40 best iPhone games - paid apps
28th Jan 2011 | 11:11
Top-quality games for your iPhone or iPod touch
Best iPhone games - paid apps: 1-20
There are now tens of thousands of games on the App Store, covering every genre.
Huge studios battle it out with bedroom coders, providing iOS gamers with a mix of blockbuster titles and novel creations full of innovation and personality.
Below we list our 40 favourite paid-for games for iPhone and iPod touch; if we've missed your top game, let us know what it is in the comments!
Don't forget that universal apps also work natively on the iPad.
1. Angry Birds - £0.59
The moral of Angry Birds is that if you're a hungry pig, don't steal eggs from crazed birds with a death-wish, who also happen to own a massive catapult. If you're one of the 17 people who've not yet sampled this artillery classic, you fling angry birds at ramshackle structures, aiming to dispatch the pigs lurking within. Ingenious level design and varied bird 'powers' make this a classic iOS game.
2. Bit Pilot - £0.59
Avoid 'em ups are commonplace on the App Store, but none offer the polish, charm and addictive qualities of Bit Pilot. The aim of the game is simply to survive, avoiding asteroids and lasers, and grabbing sporadic shield power-ups. Lovely graphics and crunchy chip-tunes round off a first-class title.
3. Drop7 - £1.79, universal
The concept of this puzzle game is straightforward: drop numbered discs into a grid; when the number on a disc matches the amount of discs in its row or column, it explodes. Grey discs need an adjacent explosion before they reveal a number. Drop7 is brilliant and addictive, and it is to the iPhone what Tetris was to the original Game Boy.
4. Pix'N Love Rush - £0.59
Here's platform gaming for the low-attention-span generation. Doffing its hat to WarioWare, Pix'N Love Rush flings retro-platforming action at you at a blistering pace, switching between Mario-style horizontal scrolling, vertical levels, and static Bubble Bobble-oriented affairs. Dressed in Nintendo-style graphics, this is a frantic, exciting game that's an insane bargain at 59p.
5. Dark Nebula - Episode 2 - £1.19
Dark Nebula - Episode 2's developer undersells it as a 'labyrinth' game, but it's really a fast-paced top-down arcade game, albeit one with occasional puzzles and that seriously challenges your dexterity. You guide your orb through sci-fi installations, unlocking doors, defeating traps and battling foes. The aesthetics are wonderfully atmospheric, and the game offers a well-judged difficulty curve with new elements in each level.
6. Flight Control - £0.59
Firemint kick-started the path-drawing genre, and Flight Control remains the best game of its type. You guide aircraft to landing areas by drawing paths, taking care to avoid the single collision that ends the game. For extra challenge, try the navy level with a lazily rotating aircraft carrier and super-fast jets.
7. Orbital - £1.79
In Orbital, you fire orbs into the play-area; when an orb stops, it expands until it reaches an obstacle. An orb's number dictates how many times it must be hit by subsequent orbs until it explodes. Strategy therefore relies on you carefully picking your spot, aiming to create chain reactions and take out several orbs with one shot. Both beautiful and absorbing, Orbital is a textbook iPhone game.
8. Run! - £0.59
Canabalt and Mirror's Edge are glossier, but Run! combines the auto-running mechanic and swipe-based gestures of those more polished titles, and then adds falling meteors, evil wizards, UFOs, a shoulder-mounted bazooka, and the ability to karate-kick leaping sharks in the head—for 59p. It might look a little rough, but Run! is best-in-class by some margin.
9. Minigore - £0.59
If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise: it's infested with ravenous 'furries'! To survive, you merely have your wits, trusty weapons and the means of temporarily transforming into an unstoppable beast-like killing machine. Minigore is dual-stick Robotron-style action with modern cartoon graphics and a dollop of gore. It's also excellent.
10. geoDefense - £1.19
At the last count, there were about a million tower defence games for iOS. Most of them are slow and ugly; geoDefense is neither. Instead, it's a sleek, challenging, intense game, dropping you into a neon nightmare where creeps come thick and fast.
11. Real Racing - £2.99
Firemint never got the "there are no games with any depth on iOS" memo, and so they went ahead and created Real Racing. 48 cars, 12 tracks, five game modes with 76 events, multiplayer, several control methods, different cockpit views… like hell the iPhone isn't a 'proper' games console.
12. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars - £5.99
Rockstar Games didn't get the memo either, so they went ahead and shoved a grubby, violent city full of gangland warfare into your iOS device. Matching the same game on PSP and DS, Chinatown Wars has you trying to survive turf wars, shoot-outs, high-speed chases and drug deals. But if it all gets a bit much, you can steal a taxi and earn a semi-honest living carting fares about Liberty City.
13, Zen Bound 2 - £1.79, universal
When you describe Zen Bound 2, it sounds rubbish. "You wrap rope around wooden sculptures." See? However, there's an oddly mesmerising, almost hypnotic quality to this game. Its tactile nature and fluid controls draw you in, and you soon rise to the challenge, trying to complete each level with the minimum amount of rope.
14. Squareball - £0.59
AAARRGGGHH! That's an exclamation you'll hear a lot of (from yourself) if you take on Squareball. This unforgiving mutant offspring of Pong, Breakout and a horizontally scrolling platform game is frustratingly tough, despite 'merely' tasking you with not hitting red blocks or flinging your 'square ball' into space. Soon, you realise the weak spot is in fact you, since the swipe-based controls are perfectly tuned - and by that point you'll be addicted.
15. LilRacerz Pro Rally - £1.19
Older gamers may remember Super Sprint in the arcades, Super Cars on the Amiga, or the original NES Micro Machines by Codemasters. LilRacerz Pro Rally is a top-down racer. And it's just as much fun as those classic titles (and for £1.19!), and boasts 34 tracks, ten unlockable cars, and four different environments. The controls are great - the cars drift but there's some weight to them - and the subtle 3D graphics are a nice touch.
16. Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge - £1.79
Yo-ho-ho! This be the classic game ye scurvy dogs have been waiting for! A classic point-and-click adventure from way back in 1991, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge has been dusted off, turned into a 'Special Edition' (new graphics and audio, hints system, updated controls), and fashioned into a thing o' beauty. Arrrrrrr!
17. Soosiz - £1.19
Boasting a gravity mechanic akin to Super Mario Galaxy but side-on gameplay closer to the Nintendo mascot's 2D adventures, Soosiz is a cracking platform game. You must search 66 levels over seven worlds to find your friends, battling foes and gravity along the way.
18. WestBang - £0.59
WestBang's tap-based gameplay mechanics go back to the dawn of videogames, in that it's ultimately a simple reaction test. Doors open, and you have to shoot bad guys (but only after they draw—after all, good guys play by the rules) and avoid dispatching innocents. It's reminiscent of Sega's classic Bank Panic, but offers better graphics and more characters, along with added fun and depth.
19. Parachute Panic HD - £1.19, universal
It's tough for the parachutists in Parachute Panic HD. They leap from planes towards boats that won't stay put, and hazards range from UFOs and deadly helicopters to sharks only too happy to eat anyone who's careless enough to fall into the sea. The swipe-based gameplay is compelling, the controls are intuitive, and the soundtrack is both charming and funny.
20. Azkend - £1.79
Azkend eschews the typical match-game grid; instead, you drag paths to match shapes housed in hexagonal spaces. Along the way, a story unfolds that reveals talismans and power-ups to help you clear boards. Faster and prettier than Bejeweled, Azkend is perhaps a little easy to complete, but it still offers many hours of entertainment.
Best iPhone games - paid apps: 21-40
21. Rat On A Skateboard - £0.59
The third outing for Donut Games mascot Ratty sees him ditching his uncool scooter and instead getting all 'gnarly' and 'rad' doing various skateboard tricks. Gameplay-wise, Rat On A Skateboard is ultimately another one-thumb survival game with a few twists, but its various modes and great character make it an essential purchase.
22. Pac-Man Championship Edition - £2.99
When Pac-Man creator Tōru Iwatani returned to his yellow hero in 2007, the result was the astonishing Pac-Man Championship Edition, which turned a tired (if still amusing) arcade game into a high-octane and brilliant Xbox Live Arcade title. The iPhone release retains the game's addictive qualities, but adds a ton of extra content. Here's hoping semi-sequel DX arrives on the iPhone, too.
23. Cut The Rope - £0.59
One of the few games to challenge the chart domination of Angry Birds, Cut the Rope proves to be prettier and better to play than Rovio's title. The aim is to get the candy into the maw of small green dude Om Nom. This is done by manipulating ropes, pulleys and other systems, combining action and puzzle-solving, but without the annoying randomness of Angry Birds.
24. Linkoidz - £0.59, universal
Linkoidz is reminiscent of cult classic Magical Drop, itself an 'evolution' of popular match game Puzzle Bobble. You destroy aliens by matching three of them, or their weight eventually crushes your guy's shield and he's devoured. The hook is that instead of switching aliens Bejeweled-style, you suck one into your gun and fire it back. Fast-paced and great-looking, this is a hugely enjoyable iOS action puzzler.
25. Super Mega Worm - £0.59, universal
Super Mega Worm brings to mind cult film Tremors and pixelated 1980s videogames as you 'become the worm', terrorising all on the surface, to rid the planet of polluting humans. The challenge is relatively slight, but the game's humour and Game Center support means you'll regularly come back to it - and it's a hell of a lot better than the similar but tedious Death Worm.
26. Castle Smasher - £0.59
Although it looks similar to a simplified and angular Angry Birds, Castle Smasher plays rather differently. The game's firing mechanism (for lobbing stones at castles) is more precise, and you also have to defend your catapult guys against attacking knights. Randomly generated levels provide limitless gameplay after you work through the well-judged challenge levels.
27. Osmos - £1.79
At once resembling intergalactic conflict and microscopic warfare, Osmos is one of the strangest and most beautiful iOS games. Your 'mote' is propelled by ejecting pieces of itself, and the aim is to absorb motes smaller than yours and avoid those that are larger. Varying level types and utterly gorgeous visuals and soundtracks make this one of the finest games on the platform.
28. Piyo Blocks 2 - £1.79
Bejeweled has spawned a number of clones, the best of which is Zoo Keeper on the Nintendo DS. Piyo Blocks 2 is very similar, offering a fast-paced match game with several modes, including time attack, target capture, and more. Essential if you're a fan of the genre.
29. Axe In Face - £0.59
If Plants vs Zombies and Flight Control were mashed into a sticky pulp and uploaded to the App Store, the result would be Axe In Face. This charming line-drawing/castle defence game has Red Beard desperately defending his daffodil field from other Vikings, mostly by chopping off their heads with his magical axe. Getting through the game won't take you terribly long, but you'll be hard pressed to get more fun from 59p.
30. Beyond Ynth - £1.79
Beyond Ynth is a puzzle-oriented platform game which tasks a bug with collecting gems to bring back light to his kingdom. Each level comprises a number of 'boxes' that must be entered and correctly rotated in order to proceed; grabbing gems requires some serious puzzle-solving abilities, and one wrong move often means death by lava, ice or fire.
Mercifully, the latest Beyond Ynth update does away with the 'start the level for the 50th time' mechanic, enabling you to rewind progress past errors. Even so, it'll take you many hours to grab those gems.
31. Galaxy on Fire 2 - £5.99, universal
Doffing its cap to BBC Micro classic Elite and online MMO EVE, Galaxy on Fire 2 catapults you into an epic galactic adventure. You get to chart the course of your life, balancing trading, combat and other tasks. One of the few iOS games that can truly be described as epic, Galaxy on Fire 2 is well worth the entry fee.
32. Trainyard - £0.59
Trainyard is an innovative puzzler which will soon have you gnashing your teeth in frustration. The theory is simple: get each train to its like-coloured station, by drawing tracks. There's no time limit or score, so you'd think Trainyard would be a simple, relaxing experience. Soon, though, you're immersed in dealing with multiple trains, split tracks and colour theory, perhaps gaining a newfound respect for the British rail network when it's having problems. (OK, perhaps not that last thing.)
33. Infinity Blade - £3.49, universal
In screen-grabs, Infinity Blade visually resembles a free-roaming RPG, but it's in fact a block-and-parry beat 'em up, akin to Karateka or Punch-Out!!, but with glorious modern-day graphics and huge swords. Basic RPG-style levelling up provides a little extra depth, enabling you to gradually tackle stronger foes during each 'bloodline', and the gestural sword-fighting controls are great.
34. Bubble Pets - £1.19, universal
With iOS devices having glass screens and no tactile buttons a whac-a-mole game might seem a curious recommendation, but Bubble Pets is great. You prod pets to make them fly off the screen in balloons, taking care to avoid each level's 'bad' pet. Now and again, bosses appear, and each of the environments is colourful and vibrant.
35. Need for Speed Hot Pursuit - £2.99
Technically superior and smoother racing games are available on the App Store, but Hot Pursuit gets our vote, for sheer thrills and excitement value. This one's arcade racing all the way, with you aiming to flee from the fuzz; alternatively, you can 'be the man' and smash racing syndicate members into submission (or race your corrupt buddies through deserts, forests and along beachside towns).
36. Strategery - £1.19, universal
Although a superior experience on the iPad's larger screen, Strategery is also an essential purchase for owners of smaller Apple devices. It plays out as a stripped-down Risk, but where 'countries' have a maximum number of armies. Despite its simplicity, the game offers plenty of tactical depth, and you must learn to think several moves ahead, especially when playing human opponents in turn-by-turn online games.
37. Pizza Boy - £1.19
Mario-style platform games rarely work well on iOS devices, but Pizza Boy is a good effort. Despite there being some cheap deaths in later levels, the game offers plenty of charm, good humour and decent level design. The controls rarely let you down, and the unlock mechanism for 'bonus' levels is interesting, forcing you to explore as you play the game.
38. Scrabble - £1.19
EA's take on the world's most famous word game is a good one, with a great-looking board, a decent solo mode, pass-and-play and local network play. Scrabble has some minor dictionary niggles, and EA needs a slap for not providing turn-by-turn online games, but otherwise this is a first-rate boardgame conversion.
39. Tilt to Live - £1.79
A great example of a simple, addictive mobile game, Tilt to Live has you fleeing from evil red dots of doom. You tilt your device to fly around the screen, colliding with bonuses to fire heat-seeking missiles and glacial ice bombs at your adversaries, for a few moments' respite. The game's slightly demented sense of humour adds to the fun.
40. Helsing's Fire - £0.59
An original puzzle game is a rare thing indeed, which makes Ratloop's effort - Helsing's Fire - all the more worthy of praise. The idea is to use the careful placement of torches and coloured tonics to banish demons.
Your main foes are objects that cast shadows, stopping your light reaching intended targets. It's an interesting dynamic, and the game's 120 levels take a while to beat, all the while charming you with great character design and beautiful graphics.
Liked this? Then check out Tap! magazine for more apps, games and kit reviews for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
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