|
|Though this app came out late last year, the girls didn’t discover it until earlier this year and rarely does a week go by that I am not served up many many many (rather interesting) Bamba burgers piled high with outrageous toppings. Every burger comes with a healthy side of giggles.
Though I do have to complain about a recent update which added a fair number of unlockable in-app purchasable content which makes the app a bit less kid and parent friendly.
|I love the fact that my girls seem to have inherited my love of board games and the digital version of this unique tabletop variant of memory is a real kid-pleaser. Simple, yet fun and challenging, players chase each other around a circular board trying to snag each other’s tail feathers by correctly matching the pattern on the egg in front of them. Before playing the iOS release my only familiarity with the physical game on which it was based was through numerous mentions on The SnakeCast. TheCodingMonkeys have done a great job with this digital version.|