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Top tips and essential games for your new iPad

The new owner's guide to gaming on Apple's tablet
Product: iPad | Publisher: Apple | Format: iPad
iPad iPad, thumbnail 1
Hello, there.

Did you just receive a brand-spanking new iPad for Christmas (or the winter celebration of your choice)? Then, congratulations are in order. Welcome to the club.

Your new tablet - whether it's the 10-inch model or the short and svelte iPad mini - is not only an all-round good gadget, but it's also a pretty powerful games console.

We're basically iPad experts at Pocket Gamer (seriously - we have the certificates to prove it), so allow us to bestow upon you a font of knowledge.

How to download games for your iPad


Games hang out in the App Store. That's the big blue icon on your iPad's Home screen. In the App Store, you'll find every game imaginable. You can either dive into a category to have a browse or hunt down a specific title by using the search bar.

Find an app you want, and click on the button with the price tag (or 'Free', if the app costs nothing). Enter your pre-existing Apple ID (or create a new one) when prompted, and your purchase will begin to download. Hey, presto!

How to update your apps


From time to time, developers will release free updates for their apps and games. These updates generally feature new characters, fresh levels, and bug fixes.

You'll know when updates are available because a circular red counter will show up in the top-right corner of the App Store icon to alert you to their presence.

To install these updates, head into the App Store app and navigate to the 'Updates' tab at the bottom right of your screen. Then, just hit 'Update' on the game you want to, uhm, update.

How to take a screenshot

This is a nice little secret. Press the power and Home buttons on your iPad at the same time, and the screen will flash like an old-timey camera. Now, launch the Photos app and you'll find a screenshot in your Camera Roll.

What is a Universal app?


These days, a lot of games are listed as Universal apps. This means you can use the same game on an iPhone or an iPad, and the game automatically loads the correct graphics for the device.

Universal apps have a little '+' symbol on the price tag button.

Sometimes, in the case of a game like Angry Birds, there will be an 'HD' edition alongside the normal app. The HD tag is usually an indication that it's only for iPad.

This app sucks! How do I get a refund?

If an app sucks and you feel like you've wasted your money, you might be out of luck. Apple is not obligated to hand your money back (just read the legalese you skim-read and accepted when signing up to iTunes).

But, that being said, The Big A has been known to give refunds for pulled apps in the past. You can get in touch with Apple here. State your case, and be prepared to be persistent.

Should I buy AppleCare?

Probably not.

Remember that European law states that all shops must guarantee your gizmo for two years. And if you're anything like us, you'll have probably purchased a new tablet before then, anyway.

Besides, Apple has great customer service support, and if your iPad has any issues in the first two years, a Genius will sort it, free of charge. No need for AppleCare.

How do I get a Game Center account?


Game Center is an Xbox Live-style social platform that enables you to compete against your friends, post high scores to leaderboards, and unlock achievements as you play games.

Opening an account couldn't be easier. Simply launch Apple's pre-installed Game Center application and enter the same Apple ID that you use for purchasing content from the App Store.

Once you've done that, you'll be able to choose a unique username that your buddies can use to send you a Friend Request. You can also pick a profile pic from your device's library of photographs.

That's it. Achievements you unlock as you play Game Center-enabled games will automatically be added to your profile. So will your high scores.

Which games should I get?

Now you've got your iPad all set up, it's time to download some games. We've picked out some essential games - ones have bagged prestigious Pocket Gamer Awards - to get you started.

Do note that there are loads of excellent games in our iPhone (and iPod touch) guide, too, and they all work perfectly well on iPad. So we're not repeating ourselves, we'll pick fresh games that are better suited to the larger tablet screen.


Total War Battles: Shogun
By The Creative Assembly - buy on iPad


The Creative Assembly has rejiggered its much-loved Total War series to make it more touchscreen friendly. It's tower defence-meets-Plants vs Zombies, with multiplayer on one iPad.

Hero Academy
By Robot Entertainment - download free on iPad


If your opponent is a little farther away, try this online tactics game. You'll go to war on tiny battlefields, in a valiant attempt to smash your opponent's gem. Games are saved on servers, so you can pick up your go whenever you have time.


Ticket to Ride
By Days of Wonder - buy on iPad


With the iPad, game developers are getting excellent at mimicking the 'feel' of real-world boardgames, either on one tablet or with online multiplayer. Ticket to Ride is one of the best iPad boardgames around. It's all about making rail empires that stretch across the country, while making uneasy alliances with other players.

Neuroshima Hex
By Big Daddy's Creations - buy on iPad


Neuroshima is a fast-paced post-apocalyptic hex-based wargame. It's strategic, deep, and easy to pick up. You can also buy more factions and maps if you pay up.

Point-and-click adventure

By Amanita Design - buy on iPad


A point-and-click adventure set in a gorgeous hand-drawn robot world. This Czech-made treat has very clever puzzles, and an endearing story told entirely without words.

Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge
By LucasArts - buy on iPad


A classic adventure from the '90s, albeit spruced up for iPad with new graphics and bonus treats for lifelong Monkey Island fans. If you've never played this hilarious game, you're a wannabe pirate searching for treasure.


Waking Mars
By Tiger Style - buy on iPad


It's an atmospheric adventure, set deep within the belly of the Red Planet. You'll have to hijack alien ecosystems to make Mars produce more life, and bring a sleeping planet back to life.

The Room
By Fireproof Games - buy on iPad


At first glance, The Room seems like a simple puzzle box that you need to crack. But, as you start uncovering clues, and unravelling secrets, you'll be captivated by an engrossing story. The puzzles are spectacular, too.


By Cipher Prime - buy on iPad


Trivia time. Splice is the only game in 2012 to which we gave a 10/10 score. It's a deceptively simple puzzle game that's alarmingly clever and presented with elegance and style.

Where's My Water?
By Disney - buy on iPad


It's cute, it's funny, and it's very smart. In this puzzler, you dig out tunnels in the dirt to re-route water to a showering crocodile. There are new toys in every few levels, and you get an enormous number of levels for 69p. It's simply essential.


Clash of Clans
By Supercell - download free on iPad


In Clash of Clans, you build your own Viking empire by demolishing the local goblin dens and nicking their gold. You'll need to protect your own town, too, though, for other players can waltz in and steal your loot if you leave yourself open for attack.

Draw Something
By OMGPOP - download free on iPad


It's simple: it's online Pictionary. So, you play over the web, and you get to take your turn (whether it's drawing a masterpiece or trying to decipher your friend's doodle) whenever you want. You can pay to draw with more colours if you want.

Reviewer photo
Mark Brown 25 December 2012
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