The 20 best iPhone/iPad games of 2012 so far

Angry Birds Space isn’t the only iPhone/iPad game in town!

We’re nearly midway through 2012, which means that it’s time to check in to see how the mobile gaming industry has fared so far this year. While Rovio’s Angry Birds Space has certainly grabbed the most attention from mobile gamers, there are plenty of other quality games to be had on your iPhone or iPad. In this slideshow we’ll break down the top-rated games of 2012 so far according to both App Store user reviews and professional reviewers on Metacritic. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover something you like as much as Fruit Ninja or Cut the Rope!

Related: Beyond Angry Birds: The 20 most acclaimed iPad/iPhone games

Epic Astro Story

Developer: Kairsoft

Price: $3.99

Ratings: 92 from Metacritic; 4.5 stars from App Store users

Epic Astro Story is a sort of Sim City-meets-Civilization strategy game where you build up colonies on distant planets while at the same time skirmishing with hostile alien creatures.

Beat Sneak Bandit

Developer: Simogo

Price: $2.99 Ratings: 92 from Metacritic; four-and-a-half stars from App Store users

The plot: An evil duke has stolen the world’s clocks and you have to help a master thief take them back. The game mixes puzzles and rhythm games to make a truly original experience complete with an art style that looks like it would be at home in a Matisse exhibit.

Reckless Racing 2

Developer: EA

Price: $4.99

Ratings: 91 from Metacritic; 4 stars from App Store users

EA’s mobile racing game features stunning graphics for a mobile game as well as 18 different cars that you can customize to your heart’s content.

Beat Hazard Ultra

Developer: Cold Beam Games

Price: $1.99

Ratings: 91 from Metacritic; 5 stars from App Store users

“Beat Hazard Ultra” is a rhythm-based Galaga-style space shooter game whose action changes depending on the music that happens to be playing at the time. The coolest part is that you can import all the songs from your iTunes library to use as a soundtrack. This game should probably not be played by people prone to seizures, however…

Pizza vs. Skeletons

Developer: Riverman Media

Price: $2.99 Ratings: 90 from Metacritic; 4.5 stars from App Store users

C’mon, if you can play Plants vs. Zombies you can surely try Pizza vs. Skeletons. Judging by the game’s official description, it really does deliver on its promised pizza-against-skeleton battles as well: “You control a 25-foot-tall pizza as it smashes through a horde of undead rivals on land, sea, and in outer space.”

AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! (Force = Mass x Acceleration)

Developer: Dejobaan Games

Price: $1.99

Ratings: 90 from Metacritic; 4.5 stars from App Store users

This is a futurist sky-diving game where you jump from tall buildings and try to hit bonus targets along the way, all the while remembering to open up your parachute in juuuuuust the nick of time.

Spin Up

Developer: Nenad Katic

Price: $0.99

Ratings: 89 on Metacritic; 4.5 stars from App Store users

We admit it: We have absolutely no idea what this game is supposed to be about. You sort of spin a wheel on the screen like you’re DJing at a club and this somehow launches attacks against aliens invading earth. But shoot, it’s gotten great reviews from both the professional reviewers and gamers, so why not include it? As an added bonus, note that the game has been customized for the new iPad’s retina screen, so it should look terrific.

Elf Defense Eng

Developer: Jellyoasis

Price: Free

Ratings: 89 from Metacritic; 4 stars from App Store users

Elf Defense Eng is a tower defense game for true fantasy nerds as players use their tower-defending skills to protect 11 homelands from human invaders. If you’ve ever wanted to have a poor man’s Warcraft III on your iPad, this game is likely for you.

The King of Fighters – i 2012

Developer: SNK Playmore

Price: $6.99

Ratings: 88 from Metacritic; 5 stars from App Store users

Remember how much fun you used to have playing Street Fighter and Mortal Combat? Well so does SNK Playmore, whose King of Fighters game brings you 32 unique fighters to choose from as well as the ability to challenge others through multiplayer mode.

LostWinds2: Winter of the Melodias

Developer: Frontier Developments

Price: $3.99

Ratings: 87 from Metacritic; 4.5 stars from App Store users

LostWinds2 is a beautiful-looking adventure game that revolves around a boy named Toku who uses elemental spirits to manipulate seasons during his quest to rescue his mother. While that might sound a little odd, remember that most of us grew up playing games filled with heroic plumbers that ate magical mushrooms and stomped on flying turtles.

Swordigo

Developer: TouchFoo

Price: $1.99

Ratings: 87 on Metacritic; 5 stars from App Store users

Like LostWinds2, Swordigo is a graphically rich adventure game that features “a magical realm of dungeons, towns, treasures and devious monsters.” OK, so that admittedly sounds like every magical realm we’ve ever seen, but it looks terrific and will only cost you two bucks!

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

Developer: Capcom

Price: Free

Ratings: 87 on Metacritic; 4.5 stars from App Store users

The game begins with your player character getting shot to death. But don’t worry! This wily dead person comes back as a ghost to figure out who had them killed and why. Think of it as a version of “The Sixth Sense” where you don’t have to watch a boring movie for two hours before learning the cool twist at the end!

DARIUSBURST SP

Developer: TAITO

Price: $10.99

Ratings: 86 on Metacritic; 4.5 stars from App Store users

This space shooter game is pretty expensive at $10.99, but it does feature some nice graphics and has a soundtrack that App Store users are raving about.

Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy

Developer: Namco

Price: $4.99

Ratings: 86 on Metacritic; 4.5 stars from App Store users

SkyGamblers is a classic flight-simulation game that also sets you as a modern-day fighter pilot. The game controls basically move as you tilt your iPad in different directions and you can execute maneuvers by doing specialized swipes on your screen.

Puzzlejuice

Developer: Colaboratory

Price: $0.99

Ratings: 86 on Metacritic; 4.5 stars from App Store users

Have you ever wanted to play a game that combined Tetris with Scrabble? No? Well you might want to give it a try with Puzzle Juice, where you transform falling colored blocks into letters that you can use to spell words and get points.

Chaos Rings II

Developer: Square Enix

Price: $17.99

Ratings: 86 from Metacritic; 5 stars from App Store users

Yes, this is more expensive than your typical iPad game, but it's also more ambitious than Angry Birds or Plants vs. Zombies. Created by the makers of the classic Final Fantasy games, Chaos Rings aims to give you the full experience of a classic role-playing game on your mobile device. Needless to say, the graphics on this puppy are terrific.

Bee Leader

Developer: Flightless

Price: $1.29

Ratings: 86 on Metacritic; 4.5 stars from App Store users

“They can’t make a game about a swarm of bees collecting nectar, can they?” Yes, apparently, they can. You and your fellow workers are assigned to get nectar for your hive all while avoiding poisons, spiders and other nasty surprises that stand in between you and your sweet, sweet honey.

Air Mail

Developer: Chillingo

Price: $4.99

Ratings: 85 on Metacritic; 4.5 stars from App Store users

We’ve seen a lot of gorgeous-looking games on the new iPad so far, but this looks like one of the very best. In Air Mail you pilot an old-timey biplane through beautifully rendered cities and landscapes to deliver (presumably) important messages to their destinations.

Rinth Island

Developer: Chillingo

Price: Free Ratings: 85 on Metacritic; 4.5 stars from App Store users

Rinth Island is a nifty little app that combines elements of puzzle and adventure games on a mysterious tropical island.

Kitten Sanctuary

Developer: Clockwork Pixels

Price: $0.99

Ratings: 85 on Metacritic; 5 stars from App Store users

Lastly, what list would be complete without a game featuring adorable little kittens? Kitten Sanctuary is a puzzle game where your goal is to figure out the best way to spring trapped kittens that have been captured by aliens. Why are aliens after these adorable little rascals? Who cares! Free them and revel in their adorableness!

We want to hear from YOU! Are you planning to try out any of these games? Let us know in the comments!