I can’t say that I spent more time with any iOS title in 2011 then with the simple, one button bird simulator, Tiny Wings. I attribute the fact that an entire platform was wholly justified in my mind by the simple yet elegant design that Tiny Wings employs through its gameplay. The game’s developer,  Andreas Illinger, was able to take the concept of a one button game and create an innocuous experience that shows even a simple game can have the depth of a hardcore Japanese role playing game, or the latest bro-shooter.

This depth is so expertly devised that the framework supporting it morphs the surface platforming game, or more accurately, traversal game, into a rhythm game and vice-versa. It isn’t that I haven’t had other great experiences on iOS, with Infinity Blade and Sword and Sworcery: EP jumping to mind as examples of “real” games found on the platform, but Tiny Wings not only embraces, but also celebrates the utterly frustrating control constraints that the iOS ecosystem is beholden to.

The “feel” of a game is not a quantifiable element, but it is something that is immediately apparent with every game you’ll ever play. Feel is often expressed as a direct correlation to game controls, but it is ultimately a function of the game in its entirety. The separation between a good feeling and poor feeling game can be something as simple as a tight aiming reticule, or as complex as the immense scale of combat arenas as seen in games like Battlefield 3. By bringing in feel to my thought process, it is easy to see Tiny Wings as a highly polished experience within a medium that doesn’t often have good feeling games.

It is hard to argue for a 99 cent experience as a game of the year, but I am not sure I played a better feeling game in all of 2011. If I were to make a top ten list of favorite games from 2011, Tiny Wings would certainly be a major contender for one of the top spots.

Advertisements