In this final part of our giant summary of the past three years of iPhone gaming, we’re going to tell you all about those stone cold classics you’d be mad to miss. Any veteran iPhone gamer will surely have sampled a couple already, but if you’ve missed out on any, they all come with our two-thumbs-up, gold star seal of approval.
If you’ve already checked out each and every one of these iOS classics, why not have a peruse of the rest of our 100 Best iPhone games list to find your next gaming gem?
20. Groove Coaster
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.