The 10 Best Mobile Games of 2011

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The 10 Best Mobile Games of 2011

Mobile gaming hasn’t completely taken over the industry yet, but it might just be a matter of time. Angry Birds are already the most culturally iconic videogame characters since Mario. And people who never really played before are addicted to games on their phones and tablets. Mobile games can be as significant as anything you play with a controller.

Two weeks ago we revealed Paste’s 20 best videogames of 2011. That list only included games released for consoles, PCs, and traditional gaming handhelds. Today we look at the best mobile games. This list was voted on by a handful of regular Paste freelancers and whittled down into a top 10 by Paste’s games editor Garrett Martin.

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10. Zombieville USA 2
Developer: Mika Mobile
Publisher: Mika Mobile
Platforms: iOS

Zombieville USA 2 is an excellent indication of the current state of gaming in our mobile App Stores. Taking all the addictive game mechanics that made the original the classic touch screen game it was, the sequel has expanded and refined every aspect of Zombieville USA and created a full-fledged action game worthy of every gamer’s time and pocket change. Zombie games may on the brink of saturation, but if games like Zombieville USA 2 keep coming out, I’ll happily pick up a shotgun or baseball bat one more time.—Luke Larsen

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9. Groove Coaster
Developer: Taito
Publisher: Square-Enix
Platforms: iOS

Groove Coaster makes you feel like a telegraph operator in the world of Tron. In this psychedelic rhythm game with abstract graphics you tap the screen when an icon lines up with a note button. You’re basically tapping out Morse code to an original electro score, with occasional slides tossed in on higher levels. It’s a dance beat, rhythm game, and firework show all in one, and one of the better portable time wasters of the year.—Garrett Martin

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8. Junk Jack
Developer: Pixbits
Publisher: Pixbits
Platforms: iOS

Junk Jack takes cues from games like Terraria that have successfully flattened the building and mining gameplay of Minecraft into two dimensions. Here, the two-person indie developer Pixbits has focused the game’s ambitions on Survival Mode, pitting players in a struggle to put a roof over their head and keep out the monsters. Pixbits has given us its own unique take on what is increasingly become something of its own genre. It’s highly recommended for all those who have ever been curious about Minecraft but never taken the dive in or those looking for an excellent take on the genre for iOS.—Luke Larsen

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7. Tiny Wings
Developer: Andreas Illiger
Publisher: Andreas Illiger
Platforms: iOS

Charm isn’t all a game needs to succeed, but it certainly never hurts. Tiny Wings is so adorable that it’d be one of my most fondly remembered games of the year even if it wasn’t any fun to play. Thankfully this one-finger game about gravity, physics, and a sleepy, night-hating bird is one of the deadliest leader board addictions around.—Garrett Martin

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6. Epoch
Developer: Uppercut Games
Publisher: Uppercut Games
Platforms: iOS

Epoch ditches the virtual joysticks and buttons and emphasizes what the iOS platform is good at: swiping and tapping. With controls as simple as these, Epoch feels intuitive the first time you pick it up to play. It’s not perfect — the action really ramps up in the harder difficulties, but your first play-through won’t likely present you a lot of challenges outside the final boss. In fact, its relatively short length is the primary drawback. The good news is that in terms of gameplay, graphics, and controls, Epoch is one of the most accessible and intuitive action games out in the App Store right now.—Luke Larsen

Mobile gaming hasn’t completely taken over the industry yet, but it might just be a matter of time. Angry Birds are already the most culturally iconic videogame characters since Mario. And people who never really played before are addicted to games on their phones and tablets. Here’s our list of the 10 best mobile games of 2011.

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5. Quarrel
Developer: Denki
Publisher: UTV Ignition Entertainment
Platforms: iOS

Quarrel cleverly combines two timeless board games into a modern day treat. It’s equal parts Risk and Scrabble, as your armies invade enemy territories and try to form the highest scoring word as quickly as possible. It devoured most of my free time for a solid month after it came out, and whenever the inevitable online multiplayer arrives, I might very well never need to play another game again.—Garrett Martin

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4. Forget-Me-Not
Developer: Brandon Williamson
Publisher: Brandon Williamson
Platforms: iOS

Forget-Me-Not is like gaming deja vu. You’re sure you played it at an arcade or bowling alley back in the early 1980s but you can’t quite remember when or where. Brandon Williamson’s maze-chase shooter resembles Pac-Man but with randomly generated levels that change every time you play it. It’s a fantastic medley of disparate game philosophies wrapped up in a highly affordable iOS package.—Garrett Martin

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3. Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP
Developer: Superbrothers and Capybara Games
Publisher: Superbrothers and Capybara Games
Platforms: iOS

Sword & Sworcery’s most awe-inspiring moments take place when it allows us to forget about ourselves, our world, our iPad and our Twitter followers for long enough to take in the wonders that it presents. Danger feels imminent and foreboding, and the animal and plant life seem organic and ethereal. While performing the “Songs of Sworcery” our fingers seem to trigger magical wonders and beautiful music. The story itself is beautiful in its simplicity, and it is so effective because it lingers on implications rather than literalities.—Richard Clark

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2. Infinity Blade II
Developer: Chair Entertainment
Publisher: Epic Games
Platforms: iOS

Infinity Blade II doesn’t fundamentally alter the formula that made its predecessor so successful, but it does add some welcome refinements like new weapon sets, an expanded story, and varied enemies. Its stunning visuals and responsive controls make it one of the best-looking and best-playing games on iOS, even if its repetitive structure isn’t entirely compelling over the long haul. In a franchise based on iterative gameplay, this sequel is an interesting study in iterative design.—J. P. Grant

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1. Jetpack Joyride
Developer: Halfbrick Studios
Publisher: Halfbrick Studios
Platforms: iOS

Videogames used to exist solely to suck up every quarter of our baby-sitting and paper route money. They offered short bursts of play with a goal no greater than making the high score board. Mobile games often share the same sensibility today, and Jetpack Joyride fulfills its end of that bargain better than any other game in 2011. No game stunned me more with “just one more time” paralysis than this infectious one-finger pursuit. No matter how far I fly with that jetpack (or dirtbike, or mechanical dragon) it will never be far enough.—Garrett Martin

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