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Best of 2011!
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4TowersIt's been several years since the first big breakout browser tower defense games started capturing big audiences. The genre has rolled along just fine on the mobile platform, featuring some very stylish interpretations of the strategic genre. As 4Towers wants to prove, you can also have an interesting story to go along with deep, customizable gameplay. Start with a few basic towers defending your base from creeps. Then, when the terrain allows it, combine units to form brand new towers that do some wonderful, wonderful things. It looks great, plays well, and gradually increases the complexity to keep you hooked wave after wave.

ChickonFrom the creator of the Risk-like strategy game Galcon comes a very similar sort of game involving chickens, eggs, and robots! Send your little warriors to the robots' nests in order to slowly take them over. You gradually build up eggs while roosting, and the more nests you own, the more troops you can command! Fight off the machines as your work your way to the caged roosters, and once you free them, it's on to the factories for some seriously swarm-like levels. Power-ups give things an extra splash, but to get some good use out of them, you'll probably want to dip into the game's microtransaction system.

Dice SoccerWe love games that aren't usually played with dice but then, well, are. Lock 'n' Roll and Dice Wars are prime examples! Dice Soccer combines what is arguably the world's most well-known sport with the art of rolling dice, allowing you to customize your team using player cards and push through the field to score goals by rolling dice. Tap or shake to turn your players into dice. If your side has the highest numbers, you move forward. Wild cards, multipliers, and other tricky math things come into play, adding some strategy to the actual dice rolling and creating a game you absolutely won't be able to stop enjoying.

Grand Prix StoryFrom Japanese developer Kairosoft, creator of Game Dev Story, comes another surprisingly deep simulation game for the mobile market. Grand Prix Story drops you in the shoes of a business owner trying to make it big in the world of grand prix racing. You manage everything from your mechanics and drivers to research, vehicle repairs, engine upgrades, and driver training regimens, all designed to vault you to the top of the leaderboards.

Junk JackWe all know Minecraft by now, the massively cool 3D sandbox creativity game that lets you explore, craft, and build anything you like. Then there's Terraria, a game that took the same formula and flattened it into a 2D sidescrolling game, adding combat and some other nice extras in the process. Both titles have spawned similar games on numerous platforms, but so far the mobile realm hasn't been a fertile ground for the sandbox genre. Until Junk Jack came along. This 2D pixel-gorgeous game takes the all-too-familiar crafting, digging, and exploration formula to your iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, bringing with it an entire world of possibilities.

Kingdom Rush HDNew to the iPad world is the tower defense game we all love to love, Kingdom Rush HD from Ironhide Games, a port of Kingdom Rush for browsers released not too long ago. The team had a bit of a problem when an unauthorized clone appeared on the iTunes App Store weeks before release. The knockoff was spotted and eventually removed (whew), leaving space for this excellent port of an already excellent game to wow and surprise gamers in the iOS device realm!

Minecraft: Pocket EditionYou know the game, now you can take it with you wherever you go! Er... sorta. This early release of the mobile version of the ever-amazing Minecraft features just the most essential elements you need to build your own block worlds. Move around your world, creating and removing blocks with a tap of your touch screen. There's no crafting, no mobs, and most of the other features found in the full desktop version of the game aren't present, but if you absolutely need your Minecraft fix on-the-go, this'll get the job done. With any luck, the game will get more features in the near future. A free Minecraft - Pocket Edition Demo is also available.

Oh! Edo TownsMore pixel-based Kairosoft simulation gaming, anyone? The creators of Game Dev Story, Pocket Academy, and several other titles in the "story" series have released what is essentially a 17th century Japan version of SimCity, crossed with the usual battery of Kairosoft's management mechanics. Your goal is to raise income so the citizens of your town prosper. You do this by building structures next to each other to create combos, boosting the economy and allowing you to access more bits of scenery and new buildings to play with. It's simpler than previous Kairosoft releases, features a few iPhone-specific interface upgrades (pinch to zoom!), and is every bit as engaging!

PlunderlandAnd now... It's pirateering time! A far-too-entertaining sidescrolling game that drops you in a boat filled with pirates who are out to plunder and siege to their hearts' content. Sail from port to port as you collect money by tossing it in your ship. Take out enemy boats and remove obstacles with the slide of a finger, participate in sea battles, encounter inhabitants, and use your cannon for epic boss fights. There's a lot to do in this unassuming little game, so don't let it slip under your sea radar.

Pocket AcademyDo you remember your high school? Are you still in high school? Have you always thought you could do better than the, like, total lamers who run the place? Now's your chance to prove it with Kairosoft's latest simulation and foray into the world of Pretend School Management. Balance the needs of your students and faculty with building improvements to your facilities, research new rooms and activities, take part in competitions, and design the academy of your dreams to ensure you rise to number one.

Pocket League StoryAnother simulation game from the mobile experts at Kairosoft, creator of Game Dev Story and several other games in the "story" series. You are the manager of a young soccer team hoping to make it big. Train players, attract sponsors, manage research possibilities and keep track of players' stats before and after each game. During the action, you're practically a spectator, leaving you in a tense nail-biting position. If you manage your team right, though, you'll start racking up some victories, giving you more options to improve your team bit by bit. The free Pocket League Story Lite is also available.

SAMURAI BLOODSHOW: les vagues blanches, les nuages rougesSurprise! Here is a very, very good card-based strategy defense game illustrated in the style of emakimono, or Japanese picture scrolls. The unique visuals may be what draws you in, but what will keep you interested is the gradually-paced tactical progression you experience while traveling across the map, fighting greater and greater foes. Each level pits you against ten waves of enemies. Draw cards to place your battle units on the grid, then level them up or place more as you see fit. After each victory you get a new card, and after tough battles you might even get a new unit. Organize your decks between matches to deal with the more difficult enemies, then jump into battle for even more strategical fun.

Snoopy's Street FairIt's hard to ignore the power of free-to-play games, especially when they follow the hyper-addictive formula set by the likes of Smurf's Village and Tiny Tower. Snoopy's Street Fair drops you in the Peanuts' neighborhood where you can manage things like Sally's lemonade stand and Lucy's "advice" booth, selling all sorts of things to passers-by as you gather coins, unlock bonus items (including scans of the original comic strips), and send Snoopy out on various quests. It's every bit as engaging as games like We Rule, but with the careful attention to detail, a lighter emphasis on the minutae of management, and the deluge of nostalgic characters, this one could be an even bigger hit.

The King's PathMeet your new favorite tower defense game! The King's Path was created by Elliot Pace, author of the browser game Defend Your Nuts. It draws inspiration from a number of game types, including old school RPGs, defense games, and strategy games. Answer a few questions before the game begins to determine skill bonuses you get, then hop on in. Head out to battle and select your troops, ranging from a bomb-throwing pirate to mages, warriors, witches and archers, each with his or her own strength and weakness on the battlefield. Waves of enemies approach you, but by hiring people to stand near the path, you can clear them out before they reach the other side. Earn gold and skill points in battle, then use them to upgrade everything between fights, including skills that affect damage, gold, experience, and more. Extremely enjoyable on all fronts, and it's a wonderful change of pace to see different game types mixed in this manner. The King's Path HD for iPad is also available.

Tiny TowerNimbleBit releases another hit with Tiny Tower, and it is possibly the best, least-nag-filled freemium game on the App Store! Manage the creation and staffing of every floor of your pixel tower. Choose from a number of floor types (residential, commercial, service, etc.) and wait in real-time while the construction is complete. When your floor is ready, staff it with one of your bitizens, matching each person's strengths with that type of shop. The only real maintenance you have to do is restocking shelves, all of which is done by choosing between items that range from a few minutes to an hour or so to obtain, then just make sure you have a good mix of floors available. You can opt to spend real cash to buy in-game towerbux to speed things up, but this is one game that plays remarkably well without using your own money.

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