9. Kingdom Rush
Release date: December 19, 2011
Publisher: Armor Games
Finally, a tower defense game! The early days of iOS gaming were as full of tower defense as the current scene is of match-3 and build and battle (well maybe not quite, but close), so it takes a truly special title to rise above and be worthy of singling out for praise. Given how many PR pitches I got in later months and years comparing upcoming projects to Kingdom Rush, it has to be this one.
Numerous reviews at the time of its release pointed out that Kingdom Rush managed to make tower defense feel fresh again. It accomplished that trick by taking the elements you’d expect from the genre and spicing them up with extra doses of unpredictability and customization. In many tower defenses, you can zoom in fairly quickly on the best way to defeat certain levels, but this is one game that broke from that mold a bit.
It’s also been lauded for its difficulty, an honor it shares with games across other genres on our list. The production values give it that extra bit of oomph that make for the cherry on top of the sundae, with a distinctive, artistic visual style that has spawned a number of copycats.
There’s a slight question of longevity attached to Kingdom Rush, as I’m not certain I’d want to spend tons of time with it in 2015 given all the other available options, but that shouldn’t take any of the shine off of its accomplishments.
Next: Punch Quest