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But how, TapSmart, how? How is it possible to pick the very best fifty games out of the hundreds of thousands on the app store?
This is a question that you may be asking right now, but it’s also one we asked ourselves. How could we approach this with any form of scientific credulity?
In the end, we decided it was impossible, and instead, we would approach it in the same way as when Skynet sent just one Terminator back instead of a whole bunch, or when we’re expected to believe that feeding a Gremlin after midnight is what caused all that ruckus, when in reality we were doomed from the start because it’s always after midnight… we suspended our disbelief.
So, while we don’t expect you to believe that these are the absolute best fifty games on the App Store ever, every single one is damn good. So, in no particular order, these are fifty of the greatest iPhone games on the App Store.
1. Tiny Wings
Andreas Illiger, $0.99/£0.69, 14.6 MB, Arcade
Fantastical little arcade game featuring little birds with, well, tiny wings. The birds use hills to jump up, slide down, and generally get about. Addictive, and visually incredible – like a psychedlic watercolor, Tiny Wings is great.
Matt Rix, $1.99/£1.49, 8.1 MB, Puzzle
Consistently gets 5-star reviews thanks to oodles of puzzles (well over a 100), and a feature to create your own puzzle tracks to guide trains to coordinately colored stations. Sounds simple? Don’t be fooled.
Semi Secret, $2.99/£1.99, 22.4 MB, Platformer
Canabalt hits a beautiful retro sweetspot between the Atari and the Game Boy. Shades of gray abound over this fast-paced runner, featuring randomly generated cityscapes to run through.
4. Ice Rage
Mountain Sheep, $1.99/£1.49, 27.9 MB, Arcade
‘The 8-bit Hockey Experience’. A 2-on-2 arcade-style game with a simple control scheme, multiplayer, and matches that last less than two minutes. It’s high-fidelity Pong on ice.
atebits, Free, 4.2 MB, Word
Part word game, part land grab, you need to use your vocabulary and planning skills to capture the board while stopping your human opponent from stealing your letters.
6.Real Racing 2
Firemint Pty Ltd, $4.99/£2.99, 448 MB, Racing
Realistic and beautiful graphics, an immersive control system and a rewarding upgrade system for your cars make this game one of – if not the best racing game on the app store.
7. Rayman Run
Ubisoft, $2.99/£1.99, 50.3 MB, Platformer
Taking a slice out of the Rayman reboots for consoles, these games feature him running and jumping in bizarre environments, such as overgrown jungles, or a string of oversized sausages.
8. Table Tennis Touch
Yakuto Limited, $3.99/£2.49, 252 MB, Sports
An incredibly rich, honed, challenging and most of all fun table tennis game. Follow the career mode through club games to international championships. Devilishly hard, but hugely satisfying when you win a competition.
9. Monument Valley
ustwo, $1.99/£1.49, 147 MB, Puzzle
A gorgeous design led to an Apple Design Award in 2014, but this game is much more – guide a princess through surreal architecture and tricky geometry, uncovering secret paths and illusions.
10. Plants vs. Zombies
PopCap, $0.99/£0.69, 72.5 MB, Strategy
Tower defense meets extreme gardening. Also, zombies. Your aim is to prevent the zombies reaching you by planting a series of deadly flowers, shrubs and trees to beat back the undead hordes.
11. Temple Run
Imangi Studios, Free, 31.0 MB, Action & Adventure
You’ve got the treasure, now run! This portrait runner sees various characters escape ancient temples, and sheer cliffs. Run, jump, slide, collect power-ups, but most of all: RUN!
Sirvo, $1.99/£1.49, 48.8 MB, Puzzle
Lightweight and terribly simplistic, but Threes! has still become one of the most long-term playable puzzlers out there – all you have to do is slide blocks to combine factors of three.
13. Super Hexagon
Terry Cavanagh, $2.99/£1.99, 23.3 MB, Arcade
Possibly the hardest game ever but that doesn’t take away from its charm. Direct your tiny triangle left or right and avoid the incoming waves of color from all six angles.
14. Heads Up!
Warner Bros., $0.99/£0.69, 71.0 MB, Trivia
Developed in association with Ellen DeGeneres, this party game requires the player to hold the phone to their forehead while friends or family give clues to guess what’s onscreen.
Zynga, $2.99/£1.99, 10.0 MB, Puzzle
This excellent puzzle game is a cross between Tetris and Sudoku. Place numbers into towers of corresponding height and they disappear. A mix of logic and luck results in you quickly
Playdead, $4.99/£2.99, 103 MB, Plaformer
Dark and iconic visuals, a chilling soundscape and excellent platforming makes Limbo one of the best previously PC- and console-only games to get an iOS port. It’s bleak, yet beautiful.
17. Flick Golf
Full Fat Productions, $0.99/£0.69, 51.9 MB, Arcade
Take your shot and then control the spin on the golf ball to get as close to the hole as possible. Wind-speed and sloping landscapes make for satisfying clubbing.
18. Field Runners
Subatomic Studios, $0.99/£0.69, 47.4 MB, Strategy
One of the great tower defense games available. Build a variety of weapons on a small playing field to stop the invading hordes. Field Runners 2 is also available for even more tower defense fun.
Illusion Labs, $4.99/£2.99, 49.1 MB, Platform Puzzler
Fun 3D puzzle game where you throw projectiles in a series of destructible levels in a quest to save the Boxies. Beautiful to look at and challenging enough to require serious thought.
20. Candy Crush Saga
King.com, Free, 46.2 MB, Puzzle
Simple, fun and addictive. A perfect combination of puzzling and strategy with excellent social media integration. Smash treats and boast about it to your friends!
21. Device 6
Simogo, $3.99/£2.49, 137 MB, Adventure Puzzle
Drawing on multiple influences. Device 6 ties in gaming with literature. Its story fits puzzles into the narrative as the main character wakes up on a remote island, with no recollection
22. Angry Birds
Rovio, $0.99/£0.69, 40.7 MB, Arcade
Needs no explanation, but for those over there living under that rock, it’s one of the most successful iOS games, spawning franchises. Aim disgruntled birds at pigs, hit them all and you win!
23. Infinity Blade III
Chair Entertainment, $6.99/£4.99, 1.82 GB, Action
This features due to the trilogy’s overall strength. With a great story, sword-fights abound as you unlock the power of the Infinity Blade. The graphics too, are among the best on iOS devices.
24. Fruit Ninja
Halfbrick, $0.99/£0.69, 39.6 MB, Arcade
Millions have downloaded, and millions loved it. You play a fruit ninja, slicing fruit as it flies through the air. How could this possibly be entertaining? We have no idea. But it is. Very much so.
25. Flight Control
Firemint, $0.99/£0.69, 17.9 MB, Arcade
Heralded as the flagship of the ‘line-drawing’ genre, You are in charge of an air traffic control tower, ensuring that incoming planes can land safely, not collide, and continue to operate.
26. World of Goo
2D BOY, $2.99/£1.99, 97.7 MB, Puzzle
Universally acclaimed, World of Goo is a near-perfect physics-based puzzler. Drag and drop squirming globs of goo – each of which have unique abilities – to solve the puzzles that feature along the way.
27. Jetpack Joyride
Halfbrick, Free, 41.3 MB, Arcade
From the same geniuses that brought you Fruit Ninja. This endless runner sees you take control of the future’s most elusive creation: the jetpack. Collect coins, high-five scientists and keep going faster! FASTER!
BETAWORKS ONE, Free, 7 MB, Puzzle
A simple, minimalist and colorful puzzler that gives you one minute to connect as many dots as you can, eliminate them from the board and get the
29. Manuganu 2
Alper Sarikaya, $0.99/£0.69, 153 MB, Platformer
This, and the first, are great little platformers. Jump, glide and swim through a South American themed landscape – he won’t stop running either, making the controls unique and challenging.
30. Cut The Rope
Chllingo, $2.99/£1.99, 31.1 MB, Puzzle
Very much in the same mould as Angry Birds, this cute game sees you swiping on screen to cut down sweets and feed the adorable Om. Cut The Rope 2 is also available but not quite as good as the original.
Terry Cavanagh, $2.99/£1.99, 59.5 MB, Platformer
Invert gravity, avoid spikes and guide Captain Viridian through a strange landscape. Previously only for PC, the game is surprisingly well-suited to the touch-screen control scheme. Expect to die a lot. Like, all the time.
32. Little Inferno
Experimental Gameplay Group, $0.99/£0.69, 45.5 MB, Puzzle-ish
Little Inferno is a smart commentary on how we play games and the time or money we spend on them. In this, you sit in front of a fireplace, throw things in, and watch them burn. That’s pretty much it!
Sennep, $1.99/£1.49, 14.8 MB, Board
A simple shuffleboard game on your device playable by up to four players at once. Flick your colored counters into the opposition area or smash away your opponents pieces.
34. Ridiculous Fishing
Vlambeer vof, $2.99/£1.99, 41.5 MB, Arcade
Follow your fishing hook into the depths of the ocean, then drag up every fish you can as you come back up to the surface. It’s crazy, and aptly named.
35. The Room 2
Fireproof Studios, $2.99/£1.99, 287 MB, Puzzle
This and it’s predeccessor are huge physical puzzlers. Unlock strange boxes to find more inside, and with each solve, cryptic letters from a scientist appear, unfolding an equally engaging story.
bitforge Ltd, $2.99/£1.99, 8.4 MB, Arcade
Using a ball and a launcher, your aim is to clear the ‘orbs’ from the board. There are other games like it but none of them look nearly as cool.
Frogmind, $3.99/£2.49, 167 MB, Action/Puzzle
Badland won an Apple Design award in 2013 – thegame is a side-scrolling platformer set in a luscious forrest, but though it looks beautiful, something is wrong – and you have
to find out what.
Denis Mikan, $0.99/£0.69, 28.0 MB, Puzzle
A recent addition to the App Store and one that won an Apple Design Award for 2014. Draw a line on-screen that collects the colored circles while avoiding the deadly black holes.
39. Doodle Jump
Lima Sky, $0.99/£0.69, 31.1 MB, Platformer
One of the first games to take advantage of the accelerometer in the iPhone. Tilt the device to direct the tiny doodle from platform to platform and try to get a high score; simple, but highly addictive.
Mountain Sheep, Free, 77.4 MB, Action
This game is full of unexplained, bonkers, mad action when Jon Gore is attacked in the woods by an army of baddies. Fortunately he has limitless ammunition and a chainsaw to hand.
41. Boson X
Ian MacLarty, $2.99/£1.99, 11.0 MB, Platformer
A scientific take on the infinite runner sees you searching for the elusive Boson X. Jump left and right to land on brightly colored platforms and avoid falling to your death.
Thunder Game Works, $0.99/£0.69, 37.3 MB, Strategy
Trenches successfully makes real-time strategy accessible to touch-screens. Set in WW1, you must advance to the far right of the screen, deploying infantry, mortars, machine guns
43. Slingshot Racing
Crescent Moon, $0.99/£0.69, 49 MB, Racing
Tether to and release yourself from poles around the track to ‘slingshot’ your vehicle around bends in this high-speed, Steampunk themed racing title. Hectic, same-device multiplayer is also included.
44. Where’s My Water?
Disney, $1.99/£1.49, 50.8 MB, Puzzle
Adorable Crocodile Swampy needs water for his shower. Unfortuantely there’s mud, sand, and goo blocking the pipes. Better clear it away with water by drawing a path onscreen.
Made in Me, $1.99/£1.49, 117 MB, Kids & Family
Perfect family game – the aim is to ‘sneak up’ on your iPhone to photograph the beasties on the screen. It picks up sounds via the iPhone’s microphone so if it hears you, the game’s up!
46. The Incident
Big Bucket, $0.99/£0.69, 13.5 MB, Platformer
This retro-styled platformer sees you jumping up and up upon piles of trash as it rains down on your head from outer-space. It’s even playable on your Apple TV.
47. Kingdom Rush
Ironhide Game Studio, $0.99/£0.69, 200 MB, Strategy
Another tower defense game but this one has a medieval flavor. Build barracks, archers, wizard towers, and summon your hero to destroy a variety of onrushing minions across varied levels.
48. Waking Mars
Tiger Style, $4.99/£2.99, 308 MB, Action & Adventure
Explore the depths of Mars as an astronaut trying to bring it back to life. Explore caverns, decode mysteries, and grow an ecosystem to survive the treacherous conditions.
49. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
Capybara Games, $4.99/£2.99, 200 MB, Adventure
Traverse a pixellated realm and do battle with all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures alongside a beautiful soundtrack. The game is even affected by the phases of the moon.
50. The Heist
tap tap tap, $0.99/£0.69, 21.1 MB, Puzzle
Solve a series of different puzzles to gain access to the main vault. The Heist has over 60 puzzles to undertake and a prize waiting for you at the end.
Special Mention – Flappy Bird
Dong Nguyen, Arcade
This was the game that caused millions to become addicted to their iPhone overnight as they tried to direct a pixellated bird-fish through green pipes simply by tapping. While it isn’t currently available to download it may reappear in the near future. Come back soon, we miss you…
There we have it, 50 of the best iPhone games!
What did we miss? Let us know in the comments below!
Hi! Thanks for reading. This post looks better in our award-winning app, Tips & Tricks for iPhone.