Five iOS Games That Made Me Ignore This Year's Greatest Games

It's that time of the year again. During the tail end of each year, video game developers release their biggest games in order to catch the high potential of sales during the holiday season. This can be a great or daunting time for hardcore gamers. On the plus side, there are a ton of great games to be keep them busy for the next few months. On the downside, there are way too many games and probably not enough time to run through all of them.

I, like many other gamers during this time of year, “suffer” through this bottleneck of triple-A quality games being released all at once. My copies of Deux Ex: Human Revolution and Batman: Arkham City? They're both still in their original plastic wrap. I probably won't be able pop these guys into my system until 2012 at this rate.

With such a daunting task to complete these games before the year's end, I've found comfort in the bite-sized games found on my iOS devices. Strangely enough, I've spent more time playing these micro-sized games than the ones on my PS3 and XBOX 360 combined. The following are the iOS games that have taken over my gaming life during the past month.

1. Bejeweled Blitz

How does developer Popcap Games improve on the already-successful Bejeweled formula? It made the game last a single minute and added the feature to compare weekly scores with your friends on Facebook. Sure, the game's available on XBLA, but it's kind of lame comparing your high score only with others who've bought the game.

Having the game only last one minute per round makes it so much more accessible. Bejeweled is incredibly addicting. Players will continue to have that “one more game” mentality just to be at the top of the scoreboard, even though it'll only be up there for a week (high scores reset, forcing players to come back!).

2. Hanging With Friends

There's something tremendously satisfying about coming up with a word such as “Valkyrie” (my personal best), watching one of your Facebook friends scramble to figure out what it is, and watching his or her avatar fall into a pit of lava after receiving one too many strikes. It's pretty much the same ol' hangman game you've been playing all your life, but now you're playing it with friends all over the world. It's a lot faster paced than Words With Friends, the other game by developer Zynga with Friends. There's also a lot more charm and personality in Hanging, since players can spend their hard-earned points/coins on customizing their avatars and balloons.

The game has consumed my everyday life. Every time I have a free couple of minutes, whether I'm waiting in line at a fast-food joint or in my car at a red light, I whip out my iPhone to try play a few rounds. Whenever I see a unique word used during a conversation, I'll often think to myself, “Hey, that's a good word to use on Hanging!”

3. Infinity Blade

Everyone can clearly see that Infinity Blade is the best-looking game on any iOS platform — or any handheld gaming device for that matter. The game runs on Unreal Engine 3, the same engine that's powering the recently released Gears of War 3 on the XBOX360. To see such a powerful game running on such a tiny gaming device is a marvel of its own.

Sure, the game is nothing more than Punch-out and a grind-fest. But the ability to earn money to upgrade your character and his armor makes the game so addicting. You can also play the game as long as you want — run through a single battle in about a minute, or traverse the entire castle in 10. However, there is no doubt about it: The loot and constant character upgrading is nice, but the real joy of playing this game is how damn good it looks.

4. Jetpack Joyride

Jetpack Joyride is kind of what made Doodle Jump so mindnumbingly fun when it first came out. However, instead of constantly jumping up, Jetpack Joyride is constantly moving the player to the right, and it is up to him/her to avoid just about everything that's in the way.

However, developer Halfbrick (the Fruit Ninja guys) added more to the same old “move in one direction for as long as possible” gameplay style. Players are given silly missions that will change his/her playing style each time. For example, there is a mission that requires players to high-five a certain number of scientists during the round.These NPCs are constantly running aimlessly in the lower part of the screen. So instead of flying over everything to avoid obstacles, players will have to make a conscious effort to land and high-five these poor guys..

5. Puzzle Agent 2

The iPad is a great device to play Telltale's episodic graphic adventure games. Other Telltale games such as the Sam & Max series and Tales of Monkey Island are available on XBLA and the PlayStation Store, but the only way to play the Puzzle Agent games (other than the PC) is through the iOS devices. With unique graphics that look hand-drawn, a creepy yet interesting story that has some hilarious moments, and Professor Layton-style puzzles that are integrated well into the story, Puzzle Agent 2 is a great example of how a high-quality game can succeed on a platform that is typically dominated with casual, low-quality minigames.

Check out other video game posts by Peter Mai here

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