It’s not just the big consoles that have been booming in 2013, those smartphones and tablets have swiped a piece of the action too. We run the rule over five of the hottest apps from the past 12 months, proving amazing things really do come in small downloadable packages
5: Cut the Rope: Time Travel | Puzzle | £1.99
A whole lot has happened to mobile gaming since the first Cut The Rope sliced onto iOS screens back in 2010. Om Nom, the green blobby superstar of this physics puzzle series is now an animated superstar, but his day job continues to produce the goods, as the Zeptolab developers deliver dozens more superbly conceived candy crunching levels, spanning six historical periods, including the Middle Ages, Ancient Egypt and The Renaissance. Each bunch of teasers introduces ingenious new play styles, which range from the ability to freeze time to the appearance of explosive devices or chain-cutting blades. They build perfectly on the well-established gameplay mechanics, making Time Travel feel like a completely new experience, even though you won’t need telling twice to dive in if you’ve played the previous iterations. Crisp, colourful and full of character, it’s arguably the best Cut The Rope yet.
4: Device 6 | Puzzle/Adventure | £2.49
It’s gaming, but not quite as you know it. Unless, that is, you remember the good old days when an engrossing adventure game was more about rephrasing typed commands twenty different ways before you found the correct combination to advance in a world of your imagination. Device 6 gloriously re-boots this concept with a stunning adventure that repositions the written word as your map, your instruction manual and your source of immense entertainment, alongside half a dozen excellent logic puzzles. Lost in this curious and creepy tale of mind control and fantasy mayhem, you’ll suddenly realise that (a) you’ve never played a game like this before and (b) you can’t believe where the last three hours or so have gone. It’s a one hit wonder, but gloriously delivered with super-slick production and devilishly designed cerebral challenges. While it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, there’s no doubt Device 6 is in a short-lived league of its own.
3: Year Walk | Adventure | £2.49
Some games are difficult to review, because you don’t want to spoil one iota of the surprise and delight awaiting your iPad. Year Walk is one such title, presenting such a novel and intriguing game experience that to say too much would ruin the individual’s mini voyage of discovery. So suffice to say that a Year Walk is an ancient Swedish tradition where men venture into the forest on New Year’s Eve in a effort to see their future. Cue an early shock that sets the tone for a chilling tale, leaving you on the edge of your seat for the few hours it will consumes your attention. The puzzle-solving and adventuring is outstanding, while the cinematic graphical approach and disturbing audio effects further heighten the uncomfortable feeling lingering with you while you play (particularly in a darkened room). It’s unconventional tablet gaming at its finest, unlike anything else you’ll have seen to date, and undoubtedly one title you’ll want to tell all your pals about... without giving the game away, of course.
2: Joe Danger | Action | £1.99
He started life as a paperboy, and now Joe Danger has reached the dizzy heights of stuntman extraordinaire trading pedal power for full throttle on his motorbike. All you’ve got to do is keep him on it, as you hurtle down the dozens of craftily constructed tracks, jumping obstacles and collecting all manner of items along the way. You’d better have your wits about you, because once the action warms up, you’ll be tapping all over the screen to net you three stars on each level. Your frustration levels may red-line at times, but that makes success all the sweeter, as Joe Danger’s slick, simple controls reward lightning reactions for when you’re jumping (or ducking) at the right time. Oodles of character customisation content adds a humorous layer to the colourful, super crisp presentation, making this quick-fix action reflex-fest a stunt show you can’t afford not to get involved in.
1: Real Racing 3 | Racing | FREE
It’s amazing how offering a title with production values as high as Real Racing 3 for free has been the cause of such consternation amongst iOS race fans. It’s because ‘free’ these days can often be shorthand for freemium, where gamers must pay within the game itself to access the features they would much rather have available up front for a fee. Here, Real Racing 3 can absolutely be enjoyed in its totally free status, and it certainly offers one of the finest racing experiences yet to hit app stores. Yes, you’ll probably need to spend a fiver or so to avoid any major periods of inconvenience, waiting for cars to be repaired or serviced, but it’s a small price to pay for a game that is technically unbelievable, and worthy of being mentioned alongside the likes of Gran Turismo when it comes to attention to detail. Drop into the driver’s set and find out for yourself...