The next Angry Birds: Five iPhone games positioned to be breakout hits in 2011

Dec 10, 2010
Games

With tens of millions of downloads to the iPhone, iPad and Android devices, Angry Birds this year soared above the competition to become the most popular smartphone game of all time. Initially available only on the iPhone, in 2010 Angry Birds became an international pop culture sensation. The game’s Finland-based developer Rovio is working on […]

With tens of millions of downloads to the iPhone, iPad and Android devices, Angry Birds this year soared above the competition to become the most popular smartphone game of all time.

Initially available only on the iPhone, in 2010 Angry Birds became an international pop culture sensation. The game’s Finland-based developer Rovio is working on versions for PlayStation and Xbox, and there is even a line of toys and feature film in the works.

So which new and upcoming iPhone games have the most potential for breakout and crossover success in 2011? Here are five worth tapping into.

Infinity Blade ($5.99)

Hot off the presses with a December 9 release, Epic Games and Chair Entertainment’s ambitious action role-playing game Infinity Blade will certainly be one of the most talked about titles of 2011. The sword-fighting game, which is also playable on the iPad and iPod touch, is visually stunning thanks to state-of-the-art Unreal Engine 3 development technology.

Originally called Project Sword, you can get a good idea of the graphical brilliance of the game by downloading the free app Epic Citadel. Infinity Blade isn’t just another pretty app, however as the entirely touch-screen controls go beyond just swinging a sword. They also allow you to parry, block and dodge enemy attacks.

The game also boasts a unique, cyclical storyline in which your character is killed by the God King, only to have the son of the extinguished hero take up the quest (and his son, and his son, etc.). This kind of thing obviously helps with replay value, leaving very little room for complaints.

Of course, action RPGs don’t have a lengthy history of appealing to casual gamers. That is the only thing that could stop Infinity Blade from becoming the next big thing. But if any game has the appeal to attract both groups, it’s likely this one. Here is our full review to learn more about it.

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Cut the Rope (99 cents)

It may seem odd to label a game that has already been available for two months as a potential breakout hit for next year, but as long as Cut the Rope continues to follow the model established by Angry Birds (released in late 2009) it very well might be just that.

The similarities between the two games are numerous. Each relies on cute graphics and characters, boasts simple pick-up-and-play control schemes and is an excellent example of the ‘just one more try’ phenomenon that will keep you glued to your device. Both titles have also set records in the App Store, with Cut the Rope becoming the fastest iOS game to reach one million sales.

In order for Cut the Rope to reach the Angry Birds level of popularity, it will have to offer regular updates with new content throughout the year. As well, a rumored Android release of the game will help bring it to new users. Cut the Rope HD is also available for the iPad for $1.99.

Real Racing 2 ($9.99 – Coming Soon)

As is the case with movies, it’s a lot easier to sell a sequel than it is to create a hit title from scratch.

There have been rumblings since November about a Real Racing sequel that will feature real cars and a career mode with more than 10 hours of gameplay. Screenshots and a gameplay trailer have already made it online, and developer Firemint confirmed a December 16th release.

If Real Racing 2 is even a small improvement on the original $4.99 iPhone game (there is also a $9.99 iPad offering), it will be a massive hit.

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Speaking of sequels, Backbreaker 2: Vengeance ($2.99) is an enhanced version of the hit 99-cent Backbreaker Football game that debuted in September 2009.

Despite the price increase from the original, Vengeance is already moving up the Top Paid Apps list and is attracting gamers who are not just interested in the sports genre. Maybe this is a sign of bigger things to come?

Anything from Zynga

The social gaming giant recently acquired a pair of major iPhone game developers in Bonfire Studios (behind We Farm) and Newtoy (creator of We Rule, Words With Friends). Zynga, which already has FarmVille, Mafia Wars, and Live Poker available on iOS devices, also debuted on the Android earlier this year.

With the opportunity to migrate a large portion of its 60 million worldwide users from Facebook, Yahoo! and other sites to mobile platforms, there is a good chance the next water cooler iPhone hit will have Zynga’s name on it.

Angry Birds 2

The next Angry Birds could simply be the new Angry Birds. Rovio chief executive Peter Vesterbacka recently told the BBC there were plans for another Angry Birds game that would involve the same characters but be completely different in scope.

“Let’s say that you will see a lot more of the pigs,” Vesterbacka said. “The pigs will be a lot more active than just being slingshotted at by birds.”

It’s still too early for an official release date, though various sites have reported some time in 2011. What better franchise to carry the top mobile game mantle next year than the current champion?

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