Yes, Einstein, we are fully aware that this top 10 list is a little unusual. The fact that it does not contain ten items is - to say the least - not the norm for such lists. It could indeed be construed as a violation of Advertising Standards. In our defence, we really did try to choose only ten games.
But that was before we discovered just how many physics games were released in 2010. We're talking literally hundreds of games here. Narrowing these down to just ten was going to demand drastic action. So we got drastic. We immediately ruled out all sequels, so games like Crush the Castle 2, Wake the Box 2, Biosics 2, Bloons 2, Fantastic Contraption 2, Fragger Lost City while undoubtedly brilliant were instantly excluded.
Even then, however, we were left with loads of great games to choose between. Deciding which to include and which to throw out was proving unbearably difficult. So, after a lot of umming and arring, we chose to compromise. We would extend the length of our list to 15 games to ensure that we didn't miss out any gems. So it might not actually be a top 10 list but these games, we think, all bring something new and exciting to the physics game genre. Have fun.
1 Home Sheep Home
It is very rare that I fall in love with a game. I can only think of a handful that have completely smitten me in my lifetime. One is Immortall, an incredibly moving game by Evan Millar. Another is this game, Home Sheep Home, possibly the cutest physics game ever made. In Home Sheep Home, you take control of three sheep, each with its own abilities: one is a baby lamb who cannot jump very far but can sneak through small gaps, another is an athletic adult sheep who can leap over wide gaps, and the final sheep is a strong but also very fat animal.
Your task is to get them from one side of each level to the next, taking advantage of each of the sheep's unique abilities to overcome the numerous obstacles that stand in their way. Home Sheep Home was produced by film company Aardman and features brilliant artistic-style graphics and fabulous animations for the sheep. Don't miss it. Play Home Sheep Home here.
2 Gravitee Wars
Perhaps the best way to describe this innovative physics game is: 'Worms in space', which is not the latest wacky plan to combat global warming, as you could be forgiven for thinking, but a reference to that great game from the 1990s - Worms. You play the Red team of galaxy explorers and initially you are up against the evil Blue team. Reds. Hurrah. Blues. Boooooo.
You must wipe out the Blues by launching missiles at them. This is where the game's physics comes into its own. Missiles bend around planets just like in real life (I know it is like real life because I spend a lot of time firing missiles around planets - it's like a hobby for me). The further you can make a missile travel before it hits its victim, the more damage you do, making for some interesting tactics. Play Gravitee Wars here.
3 Flabby Physics
This is probably the easiest to play physics games ever made. You only need to press one button to play the game. Don't let this simplicity put you off, however. Flabby physics is one of the most fun and innovative physics games available, and despite only using one button, the game crams in some surprisingly challenging physics puzzles. The developers of this game deserve credit for their nerve in stripping down the physics style of game-play to its bare minimum. Play Flabby Physics here. If this game tickles your fancy, you may want to check out our list of other one-button games here.
4 Sprocket Rocket
Aardman might be best known for its Wallace and Gromit animated films but the company is also responsible for some top-notch online games. Home Sheep Home - the game at the top of this list - is one. This physics puzzle game - Sprocket Rocket - is another. In Sprocket Rocket, you have to help Wallace and Gromit repair their space ship so they can journey to the moon. To do this, you need to collect a series of cogs dotted around the game world. Many of the cogs are in difficult to access places and you will need to modify your ship - by drawing new contraptions on it - in order to reach them. Play Sprocket Rocket here.
There are going to be people who complain that his game is a rip-off of Armor Games' legendary Crush the Castle franchise. But that would not be very different from claiming that every first person perspective game was a copy of Wolfenstein. Yes, like Crush the Castle, Sieger is a catapult game. But there is more than enough to differentiate it from its more famous rival. Plus, the game is incredibly polished, featuring slick graphics and great physics animations. Sieger is the first serious rival to Crush the Castle in the catapult section of games. Play it here.
Nuclearoids takes the chain reaction game-play of Boomshine and injects it with steroids. It then daubs it with garish visuals that could have been filched straight from an acid trip. And for good measure, the developers have added some interesting physics mechanics - the nuclearoids, little balls of fire, have their own gravity and the bigger ones will attract the small ones into orbit around them. The end result of all this is quite spectacular. Play Nuclearoids here.
Games are meant to be adrenaline-pumping action frenzies that don't give you a moment to catch your breath. Right? Well, not always. Take this game - e7. You could almost fall asleep playing the game, so laid-back is the game-play and soporific is the ambient music and graphics. And yet, it is absolutely brilliant. Explore an alien planet in your robust little space craft, launching yourself off the malleable surface to destroy the alien ships bent on your destruction. E7 proves that games can be relaxing as well as gripping. Play it here.
8 Wallace’s Workshop
This is another impressive Wallace and Gromit game by Aardman. Anyone who is familiar with Meccano will be in their element in this game. You need to create a contraption capable of carrying Wallace from one side of his workshop to the other. To do this, you have at your disposal a wide range of components - from wheels to balloons to rockets - that you can connect together, hopefully into something that might move. Wallace's Workshop can be played here.
9 Pipol Smasher
Pipol Smasher is one of the best looking physics games you will see, with a great cartoony feel. It also has a pretty interesting premise for a physics game; interesting that is, if you are sadist. Your task is to kill all the people on the screen by running them over with your cars and lorries. You get your vehicles rolling by clicking on them and you can then stop them moving by clicking on them again. Fast reactions are needed to kill all the people while preventing your cars and lorries plunging off the platforms into the unknown. Pipol Smasher can be played here.
10 Shadow Game
This game might only be half complete, as the developers admit, but that should not put you off playing. Doing so would rob you of one of the most interesting and beautiful physics games to come out in 2010. Your aim in the game is to stay in the shadows and avoid the light. Why? Because if you can be seen, a whole host of horrible things will happen to you, including being shot to pieces or lasered. Creep around and collect the golden stars without being seen. Each level can be solved numerous ways, providing plenty of replay value. Play The Shadow Game here.
We always appreciate games that do something new with a genre, rather than simply imitating what has come before. That's why we have included Conveyor in this list. You have probably already guessed the novel twist that Conveyor brings to physics game-play. But if not, can we suggest you take more care of that funny organ that sits atop your shoulders. Just for you: the special twist that Conveyor offers are conveyors - loads of them. You have to control the direction of the conveyors to get the objects to the desired drop point. Conveyor can be played here.
12 Lost Head
If I ever mislaid my head, the last people I would want to find it are the developers of this quirky physics game. Rather than returning it to its rightful owner, they would inflict all kinds of nasty physics tests on my poor bonce. They would roll it down slopes, bounce it off objects, propel it into the air...and a lot more. Thankfully, it is someone else's brain box that you can have fun with in this game. Lost Head can be played here.
13 Defend Yourself
Defend Yourself is an interesting take on the classic Missile Command game. As with the original, you have to defend your base on the ground from attack from above. But in this case, it is not bombs and missiles raining down on you but huge rocks. To prevent the giant boulders crushing your base, you fire small projectiles at them with the aim of deflecting them from their trajectory towards your base. Defend Yourself is an HTML game, so you may have to check that you have a modern browser to play it - see here. Defend Yourself can be played here.
14 IQ Ball
It took me an embarrassingly long time to realise that the IQ in this game's title did not actually refer to the balls that can be found rolling around in the game. I was expecting to come across genius spheres that could recite Shakespeare while simultaneously solving quadratic equations so was disappointed with the somewhat mundane objects featured in IQ Ball. Still, this is a more than solid physics game, with tons of fiendish puzzles to solve. It should stretch your IQ to the limit. Play the game here.
Most platform games boast some form of physics - your little guy drops down when he falls off a platform, after all - but this does not warrant them being considered physics games. For that to happen, the physics would have to be the stand out feature of the game. That is certainly the case with this game - Ozee - and that is why it has sneaked into this list. You cam play Ozee here.
If you would like to play some more physics games, check out our list of the Top 30 Physics Games from earlier in the year.