We're past the halfway point for the year, and 2013 has already proven to be an incredible time for new iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch games. Whether you tend towards quick-hit affairs or engrossing, strategic time sinks (or a little of both), there's been an absolute wealth of great options to choose from in a huge array of genres. Why wait until January rolls around to look back on such greatness? We've compiled our picks for the 25 best iOS games of the year to date, all of which are surefire options for on-the-go entertainment.
The original Kingdom Rush is one of the App Store's most enticing time sinks – an original tower defense affair that delivers countless hours of challenging entertainment and remains atop the crowded genre on iOS. Kingdom Rush Frontiers, available in separate iPhone (reviewed) and iPad releases, makes little effort to reinvent the formula. It's the same core strategic experience that we loved last year, albeit with fresh terrain and tower upgrades, plus a couple of light twists along the way. And considering the immense quality of the original, it's tough to argue with that approach.
In the tradition of Plants vs. Zombies, Go Home Dinosaurs delivers streamlined tower defense action on iPad under a delightfully absurd premise. As a projectile-tossing gopher, you'll collect coconuts to fill each stage with an array of offensive turrets and structures to ward off colorful dinosaurs attempting to disrupt your precious BBQ. And the game even adds in a puzzle element, as the defenses arrive on Tetris-like pieces that must slot into the purposely cramped grid layouts. While not always the most electrifying mash-up, Go Home Dinosaurs still charms as it (lightly) challenges.
Tower defense games sprung to life on the PC and have also thrived on consoles, but it's on iOS devices where we've seen the largest and most diverse number of great entries. These strategic affairs challenge you to protect a base from waves of increasingly tough and complex enemies by placing offensive turrets along the way, and the tactical thrill of managing an effective array of fortifications can be hugely satisfying. Need a brainy fix wherever you are? Here are our picks for the 10 best iPhone tower defense games, each of which offers a distinctive test.
Like other popular games ported to iOS, Minecraft: Pocket Edition has spawned an abundance of "me too" clones attempting to cash in on the game's prolific momentum. Block Fortress certainly looks like just another carbon copy to throw on the pile, but it's a very different experience once you dig beneath the surface. Instead of grand exploration and adventure, this frenetic tower defense game mixes first-person shooter combat, base building, and an addicting RPG progression and unlocking system to create something that feels fresh and fun.
Anomaly Korea lives up to its namesake, offering a very different kind of approach to the familiar tower defense genre by putting you on the offensive. Granted, this isn't 11 Bit Studios' first attempt to shake up the common strategic framework. Last year's Anomaly: Warzone Earth featured much the same concept: defend Earth from an alien force that just happens to set up fortified, powerful towers along city streets. Your roving caravan of armored vehicles is tasked with making it through each mission alive, or completing other noted objectives.
One of the App Store's earliest original sensations returns in Fieldrunners 2, a sequel to the tower defense affair in which you'll place towers across various open battlefields to repel the coming forces. Much like in the original, the myriad Gatling guns and missile turrets can typically be placed in dozens of locations, letting you concoct winding mazes to direct the enemy grunts and tanks through, and it adds an extra layer of strategy to consider as you aim to protect your base.
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You, Sir Fortix, the lone knight of the kingdom, are called upon to save the land of Artalom from the clutches of the evil mage Xitrof -- alone. Without any help whatsoever. That’s the gist of Fortix 2, an unexpectedly nifty puzzle title -- think of it as a “reverse tower defense” game. You have to control all the units on the map (gates, keys, towers, power-ups, catapults, and so on) by boxing off terrain, which captures anything within it. What’s more, you have to box off the units without disrupting the lines you’re creating -- any interruptions will immediately kill your character.