Keeping up with the deluge of games flooding the App Store is a daunting task. Plenty of iPhone owners just pick a game or two and stick with ‘em, either because they’re overwhelmed by options or they just seriously love Angry Birds that much.
That’s too bad. iPhone gaming might be dominated by a few big brands, but dig just a little deeper and you’ll find some of the best game experiences on any platform. Here are 10 recent iPhone games that absolutely deserve a spot on your handheld.
Super Stickman Golf 2
Noodlecake Studios | $0.99
Hit the ball into the hole. Simple! Except any golfer will tell you that’s not the case, and any Super Stickman Golf 2 player will just start laughing at you. Whack the ball around insane courses using outrageous power-ups to gain an advantage. Stick to walls using glue, freeze water with ice shots, or pull an Insane Clown Posse and use magnets (THAT’S how they work!) to coax your ball into the cup. Outstanding multiplayer modes -- including a killer turn-based mode -- will keep you chipping away for days.
Vlambeer | $2.99
Give the guys at Vlambeer credit: they aren’t quitters. After watching their first game, Radical Fishing, get cloned and released in a controversial, soul-crushing tale of iOS publishing woe, they brushed themselves off and released the sublime Super Crate Box. Now they’re back in the ocean with Ridiculous Fishing, a wildly addictive fishing game that lets you cast a line, land some fish, toss them into the air and blast them away for points. It’s great fun -- and rewarding Vlambeer is, in many ways, a great cause, too.
The Room (Pocket)
Fireproof Games | $1.99
You are in a room. There is a contraption in the room. For the next several hours, you will slam your head against the wall trying to solve the cursed thing, but man, will it ever feel good. The iPhone version of 2012’s iPad Game of the Year is free to try, though we recommend dropping the two bucks on the full version. You’ll also need a newish iPhone (4S or later), as it’s a graphical workhorse.
Henry Smith | FREE
Set the Bi-Valve to 7. SET THE BI-VALVE TO 7! If screaming out commands seemingly stripped from a lost Star Trek episode sounds like a good time, you need to join the Spaceteam. You and up to three friends pilot a rickety spaceship together, issuing commands back and forth in an effort to keep the hunk of junk from falling apart. Hilarious, chaotic and absolutely not something you should play in front of, say, a date, it’s a must-own multiplayer game. Now kindly evacuate the plunger. EVACUATE THE PLUNGER!
Chillingo | FREE
Blessed with visions of an idyllic future society? Let those dreams come to life with Pixel People, a simulation that lets you build the ultimate Utopia. It’s not just buildings and zoning laws, though – you also get to play deity by splicing the genes of your cloned residents to create new citizens with interesting abilities. All for one, one for all!
Star Wars Pinball
Zen Studios | $1.99
It’s Star Wars. It’s pinball. You’re pretty much halfway to greatness right there, though Star Wars Pinball goes the extra mile by actually BEING great. That’s not really a surprise since it comes from the Zen Pinball folks, who have again crafted a game with top-notch visuals and great gameplay. Only one table comes with your purchase -- The Empire Strikes Back -- but you can purchase two more within the game.
NimbleBit | FREE
Remember that monochrome game of Snake you used to play on your crappy old Nokia? That’s the idea behind this dungeon-crawler from NimbleBit, the studio responsible for all-time iOS greats Pocket Planes and Tiny Tower. Forget hefty simulation management, however. In Nimble Quest you simply guide your heroes around the map, taking down enemies while trying not to run into anything nasty -- including yourself.
Candy Crush Saga
King.com | FREE
A hit on Facebook, this match-three puzzler got an iOS port a few months back, and it still tastes great. Though it boasts pretty familiar gameplay -- match candies to clear the board -- some clever twists and great visuals will keep you glued to the sweet stuff for hours. You can easily play for days without dropping a dime, but later levels sure seem like they require the sour candy of extra booster packs.
Real Racing 3
Firemonkeys | FREE
The best-looking mobile racing game of all time somehow got better-looking. It plays like a dream, too, featuring a wealth of cars and tracks and some of the tightest control in any mobile racing game. It’s free, though buyer beware: the game lays on the microtransactions pretty thick. This dealer likes to haggle.
Frogmind | $3.99
There’s no shortage of run-for-your-life games on the iPhone, but if you’ve already fled the temple a few billion times and are looking for something with a little more bite, Badland is just the ticket. You’re a bizarre bat-thing flying through what appears to be a planet designed specifically to kill you. The stunning art style will lure you in, while the devious puzzles and simple gameplay will keep you flapping through the dark, scary night.
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