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From frenetic single-screen leaping about to expansive adventures, these are the best platformers for your iOS device
They say platform games can’t work on touchscreens — mostly because of a lack of D-pads, buttons and Nintendo. We’re not sure who ‘they’ are, but we do know they are dead wrong. That’s because the iPhone is home to glorious platform games, as evidenced by our biggest games round-up ever. (And there’s no dross here — each of these games is a gem.)
$2.99/£2.29 • 50.9 MB • v3.0 • Kumobius
Precision rather than speed is the order of the day in the sharp, smartly designed Bean Dreams. You guide your hatted jumping bean left and right, collecting fruit, seeking out a hidden axolotl, and reaching the goal in the fewest possible leaps. You can’t do all these things at once, forcing new approaches to achieve all the goals.
Beneath the Lighthouse
Free or $3.99/£2.99 ad-free • 44.2 MB • v1.1.4 • Nitrome
The novel control method in Beneath the Lighthouse has you rotate each circular single-screen level, to make a rotund boy tumble onwards. He’s on a quest to find his Grandpa underneath the lighthouse, which primarily comprises tight passageways, countless spikes, and more than a few bombs. Its architect needs a serious talking to about health and safety.
$1.99/£1.99 • 40.0 MB • v1.7 • FDG Mobile Games GbR
A game that thinks inside the box — in fact, many boxes — Beyond Ynth features a bug looking to bring light back to his kingdom. Each horizontally scrolling level is full of boxes which must be turned, moved and navigated. Hazards (weather; lava; insanely complex box innards) complicate the bug’s life, but make for a superb platform puzzler.
Cally’s Caves 3
Free + IAP • 67.0 MB • v1.5.6 • Jordan Pearson
This entry in the series finds Cally no doubt furious her parents have for a third time been kidnapped by an evil scientist. So she sets out, armed with pigtails and an alarming cache of weaponry, to leap about platforms, shoot adversaries, and get her folks back. IAP adds new modes and levels to the extremely generous 120 already in the free game.
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
$4.99/£3.99 • 481 MB • v1.0 • Disney
This remake of a classic 16-bit platform game features Disney’s famous mouse braving the Castle of Illusions to rescue his love. It’s frequently taxing — harking back to an era when games took no prisoners — but relentlessly enchanting, with gorgeous visuals, loads of surprises, and plenty of variation within its winding, intricate stages.
$2.99/£2.29 • 57.9 MB • v1.0 • Noodlecake Studios Inc
Intentionally disorienting, Caterzillar has Bob the caterpillar traverse a shattered world. Countless platforms float in the air, and each has its own gravitational pull. You must worm your way around, munching fruit, jumping on enemies, and figuring out which way is up or down at any given moment. Imagine a 2D Super Mario Galaxy featuring a bug and you’re there.
$2.99/£2.29 • 120 MB • v2.0.0 • Kenny Sun
Claustrophobic and dizzying, Circa Infinity is all about jumping into concentric circles patrolled by marching monsters. Every time you reach a bobbing orb, it expands to become the next level; fail and you’re booted back to your previous location. Brash and fresh, Circa Infinity is an excellent mix of frenetic action and constantly shifting pathfinding.
$1.99/£1.99 • 31.8 MB • v1.0 • Gionathan Pesaresi
The gorgeous and breezily fun Drop Wizard recalls classic single-screen platformers like Bubble Bobble and Snow Bros., but it’s a thoroughly modern creation. Your little wizard auto-runs, emitting magic bolts on landing. You can only send him left or right, using precision timing to blast monsters and boot them across the screen, trying to cause chain reactions that snare them all.
Food Run HD
$2.99/£2.29 • 40.6 MB • v1.0.8 • Kevin Ng
Another auto-runner, Food Run HD has you direct a doughnut on legs, bounding its way through 40 levels of food-based mayhem. Despite the control limitations, Food Run feels like a proper platformer as you leap on monsters, locate yummy chums, wall-jump and grab stars. It’s a tasty treat through to the very last level.
$0.99/79p • 60.1 MB • v2.01 • Infinite State Games Ltd
This decidedly odd creation features Mr Fruts leaping up vertically scrolling levels on a mission to find the kidnapped Mrs Fruts. Lovely hand-made visuals, smart action-packed level design, and an intuitive catapult control method (think: Angry Birds) combine to create a bonkers but brilliant game.
I Am Level
$1.99/£1.49 • 31.5 MB • v1.03 • Inez Hogarth
A mash-up of 8-bit platform games and pinball, I Am Level proves this unique combination to be compelling. The ZX Spectrum-influenced visuals are eye-searing, but there’s tons to do as you explore a huge map packed full of hazards. And the novel controls work brilliantly: tilt to roll and tap to activate the ball-smacking pinball flippers and plungers dotted about.
Icycle: On Thin Ice
$2.99/£2.29 • 40.1 MB • v2.0.3 • Chillingo Ltd
Having seemingly escaped from Terry Gilliam’s mind during a particularly fevered dream, Icycle tells the story of naked cyclist Dennis peddling through some kind of surreal post-apocalyptic nightmare. Dazzling visuals and clever, choreographed challenges make for a breathtaking and memorable experience.
Free or $3.99/£2.99 ad-free • 61.7 MB • v1.3.3 • Nitrome
The pudgy yellow protagonist in Leap Day tootles about, aiming to eat fruit and reach the top of each day’s unique level. Tap the screen and the hero leaps; tap again to leap a second time, using walls to reset the jump. Fiendish level design and plentiful monsters ensure the going is tough, but there are checkpoints (free if you buy the premium IAP, and skinflints can trade collected fruit).
$4.99/£3.99 • 77.4 MB • v1.0.6 • 1337 & Senri LLC
Leo’s gold’s been pilfered, but like in every good platform game, the idiot thief left a trail to follow. The moustached hairball must therefore traverse lush and deadly environments to recover his hoard. The game’s occasionally fiddly, but endless lives lessen frustration as you switch between Mario-style precision jumping and lightning-fast Sonic loops. And for toughened players, there’s the hardcore mode: reach the end without dying once!
$4.99/£3.99 • 103 MB • v1.1.3 • Playdead
Although frequently more puzzler than platform, it’d be remiss to omit Limbo from this roundup. Bleak but beautiful, this monochromatic adventure finds a boy entering a horrific underworld in search of his sister. Fittingly, death is never the end — fail by way of drowning or being speared by a terrifyingly gigantic spider and you’re reborn to try again.
$1.99/£1.49 • 29.8 MB • v1.6 • BeaverTap Games, LLC
There’s a hint of Mario in Mikey Hooks, with its coin collection, cartoonish critters to jump on, and fast pace. But as you run, jump, and slide — along with swinging from hooks helpfully dotted about — this one’s all about speed. Only by rattling along can you three-star a level; and if you need encouragement, you can race against your best time’s ghost.
$0.99/79p • 99.6 MB • v2.02 • Silicon Jelly s.r.o.
We’ve often wondered what dogs dream about — presumably running, eating, and barking. But not Mimpi, who has the kind of imagination scriptwriters would kill for. In his dreams, this hound becomes a superhero, saving lab rats from science hell, and princesses held by evil dragons. The challenge is slight, but this is one of the most joyous platformers around, due to its fantastic looks and big imagination.
Momoka: An Interplanetary Adventure
$6.99/£4.99 • 78.1 MB • v1.0.2 • Felwig Games LLP
Momoka finds a hero attempting to restore a dying sun. Tiny worlds spin underfoot, which you explore, making discoveries, chatting to locals, and blasting threats. The game’s free-form nature makes backtracking actually fun (you can use upgrades to unearth collectables in previously visited locations), and even the lo-fi visuals shine when combined with lovely lighting effects.
$1.99/£1.49 • 9.8 MB • v1.2.0 • Physmo
Feeling like a retro-take on a stripped-back Mario, Mos Speedrun is initially about zooming through, to beat the timer. But new levels are opened up by grabbing all the gold and finding hidden skulls, requiring further play-throughs with new tactics. Later levels are very tough, but even death has a final twist, each of your attempts becoming a ghost to race against in subsequent goes.
Mr. Crab 2
Free + $6.99/£4.99 IAP • 101 MB • v1.1 • Illusion Labs
On a mission to save lost baby crabs, the titular hero of this game auto-runs on paths and leaps across gaps wrapped around tower-like levels. The game looks stunning, but behind the gloss is some devious level design, making it a challenge to figure out where you are and how to get to the lost crabs. For free, you get a small set of levels; IAP unlocks the rest.
$0.99/99p • 131 MB • v2.0 • Angry Mob Games
A brazen take on the wonderful but no-longer updated Super Crate Box, Muffin Knight features a protagonist leaping about tiny levels, blasting foes, and grabbing muffins. On getting one, the hero transforms, weapons and all. Over time, you unlock new worlds and many additional characters to become. It’s also well-suited to mobile, the fast, frenetic battles squeezing into odd moments.
Free or $1.99/£1.49 ad-free • 36.0 MB • v1.2.2 • Nitrome
Part auto-run platformer, part memory test, Platform Panic has you leap your way through a procedurally generated string of single-screen challenges. You’re awarded a solitary point for each room cleared, and receive only a fraction of a second each time to figure out how to survive. Apt name, too — this game has many platforms and certainly makes you panic!
Rayman Fiesta Run
$2.99/£2.29 • 98.7 MB • v1.5.3 • Ubisoft
Of the three Rayman games on iOS, this is our favourite. It dispenses with directional control, distilling platforming to a core of careful timing. Success therefore depends on mastering the best route for having the hero make it to the end intact, knowing you often cannot backtrack. New powers expand the game’s scope over time, and meticulous bling collection is rewarded with faster unlocking of subsequent levels.
Sonic the Hedgehog
$2.99/£2.29 • 33.3 MB • v2.1.2 • SEGA
Sega’s released plenty of new games for iOS, but this remaster of the original Sonic is the one that makes our list. There’s certainly a twang of nostalgia as the blue hedgehog sprints along, grabbing rings and trying to save the world from the evil Dr. Eggman. But this is no cheap port, since it boasts remastered audio and a 60 fps frame-rate.
$0.99/79p • 76.7 MB • v1.4 • Touch Foo
We earlier mentioned Caterzillar, and Soosiz was a clear inspiration for that title. Again, you’re exploring tiny rotating worlds, but here you must find little versions of yourself who’ve wandered off. Lively and disorienting, Soosiz is an iOS classic. And although the main play area isn’t optimised for widescreen, the controls mercifully are.
$0.99/79p • 16.5 MB • v1.2 • Everplay
A retro-oriented hack-and-slash platformer, Spell Sword takes place in single-screen arenas. You dart about, grabbing gems and obliterating enemies with your sword and any acquired powers. Relentlessly action-packed, Spell Sword’s games are short but fast, furious and fun.
Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon
$4.99/£3.99 • 619 MB • v1.1.1 • Tiger Style
The clever bit about Spider is the game ‘hidden’ behind the game. In the main, you’re a spider, scuttling about, making webs, and eating anything daft enough to get snared. This is entertaining in and of itself. But as you roam about the mansion you call home, you’ll discover intriguing pieces of a mystery (albeit from a spider’s perspective).
$4.99/£3.99 • 76.9 MB • v1.0.3 • Curve Digital Games
Armed with your wits and some ‘stealthing goggles’, your job is to sneak through a facility packed with equipment designed to exterminate sneaks. To survive, you must stick to the shadows, outrun walls closing in, and avoid getting horribly killed by security droids. Stealth Inc. is a tough one (and the console-style controls sometimes let you down), but inventive and entertaining all the while.
Super Dangerous Dungeons
Free or $1.99/£1.49 ad-free • 43.1 MB • v1.1 • Jussi Simpanen
This one very much has a retro heart, from its pixelated graphics to the sharp but often brutal design. The aim is to help a treasure hunter get to the exit of each room, most of which are only a few screens in size. But they’re full of spikes, pits, and the kind of water that only appears in platform games, drowning you in an instant.
Free or $0.99/79p ad-free • 87.6 MB • v1.4 • Touch Foo
There’s a whiff of Zelda about Swordigo, an expansive side-scrolling adventure where you defeat the corruption at the heart of a magical realm. Cue: lots of jumping, exploring, swiping things with swords, side missions, and trying very hard not to plummet down deadly drops. (And if you get a bit cocky, mammoth bosses will soon cut you down to size!)
$2.99/£2.29 • 67.5 MB • v1.0 • Acid Nerve
Across 100 levels, Telepaint charts a clockwork paint pot’s desire to be reunited with a brush pal. It auto-stomps, and you use teleporters to move the pot around, to get into the right places to grab keys, move sliding blocks, and not get stuck. Clever and boasting a great sense of rhythm, this is a unique and colourful platform puzzler.
Thomas Was Alone
$4.99/£3.99 • 160 MB • v2.0 • Bossa Studios Ltd
This indie classic is amusingly meta as you take a series of shapes through short platform-filled quests, Danny Wallace narrating as you go. There’s some brainpower required in figuring out how to help the shapes to their respective goals (often requiring careful collaboration), and plenty of gentle humour in the narrative that often has the protagonists questioning each other and the nature of their universe.
Traps n’ Gemstones
$4.99/£3.99 • 16.3 MB • v1.01.1 • Donut Games
Coming across like how Tomb Raider might have appeared in the mid-1980s, Traps n’ Gemstones finds a fedora-wearing hero working his way into a pyramid. There are mummies to whip, puzzles to solve, and bling to collect. Smartly, it appeals to novices and veterans alike: die and you can continue from where you left off — but your score resets!
Twelve a Dozen
$3.99/£2.99 • 277 MB • v1.3.1 • Bossa Studios Ltd
This charming game has similar narrative sensibilities to Thomas Was Alone. Here, though, you accompany a sentient number, Twelve, as she attempts to rescue her family in the ruins of Dozenopolis. There’s a distinctly kid-friendly vibe, but players of all ages will have fun figuring out how to progress by using ‘numbles’ to update Twelve’s number, thereby bestowing her with new powers.
$2.99/£2.29 • 59.5 MB • v1.01 • Terry Cavanagh
Our final entry pits you against a game from the brains behind Super Hexagon. While this platformer isn’t nearly so arduous, it’s nonetheless tough going exploring VVVVVV’s universe, trying to locate lost crew. Rather than jumping, you flip upside down on tapping, making for an initially odd experience, and some decidedly hairy moments as you suddenly belt upwards through a number of screens, hoping you won’t suddenly be impaled on a spike.
Hi! Thanks for reading. This post looks better in our award-winning app, Tips & Tricks for iPhone.