This year, the iPad celebrated its second birthday, saw a sequel in the iPad 2, and watched as its burgeoning App Store exploded with thousands of downloads.

In the gaming space, we saw developers finally get to grips with the device. Super-sized iPhone apps are out, while better-suited genres that make use of the tablet's expanded real estate are in.

This year's best games on iPad, then, are adventure games that use the 10-inch screen to render intricate worlds for us to get lost in, strategy epics that let us see the entire battlefield in a single glance, and boardgames that mimic real-world toys.

By Amanita Design, buy on iPad goty-2011-ipad-machinarium

Games don't come more beautiful than this. The hand-drawn backdrops, whirring automatons, and flickering lamplights of Machinarium might paint a grim dystopia, but they make for some of the most visually arresting scenes ever committed to pixels.

This Czech point-and-click affair is also memorable for its fab puzzle design. There's not a word of dialogue in the whole thing, so everything has to be communicated through visuals.

The game's cast of robots express their desires through body language, and hints are given subtly in the environment.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
By Capybara Games, buy on iPad and iPhone goty-2011-ipad-sworcery

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, a misspelled mouthful from some of Canada's most creative bods, refuses to be trapped in any one genre. It's a point-and-click adventure without an inventory, an RPG without fetch quests, and an action game where the fights are about rhythm instead of power.

Whatever the case, it's definitely a game about curiosity and exploration. Through evocative retrograde visuals and an operatic chiptune soundtrack, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP invites you along for a ride into the world of the weird and the imaginative.

This is one iPad experience that we won't forget in a hurry.

SpaceChem Mobile
By Zachtronics Industries, buy on iPad goty-2011-ipad-spacechem

SpaceChem Mobile isn't about chemistry. It might have a pop-up periodic table and invite you to craft puzzles around atoms and molecules. It might have you construct giant molecular factories that bond and fuse and snap apart compounds. But, it's not about chemistry.

No, this crushingly difficult puzzler is about computer programming. As you craft these chemical machines, telling nanoscopic robots how to interact with a handful of atoms, you're inadvertently learning all about loops and subroutines and even debugging.

And you just thought you were playing one of the most accomplished and addictive puzzle games on the App Store.

Assassin's Creed Recollection
By Ubisoft, buy on iPad goty-2011-ipad-recollection

Assassin's Creed Recollection might not have slavishly recreated cities from the past, or grisly murders via a dagger to the jugular. But, it does share its namesake's effortless visual design, complex historical lore, and a penchant for quick thinking and subterfuge.

A sort of paradoxical turn-based real-time card game, Assassin's Creed Recollection is both about slapping down cards in step with your opponent, and waiting for the endless daily cycle to occur so you can pick another card.

This offers up a dastardly clever set of rules, allowing you to pull off some seriously sly, underhanded moves.

By Semi Secret Software, buy on iPad goty-2011-ipad-aquaria

Splishy splashy adventure Aquaria takes the best ideas from Metroid and submerges them several fathoms below sea level.

It's got clever puzzles and bosses that require you to outsmart them rather than outgun them. It's got a huge maze to explore and items to collect. Only, it's a bit more soggy.

The game carefully balances the serene with the extreme. Mermaid girl Naija happily darts about the calm oceans around her submarine home, but if she's in trouble, she can belt out a tune and transform into a powerful energy form. Here, the game turns into an impromptu space shooter, as you use smart controls to shoot down aquatic monsters.

Sid Meier's Pirates!
By 2K Games, buy on iPad goty-2011-ipad-pirates

Before Captain Sid Meier decided to create the last 4,000 years of human history in a grand old strategy epic we call Civilization, his ambitions were a little more restrained. Way back when, he made Pirates, which was content to only simulate the swashbuckling life of a Caribbean buccaneer.

You get to live that life in this strategy game, which is all about becoming a fearsome pirate while hunting down your kidnapped family.

This means buying (or stealing) ships, getting into swordfights with rival seamen, doing business with island traders, and having a wee jig with the governor's daughter.

Hector: Ep2 HD - Senseless Acts of Justice
By Telltale, buy on iPad goty-2011-ipad-hector

The iPad is the ultimate home for point-and-click adventures, but between the PC ports and prehistoric remakes, only one firm has had the guts to make an exclusive iOS adventure game worth yelling about: Straandlooper.

The Northern Irish studio's Hector trilogy is stuffed full of smut and naughty words, with jokes about all manner of bodily functions and fluids.

But, while it might be slightly puerile, the Hector series has a sharp wit and a satirical twist to back up the fart gags. Plus, the puzzles are inspired, with solutions that are both smart and frequently hilarious.

Ticket to Ride
By Days of Wonder, buy on iPad goty-2011-ipad-ticket

With that massive screen and easy access to friends online, boardgames are a great fit for the iPad.

Turn-based train sim Ticket to Ride is the most faithful to the source material of them all, recreating the über-popular parlour game with style and confidence.

The plan for each of the four industrialist fat cat players is to build a monster rail network that stretches across the United States, while stopping your opponents from doing the same. At each turn, you'll need to decide whether to advance your empire or crush an opponent's. It's even better online.

iBlast Moki 2 HD
By Godzilab, buy on iPad goty-2011-ipad-moki

Godzilab's cutesy, bouncy puzzler might be sickeningly saccharine - all garish primary colours and googly eyes - but those playful visuals hide a daring physics-based game with some of the best puzzles around.

You've got to get the Moki into the warphole. In the first game, this meant setting up bombs.

Now, however, bombs are just the start - you'll soon be using explosive paint, inflating balloons, joints, motors, and crazy contraptions. When you're done, you can make your own levels and effortlessly share them online.

Anomaly Warzone Earth HD
By Chillingo, buy on iPad goty-2011-ipad-anomaly

Anomaly Warzone Earth HD, a strategy game set in a near-future Baghdad, is tower defence in reverse. You see, this time, you play as the endless waves of foot soldiers, and the hastily erected turrets and defences are your foe's.

In each stage, you'll buy up a bunch of units - rocket launchers, tanks, that sort of thing - and set out a pathway for them to take. Hopefully, they'll advance without being ripped to shreds, but you have an arsenal of special powers up your sleeve just in case. Your team getting attacked? Drop an air strike.

This is one seriously slick tactical game, with a gorgeous visual style and oodles of modes, all backed up by a super-smart rule-set.