Woah, little bit of a problem here. My shortlist for The best smartphone games of 2013 appears to include no less than 22 titles, and I’m seriously struggling to whittle it down. Twenty-two! What a year. If you think Candy Crush Saga is the be all and end all of smartphone gaming, you're seriously missing out.
Ideally I’d like to list all 22 in some capacity, but for now, let’s grab five at random and get this show on the road. Smartphone games, 2013, best of... Let's rock!
As you’ve probably gathered from my rambling, these five are presented in no particular order (EDIT: they might actually be vaguely chronological), but you should definitely go buy/download/play them all post haste.
“Keep in mind this one's a strange one!” warned the Tomorrow Corporation’s Kyle when he fired over my Little Inferno promo code. He wasn’t wrong.
Little Inferno is strange on several levels. On the surface, it’s arguably a bit pointless, since all you’re doing is burning stuff and waiting, burning stuff and waiting, burning stuff and waiting…
And at times, it feels like a subversive swipe at smartphone and/or freemium gaming, but somehow it succeeds in being utterly compelling. As Kyle says: Strange.
I said: “Little Inferno simply invites you to burn stuff, but somehow yields one of the most unique and consuming experiences the iPad has seen to date.”
At a time when freemium nonsense like Candy Crush Saga was dominating the charts, I found myself questioning the very nature of smartphone gaming. Year Walk to the rescue.
More recently, in a discussion about the best games of 2013 - a discussion that predictably revolved around console games like GTA V, The Last of Us and Spelunky - I threw Year Walk into the ring. It’s that good.
In short, a “year walk” is an old Swedish tradition, whereby men would deprive themselves of food, light and human contact, and subsequently set off into the woods at midnight, inevitably encountering all sorts of weird sh*t.
Horse in a suit? Dead babies? It’s every bit as creepy as it sounds.
Price: £2.49 @ App Store
Sometimes I find it hard to contain my excitement when I discover a great new game, and in the opening paragraph of my Knightmare Tower review, I blabbed: “Must remember this one when it comes to compiling my Top Games of 2013 list.” And remember it I have, phew!
To describe Knightmare Tower as an “endless runner” really wouldn’t do it justice, but essentially you’re trying to get to the top of – yes – a tower, by grinding away and leveling up.
Knightmare Tower stands out thanks to what I described as “a fantastic sense of progress”, and not forgetting the suitably outrageous boss battle at the end. Brilliant stuff.
I said: “For fans of endless runners, action games and all things crazy, Knightmare Tower – with its first class levelling system – is an absolute must play.”
There are some genres/games that still don’t feel 100% comfortable with touch controls, the obvious example being first person shooters, alongside stuff like GTA San Andreas.
Things are getting better (San Andreas feels significantly better than Vice City, for example), and controller support will eventually iron everything out, but in the meantime, why not enjoy a good old-fashioned choose your own adventure-style, er, adventure?
I really can’t say enough in favour of Sorcery! The writing, the spells, the combat, the seemingly countless branches… The first chapter was fantastic, and the second is even better (5/5 x2). Play it. Play it now.
I said: “Sorcery! for iOS is an unashamedly geeky interactive story, packed with goblins, orcs, giants and more, and the level of choice means you’ll probably want to play through again as soon as you finish. Brilliant.”
I also said: “Sorcery! 2 is bigger and better than its predecessor in almost every way – and it was superb. At this point, the thought of waiting till April 2014 for Sorcery! 3 makes we want to investigate cryostasis.”
The developers ignored my various pleas for a review copy, and I stumbled across a Starbucks promo code shortly after shelling out my hard-earned (shut it) £1.99, so I was quite prepared to hate Ridiculous Fishing.
Alas, it’s easily one of the best smartphone games of 2013 (hence appearing on this here list).
Ridiculous Fishing tasks you with avoiding fish on the way down, catching them all on the way back up, and finally shooting them all as they inexplicably fly through the air.
I said: “Ridiculous Fishing is bound to appear on various Smartphone Game of the Year lists, and rightly so. It’s a perfect example of a game that casts freemium nonsense aside, and looks to make a few bucks simply by being good. Buy it.”