You do not need a console, Mac or personal computer to tap into the best games of 2011.
Increasingly, mobile games developed for smartphones and tablet computers offer comparable graphics, gameplay and entertainment value as those found on less portable devices. The best can also be insanely addictive.
Here are the best games of the year developed for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices.
Jetpack Joyride (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch: $0.99)
Jetpack Joyride appeals to hardcore and casual gamers alike. The one-touch running game slaps a jetpack on your back and has you dodging things in your path by flying up and down on the screen. All the while you have coins to grab and objectives to meet. Jetpack Joyride is filled with some very funny and fun-to-use power-ups and is addictive in all the best ways. The art style and effects are simply gorgeous. It also full of tongue-in-cheek humor and references to other iOS titles, including main character Barry Steakfires who was introduced in last year’s shooter game Monster Dash. Jetpack Joyride is one of those games that you just have to keep playing “just one more time,” over and over.
Check out the video review.
Dead Space (iPhone, iPod Touch: $0.99, iPad: $9.99, Android: $6.99)
Dead Space is a prequel story to Dead Space 2, a console video game release from earlier this year. The title, which arrived to Android devices in December, is just as good as its Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 counterpart when played on mobile devices. Dead Space puts you in control of an operative named Vandal, charged with a secret mission aboard the huge mining space station known as the Sprawl. But it isn’t long before horrific monsters are tearing through the station and its human inhabitants, leaving you to fight them off with one of the four mining tools at your disposal.The third-person shooter game is a pretty gory survival-horror title, so it’s not for kids. But if you’re into scary games with decent controls and state-of-the-art graphics and soundtrack, this is the one for you.
See more on our video review, if you dare!
Infinity Blade II (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad: $6.99)
The sequel to what was probably one of the best iOS games of 2010, Infinity Blade II takes everything that was great about the original and adds to it. The one-on-one sword-fighting gameplay that made the original so fun has been amped-up with better touch controls and new weapons that require different strategies. The whole game has been lengthened beyond the original, with more world to explore and a fleshed-out story to go with it. What’s more, like its predecessor, Infinity Blade II sets the bar for graphics, especially on the iPhone 4S and iPad 2.
See why Infinity Blade II makes the cut in our video review.
World of Goo (iPhone, iPod Touch: $2.99, iPad: $4.99, Android: $4.99)
Another mobile game that first became a hit on PCs, World of Goo reworks its mouse-based puzzle gameplay for touchscreen controls. It works great. The game is all about building structures with gooey little characters, allowing you to create bridges, towers and other buildings. The goal is to make your structures reach a pipe at some remote point in the level to suck up any extra goo balls. Hit the minimum quota, and you win the level. World of Goo has a delightful art style and a haunting bit of story going on in the background, but it’s really the well-designed puzzle levels and tight controls that make it a blast to play.
Watch a video review of the Android version, which was finally released in December.
Real Racing 2 HD (iPad: $6.99)
While there are many different flavors of racing games to be found in the App Store, Real Racing 2 HD is the best of the best. The game really makes use of the iPad 2’s hardware and high definition screen to bring us all a comprehensive racing experience equivalent to many console titles. Packed with various cars, tracks, and game modes, there is plenty of content to enjoy here. The cars and the realistic world they inhabit are detailed and colorful, and the top-of-the-line production values leave the competition in the dust. This already-great game was one of the first to feature the inclusion of AirPlay, courtesy of iOS 5, letting us enjoy iOS gaming in whole new ways. While Real Racing 2 HD is optimized for the iPad 2, you can still play it on Apple’s original tablet computer. Fans can also play the 2010 edition of Real Racing 2 on the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad: $4.99)
Indie darling Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery creates a singular adventure experience on the iOS platform. Mixing beautiful graphics, a compelling and quirky writing style and haunting music, Sword & Sworcery has players taking on the role of an adventurer questing for a legendary book. You’ll wander through dream worlds and fight eternal monsters in a place where music and visuals are tightly interwoven. Sword & Sworcery is the sort of title that tries to blur the line between game and art, and it mostly succeeds while being pretty beautiful along the way.
See for yourself in our video review.
Cut the Rope (iPhone, iPod Touch: $0.99, iPad: $1.99, Android: $0.99)
Cut the Rope debuted on iOS devices in 2010 before making its way to Android this year. From the people who brought you Angry Birds, Cut the Rope features simple swipe-based rope cutting, candy, and the infinitely adorable monster known as Om Nom. The physics/puzzle combination also has interesting mechanics that consistently keep things engaging, and the developers released several new level packs completely for free which have more than doubled the size of the game. In addition to its debut on Android in 2011, the Cut the Rope: Experiments sequel hit the iTunes App Store this year.
Here’s a video review of the Android version.
Tiny Wings (iPhone, iPod Touch: $0.99)
In addition to being the game that officially dethroned Angry Birds as the No. 1 paid app in the iTunes App Store, Tiny Wings is a simple and addictive arcade game that is well worth the 99-cent download cost. Your goal is to see just how far you can fly until the sun goes down. To do this, you use the hills to help launch your bird in the air. Tapping the screen will fold your bird's wings and help you down, while letting go will flap your wings to fly.
See more in our video review.
Hanging with Friends (iPhone, iPod Touch: Free and 99 cents, Android: Free)
Game developer Zynga is great at taking classic titles and putting social, mobile twists on them. Hanging with Friends, available as free and 99-cent versions on the iPhone and iPad (also free on Android) is an update to the classic Hangman game. The game allows you to bring in your Facebook and Twitter friends, and will allow you to search for friends based on username if they don’t belong to either network.
See more in our video review.
Starfront - Collision (iPhone, iPod Touch: $4.99, iPad: $6.99)
Gameloft’s take on the very popular PC strategy title StarCraft II is StarFront: Collision, a touch-based real-time strategy title that gets players sending marines, tanks, robots and all kinds of other units to fight off the armies of their enemies. The game includes a decent-size single-player campaign in which you get to play the roles of three different alien races all warring for resources across various planets. StarFront’s best feature is its robust online multiplayer mode that lets you take on as many as three other players in a big battle royale, or team up in a two-on-two skirmish.
Appolicious Advisors Phil Hornshaw and Andrew Koziara contributed to this article. See more of the best games of 2011 for iOS and Android devices.