Released July 2011
Groove Coaster is so new that it feels odd to be making such as huge impact on our top 100 games chart, but it’s just so darn fun we couldn’t rank it any lower. Using the visual style seen in Space Invaders: Infinity Gene, playing Groove Coaster is hypnotic – a visual trip you can easily lose yourself to. Gameplay-wise, it’s incredibly simple. You have to track the movement of a little on-screen fish-like creature as it tears along a linear track. Then tap the screen whenever a blip comes into contact with it. It doesn’t feature famous tracks though – for that kind of rhythm action you’re better off with Tap Tap Revenge.
19. Infinity Blade
By Chair Entertainment
Released December 2010
Infinity Blade made such an impact at release because of one main thing – its fantastic graphics. But there’s a great game hidden under all the gloss too. It’s a one-on-one battle game where you progress through a ruined castle, taking on enemies of increasing difficulty. Fall in battle and you return as your previous character’s descendant, complete with any experience gained. Clever stuff (although admittedly a recipe for repetition.) It was the first full iPhone game to make use of the UT3 engine.
18. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery
By Capybara Games
Released April 2011
A game that pleads you to don your headphones rather than playing in silence, Capybara’s Superbrothers is as much a sensory experience as a game. You wake up with no idea of who your sword-wielding 8-bit style character is, and the truth is only uncovered bit-by-bit through carefully directed, very arty story segments. The gameplay is a blend of action, adventure and screen prodding. It’s the atmosphere, great sound and enchanting visuals that make this game so great though.
17. Tiny Wings
By Andreas Illiger
Released February 2011
One of just a few casual games that managed to dethrone the Angry Birds mob in the last year, Tiny Wings stormed to the top of the charts in early 2011. It’s a momentum-based game where you send a bird soaring over mountains. Oddly enough, though, you don’t really fly, just glide. Your only control is in pressing down on the touchscreen to make our avian hero point downwards towards the earth to pick up speed. In spite of the birdie link and reliance on pre-empting gravity, Tiny Wings is nothing like Angry Birds. Which is why we love it so.
16. Space Invaders: Infinity Gene
Released July 2009
The iPhone gaming scene has made a comfy home for classic games, letting crusty gamers like us reappraise their charms for just a couple of quid. A few classics have been given the full spruce-up makeover treatment though. Space Invaders: Infinity Gene is our top pick. It starts off just like the 1978 classic, but soon descends into modern shooter madness, the screen filling with both colour and enemies.
15. N.O.V.A. 2
Released December 2010
The original N.O.V.A. was perhaps the first game to fully convince us that first-person shooters would work on the iPhone’s 3.5in touchscreen, and its successor improved upon it with improved graphics and more diverse gameplay. For those new to the N.O.V.A. series, it’s best thought of as “a bit like Halo”. You’re part of the Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance and have to battle an army of invading aliens. Exciting stuff.
14. Glyder 2
Released Dec 2009
One of the most relaxing games on iPhone, Glyder 2 sees you fly around a fantasy environment, collecting orbs and unlocking more of the game’s world. Although only loosely tied-in to a story, it’s fantastically engaging thanks to its colourful, free-roaming world. For longer-term gaming, Glyder 2 also offers additional challenges to complete, further packing this world full of fun. Glu has pulled the game from the App Store due to serious software issues with iOS4, and has no plans to fix this. It’s a crying shame because this is an all-time favourite of ours.
13. Rolando 2
Released July 2009
Rolando was the series that cemented ngmoco’s reputation for quality back in early 2009. It’s a platform game designed from the ground up for touchscreen input. You need to deliver the Rolandos safely to the exit of each level by tilting your device to get them rolling along, and flicking upwards on the screen to make them jump. Boasting fabulously stylish visuals and a soundtrack supplied by Mr. Scruff, Rolando 2 is utterly charming.
12. Angry Birds Rio
Released March 2011
The third game in the Angry Birds series is the best, with more dynamic gameplay and more ambitious level design. It needs no introduction, but in case you’re completely new to iOS gaming, it’s an ultra-casual game where you fling birds into pigs hiding in buildings. You need to blast all of them to finish a level. Why? Because they’re mean and nasty and green, and they stole your eggs. The story is nonsense of course, but the gameplay is perfectly honed for mobile gaming sessions that you mean to last for five minutes, but end up going on for hours. 250 million downloads on, the series is still going strong.
11. Jet Car Stunts
By True Axis
Released Nov 2009
A brilliant blend of racing and platforming, Jet Car Stunts is quite unlike most other car games on the App Store. In some levels, the time you take to get to the finish line doesn’t even matter, just making it there. The tracks are suspended over a cloudy abyss, so if you fall down it’s bad news for your vehicle. There are also time trial challenges if you can’t let go of that traditional racing style. The only other racers you drive against are ghost cars from your, and other racers’, previous attempts, which helps to keep the action super-smooth even on an older-gen iOS devices.
10. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
Released June 2011
Who would have thought the best Mario Kart game on iPhone would come from Sega? Great 3D graphics, superb controls and a fab structure mean Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing obliterates all the Mario Kart copies that have come before it – and there were more than a few. The game includes 10 characters from the Sonic universe, and 15 tracks. Forget Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart, Cro-Mag Rally and Shrek Kart, this is the best kart racer in town.
9. GTA: Chinatown Wars
By Rockstar Games
Released January 2010
In 2009 Gameloft effectively made a Grand Theft Auto game in Gangstar: West Coast Hustle. But the next year, Rockstar bettered it with its own official entry. Harking back to the old days of the series, in the series’s first three instalments (Grand Theft Auto, GTA 2 and 1969), it’s a top-down perspective game, but is still gorgeous thanks to its 3D rendered visuals. You are Huang Lee, beaten, robbed and left with nothing on entry to Liberty City. Plenty of cars, plenty of guns, plenty of humour.
8. World of Goo
By 2D Boy
Released April 2011
A multi-award-winning indie game, World of Goo offers one of the best uses of physics ever seen in a game. You have to save blobs of goo by sticking them together to make a bridge leading to the goo collector at the end of each level. The real-ife principles of bridge building really work here, so careful thinking really pays off. Visually inventive, infinitely cheerful and ruddy good fun, this is undoubtedly one of the very best iOS puzzle games.
7. Zen Bound 2
By Secret Exit
Released April 2010
One of the iPhone’s most blessed-out titles, Zen Bound 2 is a game without action or explosions. Without boss fights or even enemies. All you do is wrap a rope around an object, using the touchscreen and accelerometer to slowly turn the object around. It could be a duck, it could be a teddy bear – your only aim is to cover as much of its surface as possible using as little rope as you can. Progress isn’t really the point though. Just let the chilled-out music sink in and feel your heartbeat slow riiiight down. Ahhh…
Released May 2009
Popcap has a curious knack of getting its games on every platform under the sun, and Peggle is no exception. You fire a metal ball bearing into an arrangement of pegs, hoping that the laws of physics are on your side and it’ll hit a good few of them before flying down into the abyss below. Some say it’s a game of chance but there’s more skill than you might imagine to this genial puzzler. The expansion pack Peggle Nights is also available as an in-app purchase.
5. Space Miner: Space Ore Bust
By Venan Entertainment
Released February 2010
Space Miner: Space Ore Bust (geddit?) was a game that came out of nowhere. Its creator Venan Entertainment was primarily a contract developer, making games for big publishers like EA, but its own title blew most of its previous game out of the water. It’s part space adventure, part twin-stick shooter, part roleplaying game – and all awesome. You start off with a tiny ship, pootling around the galaxy as the relative of a space outpost owner, helping out by mining for space ore. Soon enough a much larger plot starts to unravel. As you explore, and loot, the 50 space sectors in the game, you get to equip and upgrade your ship, finally ending up with a nimble asteroid-obliterating deathcraft.
4. Plants Vs. Zombies
Released February 2010
Popcap’s reponse to the tower defence craze isn’t really a tower defence game at all. You have to defend your house from the incoming hordes of zombies, approaching in mindless rows. And all you have at your disposal is plants. Really aggressive plants, mind. There are 49 different varieties to use. You earn new types after every level, keeping the gameplay fresh throughout the 50 levels. It’s dangerously addictive, deliciously fun.
3. Cut the Rope
Released October 2010
Although labelled by some as the thinking person’s alternative to Angry Birds, it’s not much like Rovio’s casual classic. In each level, you have to guide a sweet into a little green creature’s mouth. He’s called Om Nom. The key tool at your disposal is gravity. The sweetie is suspended above Om Nom with ropes, and swipes across these ropes break them. It’s not quite as simple as swiping across them in the right order though – timing is key. Throughout the 200 levels, there are plenty of additional objects to complicate matters, like bubbles and springs.
2. Real Racing 2
Released December 2010
Still the best realistic racer on iPhone, Real Racing 2 proved that Firemint really can’t put a foot (or tire) wrong. Offering seriously advanced racing physics, fully-licensed cars and full 16-car races, fans of Gran Turismo 5 or Forza Motorsport on Xbox 360 or PS3 will find a lot to like here. EA’s and Gameloft’s rivals offer a bubblier first-person campaign, but if it’s a proper racing game you’re after, there’s only really one game to pick.
1. Monkey Island 2: Special Edition
Released July 2010
The definitive 90s graphic adventure, LucasArts’s Monkey Island 2 once again follows the trials of the pirate Guybrush Threepwood as he battles the ghost pirate LeChuck and struggles to win back the love of Elaine Marley. If you haven’t played it before – where have you been? The fantastic new special edition has completely re-drawn visuals, a control scheme that really works on the 3.5in touchscreen and an all-new speech track. It’s brilliant.