Ball-matching games were big in 2005. Following the long-lasting success of Zuma Deluxe, companies were quick to rush their versions of the same game type to market. Luxor was the first game that really made it big by significantly changing the mechanic. The combination of catching powerups and shooting balls upwards really resonated well with the audience.
Match 3 games held strong, with a number of games moving away from the simple swap system. Titles like Magic Match and Big Kahuna Reef introduced new ways to fill the board. Other games like Rainbow Web re-imagined what the "board" really was. A few classic games did really well, most notably Jewel Quest, which introduced a new goal system.
We saw two new game types in 2005. The first, Mystery Case Files: Huntsville, caught players by surprise. It was a totally new game type, and many observers didn't think it would do that well at all. But, it sold like hotcakes and triggered a rush of similar games in early 2007.
Second, Fish Tycoon introduced the concept of "real-time" simulation in games. If you waited 24 hours between playing the game, 24 hours would pass in the game world. Last Day of Work followed up on their success with Virtual Villagers in 2006, but Fish Tycoon proved the concept could work.
Top Games from 2005: