13 of The Best Games For The Ipad, Iphone And Ipod Touch
Originally when I set out to make this list it was my intention that it be a compilation of the best iPhone games of all time. However, with literally tens of thousands of games available on the platform and hundreds more being released each day via the App Store I realized that there was no way I could claim such authority. Now, to be honest, all such lists are just personal opinion anyways, but without having sampled a larger percentage of available titles (an impossible task for one person) I felt that I would be doing both readers and game publishers a disservice by assigning the iPhone games I’d chosen the title of best of all time. The games you’ll see listed below are the best games I’ve personally played, and each and every one of them is a must have app for you iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.
Sword & Poker – The great thing about the iPhone platform is that it has really allowed developers to focus on creativity – unlike the console game market where developers have to play it safe lest an “off-the-wall” creation bombs and leaves them financially devastated. The much lower development cost of iPhone games virtually eliminates that risk, and gamers are finally getting the steady stream of unique titles they’ve been clamoring for over the past several years.
With Sword & Poker developer Gaia has blended two completely unrelated genres. The game has elements of a traditional RPG where you fight battles and build character stats. However, the combat is unique in that battles are won are lost by building the best poker hands. It is a fun and surprisingly addictive recipe.
A sequel to the original Sword & Poker has recently been released, offering those who couldn’t get enough of the original even more RPG card game fun.
Labyrinth – One of the strongest elements of iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch games is the ability to quickly and easily jump in to a game for a few minutes. Whether you are on your lunch break, in line at the grocery store, or sitting on the bus you can jump into these games and while away a few minutes.
Labyrinth is the perfect example of such a game. Using the iPhone’s built-in accelerometers Labyrinth has players tilting their phone in order to steer a metal ball through a maze filled with traps. The concept is simple, but as you advance through the levels the challenges get progressively tougher and your puzzle solving skills will be put to the test. It is at times incredibly frustrating, and you might be tempted to throw your iPhone in disgust. However, its addictive quality will keep you coming back for more, and if you manage to beat the more than 1,000 levels the game offers, you can always pick up its sequel in the App Store.
Words with Friends – Another great aspect of a mobile device that features both Wi-Fi and 3G support is the ability to play games with your friends or online contacts. There are numerous games that offer this option, but one of the best I’ve found is Words with Friends.
The game is basically a Scrabble clone, so it is certainly far from unique. However, Scrabble is a classic game that doesn’t really need improving. The game features push notifications so you will be notified automatically when your friend has played a word, and it is your turn again. You can have games going against multiple friends at the same time, and oftentimes games will last days or even weeks.
Meteor Blitz – Ever since the success of Geometry Wars back in the early days of Xbox Live Arcade, dual stick space shooters have been enjoying incredible popularity. Dual “stick” is a bit of a misnomer, as obviously the iPhone and iPad platforms have no physical analog sticks to control, but the touch-screen’s virtual sticks act as an effective replacement, and it only takes a few minutes to get used to the control scheme.
The game itself bears a striking resemblance to Super Stardust HD on the PS3 – an excellent game in its own right. With an impressive 6 unlockable worlds the game offers plenty of depth for a mere .99.
iDracula – Speaking of dual stick shooters this one is arguably the best example of the genre currently available on the iPhone. Imagine a perfect blend of Geometry Wars and Diablo. The left “stick” or wheel controls your movement, while the right one controls the direction of your fire as you blow away enemies with a variety of weapons ranging from handguns to the all-powerful BFG.
The graphics in the game are top-notch, the music is awesome and the action is absolutely non-stop. For those looking for 15 minutes or less of arcade mayhem, iDracula certainly fits the bill.
Canabalt – If you’ve played the flash game on your PC then you’ve essentially played the iPhone version. There is very little depth to this game, but what is there is surprisingly addictive, and you’ll find yourself constantly restarting for just one more try. The game is essentially a side-scroller where you control a guy running across roof tops, trying to stay one step ahead of an invading alien force. Several obstacles get in the way of your progress, and you’ll need to leap boxes and smash through windows without falling off the edge of one of the buildings. Your character is constantly running and you time his jumps by tapping the screen. The game ends when you fall, and your score is indicated by the number of meters you travel before you die. It might not sound like much fun, but trust me when I say that Canabalt is one of the most addictive games you’ll find for the iPhone, or any game platform for that matter.
Let’s Golf – In my opinion, the iPhone isn’t the ideal platform for sports games. These games are best played on a big screen, with big sound, and a bunch of buddies crowded around, trash-talking and throwing controllers at one another in anger.
That being said, there are some decent sports titles on the iPhone, and Let’s Golf is one of the best. Very similar in presentation and game-play to the popular Hot Shots Golf series, Let’s Golf can hold its own very well against full-fledged console golf titles. With multiple control methods, a plethora of game-play modes, local hotseat and Wi-Fi multiplayer options and plenty of unlockable courses the game delivers some of the best value to be had from the App Store. If you are a fan of golf games then this is one title that absolutely has to be in your iPhone game library.
Shrek Kart – Some might raise eyebrows at this title’s inclusion on the list. I wanted to include one racing game, and though many would point to Real Racing or one of the multiple Need for Speed titles available for the platform I actually found I enjoyed this little kart racer a great deal more.
If you are a gear head who wants the most true-to-life, realistic racing experience out there, then this will probably not be your first choice. However, if you are one of the legions of gamers who loved playing Mario Kart and Diddy Kong Racing back in the day, then this title will very much appeal to you. Kids will love playing as one of several characters from the immensely popular animated films. Yes it has the dreaded rubberband AI, but all in all this is a fun title with local multiplayer action that will allow you to trash-talk your friends just like you did back in the day with Mario Kart.
Doodle Jump – I mentioned above what an addictive experience the game Canabalt is – well, trust me when I say it has nothing on Doodle Jump. If you take my advice and purchase this title beware that your daily productivity, your social life and perhaps even your personal hygiene are going to suffer. Yes, the game really is that addictive.
Much like Canabalt the premise is simple. Your mission is to get your little Q-Bertesque character as high as possible by jumping on a series of platforms. You will automatically jump as you hit each platform and you can tilt the iPhone to control your trajectory, helping you avoid enemies as you head for the stratosphere.
The graphics are simplistic yet stylish, and kids will love the crayon detail of the main character, the enemies, and the surroundings. At only 99 cents Doodle Jump is an absolute no-brainer, and if you have only one game in your library make it this one.
Sword of Fargoal – If you are a glutton for punishment and are one of those gamers who can handle an unforgiving game with a high difficulty level without going insane then you’ll probably enjoy Sword of Fargoal.
Similar in style to games like Rogue and Nethack, Sword of Fargoal is a pure dungeon crawler. Essentially a port of an old Commodore 64 game, this addictive hack and slash game has you controlling your character down through 20 dungeon levels to retrieve the legendary Sword of Fargoal. If you manage to overcome the legions of enemies sent to stop you and actually manage to get your paws on said sword then you have a set time limit to get the sword back to the surface. Difficult? Yes. Addictive? Absolutely!
With 28 different monster types, tons of spells, potions, weapons and special abilities the combat is amazingly deep for the genre. The graphics are great, the sound and music are immersive, and the dungeon randomization engine will ensure you get virtually unlimited replayability as your adventure will change radically on each and every attempt.
Flight Control - Created by Firemint, the same studio that released the excellent Real Racing, Flight Control is yet another example of how great gameplay will trump glitz and graphics every time. The gameplay is dead simple – you simply swipe your finger to control the flight paths of planes and get them to land safely on the runway without colliding with any other planes along the way.
As with many games of this type the description just does not do it justice. Check out YouTube for a gameplay video, or better yet, simply buy the game and try it for yourself! At only 99 cents you can’t really go wrong.
Zenonia – Though I’ve touched upon the RPG genre with games like Sword & Poker and Sword of Fargoal, this is the first pure RPG on the list, and in the opinion of many it is the best RPG available on the iPhone to date. There is no question that Zenonia offers far more depth than any other game on this list, boasting more than 40 hours of gameplay.
Similar in style to the old Super Nintendo Final Fantasy games, this is old school console RPG gaming at its best. With tons of quests, monsters, an insane amount of spells, potions and power-ups and a detailed skill tree system for character building the game manages to stay fresh from beginning to end.
If you finish Zenonia and are craving more, then the news gets even better. The game has a sequel. I haven’t played it myself yet, but early reports claim that the sequel is every bit as good as the original. If you are as old school 16 bit console RPG gamer then definitely pick up this game.
Skee-Ball - The final game on my list of must have iPhone games is another port (of sorts). No, it is not a port of a classic console video game, but rather a virtualization of the popular arcade standard, Skee-Ball.
Yes, this is the game that you see in musty old arcades, at carnivals, or at Circus Circus in Las Vegas where you roll a small wooden ball up a ramp, and attempt to get it in one of a series of concentric circles to score points. Depending on how many points you score in the game the machine spits out a corresponding number of tickets that you can then redeem for any number of goofy prizes.
The iPhone version of the game stays true to classic concept of the game. You use your finger to “swipe” the ball up the screen. You get 9 balls to try and score as many points as you can.
The game keeps a running tally of your tickets, and just like a real arcade you can use them to purchase virtual loot from the in-game store. Most of the stuff is just miscellaneous junk, but you can purchase different skee-balls that will appear in gameplay itself. The game also keeps track of the tickets you’ve earned all time and will keep you updated, showing you your spot on the all time online ticket leaderboard every time you exit the game.
All in all, Skee-Ball ranks just behind Doodle Jump (for me) as the most addictive app on my iPhone. Whether you are a fan of the arcade game, or just looking for a good time waster definitely pick this 99 cent app up.
There you have it, my list of 13 of the best iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch games available. Obviously it is far from a comprehensive list, but it gives you a great starting point. You can own all of these classics for less money than a single console game, so the value here is incredible. Yes, mobile gaming is here to stay, and I, for one, can’t wait to see what the future holds for touchscreen gaming.
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