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Independents' Day: Top 10 best indie games on iPhone

Celebrate your indie-pendence
Product: Top 10 iPhone charts | Format: iPhone
Top 10 iPhone charts iPhone, thumbnail 1
For many indie game developers, the fourth of July is not a federal holiday. It's a day to deploy a clever play on words and make those 24 hours all about them.

Independents' Day, as it shall be known for the purposes of this topical feature, is a day to celebrate all the independently developed titles that deserve your attention.

We'd be the first to admit that some of the most fantastic indie games are released on PC and Mac. Fortunately, many of those are then ported over to the iPhone.

Out of respect for those efforts most worthy of our time, we present to you the top ten indie gaming titles that, having found success on your desktop computer, have gone on to wow us on the iOS touchscreen.

Think you need a huge budget to create the best gaming experiences on iPhone? Think again.


Karoshi is a Japanese term that literally translates as 'death from overwork', referring to those workers who push themselves so hard that they die on the job.

It's also a game in which Mr Karoshi, a Japanese banker who has simply had enough, sets off to kill himself repeatedly, in as many different crazy ways as he can.

You'd think that killing yourself would be pretty simple, yet Karoshi turns out to be hard as nails, as those spikes are just out of reach at every turn.

The humour is dark and the gameplay is highly addictive. Suicide may not be the funniest topic, but Karoshi somehow makes it a blast.

Download Karoshi


Imagine the most gorgeous, ambient, atmospheric iOS experience you possibly can. Now imagine someone injecting the most tense, pixel-perfect gameplay into it. Say hello to Osmos.

You are an organism floating through space, surrounded by hundreds of other round motes who either want to gobble you up or run away sharpish, depending on whether you're bigger than them or not.

Collide with a smaller mote than yourself and you'll add them to your size. By eating lots of smaller motes, you'll eventually grow big enough to eat everything.

But be warned: as you push yourself around you eject matter and decrease in size. It's all about balancing your movement against your eating habits, and becoming king of the motes.

Download Osmos


It's arguable that indie developers produce the best puzzle games, and Entanglement can definitely be put forward as a prime example.

Presented with a grid full of hexagons, you're looking to put down pieces, allowing lines to connect up, and giving the orange line to forge as long a path as possible through the winding maze.

Play your cards right and it's possible to use pieces several times as your path winds back round on itself and through past pieces. If at any point the orange line crashes into a wall it's all over.

With multiple game modes, online leaderboards, and even multiplayer for up to six people, Entanglement is easily one of the best indie iPhone puzzlers available.

Download Entanglement


You'd be hard pushed to find a game cuter than Tumbledrop on iPhone. Filled with bright colours, rainbows all over the place, and pieces with smiling faces, it's impossible that the game won't bring a smile to your own face.

However, this is definitely no walk in the park. You're tasked with bringing the pink star safety to earth, and the only way to do that is to pop the pieces underneath him.

This is where the trouble starts, as everything obeys the laws of gravity. As pieces fall, there's a delay before you can remove more pieces, and so the fate of the falling pink star is left in the hands of that downward pull

There are 80 levels to teeter totter you way through, along with medals for beating certain levels in a specific number of moves. Perfect for long train rides and the like.

Download Tumbledrop

World of Goo

First released in 2008, World of Goo is a puzzle masterpiece that soon went on to pick up multiple awards from a variety of different sites, magazines, and shows.

What's most incredible about the game is that the entire experience was created by just two men. Players are asked to build towers, bridges, and other structures with goo balls, allowing the remaining balls to escape via pipes.

It's no surprise, then, that we rejoiced when World of Goo came to iPhone and iPad. The touchscreen controls work perfectly with the concept, and allow for even more control over where you're moving these balls of wonder.

And when you've finishing completing the main game, you can then use your collected goo balls to build the highest tower possible, competing with the rest of the world. Essential iPhone gaming.

Download World of Goo


Sometimes a game can receive significant popularity due not to the exciting nature of its gameplay but rather to the hilarious quirky directions it takes you in. Not many people have managed to complete QWOP, yet you'll be hard pushed to find someone who doesn't like it.

You are QWOP, a runner out to fulfil his dream of Olympic success. However, he's not exactly the greatest athlete the world has ever seen, and finds it rather awkward to run.

You control his legs by drawing circles on the screen, and make sure he doesn't fall over via tilting the device. It's much harder than it sounds, and it can take many hours to help QWOP reach the finish line.

The iPhone version is much more meaty that the web edition, with multiple events to take part in, including hurdles, the long jump, and the 50km walk. Good luck with that one.

Download QWOP


If you're an avid iPhone gamer, you'll no doubt have given rooftop runner Canabalt a try.

However, you may be unaware of its indie roots: it was originally created by just a single developer in the space of a week.

Developer Adam Saltsman cooked up Canabalt for a competition called the Experimental Gameplay Project, with the contest theme 'Bare Minimum'. He came away with a lovely piece of work.

Canabalt sees you tapping the screen to make a man dash across futuristic rooftops, running from who-knows-what? It's mysterious and hopelessly addictive.

Download Canabalt

Today I Die Again

Today I Die Again is an iPhone remake of the original PC art game Today I Die. The short tale follows a young girl who's been caught in limbo.

At the top of the screen is a collection of words that make up a sentence, but there are also other words floating around the screen. As you grab and drag the words into place in the sentence, you change the whole scene and allow the girl to progress.

By helping the girl out in each scenario you make more words appear, allowing you to alter the sentence even more. Eventually, after unlocking the right combination of words, she'll be able to swim away to freedom and peace.

There's a message to take away from the experience - and it's definitely more of an experience than a game. If you're interested in the arty side of indie games, this is worth checking out.

Download Today I Die Again


Fast, frantic, fantastic - Solipskier is a daredevil's dream, with pure speed acting as the game's main source of excitement and intrigue.

As your skier pelts down a hill that you create with your own finger, he will react to the ground that you draw. Make a sudden incline and he'll flip into the air, earning bound points and building up even more speed.

Along the way there are obstacles to dodge, gates to fly through, and special areas in which you can't draw any land. It's dangerous stuff, especially at the blistering speeds he's moving.

It's even possible to move so fast that his headphones will fly off in the wind, removing the great music and instead leaving your with the sounds of the wind rushing by.

Download Solipskier

Poto & Cabenga

A special competition was held in 2010 to find the best one-button games available. The Gamma IV showcase highlighted the best single-touch games on offer, and Poto & Cabenga was selected as a winner.

It's easy to understand why, given the content. With just a single press of your iPhone screen, you're required to guide two different character safely home at the same time.

The action is split down the middle, showing one character on the top and one on the bottom. Pressing and holding the screen causes one character to jump while the other runs forward, and then letting go has the reverse effect.

It quickly becomes apparently that it's a rhythm-based experience, and being able to get into the swing of controlling both at once is the key to reaching the end intact.

Download Poto & Cabenga


Reviewer photo
Mike Rose 4 July 2011
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