In his final installment of annual roundups, Gaming Tribe's Bob Mandel brings you the top iPad games of 2013.
Top iPad Games of 2013
In 2012, to complement my long-running Top Indie PC Games of the Year awards article series, I inaugurated a parallel feature on Top iPad Games of the Year because the quantity and quality of iPad releases became comparable to that on the personal computer.
To perform my evaluation of the contenders, I downloaded and played hundreds of iPad games whose descriptions or trailers showed significant promise. For the best of these, I then obtained and evaluated full versions from the developers so that I could see exactly what customers would be purchasing.
This year it was more challenging than ever to pick the dozen winners, for the competition keeps intensifying. In selecting the winners, I reward games that benefit most from the special capabilities of the iPad (most natural with tilt, touch and swipe); games whose graphics are not significantly compromised by the compact screen real estate, whose controls are intuitive and customizable, whose sound effects and music enhance the gameplay, and whose gameplay is both fresh and fun. The maturation of the iPad platform is shown by the number of winners that are sequels, and a very small number of them were developed in the United States.
I need to make a special note about games with in-app purchase (IAP) options. I am decidedly not a fan of IAPs, and at first I was going to exclude any game relying too heavily on these for progress. But upon reflection I reconsidered, for as a reviewer I feel I should be focusing on gameplay, graphics, sound and controls, not how much a game costs initially or how tempted players would be to buy their way ahead rather than grind through the gameplay. So those who shun IAP games should be forewarned that a couple of the winners rely on this revenue model.
I am the first to admit that I love virtual pinball, so it is a real pleasure to report that a truly great game has come out in the past year. In Quantic Pinball there are eight different game modes from which to choose, with seven colorful tables to play (plus a special retro one). Special play modes include “shoot them up” (a time-limited opportunity to shoot aliens), multiball, ball teleportation, magnetic fields, blackout (where all you can see is right around the ball), and ramps hide-and-seek.
Unlike many virtual pinball offerings in which you just try to hit a few holes or critical locations on each table, here there are a ton of exciting opportunities presented by each different screen. The neon color scheme is dazzling, the sound effects are just right, the new-wave music is right on the mark, and the physics of ball movement—most important for this type of game—are spot on. You control the flippers by touching those at the bottom left and right of the screen, and the response is just what you would want. There is no screen-scrolling, which can prevent you from appropriately judging when and where to hit the ball. I find myself unable to escape from the pinball wizardry once I begin playing this great game.
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