The debut of a new gaming device is always an exciting event and iPad has been no exception.
Tablets have been around for hundreds of years - like this one from the turn of the twentieth century - but none has been as fun as iPad.
Since its April launch, iPad has grown from potential to reality with a number of great games proving it to be a worthwhile gaming machine. Host to a wide range of experiences, iPad has been an ideal platform for adventure, hidden object, strategy, and boardgame conversions.
Yet there's much room for growth and experimentation in the year ahead. Each of the following ten games offers a fantastic gaming experience, while at the same time pointing to the possibilities for even richer, more robust games in 2011.
Midnight Mysteries: Salem Witch Trials - Big Fish Games
Although hidden object games have long been defined by bland collection quests and laughable stories, Midnight Mysteries: Salem Witch Trials proves that something better is possible.
A sophisticated blend of hidden object gameplay, puzzle-solving, and classic adventure elements, this rousing game draws you in with a spooky tale and exquisite game design.
Each scene has been carefully crafted, offering challenging gameplay scenarios and stunning visuals that mesmerise with fine detail. Bonus modes guarantee replay value too, extending the fun long after the story has concluded.
By infusing hidden object scenes with adventure elements, Midnight Mysteries: Salem Witch Trials delivers an in-depth experience that is rewarding, engrossing, and thoroughly memorable.
>> Buy Midnight Mysteries from the App Store - Read the full review
Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge - LucasArts
No other genre fits iPad better than adventure games and Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge demonstrates why. A masterful combination of intuitive controls and tons of features define a standard to which all adventure games ought to strive.
While Monkey Island 2 has an inherent advantage in building from the award-winning gameplay of the original PC release, this iPad iteration is among the best titles of the year for seizing on the device's large screen and packing in great bonus features. Audio commentary, the option to switch between remastered and classic graphics, and an integrated hint system make this classic better than ever before.
A fun adventure skilfully adapted to iPad, Monkey Island 2 is not to be missed.
>> Buy Monkey Island 2 from the App Store - Read the full review
Mirror's Edge - EA Mobile
Long anticipated for iPhone and iPod touch, Mirror's Edge heralded the launch of iPad with its sophisticated platform gameplay that immediately proved the device has serious gaming chops.
Cleverly combining classic platforming and high-speed endless running into a story-driven adventure, Mirror's Edge possesses the right balance between skill and reflexes. Inventive touch controls make it easy to direct protagonist Faith in a mad dash through each stylish level.
The addition of split-screen multiplayer and online leaderboards boosted the iPad version's replay value, making it preferable in terms of features over the smaller iPhone and iPod touch iteration - a rare instance in which iPad trumps its little brother.
>> Buy Mirror's Edge from the App Store - Read the full review
Zen Bound 2 - Secret Exit
With Zen Bound having already wound us up on iPhone and iPod touch, the sequel had quite the hill to climb on iPad. Zen Bound 2 managed the Sisyphean effort, not only retaining the whip-smart gameplay that hooked us on the first game, but boasting impressive new graphics.
Scores of new levels give this follow-up an immense value, especially now that it's available as a universal app. It's best played on the larger iPad screen, though, where you can see in glorious high definition the detail in each wood block as you wrap it with rope and splash it with paint.
Ever more inspiring on iPad, Zen Bound 2 earned its spot among out outstanding selection with its one-of-a-kind gameplay.
>> Buy Zen Bound 2 from the App Store - Read the full review
Osmos - Hemisphere Games
An unusual physics game that shifts between the microscopic and the astronomical, Osmos is without question the most bizarrely entertaining title of the year.
Gravitational attraction, elliptical orbits, mitosis - the various levels of Osmos could easily be used as working models for a science lecture. Yet fun factors into the equation with challenging levels that test your ability to manipulate a sphere's fast-moving orbit, amid a crowd of life-sucking giants, and within a dangerously active grid of bouncing bodies.
It's highly original and totally fun, securing Osmos a place among our top iPad picks of 2010.
>> Buy Osmos from the App Store - Read the full review
World of Goo - 2D Boy
The definitive version of the renowned physics puzzler, World of Goo shines on iPad thanks to intuitive multi-touch controls that make it even easier and more enjoyable than ever.
Using globs of goo as construction materials, each level tasks you with building a structure that reaches a suction pipe. The pipe is always cemented in place, making it your job to contrive a contraption that reaches it. Sometimes it's straightforward, though most levels require creative, out-of-the-box thinking.
Not only does this open-ended puzzle play encourage creative problem-solving, it also amps up the fun. Toying with goo and piecing together crazy structures is tons of fun and when you succeed in finishing a level there's a real sense of accomplishment. Sharp, unique, and thoroughly entertaining, World of Goo isn't to be missed.
>> Buy World of Goo from the App Store - Read the full review
Spirits - Spaces of Play
A fresh taken on the Lemmings formula, Spirits proves that old gameplay can be renewed by conjuring new elements and creative level design.
You job is to guide leaf-like spirits to an exit portal using a handful of special abilities. Digging paths through the ground, creating a gust of wind, or drafting a staircase to climb up sheer walls enable you to complete the game's 40 beautifully hand-drawn levels.
Although its available for iPhone and iPod touch, Spirits is superior on iPad for viewing levels whole on the expansive screen. The shadowy visuals make a great impact on iPad too, ensuring this to be a puzzle game you won't forget.
>> Buy Spirits from the App Store - Read the full review
Scrabble - EA Mobile
EA Mobile has done an admirable job translating a number of popular boardgames to iPad, but Scrabble clearly takes the cake with its superb feature set.
Beyond the crystal clear layout and intuitive controls, Scrabble packs an array of cutting edge features including great local multiplayer with automatic board rotation, Facebook integration, and unique cross-connectivity with the free Scrabble Tile Rack app on iPhone and iPod touch.
It's this last feature that truly sets the game apart, allowing you to manage your tiles, look up words in an embedded dictionary, and even lay out words on the board during your turn. Scrabble may not be new, but its sharp design puts it in league with the best of 2010.
>> Buy Scrabble from the App Store - Read the full review
Small World - Days of Wonder
A beautiful conversion of a popular strategy boardgame, Small World seizes the potential of iPad with dazzling visuals, in-depth strategic gameplay, and enjoyable multiplayer.
Learning the ins and outs of this multilayered strategy game can be a steep climb, but it's well worth it for the engrossing gameplay that awaits you on the other side. Like a more sophisticated, multifaceted take on Risk, Small Worlds can dominate an afternoon with tense battles that can define the rise or fall of civilisations.
While playing against the computer is decent, it's head-to-head multiplayer where this game really shines and expansion packs available for in-app purchase extend the fun further.
>> Buy Small World from the App Store - Read the full review
Dominion HD - Dot Matrix/Chillingo
When you're able to outdo the definitive game in a genre, you know you've made something special. Dominion HD does turn-based boardgaming better than Risk itself, surpassing EA Mobile's official iPad adaptation.
A large part of what makes Dominion HD the preferred title is progressive multiplayer. Online multiplayer - including 3G network play - is here, as well as local and asynchronous. In short, any multiplayer option you can think of is here. A varied slate of maps ensures you have plenty of options when setting up multiplayer games too.
Options alone don't make a great game, but together with an eye for straightforward design and accessible gameplay Dominion HD becomes something more. Precisely the casual strategy boardgame for which we've been waiting, it's easily among the best on iPad.
>> Buy Dominion HD from the App Store - Read the full review