Best of 2010 (Top 5):
Making games is hard. But playing a game about making games is anything but. Game Dev Story is a lighthearted sim that's lets you run your very own game development studio, doing everything from negotiating licensing deals with console makers to choosing the genre and theme of the games you're going to make. It's the type of game that you pick up to play for a few minutes before realizing that a few hours have already passed. Fixing bugs in a game has never been so fun.
The roguelike is far from dead, as this stunning new iPhone release happily illustrates. Crawl through monster-infested dungeons as you hunt for loot and explore floor after floor of danger and intrigue. Tons of items and equipment can be found, which is kind of the point of a dungeon crawler, and your character slowly gains experience and new skills as you play. Don't die, though, because if you do, you're gone for good. 100 Rogues is a tightly-crafted game that draws you back time after time with its casual-friendly gameplay.
From NimbleBit, the creator of Textropolis and other excellent iPhone games, Pocket Frogs is the next app that will steal little chunks of your time a hundred times a day for the next month. To get an idea of what Pocket Frogs is like, think We Rule plus Flower Garden plus frogs. You have a few different habitats, each capable of holding eight frogs. You can tame these frogs and then breed them, mixing the two parents' appearance to produce a unique species with its own color patterns. Then, head to the shop to buy new habitat sceneries, backgrounds, and items that speed your game along. You really won't be able to stop playing the game, as something new always appears right when you're about to call it a day, and it's so much fun to hop around lily pads and amass a collection of cute little frogs to call your own.
The dungeon crawler is a classic role playing "genre" that seems to be lost to the modern gamer. Sword of Fargoal aims to change that with easy controls, intuitive gameplay, and a perfect pick-up-and-play style that suits casual gamers just fine. Randomly-generated dungeons are ripe for exploration, and each time you open a treasure chest, you're taking a chance to spring a trap instead of finding gold. A superb game (that also looks great) you'll play over and over again.
Dungeon crawling-style role playing games have found a mini-resurgence on mobile devices. Along with that re-emergence has come a decidedly more casual slant, with Deep Deep Dungeon being one of the most casual so far. The game strips exploration and role playing down to its basics, allowing you to move in four directions through increasingly difficult floors of a dungeon. Battle enemies, unlock treasure chests, manage your equipment, and return to camp to spend your cash on new weapons, armor, and other goods. The battle/chest unlock system is perhaps the game's biggest strength. At the bottom of the screen is a moving weapon/key that slides across a bar. Tap the screen to stop it while it's over the orange part to score a hit. Stop it over the red for a critical hit. Different weapons have different length bars and unique placements for the crit spots, creating quite a bit of strategy in choosing how to arm your hero. A very captivating game that's ripe with that "just one more level" addictiveness!