Despite the rampant complaints lobbied at the games world that it's gone stale or that it's in flux, 2012 has been kind of amazing for games. You just have to look a little harder for the positives. And that cannot be truer of social games. Despite issues like copycatting
and predatory business models making headlines yet again, we've had one helluva
This year has welcomed some truly heavy hitters like SimCity Social
, Angry Birds Friends
and Hidden Chronicles
that everyone could see from a mile away. But for every expected blockbuster, 2012 ushered in two or more even bigger surprises, like Draw Something
, You Don't Know Jack
and Dungeon Rampage
. It's about time we looked back and basked in the glory of (in rough
chronological order) 2012's best social games so far.
A personal favorite, it's easy to look at Robot Entertainment's turn-based strategy gem as "Words With Friends
meet Chess for nerds," but it's oh, so much more. Between four hero teams (to date) to battle with and social features a la Zynga's
word game, Hero Academy hones the "just one more turn" effect to perfection on iOS.
Say what you will about Zynga's
answer to what Playdom
arguably started with Gardens of Time
, but there's no denying that the developer was heard loud and clear. It's still the number one hidden-object game on Facebook since its launch early this year, and stands to still dominate for some time.
Who knew that a role-playing game based on Marvel
superheroes would be rocking it on Facebook? We certainly didn't, and yet the game still has millions of players coming back every month to give villains like Loki what for. Of course, it helps that the game has a brilliant battle system and almost a "gotta catch 'em all" feel in recruiting all of the available superheroes.
Just as New York-based developer OMGPOP
was about to fold, it unleashed Draw Something onto the world. The move could easily be considered one of the greatest Hail Mary Passes in gaming history, sky-rocketing the studio to almost instant fame and a lucrative Zynga buyout. And with good reason: It's a brilliant application of one of the best party games ever.
This isn't the Angry Birds you've thumbed to death on your iPhone. Rovio
took great pains to tailor its Angry Birds experience for Facebook. Between unique power-ups, leader boards and the ability to share full-blown levels on friends' Timelines, we'd say the developer all but nailed it.
This is yet another example of Zynga doing what it does best: taking a tried and true concept and giving it a detail job. This is essentially Boggle on iOS and Android, but set in a turn-based fashion and injected with what helped Words With Friends
blow up. But enough explanation ... just go play it already!
Strategy games on Facebook are nothing new, which is exactly why Playdom's
take on the genre managed to turn our heads. Rather than duke it out on an isometric map, players send units out against the competition in a side-scrolling affair. Throw in real-time battles and plenty more social features, and you have quite the social strategy game.
Just when we thought that Tetris could no longer be iterated upon, Blue Planet Software and Tetris Online
proved us wrong. Tetris Stars is a fine merging of the new-and-improved Tetris for iOS, the Diamond Mine mode found in the latest Bejeweled
and the Blitz style of play sparked by Bejeweled Blitz
. In other words, this take on Tetris is well worth your time.
While it's no Peggle Blitz or Plants Vs Zombies Blitz, PopCap Games
turned what's otherwise a rather lonely and boring game into something punchy and social with the addition of a timer, adorable characters and leader boards. It's amazing what a few power-ups can do for a timeless if yawn-worthy card game.
Match-three games are kind of a big deal on Facebook, in case you hadn't noticed. And while it's not terribly different from the rest, King.com
's take on the genre makes up for it in production values and presentation. Plus, what we call "the Saga treatment" makes Candy Crush Saga more social than most entries in the category.
And now for something completely different. A god game that's somehow asynchronous and synchronous at the same time, Idle Games
' debut tries plenty of new things and presents them in a way that's somehow adorable, lewd and hilarious all at the same time. Idle Worships deserves props for being one of the most ambitious social games of not just this year, but ever.
You wanted a kart racer on Facebook, so here you go. It's just an added bonus that it's a damn fast and furious one. Nexon
took its hit franchise and basically slapped it on the network with real-time multiplayer matchmaking lobbies. In this particular case that is not at all a bad thing.
Save for a not-so-hot business models, this could very well be the definitive version of the original irreverent trivia game. Jellyvision Games
simply took the proven formula and slapped it on Facebook, but not without introducing a clever way of making the game social: putting your answers up against your friends'.
Dubbed by Games.com's Brandy Shaul as the next Draw Something, FreshPlanet's music trivia game has not stopped climbing the charts since its release this May on iOS and Facebook
. Tacking With Friends-esque mechanics on tops of a music knowledge challenge is a brilliant idea, really, and makes for an almost infinite lifespan.
You want a new match-three game? No? Then how about a new match-three game meets a new Tetris-like puzzler? That's essentially Nexon's
recent puzzler on Facebook with a healthy slathering of adorable characters and sounds. Throw in some Blitzification
, if you will, and you've got the trappings of a must-play puzzle game on Facebook.
We know, bubble shooters are certainly nothing new on Facebook, but we'd be lying if we said that Zynga's
answer to the growing trend wasn't a blast. That's thanks largely to Mark Turmell, the creator of arcade classics like NBA Jam. It's this guy that somehow made a bubble buster that actually focuses on action in addition to strategy.
Sure, this is a card game that had its "Pokemon moment" a few years ago, but that doesn't make Frima Studio and Konami's
social take on the franchise any less impressive. The duo essentially distilled Yu-Gi-Oh! into a formula that both social gamers can understand and seasoned fans of the card battler (this writer knows from experience) can appreciate.
Surprise: Zynga has its very own match-three game on Facebook. Double surprise (for real): It's an absolute blast to play ... pun totally intended. Derivative of other games in genre or not, this puzzler is proof that Zynga understands where games are headed on Facebook.
We can only hope that this city-builder becomes the leader in the genre on the social network, because frankly, it deserves it. EA
take on the genre has more life to it than any we've seen yet with reactive structures, real-time events and at times interesting social features.
This is Facebook's Diablo moment, the long-awaited real-time dungeon crawler that we always knew was possible on the network. Rebel Entertainment made good on its promise of an engaging and exciting Diablo-style game on Facebook, and it simply must be played to be believed.
What has been your favorite Facebook game of 2012 so far? Share with us in the comments. Add Comment.