The 10 most promising iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad games from GDC 2011

The A-team

The 10 most promising iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad games from GDC 2011

With so many great games on display during Game Developers Conference 2011, there's a lot to look forward to in the weeks and months ahead.

iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad are getting a whole heap of cool titles and we were there to catch a glimpse of them all. PocketGamer.biz editor Jon Jordan helped me pick out the ten best titles from the scores of games at last week's show.

Check 'em out below, then let us know what games caught your eye from our coverage of this year's show by leaving a comment.

Agent Squeek (Firemint)

Australian developer Firemint has created two of the most iconic iOS games in Flight Control and Real Racing, and Agent Squeek looks to be third-of-a-kind.

This unique stealth-action puzzle game has you playing as a special agent mouse tasked with recovering nibs of cheese from feline foes.

Levels have you drawing paths for Agent Squeek with a finger to avoid patrolling cats, laser traps, fiery pits, and other hazards. Later stages even pit you against bosses that require a bit of quick thinking.

It's a varied adventure that promises to steal our hearts and precious free time away when it hits iPhone and iPod touch later this year.

Death Rally (Remedy/Mountain Sheep/Cornfox & Bros.)

Death RallyTop-down racers have recently made a comeback on iPhone and iPod touch, though few have the spit-shine of Death Rally. This gorgeous car combat game has superior graphics, fun tracks, and loads of action.

Based on Remedy Entertainment's first game built for PC way back when, Death Rally has you competing against five competitors across four obstacle-filled venues using speed and guns. Cash winnings enable you to upgrade your ride, as well as unlock new weapons.

Multiplayer won't be in the mix from the off, although Game Center will be supported for leaderboards and achievements: multiplayer, along with new tracks, is promised after the game hits iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad in late March.

Shadow Cities (Grey Area)

Shadow CitiesCurrently only available in the Finnish App Store, social location-based freemium iPhone game Shadow Cities has been the country's top grossing game since its release - even more popular than Angry Birds.

With such success under its belt, the small development team is preparing to roll out the team-based battler to the US and UK.

The game has you fighting to control areas, battling other players as well as random demons to harvest the mana required to perform actions and level-up. Neatly, however, you don't need to actually be in a physical location to play there, which will generate potential for wider social interaction.

Machine Gun Jetpack (Halfbrick)

Machine Gun JetpackThere's an indescribable quality to the games produced by Australian development studio Halfbrick - they're just so damn fun. Fruit Ninja peeled away your free minutes, twin-stick shooter Age of Zombies was a hoot, and now Machine Gun Jetpack promises to reinvent the endless running game with over-the-top antics.

As mouthy hero Barry Steakfries, you're goaded into pumping scientists full of hot lead from the muzzle of a machine gun jetpack. The goal is to move as far through the laboratory as possible, skirting past electrified fields, laser beams, and rocket fire.

Bizarre power-ups, a slot machine, and plenty of bonuses to unlock promise solid replay value for this quick-hitting action game, which is slated for a summer release as a universal app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Casey's Contraptions (Snappy Touch/Mystery Coconut)

Casey's ContraptionsFirst impressions may suggest 2D physics puzzler Casey's Contraptions is too kiddy, but set aside the game's eight-year-old hero and it's clear this could set new standards in the genre.

Launching with around 70 levels, the game let's you place items in order to complete goals and collect starts.

What sets this title apart is its attention to detail and sense of humour. Furthermore, there's the ability to share your solutions to the puzzles and challenge others to solve your own puzzles using the level editor.

Tapper World Tour (Warner Bros.)

Tapper World TourDon't brush off Tapper World Tour as just another casual time-management game: on the contrary, this fanciful remake of the classic arcade hit has been given the once-over with phenomenal new graphics courtesy of legendary animator Don Bluth and equally impressive gameplay packed with variety.

The game has you slinging drinks to thirsty patrons in bars across the globe, though there's much more involved than pouring beers and mixing cocktails. Power-ups, entertaining acts, and collectibles make this more than just a casual romp.

VegasTowers (KatteGames)

VegasTowersFrom one half of the team who brought you fantasy online role-playing game Castlecraft comes VegasTower, a freemium online hotel management game that takes its inspiration from the likes of Theme Park and The Sims.

You start with two floors to fill up with rooms, restaurants, clubs, shops, cinema and other leisure facilities - as well as building stairs and elevators so people can move around.

In order to maximise revenues you have to ensure all guests are happy by making sure they're entertained and spending money. Of course, social gameplay elements such as comparing your friends' towers will be a key element of driving downloads and in-app purchases.

Empire of the Eclipse (Zarksoft)

Empire of the EclipseThe experienced team working on this ambitious strategy game impressed us by backing up their promises with an eye-opening hands-on session during GDC.

Not only does Empire of the Eclipse live up to the aspirations of the Zarksoft crew, but it goes beyond our expectations with in-depth strategic gameplay that will satisfy purists.

To be clear, this is hardcore strategy to the max with tons of technologies, ships, and planets to explore and discover. Multiplayer is the focus with up to 1,500 players simultaneously competing in a single game.

Clever real-time mechanics and attractive space-age 2D graphics give it a classic PC strategy game feel that should speak directly to the genre faithful when it arrives for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad in the coming weeks.

Rope Racket (Untame Games)

The first iOS game from Israeli/US start up Untame Games, Rope Racket is a 2D rope physics game inspired by the likes of The Incredible Machine. The idea is to wrap a rope around the wheels in the level, using as short a length of rope as possible in order to score highest using the three star (technically three feather) system.

It sounds easy, but the difficulty level ramps up as the wheels move around and knives, flames, and cannons are introduced into the mix. Success comes down to efficient use of your rope, speed, and a deft touch. Bird Zapper (Namco Bandai)

Loosely labelled Fruit Ninja meets Bejeweled, Bird Zapper is a 59p/99c iOS and Android game developed by Namco's Romanian studio. The simple gameplay has you connecting same-coloured birds that move across the screen - actually birds on telegraph wires - with a sweep of your finger.

Connecting more than three sees the avians electrocuted, vanishing in a shock of revealed skeletons and popping blocks. Obviously, your mission is to connect as many birds as possible, creating combos to score high points.

The game will launch with three modes: Survival, a 60-second-long Blitz mode, and an endless Zen mode. It's fast and fun - the qualities that have defined great portable titles.

Tracy Erickson
Tracy Erickson
Manning our editorial outpost in America, Tracy comes with years of expertise at mashing a keyboard. When he's not out painting the town red, he jets across the home of the brave, covering press events under the Pocket Gamer banner.