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15 free iPhone games you should try

And none of them are Lite demos
Product: iPhone news | Publisher: Apple | Format: iPhone
iPhone news iPhone, thumbnail 1

We've written here before about our concern that great iPhone games are being buried below hundreds of cheap 'n' nasty titles on the App Store.

Does that mean we're opposed to free iPhone games? Absolutely not: there are some real gems out there being offered as freebies, which are just as deserving of being raised out from the crowd.

We've cherry-picked 15 that we think you should give a go. We've deliberately avoided 'Lite' demos, although it's true that some of these titles (e.g. Live Poker, iGolf) have premium versions available.

But we think all the titles listed here are good games in their own right, not tasters for more expensive titles. Read on, and let us know what you think – or any cool freebies that we've missed out.

1. Tap Tap Revenge (Tapulous)

The daddy of free iPhone games – it's been around since before the App Store itself for jailbroken iPhones. At heart, it's a simple music rhythm game where you tap the screen (and shake it) in time to a succession of songs.

But it's the extra features that make this truly impressive. Downloadable songs from the likes of Katy Perry and Kaiser Chiefs, a two-player competitive mode, and just-added online multiplayer. Get it

2. Live Poker (Zynga)

This game was only launched this week, and it's the first iPhone game from social gaming firm Zynga, tying in with the 1.4 million people already playing it on Facebook and MySpace.

It's a multiplayer Texas Hold'em poker game (played for virtual money, naturally) that lets you play over 3G or wi-fi. It's also the first iPhone game to use the Facebook Connect technology, to help you see which of your Facebook friends are also playing the game. Get it

3. MazeFinger (ngmoco)

The first iPhone game from hotly-tipped publisher ngmoco, MazeFinger offers 1,000 mazes to swipe your way through, negotiating traps, blockers and energy pick-ups along the way.

It's a great example of a free game with the production values of a premium title, thanks to its excellent graphics and sound. Meanwhile, connected features include online high-scores. Get it

4. iGolf (SGN)

SGN is another big social games firm on Facebook that's crossed over to iPhone, and iGolf was its first big hit. It takes the logical approach of 'doing a Wii Sports' – you swing your iPhone like a golf club to hit your ball down the fairway, before comparing your distance on a global leaderboard.

Heaven help them the first time someone chucks their iPhone through a window by accident, but this is great fun. Get it

5. Trace (Kevin Calderone)

It's fair to say that Trace looks rubbish. In fact, that's its charm. The scribbly graphics and stick-man character look like the work of a child, helping the game stand out from the huge array of visually-polished iPhone games.

The game takes Line Rider's 'draw your own levels' approach and applies it to a platformer, with you having to draw platforms to get yer man through 120 levels. Don't be fooled by the looks – this is a fine piece of work. Get it

6. Aurora Feint: The Beginning (Danielle Cassley and Jason Citron)

This free game's been around since day one of the App Store, and has built up a devoted community of players. It's a bit Puzzle Quest, being a traditional puzzler with RPG elements wrapped around it.

You have to match blocks in lines of three or more, in order to learn spells and level up your character. Updates have constantly refined and improved it, and an MMO sequel is reportedly on the way. Get it

7. Fire Tail (Siberix Technologies)

Who wants to just emulate a retro game for iPhone when you can stick a rocket up its behind with new features and ideas? That's what Fire Tail does to classic action game Qix.

You have to move around each level conquering territory by parcelling it off, while visiting specific checkpoints. However, there are monsters to avoid, bonuses to collect, and a choice of tilt or touch control systems. May be shifting to a paid game soon, so grab it while it's free. Get it

8. iBowl (SGN)

Another motion-controlled iPhone game from SGN, continuing the Wii Sports vibe with bowling. It's quite simple – 'bowl' your iPhone and try to get as many strikes as possible.

However, SGN's background in social gaming means there are global rankings to see how your skills compare to other players. An excellent game to show off to friends, although whether you let them swing your iPhone about is another question. Get it

9. JellyCar (Walaber)

JellyCar is one of the new breed of mobile games inspired by the squelchy physics of LocoRoco, although happily, it steers clear of having you control a round ball. 'Steers' being the right word – you're a squishy jelly car that moulds its shape according to whatever scenery it's being squashed by.

You touch and tilt your way through 15 levels, each featuring impressive squishy physics. Be warned, it's ninja-hard, although a recent update made it slightly easier. Slightly. But it's still a joy to explore. Get it

10. iBall3D (StoneTrip)

There's no shortage of 'roll a ball through a maze by tilting the iPhone' games on the App Store, but iBall3D is one of the most promising freebies. It offers three maps and three gaming modes, making nine challenges in all.

And like many of the games covered in this article, it has global rankings – fast becoming a must-have in the world of iPhone games. You could criticise its sluggishness if you were feeling picky, but that's something that updates will surely improve. Get it

11. Idle Hands (xCube Labs)

Plenty of people bitch about iPhone's virtual keyboard, but with practice, you can get pretty fast at typing and texting with it. Idle Hands is a nifty typing game that may help you do just that.

It tests how fast you can type a variety of sentences – which currently are all taken from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. But everyone's scores are uploaded to the global rankings, with iTunes vouchers for the best monthly players. More themes (and prizes) are promised in future months. Get it

12. RhinoBall (AvatarLabs)

Thankfully, iPhone hasn't (yet) been afflicted by the profusion of average – or worse – movie games that afflict mobile. In fact, one of the first movie games to hit the App Store was pretty good.

RhinoBall is a game promoting Disney's new animated flick Bolt, and is kinda Super Monkey Ball except with the monkey replaced by a hamster called, erm, Rhino. We like the city location – you can imagine this becoming a full game in future. Get it

13. Cube Runner (Andy Qua)

This was another early freebie on the App Store that's been attracting rave reviews from players ever since. It's visually simple: you fly a ship through a sparse landscape dotted with coloured cubes, tilting the iPhone to swoop from side to side.

But that leaves gameplay that's much more addictive than you'd think, while the inclusion of level packs provides variety. Get it

14. Lux Touch (Sillysoft Games)

Having spent a couple of years' worth of school playtimes playing Risk as a teenager (yeah, I know), the venerable war boardgame still has a special place in my heart.

So Lux Touch, which is heavily inspired by Risk, was bound to appeal. You control a blue army trying to take over the world by conquering a territory at a time, with slick touchscreen controls. A deluxe version will be launched soon with more features, but for now we're enjoying this freebie. Get it

15. iBaseball (SGN)

The third and final SGN game on this list is iBaseball – possibly the riskiest of the lot, given the nature of swinging your iPhone like a baseball bat. (Just don't play it with sweaty hands…) And it's not just batting – you get to pitch, too.

Also expect social features like high scores and challenges – this, together with iGolf and iBowl, is an early glimpse at the potential for social iPhone gaming. Get it


Reviewer photo
Stuart Dredge 17 November 2008
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