Apple Picks ‘Best’ iPhone and iPad Games of 2011: Who Got Snubbed?

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NimbleBit LLC

Screenshots from NimbleBit's Tiny Tower, a real-time tower-building and time management game and Apple's U.S. iPhone game of the year.

Should we trust Apple to pick the best iPhone and iPad games of 2011? Would you trust Sony to pick the best games on the PlayStation Network? Valve to rank its favorites on Steam? Microsoft to name its favorites on Xbox Live?

I wouldn’t, but Cupertino has at least one point in its favor here: Unlike Microsoft, Sony or Valve, it neither develops nor publishes games itself, so there’s no chance of bias in favor of an in-house made gaming app.

(MORE: Angry Birds Takes Aim at High Fashion)

So Apple’s iPhone game of year was Angry Birds, right? Wrong: Apple’s iPhone pick in the U.S. was actually Tiny Tower, a real-time tower-building and time management game by NimbleBit.

Angry Birds was the top-selling iPhone app, of course, so there’s that, and Angry Birds Rio and Season made the top 10 bestselling list alongside Cut the Rope, Doodle Jump, Fruit Ninja and Tiny Wings.

Speaking of the latter, in Europe, Apple named Andreas Illiger’s one-tap 99-cents iOS game its iPhone game of the year. Tiny Wings, if you haven’t tried it yourself, is about a bird with very small wings in a world filled with hills—your job’s to navigate those side-scrolling hills penguin-like, sliding down dips and curves on your belly to propel yourself skyward. European runner-ups were Tiny Tower, and To-Fu 2, an object-smashing physics puzzler by HotGen.

On the iPad, EA’s Dead Space was Apple’s U.S. pick, while in Europe, Chillingo’s Contre Jour, a physics puzzler with eerie, artsy visuals beat out maze-navigating puzzle game Gesundheit HD and futuristic shooter Shadowgun for Apple’s top spot.

MORE: Angry Birds, Now Serving over Half a Billion

Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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