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All-time best iOS games

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December 4, 2012

We break down the all-time best iOS games

We break down the all-time best iOS games

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Gaming used to be sharply divided. The most advanced titles were on PCs and home consoles, while portable systems were limited to scaled-down light versions. That line has been blurred. Apple's iPhone and iPad have led this transition, offering a library of games that compete with both home and portable consoles. Which of these games stand out? Read on, as we break down the all-time best iOS games.

Infinity Blade II

iOS' best showcase game is Infinity Blade II

Infinity Blade II is iOS' premiere showcase game. With visuals and gameplay that are among the best on the platform, this sequel built on its predecessor's successful formula. If you only buy one game for your iPhone or iPad, consider this slash-and-dodge classic.

iPhone/iPad (US$6.99)

Grand Theft Auto 3

The PC and console classic Grand Theft Auto III is also an iOS classic

Grand Theft Auto 3 transformed console gaming, single-handedly creating the sandbox and open world crime genres. In 2011, Rockstar ported the classic to iOS, adding enhanced HD graphics and as-good-as-possible virtual controls.

iPhone/iPad ($4.99)

The World Ends With You: Solo Remix

The stylish The World Ends With You: Solo Remix is a hardcore RPG for the ages

A cult classic on the Nintendo DS, the iOS port of The World Ends With You may be iOS' best role playing game. It oozes style (of the urban Japanese ilk), with much deeper gameplay than most iOS titles.

iPhone ($17.99), iPad ($19.99)

Walking Dead: The Game

Telltale's Walking Dead: The Game is a masterpiece

If you had doubts about the legitimacy of iOS gaming, look no further than Walking Dead: The Game. Telltale's five-episode adventure won numerous 2012 Game of the Year awards (including ours). And the iPad version is basically a straight port of its PC and console counterparts.

Walking Dead resists the temptation to be just another zombie shooter, focusing instead on story, humanity, and moral dilemma. Adventure gaming is back, thanks to this masterpiece.

iPhone/iPad ($4.99)

Bastion

Bastion features a narrator who reacts to your every move

Another terrific port, Bastion first showed up in 2011 on Xbox Live. The iOS version has intuitive touch controls, one of the best soundtracks in the App Store, and a reactive narrator who would be right at home in a Sam Shepard play.

iPhone/iPad ($4.99)

Angry Birds

Rovio sells five full Angry Birds games

Take your pick: Rovio now has five Angry Birds games in the App Store. Each offers something a little different, but they're all built on the same foundation. If you like physics-based, bird-flinging destruction, they all supply hours of entertainment.

iPhone ($0.99), iPad ($2.99)

Rayman Jungle Run

Rayman Jungle Run is a delightful running platformer

The App Store is saturated with running platformers. Most are freemium affairs, requiring countless in-app purchases to get anywhere.

Not only is Rayman Jungle Run sold at a refreshing fixed price, it's also one of the best casual games on iOS. The mobile cousin of the excellent Rayman console games, Jungle Run has simple controls, sharp visuals, and plenty of cartoon charm.

iPhone/iPad ($2.99)

Tiny Wings

One button is all you need in Tiny Wings

One of the simplest games in the App Store is also one of the best. Tiny Wings only has one control: touch the screen to send your bird into a dive. The fun is in timing those dives to catch maximum air. It's simple, addictive fun.

iPhone ($0.99), iPad ($2.99)

Fruit Ninja

Fruit Ninja provides hours of fruit-slicing fun

It's hard to find a game more perfectly suited to the touchscreen than Fruit Ninja. It's fruit-slicing fun is simple enough for anyone to pick up, while it's addictiveness makes it hard to put down. Time and score-based modes coupled with online multiplayer (and local split screen on an iPad) have made this game from Halfbrick Studios a must have for iOS devices and seen it expand onto various other platforms.

iPhone ($0.99), iPad ($2.99)

Jetpack Joyride

Jetpack Joyride delivers retro arcade fun

Jetpack Joyride showed Halfbrick wasn't just a one-trick pony. It's another great arcade-style game whose graphics, soundtrack, and unapologetically badass attitude harken back to games from the mid 90s. Halfbrick gave Jetpack Joyride just enough variety and challenge to keep you coming back for more.

iPhone/iPad (free)

Scribblenauts Remix

Scribblenauts Remix lets you create nearly any object

If you've never played Scribblenauts, you're in for an "Oh S$%#!" moment. Type the name of any object, and it will appear on the screen, ready for use. The puzzles are simple and easy. The fun is in the creative – often wacky – ways that you solve them.

iPhone/iPad ($0.99)

Max Payne Mobile

Rockstar brings Bullet Time to iOS with

Another great Rockstar port, Max Payne Mobile is the same PC and console classic from 2001. Like GTA 3, the gritty epic sports an HD touchup and a surprisingly usable virtual control scheme.

iPhone/iPad ($2.99)

Plants vs. Zombies

It's hard to beat the casual quirkiness of Plants vs. Zombies

If you haven't played Popcap's quirky tower defense game, you're missing out. Create an army of plants to defend wave-after-wave of the undead. With striking visuals, balanced gameplay, and light-hearted whimsy, PvZ is an all-time great.

iPhone ($2.99), iPad ($6.99)

Chaos Rings II

Chaos Rings is Square Enix's first iOS original

Square Enix sells several RPGs in the App Store, but unlike The World Ends With You and its Final Fantasy ports, Chaos Rings is an iOS original. The other two (Chaos Rings, Chaos Rings Ω) are worth checking out, but Chaos Rings II has a better story and more variety.

iPhone ($17.99), iPad ($19.99)

GTA: Chinatown Wars

GTA: Chinatown Wars is an oft-forgotten gem

Don't be fooled by the retro birds-eye view: Chinatown Wars is a fully-fledged Grand Theft Auto game. With hours of gameplay, an intentionally campy story, and addictive drug-dealing side missions, Chinatown Wars is an often-overlooked masterpiece.

iPhone ($9.99), iPad ($9.99)

N.O.V.A. 3

The closest you'll get to H.A.L.O. on iOS is Gameloft's N.O.V.A. franchise

Nobody ever accused Gameloft of being original. The company thrives at ripping off popular console franchises for mobile devices. One of its crowning efforts is N.O.V.A. 3, a clone of H.A.L.O.

Like with most Gameloft games, the dialogue and voice acting are grating. But the excellent graphics and entertaining gameplay make up for it.

iPhone/iPad ($6.99)

Tiny Tower

Simplicity rules with Tiny Tower

Tiny Tower proves that the simplest games can also be the best. With graphics that would have looked dated 15 years ago, this sim shines with addictive gameplay, a jazzy soundtrack, and progress that continues when you aren't playing.

The freemium title gets bonus points for being insanely fun even if you don't make a single in-app purchase.

iPhone/iPad (free)

Honorable Mentions

Air Mail is a charming and fun flying game

No "best of" list is definitive, and any of these titles could easily make their way onto your iOS device:

  • World of Goo
  • Superbrothers: Swords and Sworcery EP
  • Air Mail
  • Dead Space
  • Modern Combat 3
  • Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders
  • Cut the Rope

Any big games that we left out? Drop us a line in the comments.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
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6 Comments

I miss Machinarium!

Hauke Gregor Wilhelm Sandhaus
5th December, 2012 @ 02:19 am PST

LOL

No World of Goo? No Cut the Rope?

You should also add Pocket Legends, and Arcane Legends.

Fabián Chuchuca Leiva Sierra
8th December, 2012 @ 08:37 am PST

Hi,

nice collection and here some additional suggestions:

The Room

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-room/id552039496?mt=8

Secret Christmas Tale

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/secret-christmas-tale/id572562235?ls=1&mt=8

LostWinds2: Winter of the Melodias

https://itunes.apple.com/at/app/lostwinds2-winter-melodias/id488671285?mt=8

BlueTree
21st December, 2012 @ 07:00 am PST

I have to admit , you compile the best games on IOS, period, I agree if you in most of this titles, i am not a big fan of GTA, but its a good game indeed.

phd_coder
28th April, 2013 @ 11:19 am PDT

Feel like Ducky Duck Hunting should be on the list.. highly recommended!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ducky-duck-hunting/id580837621?mt=8

shielamae
1st May, 2013 @ 10:54 am PDT

hi guys try Tankboom 3d action game available on googleplay and ios itunes store..

Madhu Rima
25th August, 2014 @ 05:50 am PDT
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