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The 10 best iPhone games of 2010 (so far)

Early contenders for game of the year
Product: Top 10 iPhone charts | Format: iPhone
Top 10 iPhone charts iPhone, thumbnail 1
With just over half of 2010 behind us, it's fair to say that it's been a phenomenal year for iPhone and iPod touch gaming.

Some of the best and brightest games to have graced the devices have come within the last seven months, including Chaos Rings, Plants vs Zombies, and Monkey Island 2 Special Edition.

There's more to come in the final few months of the year, some which we've been anticipating for a while and others we're not yet heard about.

One thing is certain: as tough as it has been selecting the top ten games of 2010 so far, naming the year's absolute best come December will be even tougher.

Chaos Rings
Developer: Media.Vision
Publisher: Square Enix

Chaos Rings

Without uncertainty, Square Enix can lay claim to the best role-playing game for iPhone and iPod touch in Chaos Rings. An original adventure steeped in the traditions of the genre, it's a high quality production that proves stellar games can shine on Apple's devices.

Boasting in-depth character customisation, turn-based battles infused with a hint of tactics, lengthy missions, and some of the best graphics of any mobile game, Chaos Rings has nearly everything you could want from a portable role-playing game.

The fact that its plot thickens with each mission, entangling you evermore in its musings on life and death, bespeaks a carefully crafted experience.

No other game in 2010 has thus far so easily reached the pinnacle of its genre. Chaos Rings may not have the general appeal of Let's Golf! 2 or Plants vs Zombies, but it's without question the highest quality production on this list.

Plants vs Zombies
Developer/Publisher: PopCap Games

Plants vs. Zombies

It's hard to find someone who hasn't been taken in by the colourful visuals and quirky charm of PopCap Games's tower defence game. Plants vs. Zombies is a prime example of how to do the genre right with a balance between simplicity and meaningful tactics.

Whether it's planting basic Pea Shooters to defeat waves of standard zombies or hurriedly growing Cherry Bombs to deal with powerful Zomboni, you're always facing something fresh and fun. How could you not dig the Disco Zombie?

Although the high-definition iPad version packs a couple more features, the portable playability of Plants vs Zombies makes it a great iPhone and iPod touch game and a clear shoe-in for one of the year's best.

Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge
Developer/Publisher: LucasArts

Monkey Island 2 Special Edition

The debate rages on between fans of Broken Sword and Monkey Island, but regardless of which adventure series you prefer there's no argument about which remake raises the bar in terms of features and remastered visuals.

Monkey Island 2 Special Edition establishes a new standard for the long-running genre, boasting an array of sophisticated features and polished gameplay that must be experienced by any self-respecting adventure gamer.

There's simply no other adventure game that comes close to matching its production values.

It's an impressive feat for a game that's two decades old. Nostalgia will lure veterans, but don't let that scare you away if you've never before played this hilarious adventure. Monkey Island 2 Special Edition is a classic and an updated wonder that deserves your full attention.

Street Fighter IV
Developer/Publisher: Capcom

Street Fighter IV

It's amazing that a fighting game makes the list given the difficulties working with a touchscreen, though it's not at all a surprise that Capcom would be the company to pull it off.

Street Fighter IV is a stunning effort that combines great graphics with solid gameplay. Well-placed virtual buttons and a responsive analogue stick ensure agility and precision that was previously thought impossible on iPhone and iPod touch. While it's not the same as handling a controller or arcade cabinet, it's a masterful adaptation.

Only the lack of modes and small roster holds Street Fighter IV back, but that shouldn't at all hold you back from picking up this great game.

Wizzley Presto and the Vampires Tomb
Developer/Publisher: Spellbound Games

Wizzley Presto and the Vampires Tomb

There's a reason why platformers rarely appear among our favourite iPhone and iPod touch games: they're extremely difficult to pull off with touch controls. Wizzley Presto and the Vampires Tomb is the exception that proves the rule, providing workable controls for fantastic platforming action.

The game's back-to-basics approach ensures that you'll feel at home with its gameplay and graphics, yet there are some fresh ideas that will keep you entertained. Puzzles requiring simple logic and collectible eggs that can be thrown at enemies for damage test your skills as you travel from one chapter to the next.

Despite its brevity and a few design flaws, Wizzley Presto and the Vampires Tomb is precisely the sort of platformer we could use more of on iPhone and iPod touch.

Let's Golf! 2
Developer/Publisher: Gameloft

Let's Golf! 2

It's often difficult for a sequel to surpass the original, but Let's Golf! 2 is one of those infrequent follow ups that manage to do everything better.

From the addition of online multiplayer and new single-player modes to refined swing mechanics and expanded character customisation, Let's Golf! 2 is an improvement in every way. It feels better, plays better, and looks better too.

As if that wasn't enough to convince, there are dozens upon dozens of hours of gameplay packed into the game, making it well worth the premium price. Let's Golf! 2 may not have the realism of others in the genre, but you're not going to be able to find a game this polished and playable.

Developer/Publisher: TheCodingMonkeys


Digital conversions of boardgames aren't exactly the most exciting fare, until Carcassonne came along. An exemplary effort that seizes the spirit of the original while at the same time properly tailoring it for portable play, it's one of the finest titles of the year so far.

Phenomenal multiplayer options allow you to play via Bluetooth, local wi-fi, or even on a single device. What's truly nice is the ability to head online and compete with other players from around the world - that's cutting-edge for a boardgame conversion.

A single-player Solitaire mode ensures that you can play when you're not able to join up with buddies or connect online, though Carcassonne truly shines in multiplayer. It's easily among the finest multiplayer experiences so far this year, not to mention on iPhone and iPod touch as a whole.

PES 2010
Developer/Publisher: Konami

PES 2010

Football has been competitive this year on iPhone and iPod touch with the likes of 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, X2 Football 2010, and PES 2010. While X2 Football 2010 definitely has the technical skill, PES 2010 has the grace and style.

Konami's football game doesn't pack as many features in as the competition, yet its core mechanics are superior to those offered anywhere else. Intelligent touch controls respond dynamically to situations, whether you're in possession and setting up an attempt on goal or defending and trying to seize the ball.

It's visually a heavy-hitter, even if it doesn't have the array of multiplayer modes and features that are so desperately desired. With FIFA 11 still to come, PES 2010 has already established a high bar that could well put it among the year's best.

Super QuickHook
Developer/Publisher: Rocketcat Games

Super Quickhook

Few games - let alone indie creations - possess the polish of Super QuickHook. Everything has been tweaked and fine-tuned from level layouts to bonus features to character customisation, and the result is nothing short of great gameplay.

Of course, that's not to say that Super QuickHook is perfect, but it's an example of attention to detail in game design. This is a title that has every conceivable feature married to thoughtful level design.

These features give this otherwise quick-fix action game depth and replay value that it wouldn't otherwise have.

Broken Sword: Director's Cut

Developer/Publisher: Revolution Software

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Even though it doesn't have as many features as rival Monkey Island 2 Special Edition, there's no denying the exemplary design of Broken Sword: Director's Cut. This is a classic that's gotten better with age, its updated visuals and controls a perfect fit for iPhone and iPod touch.

It's an engaging adventure that feels at home on a touchscreen. Developer Revolution Software has done a superb job reconfiguring the controls and it's an utter joy to play. Puzzles have been tweaked to reduce confusion and new mini-games have been adapted for touch control.

As with any adventure game, though, it's all about the story and dialogue and Broken Sword delivers. This is one of the best written games on any platform, and it's not to be missed.

Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson 4 August 2010
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