Apple has released its annual "best of" collection, naming its best apps, games and other media on the iTunes store for 2012.
As another year draws to a close, Apple has honoured some of the best releases across the iTunes store in 2012.
This year, we had a major and an independent games publisher walking away with top prizes in the games category. Ubisoft's Rayman: Jungle Run (AU$2.99) took top prize for iPhone, and Firebox Games' stunning puzzler The Room (AU$1.99) took the top spot for iPad.
Both, in our opinion, well deserve the honour.
Rayman: Jungle Run is an eye-popping explosion of gorgeous colours — and a really fun to play arcade title in its own right. It's divided into four sections — Jump, Fly, Wall Run and Punch — each of which is based around a simple one-touch control system. Rayman runs automatically, and you control what he does by tapping or holding the screen; for example, in Jump, tapping the screen anywhere makes Rayman jump, and so forth. The objective in each level is to collect all 100 Electoons — not as simple a prospect as it sounds — in order to obtain a Death's Tooth. Five of these teeth will unlock the next level, so there's actually incentive to collect a perfect score. It's not exactly deep, but Ubisoft has created the perfect balance between challenging and pick-up-and-put-down gameplay.
The Room is a puzzle-box game that sees you exploring in 3D a series of chests, boxes and cabinets that are scrawled with arcane symbols and scratchings and filled with clockworks and cryptic notes. You have to figure out how to open various hidden compartments, fix broken mechanical features to solve the box, collect the story clues and move onto the next box. It can be really tricky — but the marvellous thing is that it's never frustrating, with gentle clues that you can read (or ignore) to nudge you in the right direction — and we found ourselves, with each successful solution, feeling that excited "a-ha!" — accompanied by a warm satisfaction that has us gleefully returning for more. Combined with the tactile experience of touch-based gaming, and minus the pressures of points and achievements, it's a title that's actually exciting to play.
Between the beautiful game design, the spooky-but-not-terrifying ambience and the mysterious storyline, it's a stellar achievement in iPad gaming.
For App of the Year, Action Movie FX (free) won the prize for iPhone: a movie-making app that lets you add special effects to your iPhone-shot films — such as alien attacks, death rays, explosions and floods.
Action Movie FX also took runner-up in the iPad category, with victory going to Paper by FiftyThree (free). Paper is one elegant notebook, kind of like turning your iPad into a Moleskine. The free app download includes the pen tool and an array of colours to get you started — we love how smooth it is to draw and the touch controls are genuinely clever. Additional tools are purchasable for AU$1.99 each, and you can get pencil, pen, texta and watercolour tools. They all look gorgeous. One minor niggle is that the colour palette is quite small — we're hoping to see an expansion in the future, but, in the meantime, it's still one of the most stylish notebook apps we've seen.
The runners up also included Figure (AU$0.99) (iPhone app of the year runner up), an intuitive and stylish music-making app; Letterpress (free) (iPhone game of the year runner up), a multiplayer strategic word game; and Waking Mars (AU$5.49) (iPad game of the year runner up), a beautiful exploration game about first contact with alien life.
Apple also nominated the best podcast, movie, music, TV show and book releases for 2012.
You can find the full list of Apple's Best of 2012 in iTunes here.