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Hidden gems: 154 great iOS games that you forgot existed [1-30]
By Rob Hearn 05 April 2013
Game Name: iOS charts | Format: iPhone, iPad
This is the first instalment in a five-part series looking at 150 hidden iOS gems. The mathematicians among you will have already worked out that 150 divided by five is 30. That's why there are 30 entries in this instalment. Click on the following hyperlink for Volumes II, III, IV, and V.

At the end of last year, after considerable effort and sacrifice, I managed to clear my inbox for the first time since about 2009.

Six months later, as the icicles of summer start to form, I have 6,160 unread emails. Unread. Of 10,817 total. By the time this goes live, I'll probably have 100 more.

Not all of those emails are about new games, but a lot of them are. The App Store is under constant assault, you see. From space, it looks like a giant volcano of games: big licensed ones, indie darlings, projects by 11-year-olds, and ports of forgotten Spectrum titles. It never ends.

It's inevitable that games will get overlooked or forgotten in this ever-regenerating swarm, so we've decided to delve into the archives and pick out 150 games that didn't get much attention at the time of their release or don't seem to get talked about now as much as they probably should.

If you're relatively new to iOS gaming, or you just don't pay much attention, this serialised list will help you to navigate the lesser-known back alleys and brambled mud paths of the App Store.
  

 
2079 Tilt!
By Eric Tong - buy on iPhone

Before Geometry Wars Touch, there was 2079 Tilt!, a tricky top-down shooter with testing controls and clever calibration.

 
1-bit Ninja
By Kode80 - buy on iPhone

1-bit Ninja is one of the better iOS pixel-art platformers. This is thanks to its authentic look, hidden tunnels, clever 3D gimmickry, and ninjas.

 
8bit Ninja
By Dogbyte Games - buy on iPhone and iPad

In this pixel-art high score chaser, the victim / assailant relationship of Fruit Ninja is inverted. Thus, YOU are pelted with oranges, melons, and other deadly perishables.

 
100 Rogues
By Dinofarm Games - buy on iPhone and iPad

A humorous and accessible yet fully authentic RPG interloper in the home of the casual game.

 
Airport Mania: First Flight
By Lemon Team - buy on iPhone or on iPad

It's admittedly not the best aviation-themed casual game on the App Store, but this overlooked time-management game will still suck up your time and expel it like so many bloodstained feathers.

 
Alternate Endings
By Jonathan Huer - buy on iPhone

This unusual FMV game with branching storylines and various conclusions is fairly short on interactivity but fairly long on fun and novelty.

 
Ancient Frog
By Ancient Workshop - buy on iPhone or on iPad

Help a paralysed frog to eat a fly by sliding its feet up a leaf. More fun than it sounds.

 
Aquaria
By Bit Blot - buy on iPad

Largely non-violent underwater Metroidvania that's a sensory treat to explore, even if the controls let it down during combat.

 
Archibald's Adventures
By Rake In Grass - buy on iPhone and iPad

Inventive platformer featuring plenty of challenging environmental puzzles, solid controls, and the underused word 'Archibald'.

 
Asterope
By Niklas Wahrman - buy on iPhone

You're in a spaceship, but you get around by swinging on a rope. Games don't have to make sense.

 
Astro Dodge
By SimpleFun - download free on iOS or buy on iPad

Top-down shooter in which you don't shoot. Like a full-game version of the Pacifism mode from Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved.

 
Astronot
By Wade McGillis - buy on iPhone and iPad

You're a Spectrum-era spaceman, your ship is broken, you're lost, and you're all alone. Have fun!

 
Async Corp.
By Powerhead Games - buy on iPhone

Ironically, this game about productivity will destroy your own productivity through its hypnotic colour-based puzzle gameplay.

 
Autumn Dynasty
By Touch Dimensions - buy on iPhone and iPad

This complex, full-featured RTS set in feudal China is only feasible thanks to some very elegant controls.

 
Battle of Puppets
By Small Wonders - buy on iPhone

Puppets are flimsy and opera is for posh people, yet this opera-themed castle vs castle game starring puppets thrives all the same.

 
Bean's Quest
By Kumobius Pty - buy on iPhone and iPad

In Bean's Quest, you play as a jumping bean. You jump automatically, freeing up your thumbs for some serious lateral control.

 
Bike Baron
By Qwiboo - buy on iPhone and iPad

Trials HD isn't available on iOS. This extremely playable dirt bike game is the next best thing.

 
Bit Pilot
By Zach Gage - buy on iPhone and iPad

Bit Pilot involves tracing your finger around the screen to avoid asteroids until you die. It's simple, elegant, playable, and 100 percent futile.

 
Blockoban Premium
By Jean-Philippe Sarda - buy on iPhone and iPad

There's no shortage of iOS apps in which you can move coloured blocks around, but few can match Blockoban's preposterously abundant 4,050 stages.

 
Buka
By Hexage - buy on iPhone or iPad

Underappreciated studio Hexage invites you to guide an orb through space by either destroying or deflecting asteroids in ths beautiful, well-balanced casual game.

 
Cavorite
By Cascadia Games - buy on iPhone and iPad

Oh, look: more pixel-art. Cascadia's puzzle-platformerCavorite isn't perfect, but it's nicely presented and contains clever puzzles that you won't find elsewhere.

 
CheeseMan
By Hicham Allaoui - download on iPhone

In essence, this brutal fast-paced platformer is a moderately plagiaristic vegetarian alternative to Super Meat Boy.

 
Chromixa
By Wet Nose Design - buy on iPhone

Yet another unique and starkly presented touchscreen puzzler. The gameplay is undeniably innovative, but even if it weren't the utterly brilliant music makes it worth playing alone.

 
Collision Effect
By Vishindo - buy on iPhone an iPad

Collision Effect is a game about Zybbles, orbs, and arcane rules of interaction. It's far harder to explain than it is to play.

 
Continuity 2: The Continuation
By Ragtime Games - buy on iPhone and iPad

Picture a sliding block puzzle. Now, picture a little man running around on the tiles. Your mind is blown. Welcome to Continuity 2.

 
Cops & Robbers
By Glu Mobile - buy on iPhone

In Cops & Robbers, you run along automatically and swipe to avoid obstacles, making it a sort of proto-endless-runner without the endlessness.

 
Corpse Craft
By Three Rings Design - download on iPad

Hybrid games are all the rage, and Corpse Craft is one of the better examples. Here, Three Rings Design combines an RTS with a puzzler, and wraps it up in a surreal art-style inspired by Edward Gorey. Whoever he is.

 
Cubis Creatures
By FreshGames - buy on iPhone and iPad

Cubis Creatures is an innovative and original puzzler on iOS. Here, FreshGames marries an unusual isometric 3D block-matching mechanic with clean and characterful presentation.

 
d-capitatrix
By Thomas Wagner - buy on iPhone or buy on iPad

Portal is such a distinctive game that few developers have the cojones to rip it off. Thomas Wagner does... right down to the scary lady robots.

 
Dark Nebula - Episode Two
By 1337 Game Design - buy on iPhone

You don't see many accelerometer-based ball-rolling games these days. That's probably because nobody can improve onDark Nebula - Episode Two.

 
Denki Blocks!
By Denki - buy on iPhone or buy on iPad

Denki Blocks! is hardly unknown, but it's worth a place on this list if only to remind ourselves that not all puzzlers involve matching three things.

It goes without saying that there are bound to be literally trillions of other games that could have qualified for this list.

It would be immensely useful if you could point out how thick we are for omitting them by sharing your suggestions in the comments section below.

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