Games are perhaps the most important category of mobile apps. Good games sell smartphones and tablets, keep grownups entertained and small children quiet. Dominating the app-store charts, a good game can make mobile developers millions of dollars, or at least keep them in business to take a stab another stab at greatness.
Another positive factor for mobile games in 2012 is that most major independent and major game studios now release games on both iOS and Android - and sometimes other platforms as well. This means smartphone users can get the best games no matter which leading mobile platform they use.
Apple and Google have shared their leading iOS and Android games for 2012. ReadWrite's Top 10 highlights some of those choices, along with a few picks of our own:
10. Angry Birds Star Wars
Angry Birds Star Wars is perhaps the best entry yet in the Angry Birds franchise. Especially if you like Star Wars. Rovio's latest hit brings Luke, Leia, Han Solo, X-Wings, the Millenium Falcon and even the Death Star to Angry Birds in a fascinating mix of space-based physics and fun new features. Ever wanted to use a lightsaber to on one of those pesky piggies? Now is your chance.
9. Triple Town
Mobile games have grown increasingly sophisticated, to the point where games that used to live only on consoles like the Xbox and Playstation are now rendered beautifully on your smartphone. But some of the best mobile games exist purely for smartphones, designed for the casual gamer looking to kill some time waiting for the train. The surprisingly addictive Triple Town is that kind of game. This puzzle game gives you a plot of land where you combine items like trees and bushes to create houses until you have built the best town possible before the angry bears clog up your map. Triple Town is deceptively simple and tons of fun.
Naught is one of the most artistic and dynamic games to hit mobile devices since Contre Jour captivated users in 2011. This shadowy game uses gravity to explore an underground world full of levels that twist and turn to the point where you can never quite figure out what is up and what is down. Naught also employs the gyroscope on your mobile device to allow you to control your character by manipulating your device to let gravity pull you further down the rabbit hole.
7. SHADOWGUN: Deadzone
Some of the best games of the personal computer era were first-person shooters. Games like Doom featured original point-of-view of the action and extreme violence. In the mobile era, first-person shooters are becoming more sophisticated, easier to control, employ better graphics and... remain incredibly violent. SHADOWGUN: Deadzone is one of the best in this category for 2012. It is interesting and fun, a little cheesy and in your face. Put it all together and it's one of the best free games you will find on a mobile device.
6. Waking Mars
Apple chose Waking Mars as its runner up for Game of the Year in 2012. It might have won best game from Apple if it was exclusive to iOS, but this dynamic game can also be found on Android. Life has been discovered in caves on the planet Mars: Your job is to help bring the sleeping planet back to life, spelunking around Martian caves on Mars on your jetpack, trying to survive and help the Red Planet realize its potential to support life.
5. Walking Dead: The Game
Free - iOS
Choose you own adventure meets the world of comic books meets zombies meets your iPad. Walking Dead: The Game is based on Robert Kirkman's Walking Dead comics and is not your classic shoot-the-zombie-hordes type of video game. Walking Dead is a psychological mindtwist told in comic book form where you attempt to save a woman named Clementine from the zombie apocalypse in five gripping episodes. The app itself is free to download, but you have to buy new episodes through in-app purchases. (Note, game trailer contains adult language. )
4. The Bard’s Tale
Wenches, ale and gold... but this is not your classic hero-based role playing game. The anti-hero Bard takes the easy route in this irreverent RPG on iOS and Android. Lyrical and witty, The Bard's Tale is the best game of its category in 2012. Save the world? Or search for coin and cleavage? You can probably guess what the Bard is going to choose.
Only Zynga would have the audacity to charge $6.99 for a mobile game on iOS and Android. Yet Zynga pulled off something very cool in Horn, a third-person point-of-view adventure game where you are a blacksmith's apprentice who wakes to find his village full of monsters. Turns out, those monsters are the blacksmith's fellow townspeople, transformed by some weird curse. Battle your way through with your decidedly odd sidekick in a game that is both an epic adventure and role-playing-game (RPG), all in one.
Free (Invite Only) - Android
One of the most intriguing games to hit any mobile devices this year, Ingress is still only in invite-only mode but. When reviewing Ingress, I thought that the game, from Google's Niantic Labs, had the potential to truly define what a mobile game could be. It employs augmented/alternate reality, location and social features through a unique massive-multiplayer setting: the real world. Hack portals, control Exotic Matter, battle for the Enlightenment or the Resistance. Ingress can be mildly addictive (and somewhat dangerous) once you get your hands on an invite.