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Top 10 best iPhone games

Just bought an iPhone 3G S? Here's what to buy next
Product: Top 10 iPhone charts | Format: iPhone
Top 10 iPhone charts iPhone, thumbnail 1
Just got in on the iPhone act in the shape of a tasty new iPhone 3G S? Welcome. You’re in for a treat, as this run-down of the best games available on the App Store will show. Oh, and as you’re obviously flush, can I borrow a tenner?

Or are you an experienced iPhone/iPod touch user? Good to see you again. Take a look at our list and see if you’re missing anything from your collection.

Don’t have a touch-based Apple device to call you own? Good to have you on board too. Here’s what you’re missing.

Of course, there are so many brilliant games on the App Store that it's impossible to make a list of ten without missing some absolute classics. If you feel we've made any glaring omissions, do mention them in the comments section below.

Let's make this the definitive list of must-have iPhone titles.

Top 10 iPhone games

Rolando, ngmoco

The first of two games that have received an esteemed Pocket Gamer Platinum Award (10 out of 10) is also the closest thing the iPhone has to a signature game. Although Apple’s device is far too freeform and open ended to have a single defining application, Rolando comes the closest.

Why? Because it fits the device like a particularly snug protective case. The visuals are crisp and stylish and the game is accessible to all - casual user and gamer alike. More important, though, is how it controls.

You tilt your handset left and right to roll little circular creatures (Rolandos) through each obstacle-strewn level. When you need to jump, you flick your finger up on the screen, and you can interact with various wheels and springs in a similarly intuitive manner. It’s this tactile brilliance that makes Rolando a must-have title for your iPhone.

Zen Bound, Chillingo

The other iPhone game to receive 10 out of 10 from us is Zen Bound, but it’s a completely different proposition from Rolando. Your sole goal is to wrap a bunch of three-dimensional objects up using a single length of string. You do this by rotating the object with your finger, the string entwining the objects as they turn.

You could say that the goal is to reach 100 per cent coverage, but it isn’t. There really isn’t a goal to Zen Bound, other than to relax and enjoy the experience - all to the strains of a blissful ambient soundtrack.

If that sounds a bit sappy and tree-huggy to you, then we urge you to put your doubts aside and give the free Lite version a spin. We have no doubt you’ll become as wrapped up in this beautifully unique experience as we are.

Real Racing, Firemint

If you want something to show to your doubting-Thomas hardcore gaming friends in order to prove the iPhone’s gaming viability, this is the game to show them. It’s a technically peerless racing game that really pushes into the realms of the PSP racer.

More than that, though, Real Racing shows how the iPhone’s unique controls needn’t be a handicap for traditional game types. As you tear around each beautifully detailed track, you tilt the handset to steer, making for one of the finest approximations of steering yet seen on a portable device.

Developer Firemint hasn’t forgotten about the experience outside of the cockpit, either, with some fiendishly sophisticated AI giving you a proper test on the track. And when you tire of the single player experience there’s a whole host of multiplayer options to keep you racing.

Flight Control, Firemint

Flight Control isn’t the best looking game on the App Store. It’s not the longest or the most sophisticated, either. In every way that matters, Flight Control comes across as fairly unremarkable. Every way but one - it’s impossibly, obscenely addictive.

Presented with a bird's-eye view of a simple airfield, it’s up to you to play air-traffic controller and guide each incoming aircraft to the appropriate (colour-coded) runway. As each of the aeroplanes and helicopters appears on-screen, you must draw out a flight path with your finger, making sure to avoid any mid-air collisions. Naturally, the pace soon picks up, and Flight Control swiftly becomes a juggling act of epic proportions.

With only three airfields and a simple online hi-score table to contend with, Flight Control is certainly slight. But it’s also arguably the best pound-for-pound experience to be had on your iPhone.

Peggle, PopCap

Of all the games on the App Store that were designed with a more traditional interface in mind, Peggle makes the transition the best. In fact, it feels perfectly at home on the Apple device.

The simple mechanic of pointing a ball-bearing gun at a playfield of pins works perfectly with the iPhone’s touch-based controls, while the ensuing fireworks and exaggerated pinball physics play out beautifully on the device’s pin-sharp widescreen.

The game itself is as brilliant as ever, treading the fine line between randomness and skill perfectly as you try and knock out as many coloured pins as possible per turn. This is the definitive portable version of PopCap’s modern classic.

Star Defense, ngmoco

The App Store is full of turret defence games, whereby you strategically place gun turrets to hold off a constant swarm of enemy invaders. It can be hard to stand out in this particularly crowded strategy sub-genre, but Star Defense represents the absolute pinnacle.

It looks fantastic for a start, with a smooth and highly detailed 3D engine and plenty of impressive fireworks as battle is joined.

It also plays a mean game, getting the all-important unit balance just about spot on. You’ll need to make numerous tough decisions concerning resource management and defence placement. While it’s incredibly intense, though, Star Defense is never less than brilliant fun.

Tiki Towers, RealArcade

Tiki Towers takes such dry subjects as physics and structural engineering and makes them into a devilishly fun iPhone app. How? It introduces monkeys to the equation, a ploy guaranteed to make anything ten times better. Oh, and by building a brilliant puzzle game around them.

It’s your job to construct a series of bridges, towers and other scalable objects out of a finite number of bamboo sticks in order to ensure safe passage for a gang of stranded chimps. This is done very simply by touching and dragging where you want each strut to go.

What really clinches the deal is that each construction reacts realistically to the laws of physics - leave a tower top-heavy and it’ll topple over convincingly as soon as you touch the button to send it live. Smart, funny and intuitive, Tiki Towers has everything you’d want in an iPhone game.

Trism, Demiforce

Trism deserves its place on this list because it does one of the toughest things in gaming - it adds a degree of originality and freshness to the match-three puzzler. While it ostensibly resembles any number of Bejeweled clones, Trism has a very interesting trick up its sleeve.

The basic goal is to match three or more coloured triangles by shifting whole rows left and right. Do this and the matched blocks will disappear, allowing gravity to take hold and fill in the gap with fresh blocks from above. The twist is, you control where ‘above’ is via the orientation of your handset.

By turning your iPhone on its side, or even upside down, at key moments, you can dictate which direction the blocks drop from. It represents a seismic shift in how you approach such a traditional puzzler, and makes Trism something of must-have for all block-dropping fans.

Edge, Mobigame

This is a game for all those who pine for the simple 8bit games of their youths but don’t want to face up to the frustrating game design or tiresome hardware setups. Edge borrows heavily from 1980s gaming culture - the catchy digitised soundtrack, the exacting gameplay - but updates it for the iPhone generation.

You must guide an adhesive block around a string of abstract obstacle courses, avoiding any slips that would send you into the endless void below. As with any other iPhone game, this is achieved either by tilting your handset or physically pushing the block along with your finger.

Edge is platform gaming distilled to its purest form, wrapped up in a knowingly chic retro-minimalist skin. It simultaneously looks back at gaming’s past while embracing current technology, which makes it as unique as it is brilliant.

Glyder, Glu

This strange and beautiful game offers something completely unique to iPhone gaming, nailing the mechanics and the sensation of unpowered flight almost to perfection. Playing as Eryn and her titular Glyder, you must swoop around each fantastical arena by tilting your iPhone, pulling back to climb and pushing forward to dive.

The goal is to collect each and every gem dotted throughout the world, with many requiring breath-taking feats of flying skill - including flying through narrow canyons or skimming along the ground.

That each area is contained within a single open world, with absolutely no loading times in between, is just one of the game’s many achievements. But it’s the sensation of freedom and of effortless flight that wins Glyder a place in our affections, and on this list.

Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy 22 June 2009
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