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From frantic multiplayer tapping to family-friendly trivia, here are some games to enjoy while digesting all that turkey
The iPhone was designed as an inherently personal device. It is intended to be used by an individual, unlike a more traditional board game, or even the TV. This extends to games, which tend to be single-player experiences or ones where you play others in online arenas. Some games, though, have been carefully crafted for multiple players that are in the same location, and others can with a little imagination also work very nicely in a party setting.
This round-up explores seven games that work well when you’re in the company of friends and want to have some quickfire fun. A few work with one device and will be suitable for your gran, while others will need players to have their own devices and be reasonably tech savvy. But more importantly, all of them are a blast to play!
Have an Apple TV? Use it!
Before we get to our list, it’s worth noting that even the new iPhones have reasonably small screens that aren’t entirely conducive to party play. If you’ve an Apple TV handy, consider with trivia apps mirroring your display to your television, thereby making it much easier for everyone to see what’s going on. Here’s how:
1. Ensuring your Apple TV and iPhone are both on the same Wi-Fi network, drag up from the bottom of the screen until you see the Control Center tab.
2. Drag up again and you’ll see Control Center itself. Tap on the AirPlay button.
3. Select the relevant Apple TV or device by tapping it, and turn on mirroring.
Everything on your iPhone’s display will now be mirrored on your television. Remember to disable AirPlay on your device (select iPhone in the third step above) when you’re done with your games.
1. Heads Up!
Size: 74.8 MB
Developer: Warner Bros.
Heads Up! is the high-tech equivalent of that game where you all sit around with a piece of paper with a name written on it stuck to your forehead, trying to guess who you are. However, Heads Up! is far more than just a sticky note masquerading as an app. First and foremost, it encourages group play, because it’s one person guessing from clues hurled at them by any number of friends. Secondly, there are loads of cards built in, and a bunch of extra packs available via IAP. Thirdly, the app optionally records everything, so you can upload your friends’ goofy antics to social networks if their clues for ‘panda’ are suitably bizarre.
Interface-wise, it’s dead simple, too: hold the iPhone to your forehead, and then tilt it up to pass or down towards your eyes on getting a correct answer. On that basis, this is an iPhone game that almost anyone in the family should be able to play.
– Simple to play and understand
– ‘Build your own deck’ IAP
– No scores storage
– Nothing else
Size: 32.5 MB
Developer: Henry Smith
Spaceteam is a madcap cooperative party game that works across multiple devices. It’s based around you hurling technobabble at each-other, and trying to keep your spaceship (which has clearly seen better days) alive. Oh, and you’re trying to outrun an exploding star, so there’s that, too.
Games are set up on local Wi-Fi using an extremely simple lobby system. Once everyone’s happily hurtling through space, they’ll see a unique control panel in front of them, and an instruction. The catch is the instruction may refer to something on someone else’s display. You must therefore bark orders while fulfilling commands from others (which mostly involves tapping labelled buttons, flicking switches and turning knobs), and also keep your controls from falling to bits whenever the ship takes a hit from someone being a bit too slow.
Spaceteam is an innovative and highly amusing title that might be out of reach of your gran, but is sure to be a hit with anyone with their own device. And an optional $4.99/£2.99 IAP adds further challenges, symbols and icons for anyone who’s been playing a bit too much over the holiday season.
– Entertaining and silly
– Cooperative play
– Can tend towards cacophony
– Nothing else
3. Trivial Quiz Free
Size: 32.4 MB
Developer: Marco Batista
Objectively, Trivial Quiz Free isn’t the brightest spark on the App Store, being a slightly clunky app that has seemingly naughtily pilfered a chunk of the soundtrack from British gameshow Countdown. However, what it does offer is a straightforward and well-considered set of multiple-choice trivia questions that are wide enough in scope to enable anyone to take part.
In the standard Challenge mode, you get 15 questions and your score is based on how quickly you answer. Although this is really a single-player game, it works well in a group environment, either with everyone trying to beat an existing high score, or in teams of friends playing against each other.
– Decent sets of questions
– Very easy to play
– A bit clunky
– Some pilfered audio
4. Bam fu
Size: 35.5 MB
Developer: Game Oven
Game Oven’s all about games that use a single device and encourage social interaction and physical contact. Bam fu’s rather more combative than the developer’s typically sedate output, but it’s also a lot of fun, coming across a bit like a Whac-a-Mole crossed with a finger-oriented Twister.
On selecting a board from the intro screen, you’re faced with a pattern of pebbles; tapping a stone cycles it through colours, which also happen to be assigned to the players. Two-to-four people then fight to make the majority of pebbles their colour, via a flurry of tapping and protecting their own pebbles. Although seemingly designed for iPad, Bam fu has a kind of absurdist edge when four of you are all battling away over thumbprint-sized coloured pebbles on a relatively small iPhone screen.
– Intuitive and chaotic
– Great visuals and audio
– Potential for iPhone damage!
– No timers, so battles can drag on
5. MovieCat 2
Developer: OtherWise Games
If there’s one thing we found when reviewing games for this feature, it’s that trivia games tend to be extremely bare-bones and lacking in character. That’s certainly not the case for MovieCat 2, which frequently injects stylish illustrations of moggies into your favourite films, and has you figure out what you’re being shown.
Sometimes, you’ll get cat mannequins, and will need to guess which movie the outfits come from; elsewhere, a cat will be painting props from a film. There are also rather simple multiple-choice rounds without any cats (the horror!), but then you’ll get cat-based movie posters that ask you to guess the star of both pictures.
The art’s a touch small on the iPhone for group play, so this is ideal for mirroring to an Apple TV. But the art, timer and life system make it a great match for a party game, even though this one was originally designed for single-player use.
– Bags of character
– Varied round types
– Art is a bit small on the screen
– Could do with even more cats!
6. You Don’t Know Jack Party
Size: 134 MB
Developer: Jackbox Games, Inc.
The You Don’t Know Jack series frames itself as a game-show “where high culture and pop culture collide”. Although originating on PCs, it made its way to iOS, including this party version. You use one device as a screen and then other devices running the free JackPad as controllers; alternatively, one device can be mirrored to an Apple TV and simultaneously be used as someone’s controller. Once you’re up and running, you then find yourself immersed in an over-the-top gameshow where the host is only too happy to insult you when your general knowledge turns out to be lacking.
Visually, You Don’t Know Jack is stunning, and the script is great. However, it is very heavily defined, meaning once you’ve gone through an episode, there’s no replay value (unless you want to cheat with a new set of friends and pretend you don’t already know all the answers); still, plenty of additional packs are available once you’ve exhausted the built-in free one.
Note: during testing, JackPad showed a button layout for OUYA (a microconsole that runs a version of Android) rather than iOS on some of our devices. The four buttons are arranged on a cross and their positions are clear on the ‘main’ screen during play, which could confuse. However, a reboot of the affected device(s) and/or router can fix the problem.
– Well-written and engaging
– Feels like a mad gameshow
– JackPad is a bit buggy
– Doesn’t stand up to repeat play
7. Super Stickman Golf 2
Size: 66.1 MB
Developer: Noodlecake Studios Inc
Super Stickman Golf 2 is a side-on golf game, set in a world of giant crazy golf courses. Instead of smacking a ball around green fields, you end up on other planets, in the desert, or battling your way through strange floating platforms with curiously sticky walls. Think Angry Birds meets the Ryder Cup.
What makes this a surprisingly suitable party game, though, is its deranged race mode. Here, it’s not about the fewest shots and careful consideration, but instead a manic mad dash to the hole, the winner securing the most precious points.
Up to eight players can compete, and although aficionados will be at an advantage, Super Stickman Golf 2’s simple controls (left/right/power) ensure that anyone with their own device (and a copy of the game) should be able to get in on the action.
– Absurdly fun multiplayer racing
– Supports up to eight players
– Everyone needs their own device
– Veterans will have an advantage
The best of the rest
Free+IAP • 41.3 MB • v1.6 • Flow Studios a.s.
Beautifully designed guessing game, where you figure out what pop culture references icons on the screen represent.
Free • 3.0 MB • v1.0 • Bennett Foddy
Extremely simple game, where you try to hold your corner of the iPhone for as long as possible. Last one holding wins!
King of Opera
$2.99/£1.99 • 48.5 MB • v1.14 • Tuokio, Inc.
Two to four players battle it out for the spotlight, bumping others out of the way like some kind of operatic sumo.
$1.99/£1.49 • 2.5 MB • v1.2.1 • mugathur
Fast-paced two-to-four-player action game, where you charge up and fling rings, in order to knock stars into opponents’ goals.
$4.99/£2.99 • 50.9 MB • v2.3.2 • Application Systems Heidelberg Software GmbH
Strategic card game. Works fine when you can see everyone’s cards, and so is a decent candidate for sending to your Apple TV.